Smart Spending: 11 Products To Splurge On For Better Value

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

Money is a finite resource for most of us, and that means we have to make a lot of tough decisions about how to spend it. While I normally share tips on how to save money, this post will be a little different, because we’ll be discussing things you should spend more money on and why.

Why spend more money? Well, sometimes more expensive products are simply worth the extra cost! Other times, choosing to buy a higher quality product now may well end up saving you money in the long run!

Both of those reasons helped inform the items I included in the list below. Check out 11 things that are worth spending a bit more on below!

Related: 8 Things To Buy Used If You Hate Wasting Money

11 Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

1. Wall Paint

When it comes to buying wall paint, going with the cheapest option could easily end up being more expensive overall! If you end up with a thinner paint, you’ll have to apply more coats to get the same coverage as a thicker, more expensive paint.

You may be able to get away with using less paint if you also apply a dedicated primer (rather than relying on a combination paint + primer.) Whichever way to choose to do it, painting your walls the right way will save you time and money in the long run!

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

2. Shoes

Buying cheap shoes might save you a few dollars in the short term, but it isn’t worth the savings if they don’t support your feet properly. It’s especially important to have good quality running shoes and work shoes, but don’t underestimate the power of a good pair of everyday shoes too!

Find out which brands have the most comfortable shoes, according to your fellow OGT readers.

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

3. Bras

Most of us ladies wear a bra every day, so it’s worth it to spend a bit more to get a good one. It may take some time and effort to find a bra with the perfect style and fit for you, but once you find it, you’ll never want to go back to a cheap bra!

Related: This Brand Makes The Most Comfortable Bras Ever

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

4. Internet Modem & Router

If you’re only paying for basic internet speeds, you probably don’t need to worry about what modem or router you’re using. But if you’re paying for faster internet speeds, it’s important to make sure both your modem and router are actually up to the task!

Check with your internet service provider to find out what speeds you should be receiving (usually stated as Mbps, or megabits per second). Then refer to user manuals for your modem and router (or look them up online) to determine the speeds they can handle.

If you need to upgrade your modem or router, you’ll notice that the ones capable of handling higher speeds are typically more expensive. But it’s typically worth the money to get faster internet speeds, especially if you’re already paying for them!

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

5. Mattress

We spend around one-third of our lives sleeping, and the quality of that sleep can have a massive impact on our overall health! Choosing a good, supportive mattress can help improve your sleep considerably. You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune to get a decent mattress, but you definitely don’t want to go with the cheapest option by default.

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

6. Dish Soap

Dish soap gets “consumed” relatively quickly, so why not save a few dollars by getting the cheapest bottle they have at the store? Well, one reason is that most cheap dish soaps aren’t very concentrated, while the more expensive soaps typically are.

That means you’ll use up your dish soap faster, and you may not end up saving any money at all! (And if you are the type of person that likes to DIY, give homemade dish soap a try!)

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

7. Kitchen Knives

Using a good, sharp knife in the kitchen can be a total game-changer, so it’s worth it to get a good one! And although a high-end knife can easily cost you upwards of $100, you can easily get a decent knife for a lot less. (For example, the Mercer Culinary Genesis 8” Chef’s Knife gets rave reviews on Amazon, and it will only set you back around $30!)

Oh, and make sure to pick up a decent knife sharpener too! If you use the sharpener regularly and take good care of your knife, it will serve you well for decades to come!

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

8. Bed Sheets

As I mentioned previously, sleep is very important. (Not that I personally get enough of it, but I like to think I make the most of the sleep I do get.) ;-) And I know that having a good set of bed sheets has improved my sleeping experience considerably!

I wrote a full blog post about my obsession with my ultra-soft Cariloha sheets (which you can check out at the link below!) They’re weren’t cheap by any means, but to me they’re worth every penny!

Related: These Are The Best Bed Sheets I Have Ever Slept On

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

9. Toilet Paper

I recently asked my Facebook followers which items they were willing to spend more on, and I was a bit surprised to find that toilet paper ended up being the most popular response! (The second most popular response was Q-tips, oddly enough.)

It just goes to show that when it comes to saving money, everyone has to draw the line somewhere. And for many people, that line seems to be located at the entrance to their bathroom! ;-)

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

10. Pet Food

The most expensive dog food isn’t necessarily going to be the most healthy, but it’s safe to assume that the cheapest dog food won’t be the healthiest either. For instance, cheaper pet foods may contain more filler ingredients to keep their production costs low.

