Being a budget-conscious, frugal adult is an important aspect of my life right now. I’m not into extreme couponing, but I do try to save as much money as I can whenever possible. However, sometimes getting a good deal means that you’re getting a subpar product in terms of quality and longevity. The idea that “you get what you pay for” holds true. Here are five things worth spending money on.
Your feet are literally your points of contact with earth below, and you choose to wear flip-flops? I made a promise to myself a couple of years ago to never wear an open-toed shoe again. Nobody wants to see my hairy hobbit feet, and I don’t want to feel self-conscious about having them seen. More importantly, flat shoes like flip-flops and sandals can hurt your posture after repeated use. You need to find something with "sole." My shoe buying these days is all about quality. And you can have quality and a good price point. You just have to know your size and the best places to shop. (Hint: It’s not Walmart.)
I’m not going to look up the statistics, but apparently, most of us spend half of our lives sleeping. That’s not some sort of Buddhist double-meaning phrase about awakening, either. We are literally asleep for that long. So why would we consciously choose to be uncomfortable during that time? I remember going to the doctor in my early college years with just wrenching back pain. I thought I’d hurdled a few discs (I was an idiot) during a game of racquetball. I was surprised when he asked me where I’d been sleeping, as if it were any of his business! Then, I realized he wanted to know what I’d been sleeping on. For the past few months, I’d been sleeping on an ancient couch in my dorm room. It’s no wonder my back hurt. I wasn’t getting the support I needed from those rusty springs needling into my spine all night. That changed. I spent my student loan money on a full-size Tempur-Pedic mattress and some high-quality sheets. No back problems since. Spend money on being comfortable. It’s worth it.
As many women find out early in life, there are people who cut hair for money, and there are professional hair stylists. The difference can be astounding. I learned this lesson the hard way when I was entering a new school in the seventh grade. The day before school started, my mom was insistent that I get a haircut. Apparently, I had this sort of floppy McCartney look going, and she wasn’t having anymore of it. She gave me a $20 and sent me down the street to Great Clips. I explained, in English, that I simply wanted my “bangs trimmed,” and that was the extent of it. She began cutting vertically up and around the edge of my forehead in a sort of half-moon shape. I looked like this on my first day of class in my new school. My mom cried when she saw my head, and we eventually just had to buzz it after the kids started calling me Frankenstein. So, the lesson here is that sometimes, yes, you can get a good haircut at one of the cheap places. But for an extra $10, you can almost guarantee a good haircut at a reputable salon. Why take that chance?
This was another lesson I had to learn the hard way. My first vehicle was a teal green Chevy S-10 truck with literally no control over the back tires in wet or icy conditions. I learned how to spin at high speeds out of necessity because you never knew when the truck was going to lose traction. I also hit two elderly women with the truck, but I don’t want to go into that here. Anyway, I was hard on this truck. It was driven like a racecar and maintained with a type of neglect that can only be called “complete.” Warning lights started flashing in the dash at random intervals. My wiper blades fell off, so I relied on Rain-X alone to get me through inclement weather. The tires were so worn that I could barely make it up or down a hill without smoking them. It took my grandfather sitting me down and explaining that a car was not just a way to get from place to place but also a financial asset. He explained how much the value of a car can be retained if you keep up with routine maintenance and not crash it into walls or old women every day. We traded the truck in and received about $500 in credit at the dealership. In two years, I had depreciated the value of that truck from $10,000 to nothing more than scrap parts. Lesson learned.
Paying for quality food seems like the simplest of concepts, yet, for some reason, the majority of us just don’t understand. Without being completely altruistic and selfish, I can’t think of anything more important than your own health. Why would you skimp on that? It took me far too long to understand the difference in the quality of food I was buying. It wasn’t until I started eating vitamin-rich, nutritious foods on a regular basis that I realized how important it was for my own well-being. This is not rocket science. The more quality food you consume, the less you need. So the cost may be more up front, but you’ll feel much more satisfied after, say, a banana than you would a bowl of Froot Loops. As ridiculous as it seems saying this in 2013, not all of us have access to healthy food. People who live in food deserts have no options other than convenience stores and fast food. The rest of us have what is, essentially, a luxury at our fingertips regarding healthy food. I’m willing to spend a little more for that luxury.