What items are worth splurging on?

How do you choose which things to spend more more money on – and what things can you cheap out on? Listeners write in with their best consumer investments and how these splurges improve their lives. People splurge on cooking equipment, knives, shoes, bras, and gym memberships.

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Welcome to my dollar. A personal finance show with a dash of glitter dealing with money can be scary and stressful.

But here we give practical friendly advice about money that helps you to tackle the financial overwhelm. Here’s your host. Low in care make.

And that was your other host will roll me. All right. Well today we’re going to talk about things that you should splurge on. Yeah. So you know consumer investments. Not necessarily not investments like a house or stock portfolio. But think about what you buy as a long term Yahoo or gold or bitcoins.

We’re gonna stay away from them something concrete which will improve your life.

It doesn’t have to be a physical object but just something that you invest in which could be you know a gym membership or something like that. But just what should you splurge on and what you should get cheap and sort of some guiding principles that you can use. This is something that I often struggle with when I’m trying to figure out like oh do I. One of the big things is that I’ve talked about this I think very briefly on the show but I have been going back to figure skating which was a thing that I did competitively when I was younger and I’m obviously a bit older now than I was when I could lift my foot above my head at high speeds on frozen water. But it’s an expensive sport and I’ve been thinking about it from the terms of like is this splurge worth it right. Because it’s at this point like obviously I’m not going to go to the Olympics with figure skating. Not with that attitude. Yeah I would. I think I would be the if I went to the Olympics now and figure skating I think I’d be the oldest woman to ever go to the Olympics for skating. Yeah I know I’m your new goals. But it’s an expensive sport right. And so the question was like Oh is this worth it when like I could go work out at a gym for less than you know ice time Congress or like I can get a sparkle spandex costume without having to get one that I can wear figure skating. You know what. What am I getting out of it. And I also have noticed as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized there’s some things that for me makes sense to invest in like quality shoes. I’ve stopped buying cheap shoes because it used to be that I spent a lot more money on shoes even though I was getting them at a lower cost per shoe just because I’d have gone through so many shoes.

Exactly replace them. I have the same shoe issue.

Anything you’re in all the time seems like an essential tool to go buy the higher quality product.

But then there’s some other things that if you buy them cheap they they don’t in any way impact the longevity of the product or your enjoyment of it. And there’s some things you can just go without it. And some of this is like a socio economic thing where when you when you have a little more financial stability or more income coming in you can kind of make the choice to invest in products right. Because like there was definitely a point in my life when I definitely couldn’t spend hundred and sixty dollars on a pair of boots.

When you buy the cheap boots because as long as you could buy.

Yeah exactly. And I actually Terry Pratchett in the book men in arms introduced the boots theory of socio economic unfairness which I I actually think is quite brilliant. Which is the reason that the rich were so rich volumes reasoned was because they managed to spend less money take boots for example. He earned 38 dollars a month plus allowances a really good pair of leather boots cost 50 dollars but an affordable pair of boots which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out cost ten dollars. These were the kind of boots vines had always bought and wore until the soles were so thin he could tell where he was in ink more pick on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles. But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that still be keeping his feet dry. In ten years time while the poor man could only afford cheap boots and would have spent one hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet. This was Captain Samuel vines boots theory of socio economic unfairness.

Terry Pratchett Great as always.

Yeah so I’ve been thinking about this and I actually I posited this to the oh my dollar forums shout out to the forums and ask people like what their best investments have been their consumer investments. What is worth splurging on. What do you have anything that stands out to you is like a splurge that was totally worth it.

Oh I see this one coming up in the notes but I won’t jump on it anyways. I bought a nice just cooking knife for my birthday which was a hundred and ten dollars right stuffing not the cheapest knife I could buy but I was awesome. Most expensive not buy by any means. This is really no upper limit there. But it’s totally improved my my my cooking quality.

Yeah it’s it is amazing how much like less painful it is if you’re chopping and cooking a lot to have a nice knife that’s like fresh and easy to chop. I mean also like really poor quality knives are hard to keep in good shape right because you you often can only sharpen them a set number of times and makes cooking more fun if you’ve got a vet and a nice nice nice nice tools. And if it makes cooking more fun it might save you money over the long term because you’re going to eat out less.