Do some research to compare various brands and food types for your pet, so you can make an informed decision about what’s best for them!

Things You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

11. Appliances

Major appliances often have major price tags, so it’s easy to gravitate towards the cheaper options. But opting for quality over savings can end up being the difference between owning a dependable appliance, and shelling out for costly repairs.

One of my Instagram followers (@kikileili78) summed this idea up perfectly in a comment on one of my recent posts: “My mom always said ‘we don’t have enough money to buy cheap things!’ For certain items, spending the extra money up front will save money in the long run because you won’t have to pay twice to have it replaced.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself! :-)

What’s something that you’re willing to spend a little extra on?

Read This Next

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • I agree with Nancy. It really pays to know what brands are made by the same companies. Once you know what brands are owned by the same company you can get good quality items for a lot less . I agree with the lady who was talking about the Crocs shoes. I have the basic clogs for around the house. Also when l was buying casual sandals for Summer I discovered they make cute comfortable slip on ones. They weren’t cheap, but the store had a good sale. My Dressy Sunday sandals are actually Calia by Skechers. They are so comfy. I had to switch to a lower heeled pair a few years ago because of my bad feet.

  • The three things I’d like to add to this list are dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, and AC filters. We only use Cascade Complete pods, Tide Ultra, and it’s saved us time, money, and energy. We don’t buy cheap air filters either. They aren’t the most expensive, but they do run around $15 each.

  • My son-in-law bought a basic set of Cutco knives for me a few years ago. (He sold them when he was in college and knew how good they were.) I had been cooking for 30 years at the time and had never experienced a good knife until then. They have seriously changed my life. Since then I’ve added several more to my collection. (If you join the Cutco website you get emails when they have sales. ) These knives are guaranteed for life AND our local Cutco dealer will sharpen them once a year for free. Cutco knives are a seriously good investment.

  • One thing I found to be true is always go to the best Cosmetic Dentist in your area! Don’t be cheap with your teeth! The reason I say Cosmetic Dentist is because any dentist can pull a tooth, or fill in a cavity, but only he best Cosmetic Dentist can put your smile back together after you are in a car accident, or you fall down, or faint and you crack your teeth. Only the best guy for the job is what you want! You want to end up looking at least as good, if not better than your smile did before you have an accident. I used to work for a periodontal surgeon in the past, and even him, he was great at what he did, but I have learned Cosmetic Dentistry is an art and your smile says a million things about you!

  • I buy recycled paper toilet paper by the case from Amazon. It doesn’t pill up and is not bleached. It does the job and is MUCH better for the environment. On sheets I try to buy muslin sheets. They are getting very hard to find these days. I don’t want to be on anything super smooth. I want to be able to feel my sheets. I liked a pair of muslin sheets when I was in grade school and was able to convince my mother to buy them. She was still using them on a full size bed she had 30 years later. They had not pilled. If you can find a good cotton with a thread count of 200 or under you will have a sheet that will last you forever. Appliances are a hard thing to buy in the U.S. My husband and I had a Sears washer and dryer that had gone through 20 years of hard service and three children’s worth of cloth diapers. When we moved it started leaking and was not repairable. Since we had had such good luck with Sears we bought another. After 7 years it was dead. The Sears repairman said that U.S. manufacturers no longer make appliances to last as younger generations just expect to replace often. He told us to buy European brands. We have been buying Electrolux brand since and have been having no problem. I think it is a shame that you cannot trust a U.S. brand to build quality. We don’t buy bells and whistles…white and energy saving is all we have gone for.

  • Door knobs and handles! I hate the look of cheap hardware that quickly gets scratches, tarnishes and the finish disappears. The majority of door hardware gets used multiple times every day so really, anything that gets used frequently is worth spending a little extra on.

  • I liked that you mentioned pet food. I never purchased the cheap brands but never thought about the more expensive either. Then I found and started looking at the different brands. I found a great 5 star dog food for my 4 fur babies that wasn’t much more than I was paying for the previous brand. Also liked the one for knives. I purchased a Cutco set back in 1971 and still have them to this day. They take care of them when I send them in to be sharpened and if they break they replace them free of charge. I would never own any other and have added to my set over the years. Thank you for your blog which I try to read when I get one. Such great information.

  • Trash bags! Cleaning up one too many times after the cheap bag broke all over the floor convinced me the “good” bags don’t cost that much more. The money spent is well worth the time and aggravation I’m not spending in cleaning wet, stinky garbage off the floor!

