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Michelle Fern Michelle Fern
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Spending the extra money

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I read an interesting article this past week written by Dave Ramsey. A well-known author and founder of The Lampo Group and Financial Peace University, he’s toured the U.S. and has been an advocate of debt-free living for years.

His piece, entitled “Save or Splurge: 7 Items That are Worth the Extra Money,” essentially claimed that while he urges being frugal, there are certain things in life worth the extra money. Although I didn’t agree with the list completely, I quickly made a mental list of those things I find worth spending extra money on after reading his article. It also got me to thinking that even when you are “willing” to pay extra for certain things, you can still save money by watching for sales/deals and by using coupons.

Here is what Ramsey noted he doesn’t mind spending the extra money on:

Toilet paper

I don’t agree with this, especially paying full price. There are ways you can still enjoy the comforts of this necessity of choice by carefully planning out your shopping trips with coupons combined with sale prices – it just takes some effort. Still, if there are no coupons or good sale prices available, I would still buy the best value.

My only stipulation is it must be two-ply. Otherwise, I’m just not willing to spend a lot of money on TP.

Trash bags

I agree with him here, especially when it comes to quality kitchen trash bags. If you go cheap, you’ll more than likely end up with a big mess. Dollar store brands are the worse, and I’ve made that mistake only to have to clean up a split bag that has dropped all over the floor. So when I see a deal on good bags, I usually stock up.

When you get coupons at the grocery store that are $10 off when you spend $50, use it for $50 worth of trash bags – they will not go to waste.

Of special note: Recycling and composting can dramatically cut your cost of trash bags, and some municipalities require you to buy special bags. Unfortunately, these do not go on sale.

Running shoes

Quality matters when it comes to sneakers for running, walking or exercise. Cheaper brands don’t last, and you don’t want to damage your feet or injure yourself over a few dollars.

However, keep your eyes open for deals on all types of running, walking, and casual shoes as well as clearance sales in the stores. You should never have to pay full price or overpay for quality shoes.

Food

If you’re talking about going out to eat, then yes, I agree – don’t hit up the fast food chain for a $1 burger to only pay for it later in life. You can stop there and get a salad for a decent price if you’re in a rush. But if I’m going to dinner, there is no need to skimp on quality food for your family while being mindful of coupon offers that appear in-paper, online or through local savings cards.

When it comes to groceries, I disagree. If a generic brand is available for a cheaper price, I will buy it. It’s debatable whether it’s lower in quality. When it comes to meats or seafood, I go to the grocery store like most. I shop the sales. Same with produce – I don’t buy “organic,” so I guess my quality of veggies are not as good as they could be but I find them just fine.

With proper planning and a little effort, you can watch for deals at your local grocery stores.  Always stock up on products you use a lot when you have a good coupon or they go on sale. I can’t wait for the summer when I can save a little on quality foods through the local farmer’s markets and co-ops.

Sheets

He has me here, and I totally agree - splurge.

I’ve purchased 250 or lower thread count sheets over the years only to feel the pills on my skin – yuck. I have a hard enough time sleeping and when I go to bed at night, I want to be as comfortable as I can get for a good night’s sleep to be totally refreshed for the next day. I need my sheets to be fresh, smooth and even silk-like.

My favorite is Egyptian sheets – they’re a bit pricey, but there are always sales on sheets. Shop around for a great deal, and January is the best time to see the big deals on linens and bedding.

Office chairs

We have a cheap chair at home, but most of the time we lounge on the sofa or recliner with a laptop. However, if you spend hours sitting on an office chair, I would agree that a cheap chair usually doesn’t have good ergonomics and can cause back issues.

Staples and other office supply stores usually run good specials, and you can sign up to get coupons and combine them with a deal to save even more. I have purchased $200 chairs for $75 in the past and they were excellent chairs with superior ergonomics and lumbar support.

Silverware

This is another one of those items where you must ask what quality means to you. Yes, there is some really cheap flatware out there that bends, rusts and tarnishes – stay away from those. But you don’t have to buy Oneida or sterling silver. For the most part, a fork is a fork and if it doesn’t prevent me from eating, I don’t care what it looks like.

I bought my dishes and flatware at Bradlees (a store that existed a million years ago) and they have lasted the 20-plus years of our marriage.

Hair cuts

I don’t mind splurging on a quality hair cut… really. There is nothing worse to me than a bad hair cut.

Vacations

Although I shop around for the best deals, I will not stay at a cheap hotel. I just can’t get past the “who slept here before me” factor (human or not). We budget for it, and I never mind spending the extra money relax and enjoy ourselves.

Laundry soap

This is another item I’m not willing to skimp on. I usually buy Tide or Arm & Hammer Oxy. I have tried BOGO deals on Dynamo and it’s like washing your clothes with colored water. Instead, I save it to wash out the trash cans, throw rugs, stuff I don’t need to use my expensive laundry soap on.

But of course I never pay full price and always use coupons – I’ll stock up on when there is a good sale.

You can find his article on his website at www.daveramsey.com.

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