10 Purchases That Are Worth the Money

Personal finance experts are constantly trying to get people to cut back and spend less. If only everyone would pack a brown bag for lunch and cut out the lattes every day there would be no retirement crisis, they tell us.

While I think that lifestyle inflation is an issue for many people when trying to save, there are plenty of areas where it makes sense to shell out some cash. Here are 10 things that are worth the money:

1. A king-sized bed, preferably of the memory foam variety. A king-size bed is one of those things you never realized you couldn’t live without until you had one. Once you try a king-sized bed it becomes nearly impossible to sleep on anything else. It’s like you’re sleeping on your own island. I was skeptical of the memory foam claims, but they’re all true — it’s magical. When you consider how much of your life is spent in bed it becomes clear that paying up for a good mattress is a good investment.

2. A good TV. TV prices continue to fall every single year, but I still think it makes sense to pay for up for a name-brand model. The technology is so good these days that TVs can last you a very long time. The name-brand model may cost you an extra couple hundred dollars, but it’s worth it when you consider the amount of sports, TV shows, movies and streaming that people watch every year (which, if you’re like me, is a lot). My favorite feature from the past few years is the smart TVs that have built-in WiFi that let you pull up Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. with the click of a button. If you use any of these on a regular basis it’s worth it.

3. Guacamole. “Sir, you realize the guac is extra, right?” Yes, yes, yes we all know it’s extra. It’s worth it. Put it on there.

4. A house. There is a caveat here however — I think the idea of buying a starter home is one of the worst moves you can make financially as a younger person. Buying a starter home will likely cost you way more money in the end as opposed to waiting until you’re ready for a more high quality home. Around 70% of your mortgage payments in the first 5 years will go towards interest costs on your loan, so you build up very little equity in a starter home by the time you’re ready to move. Then you end up spending a ton of money trying to fix the place up. And when you do decide to trade-up to a nicer place you end up paying closing costs and realtor fees. In the majority of cases it will prove to be a far better move to rent for a few more years and save enough money until you can afford a nicer house. At that point the pros far outweigh the cons because of the sense of community, place to call your own and the psychic income involved.

5. Vacations. I’ve regretted many purchases in my life but I’ve never regretted spending money on a vacation. Good experiences and memories are always worth paying for.

6. Amazon Prime. Prime just might be one of the best deals on the planet at this point. I’m so spoiled by the 2-day shipping that it feels like an eternity if I ever order anything online from anywhere else. And when you combine the free shipping with Subscribe-and-SavePrime Pantry, and the 5% cash back Amazon credit card, it’s a wonder anyone ever shops anywhere else. The Prime video service was a throw-in at first but now they have a number of solid shows worth watching, as well.

7. A nice pair of  boots. This one is important for me because I live in Michigan where the winters can get pretty nasty. You don’t want to mess around with a cheap pair of boots when things get cold, slushy or snowy. A good pair should last you a number of years so it makes sense to pay up for quality here. A recent favorite pair here that are both durable and fashionable enough with a pair of jeans or khakis.

8. Apple music. I have shoeboxes filled with old CDs I bought back in the day because I liked one or two songs, only to discover that the remainder of the album was terrible. Now I can listen to almost every new album and pick and choose which songs I want to put on a playlist and which ones to never listen to again. And for the cost of a single CD each month — $10/month for an individual or $15/month for a family plan — you can get 40+ million songs through Apple Music. 18-year-old me is so jealous of this service because he’s stuck sifting through his CD tower or lugging around his huge travel case everywhere while trying to buff out all of the scratches on his compact discs. It’s not perfect, but Apple Music is pretty great.

9. Term life insurance. I pay around $20/month for the peace of mind that my family is covered should anything ever happen to me. I’m a relatively young, healthy guy so it’s a little more expensive if you’re older or have health issues. But especially if you have a spouse or children who are dependent on your income it would be crazy to skip out on this one.