  • We bought our kitchen/laundry appliances from Sears in 2007, Kenmore Elite. When we relocated in 2015, we swapped the dishwasher from the new house, and brought our fridge and washer/dryer with us. They are still working.

  • I found out from my veterinarian several years ago, that Kirkland Maintenance (Costco) dry cat food is basically the same quality as Hill’s or Science Diet, and it is Much Cheaper! I had a male cat that suffered from urinary blockage, back in the mid-90s, and after I switched to Kirkland, he never had another one. He did pass from complications from diabetes five years later, a different catfood manufacturing issue.) I’ve used this dry food for over 20 years now, and never had another cat suffer urinary problems.

    • We no longer have cats, and I miss them, but sadly, I’m allergic to pet dander. When we did have cats we gave them dry food, and believe it or not, our last cat loved pepperoni from our pizzas when we would get them. She lived to be 18 years old and died of kidney disease. Our vet said that when we let her out she ate, played with? a dead bird, and contracted bird fever. He said that if a cat manages to catch a bird, that bird is sick, as they can fly away from even the most “enterprising” cat.
      If I was able to have another cat I would keep it indoors, only.
      BTW when our cat was about sixteen years old her teeth developed so much tartar that she started losing them, and we gave her soft food. Advice, try to clean your cat’s teeth, with a brush that you can buy at a pet food store.

  • The most important is classic basic hand tools, period, whether kitchen or home and garden. Especially those tools you use daily, or at least monthly. Good tools are a joy to use, make the job easier and won’t need replacement several times in your life due to features being added that you’ll covet. Electronics , don’t spend the extra money for a lot of excessive features you won’t use, which usually drive up the price and are just more things that can cause failure of the item. And never buy something you won’t really use, regardless of how great a bargain it is.

  • I buy the best yarn I can afford. I shop for sale prices. Considering the time spent on a knitted project, I think it is worth the best yarn for the specific garment that I can afford to purchase. I also buy the best needles (Addi turbos and lace and sock rockets). I purchase the 60 inch so I can do any size project I want to do, large or small, using the magic loop method. So much yarn…so little time!

  • Funny that the lesson I learned from a high school teacher, male at that, was to buy good shoes!!! That really sunk in. But it didn’t save my feet, they hurt so much and have for years. I think its genetics. Crocs save me these days. I wear the clogs at home but they have cute sandals for casual outfits. Aero soles are good for going out shoes.

    We have bought grain free dog food for over ten years. Taste of the wild is the brand they all like. We have had two dogs live to Fifteen, the golden retriever is still with us. But a rescue Sharpei had stomach cancer and died at ten. We put them on grain free when one dog had a very sensitive stomach. So maybe they are healthier. On the other hand I had a Bassett hound live to 13 1/2. She had parvo as a puppy and ate kibbles n bits her whole life.

    As for sheets, I have never spent more than $90. Those were from J.C. Penney 18 years ago before the big wave of 500,800,1000 thread count. They were so heavenly soft. But they are long gone. I have bamboo sheets but they barely fit my mattress. I got them when hot flashes started. I don’t notice a difference. They are soft. I do highly recommend bamboo undies, clothes and more easy to find rayon clothing.
    We are on a septic tank, which I hate, so toilet paper is Scott and nothing else. I have very sensitive skin and Scott is a non irritating tp. Even when we get sewer service I will stick with Scott because of my skin issues.
    Appliances…we built our house 18 years ago. We bought ge profile appliances. The oven just died but the stove top still works. The fridge and microwave are still working. We are on the second dishwasher and washer dryer set. They were hi end appliances back then, we can’t afford that this time.
    Bras are tough for me as I wear a hard to find size 36g in euro size that’s 36i in USA. I by Freda brand and they can be up to $80. I get them cheaper on amazon. When I lost 40lb a few years back I found Natori feathers was the most comfy bra ever but wore a 34g then. They don’t make a bigger size for me now.

    • I agree about the Scott toilet paper! It’s all I will ever use, it’s inexpensive and kind to my bottom. My parents buy the fluffy huge rolls which I think are rediculous. You use the bathroom 5 or 6 times and the roll is gone! Plus when you try to put a new roll on, they still have the old holder, so the huge roll doesn’t even fit in there! You have to use way too much paper the first time so the roll gets small enough to even fit in their holder. Is that just useless waste or what? Scott is the best!

