When Is Spending More Worth It?
As a society, we’ve been conditioned to think that bargain hunting and finding inexpensive options is the smartest way to shop. Sometimes it is, but often we’re drawn to these deals simply because buying an item at full price isn’t all that satisfying—in fact, it can make us feel downright bad.
In a survey of over 2,000 Americans, 73% of millennials said that buying an expensive item made them feel guilty.(1) Whereas buying something at a price lower than what you’re willing to pay can feel really good in the moment.
Point being, we shop based on feeling, which means we’re often overlooking realities of quality and value over time. These low-cost indulgences often wear out quickly and are kicked to the curb or need to be replaced, costing you more coin than you originally bargained for.
Shopping for the long haul
Want to get out of this sentimental shopping rut? It’s all about becoming a more conscious consumer and looking to the future instead of the instant gratification of the moment. First, ask yourself if this is a need or a want, then determine your budget or the best quality you can afford.
One small caveat: higher standards are always going to cost a bit more, but a steep price tag doesn’t always mean quality. Do some research: check the materials, construction, and read reviews. Quality also extends past the product to maintenance services. Does the brand offer a warranty or repair services? Can you resell your items after you’re done with them? Consider the full lifecycle of the product before springing for the purchase.
A staggering 36b clothing items are thrown away each year in the US.(2) That’s a lot of wasted money, not to mention resources. That’s because trend-heavy fast fashion cycles move at lightning speed, leading shoppers to buy and dispose of items after just a few wears.
Instead of throwing away cash, resell your clothes and invest in classic wardrobe staples that will stand the test of time. You can always stay on trend by buying more affordable accessories that are easier to store and keep for when that particular style comes around again (it always does).
Here are a few items to consider spending a little extra on:
- Shoes: We wear them every day, and choosing the right ones can have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing. A great pair of shoes can protect us from the elements with durable materials and support us with expert construction. And when your feet are well-supported, your posture benefits. In other words: fewer random aches and pains!
- Outerwear: Investing in well-made outerwear is a must if you live in colder climates. Whether you opt for a parka or wool overcoat, choose a timeless silhouette and neutral colors to serve you for years to come. Many outerwear brands offer warranties and some, like The North Face and Patagonia, even have repair and resale programs.(3)
- Denim: It’s not the most exciting purchase, but it’s an important one to get right. A good pair of basic jeans can be dressed up or down and worn through multiple seasons. You’ll get your money’s worth just by how often you wear them.
- Fine jewelry and timepieces: Ok, you got us. This one is not a need by any means. But fine jewelry is one of the few product categories with the potential to gain value over time. If you can afford to buy the good stuff—platinum, diamond, gold, silver, precious stones—you may earn a pretty penny down the road.
Americans spend almost an entire day per week online or texting.(4) We spend so much time on our devices and yet so little time considering which devices will give us the most value for our money. In the tech world, shoppers often fall into two camps: those looking for the lowest cost and those who are brand loyal.
Bargain hunters will often be disappointed by the longevity and quality of cheap tech and end up buying a replacement. And brand loyalists tend to lose money springing for the newest model the moment it comes out.
New York Times consumer tech writer Brian X. Chen gives this little piece of advice: “Before you buy it, find out whether you or a professional can easily fix it. If so, then go for it. If it’s too difficult, make it a hard pass.”(5) If you’re in the market for new or used tech, it’s worth it to spend more on products that boast high specs, repair services, and a replaceable battery.
We’ve all watched those home makeover shows on HGTV (it’s ok, no shame in that game!). Aside from the magic of an open floor plan, the takeaway is often: wow, it costs a lot of money to outfit a home. So where is it actually worth spending more money?
The general rule is the more you interact with it, the more it makes sense to invest in it. We’re talking beds, couches, dining tables, and seating. Unfortunately these large pieces of furniture can cost a lot upfront, but their value becomes evident over time.
A good mattress lasts around a decade, and other furniture can last much longer than that (and can even have resale value!). Take a look at resale marketplaces like Mercari to see which types of materials and products people are cashing in on to get a better idea.
When you first bought your car it was probably a really exciting purchase, but the costs that come later are never as fun. Shelling out cash for maintenance? You might be tempted to skip it, but this is a potentially dangerous place to cut expenses.
Neglecting repairs or buying cheap tires might seem like it’s saving you money, when in reality these stopgap measures can cost you more than just $$$ in the long run. To keep getting from point A to B safely, you’ve got to spend.
It’s a good idea to build maintenance like this into your budget or create an emergency fund so that you can cover costs easily. But we know that’s easier said than done. If you’re working on it but don’t yet have the cash to foot the bill, consider paying in installments (like with Zip!).
Upfront costs, long-term value
We all deserve nice things! No matter what you’re shopping for, beware of letting a shiny sale seal the deal. Make sure you shop smarter and take note of things that can add actual value over time—durable materials, construction, repair services. Your wallet will thank you later.
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Zip’s editorial content is not written by a financial advisor. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.