Updated November 15, 2015

23 Times You Should Spend More to Save Money

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Is your frugality costing you a fortune? Here is a list of 23 ways that spending a bit more money can actually save you a lot of money.

© kamoteus (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

The concept of spending money to save money may seem a little backwards, but there are some situations where it can really pay off. Read on for specific ways to make investments that will save you money over time.

AROUND THE HOUSE

For most people, housing expenses account for the biggest part of their budget. While you can't directly control things like your property taxes or insurance, there are other ways to make owning a home more affordable, especially when it comes to your utility costs.

  1. Upgrade your appliances
    When you're on a tight budget, it's tempting to put off buying new appliances, even when your old ones are wheezing and even leaking. But you'd be wise to upgrade before an appliance kicks the bucket.

    Are you having to run your old dryer twice just for one load?

    Is your fridge turned up to its highest setting to keep your milk cool and draining a ton of electricity to do it?

    Despite the higher price tag on new appliances, Energy Star certified models use between 10% and 50% less energy than their older counterparts. Getting rid of your 25-year old refrigerator in favor of a 2015 model, for instance, could save you nearly $130 per year alone.

  2. Go with the (low) flow
    Wasting water is bad for the environment, and it's a major budget killer - you're basically pouring money down the drain.

    The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that opting for low-flow faucet heads could save individual families as much as 700 gallons of water per year. A quality replacement can run as much as $300, but if every household in the U.S. made the switch, the financial savings would add up to a whopping $1.2 billion collectively.

  3. Put your AC on autopilot
    We tend to think of programming our heat during the winter months to keep costs down, but you could do the same for keeping your house cool. For a central air system, invest in a programmable thermostat. Or consider getting a programmable air conditioner that can start running before you get home, eliminating the need to crank it up the second you get home (and thereby putting a strain on your electrical system).

    According to the Department of Energy, using a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature up or down by 10 to 15 degrees while you're away from home can yield an energy savings of 5% to 15% per year.

  4. See the light with CFLs
    If you're tired of sky-high power bills each month, swapping out your incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) instead can yield some serious savings in the long run. While the bulbs cost anywhere from $2 to $15 each, the Department of Energy estimates that they reduce your lifetime energy costs from $30 to $80 each.

  5. Green your electricity
    Installing a solar panel system to power your home doesn't come cheap, but it can reduce your utility bills, add to the value of your home, and make you feel good about being kinder to the environment. Depending on the size of the system, it can cost anywhere from $16,000 to $40,000 to get started, according to the Department of Energy. That could translate to a reduction of roughly $300 annually in your utility bills.

  6. Plug air leaks
    When you've got cracks around doors and windows or your home is lacking proper insulation, you're going to have a big problem in terms of wasted energy. Depending on the size of your home, it may run anywhere from $350 to $1,000 to completely air seal it, but the payoff is a potential 15% savings in your heating and cooling costs.

  7. Go tankless
    One of the biggest energy killers in your home is your water heater. You can cut down on some of the waste by switching to a tankless unit. At the low end of the scale, tankless water heaters cost around $150, with prices going as high as $1,600 for some models. While that may seem like a lot to pay for hot water, it could save you $100 a year or more, according to the Department of Energy.

SHOP SMARTER

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016 of 366 © pamlovespie (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Retailers employ different tricks to get you to spend more while shopping and after a while, you may condition yourself to focus on price instead of quality. While it's okay to go with the cheaper version of certain items, there are a few areas where spending more works to your advantage.

  1. Skip the processed foods
    Stocking up on convenience foods when you're cruising the supermarket aisles may mean spending less, but it can contribute to a bigger - and costlier waistline. A 2014 study found that shoppers who opted for cheaper foods tended to be overweight. Per capita, being obese can increase your annual medical costs by as much as $2,741, so you're better off ditching the frozen pizza and snack cakes altogether.

  2. Stock up on bulk items
    The next time you're in the grocery store, consider buying more than just one of the items on your list. A University of Portland study determined that when shoppers buy things like pasta, coffee, beans, and grain products in bulk, they save an average of 89% more money versus buying the same amount of items individually. You'll need to spend a little more upfront to build your stockpile, but your wallet will appreciate the long-term savings, as long as you stick to items that you know you'll use before they expire.

  3. Stick with quality electronics
    When you're shopping around for a new TV or laptop, the old saying about getting what you pay for definitely holds true. In a UK survey of laptop users, 60% of respondents who purchased a lesser-known brand reported experiencing issues with their computer 5 years after buying it. Just 20% of those who ponied up big bucks for bigger-name products (like Apple) said the same. The takeaway? Going with a cheaper model means having to replace it that much sooner and spending even more money in the process.

  4. Invest in durable furniture
    Walking into a furniture store can leave you with a bad case of sticker shock, but there's a reason for those higher prices. The more a piece of furniture costs, the more likely it is to last for years to come.