No I’m not going to go out to the American chop stuff up with my cool knife.

How how many fancy dinners would would you be able to you know get up.

Yeah cut hours as well because like you know independent no tiramisu. Yeah.

Knock knock one out for the hundred ten bucks working at it.

And for me it’s probably been my nice bicycle which is like I have a fully custom bicycle but I have a lot of joint and wrist pain and I’m also really petite so it’s very hard to find stock bikes in my size that can go long distances like a lot of them are like children’s bicycle. And also most of them are kind of like road bike style where you have to lean down a lot and I can’t put weight on my hands so I ride a incredibly upright bike but it was custom fit to my size and I it’s it’s great. I mean I’m able to go you know on more than a hundred miles in a day on this bike and it’s my main form of transportation. So it’s and I plan to have it for the rest of my life right. Like I bought it with the intention that this was a lifetime bike as long as I took care of it.

Yeah well it goes against the more more expensive things too I often do a better job at taking care of having that investment in an object makes me want to take better care of it like I do I think that that knife sharpened more about having that bike for life. You probably better maintenance than you know a throw away bike right.

Totally. And you because you’re kind of like more aware of the cost to it. So there’s a couple different ways to figure out if something is worth splurging on. One thing is to look at the cost per use to you. So for something like a gym membership someone on the forums was contemplating like should I should I get a fancy gym membership. One thing you can do is you can just figure out how much you’re going to pay per visit. So like a fifty dollars a month gym membership if you go twice a week is gonna be six twenty five a visit and you know what’s cool about that is you’re able to figure out like oh if I’m actually going to use this more often because it’s a higher quality splurge like it’s a gym I enjoy going to more or it’s closer to my house so I’m more likely to stop in versus on the other side of town than you might be able to get that cost per use down more for something like clothing you can look at how often you’re gonna wear it. So something like a good winter coat might be really expensive but if you’re going to wear it for the next five seasons and you’re also going to wear it for you know 90 days in a year that costs per wear is not going to be very high I guess versus buying a nice winter coat for quick trip to the tundra.

Yeah right right. Or or buying a you know buying a cheap coat that’s going to fall apart in a season. Yeah. So like a lot of those fast fashion stores will have we’ll have coats that like the seams are falling apart and there’s only so much that you can you can handle on it. So and knives like if you’re going to cook more often because you have a nice knife that’s a great example. So then the second thing to look at is if you can get this cheaper will it be comparable quality longevity or impact on your life. So for me like one thing I’ve discovered is as as much as I’ve realised that investing in quality things like shoes is better something I’ve realised is tights are totally not worth me getting higher quality I destroy my tights at the same rate whether or not there are 45 dollar pair of tights or an eight dollar pair of tights Yep tights are tight I give ya no one makes tights for strength well and some do but they.

For me it seems like I wear through them just as fast or you know like another example would be like Oh maybe maybe you are on the edge of sizing and you can’t find pants at a standard store right. You need to. You need to go to a store that only sells tall pants or whatever turns out wearing pants don’t fit is going to have like a significant negative impact on your life.

Yeah yeah. And also the pant longevity too I feel like things that fit poorly kind of get stretched in weird places for me.

Yeah totally. But there’s another example of like cheaper cleaning products for a lot of people like a the difference between ten dollar window cleaner and 20 dollar window cleaner. I don’t know that those are expensive either way. But like it it cleans just as well right still bleach. Right. So think about like think about if it will have the comparable quality or impact on your life. So could you get a stove. You could you know maybe you’re thinking about getting an instant pot and you’re like because everybody has talked about how great it is and you’re like oh do I really want to spend seventy dollars on a pressure cooker. But you realize that like yes you could get a stove pressure cooker for cheap but it won’t make things as easy as an insta pot that you could just set up and ignore.

