5 expensive purchases that were worth every penny
Make life better, even if it costs a little more.
- Spending more for a higher quality item can easily pay for itself.
- You also shouldn’t discount the value of an improved quality of life.
Often we think of splurges as little things we buy just because we want a little luxury. But not all expensive splurges are entirely frivolous. Some of them can also be extremely functional.
Here are a few times when spending the money for a practical upgrade turned out to be the right decision. Everything on this list is something I would buy again tomorrow despite the hit to my bank account.
1. A well-made trash can
For most of my adult life, every trash can I bought was a cheap plastic trash can from the local Walmart or Target. The fanciest I had offered was a step-operated lid for hands-free opening.
Unfortunately, the step mechanism broke every two weeks and the plastic seemed to absorb odors like a sponge. But even though I used the thing every day, the idea of budgeting for yet another new trash can seemed absurd to me.
Then I found simple human trash cans. At first, I was appalled. Who would pay $150 (or more!) for a trash can?! However, I started to really think about my daily life and how much I hated my current can.
So I did. I splurged on a $150 kitchen trash can. And honestly, I loved every minute of it.
First of all, the thing is beautiful. My old trash can was an eyesore at best. This one is clean-lined and made of stainless steel that simply looks pleasant. Then there is functionality. We’ve had the box for five years, and I’ve never had to repair the operating mechanism or replace a poorly hinged lid. Best of all, the high-quality materials don’t absorb odors like the old plastic trash can did, so my whole kitchen just smells better. That alone was worth the cost!
2. A useful robot vacuum cleaner
Alright, so going from a regular push vacuum to a semi-sentient robot is more than just an upgrade to a better brand. And I was on the fence about it for quite a while. After all, it’s not really this difficult to vacuum the house with an ordinary vacuum cleaner. So why bother?
Because vacuuming sucks, that is why. I hate it, almost unreasonably for how little effort it actually takes. It’s one of those things that seems almost unnecessary. I can vacuum the whole house, and the next day there’s a clump of hair rolling down the tiled hallway.
Our friendly robot vacuum has changed all that. I caught a big sale after Thanksgiving and picked up our boyfriend for about $350. (In terms of vacuum, it’s not even that bad. A new Dyson will cost you double that!)
Every day, the little robot walks around the house and picks up the day’s dirt. Then he returns to his little dock and empties. Once every few weeks we empty the bin from his dock and check his hair roller. And that’s all! The house has never been so clean.
3. A bed with bells and whistles
At eight hours a night, we spend about 2,920 hours a year in bed. But for some reason, the idea of spending more than a few hundred dollars on a mattress always seemed silly.
About seven years ago we thought we had to spend an absolutely ridiculous amount of money on a new bed and a new mattress. And we all went out together. The bed is a fancy model that allows you to raise and lower your head and foot. The mattress is memory foam with some kind of cooling gel, and it’s better than even the fanciest hotel bed.
Have we spent too much money? Maybe. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Every penny.
It’s not all unnecessary luxury, however. The foam mattress has brought my back to life. And the ability to sit up comfortably in bed is not only great for movies and reading, it was also invaluable after my wife needed surgery and couldn’t lie down for two weeks .
4. A rechargeable electric mug
Made by a company called Ember, my electric mug retails for $130 (though I picked mine up with cash from Kohl’s for about half that). Considering you can get a regular ceramic mug for $1 — and a fancy stainless steel one for $20 — that’s more than a little splurge.
That being said, I’m pretty sure this little refillable cup has already paid for itself.
You see, I like tea. Green tea, black tea, herbal tea — I drink it all. Usually several times a day. But I also tend to be distracted. So, I’m going to make a cup of tea, drink three sips, then stare into work emails and forget that tea ever existed. By the time I remember it got cold and I have to start the process all over again.
Now all of that is a thing of the past. My electric mug keeps my tea at the right temperature for up to an hour on its own. Or, when kept on the charging coaster, it can stay warm almost indefinitely.
Since I no longer make half a dozen cups of cold tea each week, I save a lot of money. I also have the satisfaction of a hot cup of tea whenever I remember she’s there. And it’s almost priceless.
5. A tabletop hydroponic garden
Several years ago at a holiday sale I spent about $175 on an Aerogarden hydroponic garden. It has little pods that sprout herbs and vegetables and it sits on your counter or, in my case, on the corner of the dining room table.
Thanks to the small garden, I have a steady supply of some of my favorite fresh herbs. I also grow a few green vegetables that I like to put in a variety of dishes, including bok choi and Swiss chard.
Of course, the initial cost of the device was a bit high, especially compared to growing plants in the dirt on the windowsill. But my kitchen isn’t exactly a south-facing dream; only low-light houseplants will grow on this threshold. Plus, I’ve found that my hydroponically grown herbs and vegetables just do better. They grow bigger and faster than anything I’ve ever grown in dirt.
In the four years I’ve had it, I think I’ve probably paid for this little garden of herbs and greens. I also love having the plants in the kitchen and watching them thrive. It’s as much a hobby as it is a handy tool.
Not all purchases have to optimize your budget
When times are tight, of course it makes sense to streamline your finances wherever you can. But sometimes spending a little more pays off in the long run (and not just because you earn more credit card rewards!). For example, a $150 trash can that lasts 10 years is much more economical than spending $25 a year on a piece of scrap metal that breaks down in a few months.
Additionally, the items on this list also have a more fleeting benefit: they have improved my quality of life. And while it’s hard to put a price on it, it’s definitely worth considering the lifetime value of anything you buy.
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