Some little luxuries are worth spending more but there are still ways to save on them. Part of being frugal is deciding where to spend less money, and where to spend more.
Susan Gregory Thomas suggested this in her post “Little Luxuries Lift You Up” on dailyworth.com, a website about money written by women for women. Even when money is tight, if you can, it’s worth saving even just a few pennies a day for that special lipstick or other treat that lifts you up.
These are 10 things that to me are worth the higher cost. Call them “treats” for myself and my family, or just call them wise buys. Though I’ll buy clothes at thrift stores and use coupons wherever I can, some things are not worth buying cheap, especially when you consider their long-term usefulness and life improvement value. For example, why buy something cheap if you’re going to have to keep replacing it, if you could just spend more money up front for an item that lasts longer?
1. Shoes. As a busy mom, I need good support for my feet, regardless of what I’m doing. I love Clarks shoes. They really make you feel like you’re walking on clouds. They’re made well, provide good support and last a long time. I have several pairs of Clarks shoes that I love to wear and they look great.
How to save on good shoes: Buy at DSW stores (discounted high-end shoes) or order them on amazon.com. I recently found a wonderful pair of Clarks sandals in a shoe store, but they were almost $70. I then checked on amazon.com where I found the same shoes for $48 (and free shipping!). I also ordered some Clarks dress shoes on ebay.com recently. They were reasonably priced and barely worn (I normally don’t like to buy used but these were like new).
2. Proactiv Acne Skin Care Products. I’ve had horrible acne since I was a teen. I went to a dermatologist then and tried medications for it, none of which worked. I also tried everything else – simple soaps, Cetaphil, and every other acne product I could find. Then Proactiv came along from Rodan & Fields. It was like a miracle. It made my skin dry and red for a while, but then my skin cleared up and got used to it. That was over 10 years ago. I’ve been using it since – except for two occasions that I stopped my membership to try to save money. Well, both times my skin broke out terribly and I had to start using Proactiv again. I could have been an official spokesperson for them!
How to save on Proactiv: You can only get the items by joining as a club member, but I think their prices are reasonable for the quality products you get. (There are kiosks with the products in malls, too, but the prices are similar.) My only advice is to do what I do, which is to use a minimum amount of the product each day so it lasts longer, then adjust your shipping schedule accordingly. It works for me. The products I use cost me about $60 every 3-4 months or so.
3. BareMinerals (by Bare Escentuals) makeup. Best makeup there is. Period. I’ve used everything from Maybelline to Revlon to knockoffs of the BareMinerals line. Nothing compares. Whatever skin imperfections you have, BareMinerals covers them. Plus, you can sleep in it, which I do sometimes. I also like their mascara and lipstick. They’re very natural-looking, which is what makeup should be.
How to save on prestige cosmetics such as BareMinerals: Buy at ULTA cosmetics stores. The foundation (which lasts a few months) costs around $26. Join their rewards club and you’ll get coupons a few times a year for 20% off everything in the store, which includes Bare Minerals makeup. Another option is to buy at either of the two Bare Minerals stores in the Mall of America. Get a stamp card and collect enough stamps to get a discount off a future purchase.
4. Eddie Bauer clothing. I think we all have our clothing line favorites. Eddie Bauer is mine. Though I do find good Eddie Bauer clothing at thrift stores all the time, there’s nothing like finding that perfect item for yourself at a higher-end boutique. I found the perfect sweater for myself at an Eddie Bauer store on my birthday a few years ago, bought it for $40, and have worn it so many times since.
How to save money on pricier clothing: See if they have a free club you can join. I am an Eddie Bauer “Friends” member and get emails, sale notices and coupons regularly.
5. Massages. I don’t get these often, but as a mom, I NEED them every once in a while. But instead of going to an expensive spa, I hire a friend from my church who does massages in her clients’ homes. She is professional, reasonable (basically $1 a minute, plus a discount if you book another appt. with her), and does a great job. We talk more about her in my spotlight on her here.
