It’s good to be frugal. If you are, you’ll likely never get into financial trouble. I was very frugal saving between 50% – 70% of my after tax income until about age 35. Then I decided there was no point saving so much money if I wasn’t going to live a little.
Instead of trying to walk the entire city of Budapest, I ponied up 30 Euros like a baller to get on the Hop On Hop Off bus. Instead of just having lemon water with my rib-eye steak, I started ordering a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. As I pushed the spending envelope a little more each year, I gradually realized I didn’t miss the money. My lifestyle actually got better.
The root of my frugality stems from watching how my parents spent their money. My father always drove a beater and my mother utilized things until the very end. When you’re gunning for early retirement, every single dollar counts. And once you’ve left the work force, there is a lingering fear of running out of money that’s hard to elude until after about the third year.
If you suffer from frugality disease, here are some things worth spending a premium on for a better life.
Things Worth Spending Max Money On
* Mattress. You spend a third of your life sleeping. It makes sense to get the absolutely most comfortable, most supportive mattress you can afford. Go top of the line so each day you are fully rested and rejuvenated for the grind ahead. Just be aware that mattresses have massive markups, which is why there’s been a plethora of mattress startups over the years.
* Vision. Vision may be our most important sense. Therefore, it’s absolutely worth buying the most comfortable contacts or glasses. If you wear glasses, go for the thinnest lenses with anti-reflection and a scratch proof coating. Buy daily wear contacts that contain the latest breathable technology. Stop reusing your disposable contacts beyond their recommended usage. Get sunglasses with UV protection.
* Dental care. Throw away your $5 manual tooth brush and buy the best sonic tooth brush with UV sanitizer that brushes hundreds of times faster per minute. You can’t grow back your teeth or your gums. Floss and brush at least twice a day. Your older self will thank you.
* Work clothes & shoes. Instead of buying a lot of mediocre quality clothes and shoes, buy only a few items– as if you were building a boutique of high quality items. Purchase only the most finely woven fabrics for your suits and the finest grain leather for your shoes. Sure, you may have to pay 2-3X the average price, but the items will last longer, and you’ll have less clutter.
* Baby care products. Babies are helpless. Buy the most comfortable, waste absorbing diapers possible. Get the right creams for diaper rash. Feed them only the healthiest food. Why risk anything when they are developing their foundation.
* Sports equipment. If you’re serious about performance, then you might as well give yourself the best chance to perform by buying the best equipment. You’ve already got enough to worry about trying to improve your physical fitness and skill.
* Prime property. You want to buy property in the most prime location possible. Prices hold up better in a downturn and rise faster in an upturn because there is only a limited supply. Think about prime property as being located at the apex of a triangle under which there’s a huge base that’s always looking to move up.
* Home appliances. Given it costs the same to install a $500 shower head and a $100 shower head, you might as well get the best shower head possible. The same goes for tiles, toilets, bath tubs, hot tubs, cabinets, faucets, floors, molding, and paint. The worst is when a home seller remodels on the cheap. This causes the savvy home buyers to offer low purchase prices because they know they will be ripping everything out again.
* Home theater system. Buy the highest definition TV and most enriching surround sound system and you’ll never want to spend money going to the movies ever again. Given you’re never going to the movies again, you’ll make back your home theater system cost in no time.
* Mobile phone. The average person checks their phone 80 times a day. Some of us who have internet businesses check a whole lot more. Given the data plan costs the same regardless of the quality of phone, you might as well get the best phone possible.
* Wellness. Massages, physical therapy, acupuncture, therapy, medicine, and coaching are all things worth spending top dollar on. Thanks to technology and globalization, life has become grossly complicated and stressful for many people. Physical and mental health are priceless.
* Vacations. The average private sector U.S. worker receives only 16 paid vacation days and holidays a year. One in four Americans does not have a single paid day off. Therefore, if you plan to go on a rare vacation, you might as well make it the best adventure or enjoy the best amenities possible. If you want 30 or more paid vacation days and holidays a year, work in New Zealand, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, or Austria.
* Food. Your body is your temple. If you eat junk, you’re going to start feeling and looking like junk. Your energy, mood, and outlook are all affected by the food you eat. It’s worth paying a premium for fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish.
* Car Safety. According to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, 37,461 people were killed in 34,436 crashes, an average of 102 per day. There are supposedly over five million crashes in the US per year. If you have a dependent or a small child, it’s worth buying the safest car you can comfortably afford – even if it means breaking the 1/10th rule for car buying.
* K-12 Education. If your public grade school system has low marks, then either move to an area that has high marks or pay up for a private grade school with high marks. Education is one of the most valuable gifts you can give your child. It was only after I graduated from business school that I realized how valuable a good education was for my career and beyond. Knowledge, confidence, and connections are integral parts to achieving a happy and financially independent life. As for university, highly ranked public universities offer better value if you are paying rack rate.
Identify The Things Most Important To You
It’s important we identify things that are most important to us and spend accordingly. Don’t cheap out on everything on your path to financial freedom! For the most part, I always recommend buying less and focusing on quality over quantity. Having a house full of clutter doesn’t do anybody any good. Further, I’ve never regretted spending up on an experience. Great experiences tend to appreciate with time.
It’s strange, but despite a rising net worth thanks to a raging bull market, I don’t have a desire to buy anything new. I’m content with our cozy home, our one family car, and the scrumptious food we eat every day. Being able to see the best healthcare providers at UCSF for my family is one of the things I’m most happy about. Where I do plan to spend more money on are services to help save time at home. But that will be a topic for another post.
What are some things you value that are not on my list? What are some things on my list you don’t agree with? Any holiday blockbuster deals you’ve seen that are worth taking advantage of? I think I may just buy more Amazon stock instead.