Investing isn’t Just For the Stock Market: 12 Items You Buy for Life

woman wearing high-end clothing in a mall

No one loves a cheap, cute dress or a $4 set of wine glasses more than I do. If I can find appliances, home decor, or whatever else for sale for mere pocket change, I will almost always jump on it because who doesn’t like to save money?

Turns out, that strategy is great for some things, but there are other items in your life that you really shouldn’t skimp on. Here are 12 items you should front the money for now because if you don’t, you’ll end up buying the cheaper item over and over again until you finally give in and buy nice things. Just suck it up now — you won’t regret it.

1. Mattress

This one won’t last your whole life, but if you settle for a cheap, low-quality mattress, sleeping on it for seven years will feel like an eternity. On average, we spend about ⅓ of our lives sleeping, so we might as well be comfortable. Even if you’re not a morning person, waking up in a pillowy paradise will make your 7 a.m. alarm a teeny bit less terrible.

2. Kitchen Knives

As a budding amateur chef/foodie, I’ll tell you right now that if you can only afford to buy one high-quality item for your kitchen (or your life, really), make it a knife. A chef is only as good as her tools, so if you are still hacking at your fish with a steak knife, don’t expect to ever perfect your tuna tartare. It simply won’t happen. Right, Gordon Ramsay?

3. Small Kitchen Appliances

I mostly just mean the hallowed Kitchenaid mixer. Most people get these beauties as wedding gifts, so is it wrong of me to say that I’m more excited about that than I would be about a wedding ring? Nah. If you aren’t so lucky to get one of these gifts of God for your wedding (or birthday or Christmas or something), definitely put in the money and buy one yourself. Never again will you have sore arms the next day from trying to whip together some brownie batter.

4. Vacuum Cleaner

The cheap ones just don’t work. Period. Or, they may work for a couple months or even a year before they go out, but trust me, they WILL go out, and you’ll be stuck having to buy another brand new one shortly down the road. On the other hand, a high-quality Miele, Sanitaire, or Hyla will literally last you forever, so you can probably even include them in your will so your children can use it for their whole lifetimes too.

5. Thermostat

Sure, you can go with a regular old thermostat that you set and forget, but why do that when you can buy a Nest learning thermostat instead? The Next thermostat learns your behavioral patterns and adjusts the A/C and heat accordingly. It’s $250, but they claim that it pays for itself in less than a year with the money you save on utility bills.

6. Hardwood Furniture

If you’re not a college student, you don’t need to be buying particleboard furniture anymore. It’s low-quality and won’t last very long, so don’t even consider it as an option for your home. Hardwood furniture will outlast your physical self, so even if you can’t afford the brand-new stuff at Furniture Row right now, at least buy the real thing at garage sales and thrift shops. You can always refinish the wood yourself and make it look as good as new.

7. Shoes

I’ll admit it; most of my shoes come from the clearance rack at TJ Maxx. There’s nothing wrong with that for most of your shoes, but if there are a few styles that you know you’re going to be wearing for many years, it’s probably a good idea to shell out a few hundred dollars and go for the high quality, comfortable pairs. Black leather pumps and riding boots will never go out of style (and if they do, I don’t even want to live in that world), so that’s a good place to start.

8. Belts

Just like any other accessory, adding a belt to your outfit will kick it up a notch or two. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to find a good quality belt for less than the cost of a meal at a hibachi grill. The ones you do find for $10 will only last you a year at most, then will completely betray you and break at the worst moment possible (think a job interview or a first date). You should invest in a great leather belt. It’ll cost about $60 and it will last until you get too old and fat to need one, so I’d say that’s $60 well spent.

9. Hammock/Camping Gear

If you’ve ever gone camping, you know firsthand that you get what you pay for when it comes to camping gear. If it’s cheap, it’ll break or leak or worse, and, in the wise words of Thumper (the ski instructor from South Park), you’re going to have a bad time. The good camping gear really isn’t even that expensive (less than $100 for a high-quality hammock), so don’t let the rain ruin your parade on your next camping trip.

10. Pens

Have you ever used a high-quality pen? If not, you don’t know what you’re missing. With a $100 pen in your hand, writing feels like painting. Not to mention, they’re just so pretty. Once you purchase a great pen, you can buy ink refills for it and it will be around for decades (as long as you never, ever, ever let anyone borrow it).

11. Fine Jewelry

This is the perfect excuse to splurge on that gold pendant or diamond bracelet. Tell everyone it’s an investment, and you will look smart and classy. This plan is even better if you shop the sales and score some high ticket items at a bargain. Quality jewelry won’t turn your skin green and, although we hope this never happens, if your life goes to shambles and you need some quick cash, you can sell these babies for what you paid or more because they won’t lose their value over time.

12. Watch

It doesn’t have to be the quintessential sorority girl, Michael Kors watch (it can be, if that’s your style), but it’s about time you replaced your $5 Walmart timepiece. A good quality watch will last you a lifetime, and if you do end up buying a Rolex or Piaget, you will look like a total badass at every single fancy event ever. Guaranteed.

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