10. A dog. My wife and I have spent thousands of dollars on our dog over the past 8-9 years — annual check-ups, haircuts, vaccinations, vet emergency room visits, having teeth pulled, medication, basic health procedures, etc. Every time one of us comes out of the vet with a new bill we’re astonished at how much they charge us. But it’s all been worth it over the years.

Our dog is extremely loyal. No matter how my day goes I know when I walk through the door she is going to go bonkers because I’m home. My toddler loves playing with her. She forces me to get out of the house and take her for walks all the time. It can be a lot of work at first and they can be expensive, but dogs are totally worth it.

Further Reading:
10 Money Revelations in My 30s


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  • k10031

    Thank you for giving the thumbs up to dogs (and by extension, I hope, other pets). I’ve seen frugality bloggers argue against animals because of the expense, and believe me, there are times my vet bills make me choke. But I never think back on the great animals I’ve had an think about the money I lost–I think about what a life I saved, and the great times we all had.

    • Ben

      yup, life isn’t always as easy as a cost/benefit analysis

      • Tom

        Dogs are also good for your health….

  • Brillo

    11. A Hot Tub. I live in Northern California and I would sooner give up my car than my hot tub. Living in Michigan, I am certain, once you tried one, you would feel the same.

    • Ben

      Good one. My parents have one and use it all the time.

  • Nasty Flying Robot

    I can vouch for the boots… 15 years or so I spent $220 on waterproof hiking boots… luckily by this time I had a pretty good idea of what worked for me in terms of fit. Those boots saved my feet on the lower segment of the Rafferty Creek Trail in Yosemite, anything less and I’d have been a complete mess. They work wonderfully as snow boots also, and it’s great knowing I can pull them out at anytime and they’ll handle anything I throw at them.

  • Rich Ellis

    $20/month for term life. OMG.

    Buy it while you’re young, folks. It’s many times that amount later on!

    • Ben

      Yeah I was surprised on that one but makes sense from the insurance company’s perspective.

      • bubba123

        Could you do a post on term life insurance please….new to it all and how to long at it pros v cons. and $ v opportunity cost. etc. etc.

  • Jeffrey White

    Do you still disapprove of starter homes if
    A) I am able to put 30-40% down
    B) it allows me to apply for a 15yr mortgage instead of 30yr
    C) house doesn’t need any repairs
    D) I may keep the home and rent out after buying bigger home 5-10 years down the road

    Or should I just buy the bigger house now, in an area with better schools, one I can raise a family in someday?

    • Ben

      All I would say is make sure you weigh all of the switching and opportunity costs before making a decision. If you’re comfortable with it who am I to tell you not to do it? I’m just trying to say don’t take that decision lightly.

  • Amy Witherbee

    Yours is one of the best blogs out there on investments and financial planning (and I’m speaking as a financial advisor). Thanks for taking the little side step on this one to remind us all why we want the “extra” money in the first place.

  • Mark Brady

    About the dog part … great for regulating the nervous system … https://floweringbrain.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/why-being-wrongfully-accused-is-so-painful/

  • Ben Shearon

    Definitely no on the TV. Not so much the money but the time…

    Also the house -as little house as you are comfortable with.

    Things I’m happy to spend money on:

    Coffee/food with friends

    If you figure out the 2-3 things that make you happy, you can cut back on everything else and save/invest for freedom 🙂

    Things I don’t spend money on:

    House (have a tiny condo -works for me and my wife)

    =FIRE in five years.

    • Ben

      Good point on spending money where it matters to you and cutting back everywhere else. Totally agree

  • Tom

    The only thing I don’t do is the Apple Music. Not enough time to listen to all the music.

  • UofODuck

    I was fine with your list until I got to the dog part. The pet world is roughly divided into two hemispheres – dogs v. cats, and I am definitely on the “cat” side. Yes, a dog is glad to see you when you come home, but a crotch full of dog snot, followed by doggy pick up duty in the backyard with a shovel, is not my idea of a good time. A cat, on the other hand, may require that you make an appointment to greet them and very discreetly buries their business in the flower bed. As the saying goes, dogs have owners, whereas cats have staff!