      • I, too, love Scott Bathroom tissue, but I shop at Aldi’s every week and they have an off-brand that is just like Scott B.R.T.and it works as well for less money. I, also, buy milk, eggs, OJ, cube steak, chicken tenders (unbreaded), broccoli mushrooms, blueberries, and summer squash there, too. Not this time of year for the summer squash, as we grow our own. I do love Bob Evans already mashed potatoes, so I get those, Dannon Blueberry Yogurt and Romaine Lettuce at Market 32/Price Chopper.

      • PS, I used to go to Payless Shoes and purchased great looking shoes at what some folks might call “Cheap Prices.” I do not jog or run distances at my age, but I did receive a gift of Saucony Sneakers for when I walk the treadmill. They are old but have held up well.
        That reminds me, I better get to that treadmill, now.

  • I’d always been a toilet paper “snob”. Then I experienced a reaction. It didn’t take long to realize the culprit was my fancy toilet paper. Come to find out, the processing and even the glue that holds the end on the roll can cause problems in people with sensitive skin. I’m using a hypoallergenic bamboo type now. Still pricier than the store brands, but not as thick and soft as the premium brands. However, it’s worth the price to avoid the itch and irritation. Bless you if can use the plush stuff, but not everyone can.

  • Actually, the people that make the expensive appliances are the same exact people that make the cheap ones. They just do it under a different “brand” name. Mt fridge in the kitchen has the usual ice and water through the door dispensers. But I also have a “no frills” plain jane with no ice-maker in my pantry and the same in the upstairs game room of my barn. The cheap ones outlast the fancy ones I get for my kitchen every single time, lasting 20+years on average. The fancy ones you’re lucky if you get 10 years out of them.

    Bamboo sheets-If you ever sleep on good, thin, (not the horrible thick ones) Bamboo from rayon sheets you’ll wonder how you ever did without them. Especially true if you’re a hot sleeper. If cared for properly they last a long time so it’s a worthwhile investment. I get mine from Overstock.Com, and have for 20 years, and they’re about half the price of the ones Jillee uses.

    Mattresses- I have mixed feelings about this one. I am a heavy person so I am harder on mattresses than say a 150 lb gal but at the same time I have to have a good comfy mattress or my back causes me a lot of problems. I have an expensive Tempurpedic right now that I wouldn’t give you 2 cents for if I had to buy one again. It was worn out before it was paid for. So on this one I say if you can find a mattress that is comfy and inexpensive, go for it. If it doesn’t last but a few years so what? Go buy a new one. It’s better than sinking 5-6K in an expensive one that wears out just as quickly.

    Toilet paper- I have a retail store that goes through a LOT of TP so I buy the cheap stuff in bulk from Sams. It’s not bad at all once you get used to it. I used to always buy the uber fluffy stuff for the house, but I got so used to using the other stuff at work that I now use it at home as well.

  • I agree with all of the above. You get what you pay for. To make your dish soap last longer put it in a pump container. That bottle of Dawn will last twice as long as it did using it from the bottle. Especially if someone in the house uses it to wash dirty grimy hands. I swear my husband would use an eighth of the bottle to get his hands clean. Also measure how many pumps to get a tablespoon, then you know how many to use for many of the homemade cleaning mixes. I can not pay full price for some of the mentioned items, but there are always sales to watch for. And thrift stores, and garage sales. My favorite winter sheets I bought at a garage sale for ten dollars!

  • I agree with Jillee on everything. Cheap toilet paper pills up and sticks to you (I wish my work would spend a little extra, but I work for the state, so no dice). Life is too short to have sore feet. As for appliances, we each have our minimum requirementson features. Do read the reviews of the appliances. As for sheets….buy the highest thread count you can afford. I have bought the 200-400 count sheets, which quickly turned into sandpaper because the fibers pilled up after washing. I also purchased a set of 1500 thread count sheets, which initially felt thick as canvas, but softened up to butter softness and NEVER pilled up. I bought them through an online special (I think I paid $60 for a king sized set). They were wonderful. Just price shop if you are worried about the price. You CAN find value if you look. Thanks for all you do, Jillee!!!

  • I use Cutco knives. I bought several almost 40 years ago, other than sending them in for sharpening to Cutco (about $10/knife). They are still going strong.

  • Unless you’re a fashionista and need multiples, splurging on the best available quality in winter coats and boots is a must. They will last almost forever.