    The next time you're out shopping for a sofa or dining set, make sure the pieces you're buying measure up to the American Home Furnishings Alliance standards of quality, so you know it's built to last. Or else you'll find yourself back at the furniture store shopping for that sofa again.

  5. Treat your feet
    Wearing shoes that are cheaply made or otherwise don't fit all that well is a pain in more ways than one.

    Not only will you need to replace them sooner, but you could be doing serious damage to your tootsies. Prescription orthotics to correct foot problems can cost as much as $800. Plunking down the extra cash for comfortable shoes to begin with can head off potentially expensive (and painful) issues down the road.

  6. Ditch the disposable diapers
    Having a baby naturally means parting with plenty of your hard-earned cash, especially in the diaper aisle. Over a 2.5-year period, parents can easily spend as much as $2,500 on disposable diapers. If you don't mind a slightly higher expense at the outset to get started, switching to cloth diapers can easily save you $1,000 to $2,000 as your little one transitions from infant to toddler.

  7. Get your java fix for less
    Dropping a couple of bucks on coffee each day may not seem like much, but it can really add up over the course of a lifetime. Stopping at Starbucks on a daily basis will cost you nearly $23,000 over a 30-year period, compared to less than $900 if you make it at home. Shelling out $100 or $150 for a high-end coffeemaker is a small price to pay compared to what it'll save you.

OTHER TIMES SPENDING TO SAVE MAKES SENSE

Once you get a sense for how spending to save benefits you, you're in a position to find savings just about anywhere. We've rounded up a few more scenarios where spending more is in your best interest.

  1. Dress for the job you want
    You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and the clothes you wear can mean the difference between getting hired and getting passed by. In a series of mock interviews, researchers found that interviewees who wore high-end brand clothing were more likely to get hired and earn a bigger salary. Dropping serious bucks on a professional wardrobe will put money back in your pocket if it helps you bring in a bigger paycheck.

  2. Give to a good cause
    Donating to charity makes you feel good emotionally, and it's not too bad for your finances either. The IRS allows you to deduct cash donations up to 50% of your adjusted gross income each year. The more you give, the more savings you'll see on next year's tax bill.

  3. Score a better deal on insurance premiums
    There are two basic costs that go along with having any kind of insurance: deductibles and premiums. The premium is the amount you pay monthly, quarterly, or annually to have the coverage. The deductible is the amount you have to pay before your coverage kicks in if you file a claim.

    According to the Insurance Information Institute, choosing a higher deductible for your car insurance can reduce your premiums by 15% to 40%. You'll have to pay a little more if you get in an accident, but if you're a safe driver, having a higher deductible may not be an issue.

  4. Shave money off your mortgage
    Refinancing your home loan is a great way to reduce the amount of interest you pay over the life of the mortgage and lower your monthly payments. For example, if you've got 20 years left on a $200,000 loan at a rate of 4.5%, refinancing to a rate of 3.5% would save you just over $100 a month.

    There's a catch however, since you'll have to pay closing costs on the new loan. These costs are typically between 2% and 5% of the loan value, so you'll have to run the numbers to make sure the long-term savings are worth it (e.g., don't bother if you'll be moving in a year or two).

  5. Get a good night's sleep
    A quality mattress can easily cost a couple of thousand dollars, but that could be money well spent if it helps you get ahead professionally. A study from Harvard Medical School found that a lack of sleep costs workers an average of $2,280 in lost productivity each year. Ditching your old lumpy mattress for something a little more comfortable can save you money if it keeps you from missing work or getting passed over for a promotion.

  6. Protect your pet's well-being
    Including a pet as part of your family doesn't come without a price. The ASPCA estimates that the cost of maintaining a large dog can run as much as $1,800 per year, which includes basic medical care. If your pet needs major surgery, the final bill can easily end up being thousands of dollars, which makes spending $200 or $300 a year on pet insurance seem like a bargain.

  7. Keep your car in peak condition
    You depend on your car to get you where you need to go safely, but when a major repair is necessary, it's tempting to go with the least expensive replacement parts. While it's true that generic parts can be nearly 40% cheaper than the brand-name version, that doesn't mean they're the better bargain. Research shows that labor tends to be 6% higher on average when generic parts are used, which means you're really not saving anything by taking the cheap way out.

  8. Don't sell yourself short on a home
    Buying a home - one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make - is definitely one time you can't afford to skimp. An older home may come with a lower purchase price, but according to the National Association of Home Builders, it's not always the best deal. Maintaining an older home will cost you nearly 4% of the home's value annually compared to about 2.5% for something newer.

  9. Get more out of your credit card
    Signing up for a new rewards credit card is a lot more enticing these days, thanks to all the great credit card bonuses that are floating around.

FINAL WORD

There are hundreds of different ways to save money, but slashing your budget to the bare bones isn't always the answer. When you're willing to pay more for certain things, the savings return can easily outstrip the amount you had to spend initially.

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