    • Ben

      Ok, I’ll settle for spending money on pets…

    • Scott G

      No kids?

      • Ben

        Goes without saying, right? But yes totally agree. Those articles that say kids cost $X by age 18 are worthless.

  • UofM

    http://www.businessinsider.com/smart-crib-babies-sleep-snoo-video-2016-10 – What about an expensive crib that gets you an extra hour or two of sleep at night during the first 6 months of a kid?

    • Ben

      That’s new to me but paying for time is always a good investment in my book

  • Jim Clark

    A bicycle. It struck me recently in reading about the Wright Brothers how liberating bicycles were when they appeared in the late 19th century.

    • Ben

      Just finishing that one up now. Fascinating book

  • tagyoureit

    I’ve never enjoyed a vacation as an adult.

    13. Quality basic tools.

    • Nasty Flying Robot

      Oh heck yes!

  • Jeff Valentine

    I would add a high quality, zoned, HVAC system to the list and a spacious shower. Those two things are the best when done right.

  • Evan Hecht

    I’d add AAA membership.

  • edinvestor1

    Dogs are loud, rude to guests, high maintenance creatures. Cats, on the other hand, are quiet, polite or hiding around strangers and low maintenance and quite loving if you interact with them while you raise them. 😉

    • Ben

      two types of people in the world…

  • Pennies and Dollars

    Even tho I personally only spend money on 2/10 of the points (house, vacations), I wholeheartedly agree with your core point- spend money on things with lasting satisfaction.

    • Ben

      yup to each their own. what you spend your money on says a lot about your priorities (both good and bad)

  • Mr. 1500

    Good beer.

  • I can’t subscribe to amazon prime because I’d be shopping all the time! I’d think to myself oh it’s only $8 bucks and there goes a couple hundred a month on junk. Since I don’t have it I wait months until I have enough things I need/really want before making a purchase. I live overseas so going to stores just isn’t the same.

  • Sarah @tortoise_happy

    This is such a cool exercise for everyone to do to work out their priorities. I must admit, half of these wouldn’t be priority for me but I can see why they are for you. Similarly, some other commenters’ suggestions would be in my list, whereas others wouldn’t stand a chance of coming near!

    • Ben

      Yup, I think that’s the point. It’s ok to spend on stuff that matters to you (just don’t spend as much elsewhere)

  • Yes yes yes on the guacamole!!

    I would also add a good cast iron skillet. I used to be kind of intimidated by them, but nowadays I use a cast iron pan for just about everything.

    I think two things will survive the Apocalyspe: cockroaches and cast iron pans. Seriously, it’s been a great investment and I will probably never have to buy another one.

  • Fascinating… of these ten, I own, or have owned, two. Yet my life seems complete, and I don’t feel deprived. 🙂

  • Agree to disagree on the King sized bed. We had one for four years, but were happy to revert back to a Queen. Maybe if we had a bigger dog, the King would make sense.

    I’ll add 14. hot tub to the list. Very soothing, and a great place for my wife and I to enjoy a beverage and good conversation without any distractions.


  • Ten Factorial Rocks

    Good list Ben, I would add ‘a loving child’. If raised right, a child is absolutely worth it. They are not cheap but don’t have to be too expensive either.

  • Luise

    Why would you use Apple Music if you have Amazon Prime?

  • nwberger

    1) A solid American car. I bought a used 2011 Chevy Impala with 25,000 miles on it for a measly $13,000. I tried the tin can Toyotas, etc and the more luxurious bigger ones and my Impala is just great. Consumer Reports marked it down because of limited seating in back.

    2) The Wall Street Journal. $199 for a full year, 64 cents per issue delivered to my door. The Saturday issue is a gem.

    3) Water right out of the tap and it is great. And a nice hot shower. Can’t beat it.

    4) The internet. Yep it costs a lot but you get instant info on Google for free. A blessing.

    5) Living in such a great country.