How to save money on massages: Again, ask around. Find an independent massage therapist who can charge less because they’re self-employed.
6. Gogo Applesauce pouches for the kids. I typically buy applesauce in the jar and when at home I serve it to my kids from that, but when we’re on the go, these portable pouches are great. The kids love them if we’re at the park, beach, zoo, and just about anywhere else. They cost around $2 for a box of 4 on sale at Target, which is when I buy them. It’s a convenience food I do buy, as it helps me keep my sanity sometimes.
How to save on convenience foods for your family: Sales, and coupons when you can find them. I haven’t found coupons for these applesauce pouches but I have for other convenience foods. If you must for the sake of making your life a little easier, I say stock up when you find them on sale, especially if you can use coupons as well.
7. Some organic food. If I could afford to I’d buy only organic food, because of all I’ve read about it, that it’s better for you and the environment. However, that’s just not realistic. So I pick and choose, and use coupons whenever possible. From organic.org, here’s a list of the “dirty dozen” when it comes to which produce are the most contaminated with pesticide residues, and which are the least. For myself, I regularly buy organic eggs, meat and some produce like celery.
How to save money on organic food: If you search online, you’ll find an abundance of valuable information and coupons for saving on organic food. All You Magazine (my favorite magazine) provides this helpful article “10 secrets to affordable organic food.”
8. Food from the Farmer’s Market. My reasons for buying food from the Farmer’s Market are similar to my reasons for buying organic food, but not all food I buy from the Farmer’s Market is organic. But it is fresh, local, and good for you when you buy directly from the farmers. And it’s good for them, too. However, I don’t feel that it’s always cheaper than buying at grocery stores, but it’s worth buying regardless.
How to save money at the Farmer’s Market: Know that the prices are negotiable. And if you don’t want an entire container of tomatoes, for example, you can negotiate for the quantity you want, as well. Also, the bigger the Farmer’s Market (like the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market), the more vendors to choose from and the more price-comparing you can do (though I find that they tend to be very similar).
9. Car care. I drive a 1999 Toyota vehicle that now has 236,000 miles on it. I bought it in 2001, owned it in full since 2005, and it has been a great, reliable vehicle. I believe it has been so good because I’ve brought it primarily to a great dealership, Maplewood Toyota, for its care and maintenance. During my first few years with my car, I had it serviced at “nationwide car service centers,” and stopped trusting them because every time I had something simple done, like an oil change, they discovered something else that was wrong (and expensive to fix). And things kept going wrong with my car, which was odd, because it was a TOYOTA! So I decided to spend more and have it cared for at the dealership instead. Maplewood Toyota has been wonderful. It costs a little more to have, say, an oil change done, but they check the car completely, never tell me to do more than what is absolutely necessary, have great staff who explain everything well, and get the job done promptly and thoroughly. Plus, every repair I’ve had to have done (which has been rare) was done WELL. So, it’s worth the extra cost (and they have a VERY nice customer waiting area!). And the reality is, by doing this, you may end up spending less in the long run (I believe I have!).
How to save money on car care: Maplewood Toyota and other dealerships have coupons you can use for all kinds of vehicle servicing. Go to their websites or ask them. But let me also say that of course, there are other mechanics who do a great job as well, not just at dealerships. Shop and ask around.
10. Our toilet seat. Okay, I had to throw this in there, because we like having a nice, wooden toilet seat, but for a few years we kept replacing ones that we would buy in stores for about $20. For whatever reason, they kept falling apart! Turns out they were cheaply made and not made of good wood. So, eventually I checked online and found a good, solid wood toilet seat on amazon.com for about $45. It’s been great and adds a nice touch to the bathroom. Seriously! Don’t underestimate the value of a good toilet seat! 🙂
How to save money on a toilet seat: I don’t really know what to say here, other than if you want my advice, check on amazon.com or another site that has what you want. That’s where my toilet seat shopping advice ends! 🙂
Feel free to share what you spend a little more money on!