Having just bought a pressure cooker that you’re not gonna use your insta pot for canning things because you don’t get enough pressure. You thought that your instead pot for can help but it doesn’t add up to 15. I did I did my homework on this one.

I think it depends on what kind of Canning you’re doing.

I’m really pleased with myself that pressure cooker is why I’m jumping on the pressure cooker defense there is 64 which was which was a good deal I think.

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Well if you’re gonna be doing canning due to your research or research I guess that’s true with all of this. Yeah.

Don’t don’t buy an expensive product thought like really geeking out about it for a week first.

This is like as someone who doesn’t enjoy whole videos or videos. Hall. Hall videos on YouTube. I don’t enjoy them for their entertainment value but they’re so valuable when it comes to like seeing how other people have used products. You know when you’re researching an expensive purchase.

Yeah well like the pressure cooker it wasn’t particularly into pressure cookers until I really started researching how to can stuff and it’s like I need to make sure I got the right pressure cooker and feel like I really did my research and got the right pressure cooker.

I’m I’m very excited for you. You’re clearly very excited you found passion for pressure cookers. Yeah.

For me I you know because I eat tacos for breakfast every morning. I used to make all my beans every week on the stove and little hard boiled black beans over the saw. You know and like stain my stove and have to clean it every week like three days. Yeah yeah yeah pretty much as it’s like about how long it takes to make beans. And then I moved to like a slow cooker which was great because I didn’t have to like regularly watch watch it in the same way. But then when we got the Instant Pot I was able to pressure cooker beans. I was like oh my god it literally has saved me like five and a half hours of worrying about the slow cooker for because I can make beans in 40 minutes.

Yeah right which it used to take like six and a half hours and this is really drifting but I’ve recently in the past couple months been like struck by how much better dry beans are than can be. Yes. Not that can’t beans are like expensive by any means.

They really are compared to dry being compared to HIV AIDS there. Yeah. Yeah.

No I mean that’s actually and that’s one of those things where it is it is very much a time versus money equation because for me like beans Save me save me a lot of money because I eat beans every day so making them once a week in my pressure cooker from driving I’m saving a lot over buying canned beans. I think I think I spend like around a dollar a week on beans and if I was buying them even in the cheap cans I would be spending like 250 a week. Yeah. That that’s my I’ve done the math before 250 percent more. Yeah but but it’s a question of like can you afford the time. And like is owning a pressure cooker sped up that time for me a lot but it was an investment that I made it was a splurge that I did because I knew I was gonna get a good frequency of use. I know I make beans every week things like that.

So and I’m just convinced that dried beans are tastier.

Oh they taste so much better every time or texture so I have an emergency can of beans for like situations where we run out of beans or whatever because it’s a can of beans. Those are not negotiable and every time I have to you can beans I’m like oh there’s so much worse the less and they’re fine but they’re just not as less tooth as some because I can season them how I want to. They need so much more salt in them to to be able to catch them at that like commercial quantity that it’s you don’t need as much salt to make them at home which is nice for my I’m sure.

My experience is shit. These have been another trend. Anyways we’re drifting we are. I do have dried beans also under I’d try being recipes. I made a good hummus yesterday. We’re really on track now.

The pressure cooker kind of Segway is in another thing which is time versus money. If you’re thinking about splurging on something just the cheap version of this or or not having it cost you more in time. So for example like yoga memberships or something that are like you know it’s a hundred bucks a month or something like that you could work trade. You might be able to do a work trade where you come in and work like a couple hours a week and get a free membership. But that obviously sucks up more time. So you or you could save money on a gym membership by going to the far away ten dollar gym instead of the one that’s really close to your house. That’s 40 dollars a month but it has a longer commute like is time versus money you can break down your hourly cost. Right. So you can break down like how much you’re making. I I did work trade for a yoga membership for like a year and when I actually worked it out I was making like four dollars an hour and I was like OK.

Money is fungible. I can just work a couple more hours at my you know reasonably paid wage and just by this yoga membership come out ahead here.