  • Oh yes, generic “cotton swabs” are super dangerous. I’ve seen the cotton fall off or not attached well in the first place. You may not realize it until it’s in your ear (yea yea, we know), but you sure will feel the difference when crying in pain.

    • You should not clean your ears with cotton swabs, cheap ones or expensive swabs. There are ear cleaning oils and a plastic device that has a rim that keeps it from going too far into your ear in order to remove the cerumen. Those are better alternatives to cotton swabs.

  • Haircuts! I will spend more for a quality haircut. I tried the budget places before and ended up with a very uneven cut – 1″ difference from side to side and that was with a short cut so it was really noticeable! I also tried a less expensive salon and got a very boxy, harsh cut. When my husband told me to go back to the more expensive salon, I knew my hair was looking pretty bad. I’m sure there are some quality stylists at some of the budget places, but unfortunately I haven’t found one and am not willing to play roulette with my hair anymore.

    • I learned that lesson about hair years ago. The cheapest ones just don’t really know how to cut long hair. I have a regular hairdresser. She’s not the most expensive. If I get a good cut I can go 2 months in between.

      • I have had the same hairstylist for 17 years, she is a genius for giving my fine, thin, sparse hair a great cut and curl. She is honest, too, as I used to get perms when my hair was thicker a med that I no longer take and my treated low thyroid condition thinned my hair. So, when my hair became so thin and sparse she told me not to get a perm as it would not last and my hair would only turn frizzy. I get a cut from her about every 7-8 weeks. She does not charge a huge price, in fact, she is very reasonable, but she does such a great job that I give her a large, well-deserved tip.

  • Interesting. I don’t think they make tp in 4 ply. We have to get the 2ply. It’s amazing how many of the fancy ones are just thick 1 ply. We don’t get the cheapest brand. However, some stores have a good 2 ply. I agree with Jillee on the shoes. Although I can’t afford to spend a lot. One of my favorite comfy pairs. A pair of Clark’s clog my mom was actually at a garage sale a few years back and someone was just giving 2 pairs away. They are still comfy.

    • Clark’s are the best shoes ever! Watch Amazon for sales and Nordstrom Rack. I have found really good prices on Clark shoes there. Also on Brad’s deals!

  • Sorry but I disagree with you on a few of these items. Spending $239 for sheets is stupidity from where I sit. If you’re Ms. Got Rocks then go ahead, if not you can get some very nice sets for $30 to $50 each. Talk about literally throwing money down the toilet, then go ahead and spend extra for 4 ply toilet paper. It will only end up clogging your pipes down the road. And third, appliances. Most appliances are of very decent quality. What make appliances costly is that you DON’T need the big double door, stainless steel refrigerator with the ice maker. You don’t need the stainless steel stove with the double oven or industrial style stove. You don’t need the impossible to clean cooktop ranges with the hotter than hot self clean ovens. What you do need is the basic white 18 cubic foot refrigerator and white stove, no granite countertops either while we’re at it.

    • April I have to agree with you about the appliances and the sheets. But the toilet paper is another matter.Even though I agree with you about it clogging up the sewer/septic I use a roll or two in conjunction with my cheap stuff so I don’t get a rash:). I do agree with Jillee on everything else.

    • I don’t think Jillee means buy all the bells and whistles on an appliance. Just do your research and buy the best appliance out there. I’m looking for a new washing machine for the first time in 41 years. I purchased the best rated washer 41 years ago and I think it has paid for itself more than once! And only2 service calls!
      My mom told me years ago buy the best case goods (end tables, dressers etc) that I could afford. I still have most of those items 25 years later. The best isn’t always the most expensive.

    • Until you sleep in those Cariloha sheets, don’t judge. They ARE the most wonderful, softest and durable sheets ever. I have a few sets of bamboo sheets and the lesser expensive ones are nice as well but not as nice as the Cariloha.
      I’m also a fan of Charmin bath tissue. I don’t think there’s another brand out there that even comes close. I just tried Amazon’s brand and it’s “okay” but falls apart too easily and pills up, yuck.

      • For those of us with allergies/sensitivity Charmin is the worst! And, yes, it’s worth buying more expensive brands to be comfortable!

    • April, you will never be in trouble financially with that attitude. Too any people have champagne tastes on beer budgets. As you said, $239 for a set of sheets is unrealistic for 90% of the population, yet there are many people that will insist on spending that because “I’m worth it”. Trust me, you’re not that special! Buy the best you can, within your means. Don’t go luxury when practical is fine, unless you have the money to burn.

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