And so figuring out that time versus money is is it is it going to save you so much time that the money is worth it in the end and you know we’re gonna have to talk about values because this is my darling. But does it relate to one of your core values. So you know health being a core value for me whimsy is one of my core values which is kind of ridiculous. But it did it’s factored into one of my big splurges I’m about to do family education. So something like a kids school fees or piano lessons or something like that. That’s a great example of something where you’re like oh maybe this doesn’t fit. Like yes. Is is kickin run soccer really one of my core values. No but my my you know kids educational development is one of my core values and I find that you know being able to pay their soccer fees helps. Of course that makes sense. Fits with family or education or fitness whatever it is. For me whimsy is one of my core values and I’m I’m contemplating a very expensive hair transformation. And for me you know having pink hair helps. It contributes to my core value of whimsy. Yeah. Yeah. Even though it’s very expensive. So thinking about it in terms of how it relates to your core values I think is a really helpful way to frame it because you know having a slightly fancier car if you don’t really care about having a fancy your car it doesn’t really matter unless you do like a race car driver where it’s making you more money or a car enthusiast Vegas you’re happier.

Yeah. Or if the difference between the cheapest version of the car and a slightly more expensive version of the car is a huge difference in safety for getting your family around. Maybe that does relate to your core value. And so just have that have that discussion because as we’ve talked about before advertisers salespeople they love to prey on this idea where they wrap up they wrap things up in disguise it as values right. They’ll tell you like oh if you don’t get the fanciest car that is plays TV ads for your kids to watch on the back and road trips as we see in car commercials then you’re a bad parent failed. Right. Exactly. And so just just disentangling your own feelings of values from what you’re kind of being fed I think is very helpful. And then this is maybe kind of an obvious one and it’s similar to time versus money but does it earn you more money. Money versus money. So for me a faster laptop for work I was getting incredibly slowed down by my laptop which I have to do video editing and data processing on and that laptop. I use it all the time so not only is the cost per use really low but it paid for itself much more quickly in my ability to complete work faster. Yeah I have a better keyboard someone on the forums mentioned that they have a custom keyboard. And it made a huge difference to their productivity and comfort with work which is a great example of something I never would think about keyboard people are they are really intense keyboard people are super intense that is like a sub it if you need to lose some time. I never knew this is one of those things that as I get older I realize that there is there is the niche high quality version of everything right. Yeah there is there is someone for which there like core values and interests is that thing. And they’re so excited to see large on it right.

I love that stuff like keyboard specifically but I love that people have the it’s like arcane passions.

Yeah. Yes. Stuff. This is this is one of those things though where I think the Internet does make it more dangerous when you’re doing the research on something like splurges because you know you’ll start by being like oh I could buy that. I just need a pair of tights and then you’ll find the enthusiast forum where everybody buys fifty dollar pairs of tights and they go for like a limited edition is an essay on my your tights suck right.

And you’re like headphones are a great example right. Like I’m not that much of an audio nerd despite working in radio and a a moderate quality headphone to me will not make the difference that it will make to an audio file. Right. Like I don’t need a five hundred dollar pair of headphones. I’m pretty happy with my 80 dollar paraphernalia.

I find 80s the sweet spot. Every week we get the low the low range pro gear is always going to be better than your like. Top of the line consumer gear. In my experience yeah.

Right. And so that’s an example of something where like your values are going to factor into it. But you have to kind of step back and be like Is this actually my core values. Because like I really like nice skin care. But you know if push comes to shove I will give up my fiancee’s kin. But it’s very easy to get totally lost in those skin care forums and sub credits and everything and convince yourself you need all the products in the world. One of the skin care sub Reddit sort of hang out on because I do that actually has this thing called anti whole which is they every every week they have people post what they didn’t buy and also what things they’ve used up and that’s good.

Ok. It’s kind of nice.

I like the used up things to something that you know you used your stuff before you about new ones.

Yeah exactly. So other things that might earn you more money that might be a good thing so for me better lighting for video lighting equipment is kind of expensive but good lighting in your videos is really important.

So I work in video. It’s important. So if you work in an industry where appearance matters maybe you’re a cocktail waitress or you are a you know news anchor or a YouTube or whatever it might be a better haircut blow out or dye job or something like that or even higher quality makeup as opposed to drugstore makeup and going to Sapporo and getting expensive makeup like those are the kind of things that could make you more money. You might be able to do the math that having that 40 dollar foundation over the ten dollar foundation does actually make you that money. It makes the difference. Right. So that’s one of those things where like tracking in and tuning into it you can really see what the splurges are worth it for you. Someone on the forums Elle pointed out so Elle has epilepsy and said an Uber to and from work when I otherwise wouldn’t go in is like a really good investment and splurge on myself and not only does that earn her more money it’s also just taking care of her health which is one of her core values.

I feel like my very light version of that is buying coffee at the store when I’m out of coffee or running late.

Yeah yeah.

Just because caffeine is important and definitely doesn’t earns me more money. I would. Be less useful.

Yeah. No I don’t. There’s definitely like the the slowness tax that I take. I mean. Right. And that’s also sometimes for me when I’m traveling I will pay partially because I’m on per diem but also like I will just pay to get food in my face faster so that I can get on with the work rather than seeking out the cheapest option. Right. Let’s just put calories in your real quick. Yeah. Yeah.

The like be like oh if I if I can go to the hotel bar and get food in the morning or if I can like walk to the grocery store that’s like two blocks away and just get food quickly as opposed to like seeking out the cheapest place to eat breakfast. You know it can make a huge difference. Here are some things that other people shared. They said we’re worth a dollar so shoes and quality bras were across the board endorsed as something that were worth the dollar dollars. Also comfortable and adaptive furniture. So either adaptive furniture for like working for people with disabilities. Someone had our Daniel said I have a button touch recliner which is apparently very helpful standing like the variable height desks came up quite a lot.

I heard a lot of great things about this. We got a pair in the new office upstairs that I haven’t really played with.

I can’t even I haven’t seen the new office yet and the old office was definitely not big enough for an adjustable desk. You should come check it out after and then other things were high quality bedding. A lot of people brought up the idea that they don’t necessarily they’re not necessarily onboard with the idea that experiences versus things are always because there’s a lot of like oh you should spend money on experiences not on objects right. But they’re like always spend a lot of time at home though.

I have a really nice table at home enjoy everyday objects.

Yes exactly. I thought this was really interesting which was marmalade on the forum said I grew up with the belief that generics were practically as good as branded items but it’s not necessarily true branded items put a lot of work into being the best they can be. For example Robitussin cough syrup is really effective when I get my yearly bronchitis but the Walgreens generic cough syrup was just awful. It had the same cough suppressing active ingredients but the formulation wasn’t soothing and it tasted bad but I’ll totally buy generics for pills. So I thought that was kind of interesting.

I’d love to do a blind taste test next episode.

Oh of course tune in for that although there might be a podcast or other things that people brought up.

We’re not even necessarily really expensive things but just things that we’re a little more expensive than the alternatives. Nice thermos was a big one. I I hemmed and hawed over getting a food thermos. When I worked a job I thought a microwave and you know whatever I spent like maybe 11 dollars on it but of course I was like Oh is this a waste. I going to use those. And it made so much difference because I never eat out because I had this food thermos I always had warm feelings.

This stuff is huge. I have a huge dermis thermos beer growler kind of thing and it’s incredible because it doesn’t take a mini fridge space.

Whew. Yeah. So you know if fridge space is a hot commodity if you live with a lot of people and you don’t have to dig through every empty Earth Balance container that contains leftovers wait it’s either by lying or worse.

Earth Balance.

Someone else in the Forum said a really good loose leaf tea which is not actually that much more per cup but so much tastier. I do find that like good Macha is like a pleasant experience in a way where like the cheaper kind of magic that’s meant for like putting in smoothies or cooking chalky and tastes green. Yeah it doesn’t have as much.

It’s a little earth here and doesn’t have one of those things you can just like probably save yourself a lot of money by not knowing better. Yeah it’s in coffee. If you like you like the cheap stuff stick with it right.

Don’t the don’t develop expensive habits version of saving money. Yeah.


So certain art supplies was on the list welcome tablet and high quality paper for watercolors things like that. Someone said a worth it investment was their cat. Oh yeah no one saving money from having a cat. Oh yes but they’re so cute. My life is definitely improved I haven’t. Yeah. Oh yeah. Also I actually think I do save some money because I stay at home more often because I’m like why would I leave and go to the bar. I can stay with my God.

Yeah that checks out. Taxes money saving devices like cat owners are like introverts as opposed to extroverts like dog owners. I saw my cat who I always hang out with walking home from the studio yesterday too late and seen them all winter. He was probably avoiding the rain but his back was exciting.

Oh yes it is.

That is now the neighborhood cat sees exactly hear me out a lot and they wrapped his head in good. There was a very important update.

Well one of the last things which I think is probably the one of the most important things is what I call the smile test which is just does it make you grin thinking about it. So a really nice table that makes you feel great every time you look at it and you have friends over or a coat that makes you feel amazing every time. As Will can attest you have incredibly extra winter coat but I love it and I’ve had it for many seasons and I I love wearing it. Yeah so. Or just even something as simple as like a lotion that delights you every time you use it like it smells good or whatever makes your skin feel soft. Yeah.

Not worth that. That’s certainly an area where it’s worth splurging.

Sometimes it just has to come down to does it make you feel good.

Yeah. Do you like it. Yeah.

So Christie on the forum said something that wasn’t worth the dollars was to her was booze. What makes the 40 dollar tequila twice as good as the 20 dollar tequila. I can’t tell. Yeah I actually found that there was like I don’t drink anymore but there was like a sweet spot in whiskey which was like the 18 dollar bottle versus the 13 dollar bottle made a huge difference. But the 40 dollar bottle isn’t really worth it to me.

Yeah I agree. I feel like that spot also varies wildly with booze it’s like I’m like my fine. You get you get really high quality stuff like under 30 where it’s like whiskey you feel like you’re like Scotch you can’t get anything that you want under like 100 or something crazy which is why I enjoy.

We have in Portland we have this place called Multnomah Whiskey library and they will get you as little as one quarter of a shot of different tax of movies in there.

Keep on meaning to one of these days.

It’s a definitely a fun visit. You know it’s unlike everything else in Portland there’s like a huge waiting list to get in so you have to like show up and and wait and it takes hours to get you know it’s not worth my time is waiting in line.


How. Oh and Portland. I guess you don’t go out for brunch very. I don’t. I don’t not really working during brunch time go right to.

But even on week I’m by people in the city love lines and I’m not. I will almost always go for the quick replacement option if a line shows up if there’s like some trendy ass taco joint. I will go to the food cart across the street or it’s yeah time is money.

Yeah. All right. So splurges are not worth not in line. Yeah. There’s a in San Francisco they like waiting in lines even more than Portland but in the Castro there’s this brunch place that always has a really long line. But they serve you mimosas and play techno music and there’s a dance party going on in the front while people wait for brunch. And it’s essentially like you get to go to a morning club before brunch and that’s the only acceptable line you get. It’s like a mitigated mind. Yeah yeah. All right. Well hopefully that helped you figure out what to splurge on versus get cheap. Once again it kind of depends on what you want to need and what your values are. But there are some things across the board that people really agreed are worth the money which was shoes and bras and brass beds knives.

We said shoes. So I think that’s it. Yeah. Tell us what you splurged on. Tell us what you didn’t splurge on. Yeah I.

We love hearing from you. We love to hear what things you invest in and what things that you get cheap and you just don’t notice the difference in. Email us your financial worries successes splurges at questions at Obeidallah dot com and tweet us at a novel or at Oh my dollar or come talk in the forums at Forum start Oh my forums.

Oh my arm.

Oh my dollar doc. Yeah. Please come talking to firms. It’s great. It’s a really good community there.

Yes. I’m your producer will Romi. Our intro music is by Aaron Peretti and your host and personal finance educator is Lillian Kirby. Thanks for listening. And until next time remember to manage your money so it doesn’t manage you.

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