We’ve talked a lot about spending less and saving more, but today I actually want to talk about spending more. (And hope you’ll provide your own recommendations, as well!)

Let me tell you a story.

A few years ago, I was working for a non-profit and making essentially no money. They covered my expenses, but I wasn’t getting a regular paycheck. (Don’t feel bad – I wasliving the good life in Fiji during this time!) Still, this meant that when I was home in between trips to Fiji I was careful about how I spent my money. Realizing my car needed new windshield wipers, I bought the cheap ones. A few months later these “new” wipers again needed to be replaced – they were awful. This time I purchased the most expensive wipers available and haven’t had to replace them since. I found the cost difference between the cheap and the expensive wipers to be small but the quality difference to be huge. I learned my lesson!

This experience has had me regularly thinking about the things we shouldn’t skimp on – the things where it pays-off to spend more! This can mean buying the most expensive option, buying from a specific brand, or buying for the company’s warranty, customer service, and/or return policy.

Here are a few of the examples where I’ve found this to be true:

  1. Windshield Wipers
    • I’ve found it doesn’t matter which brand I buy. I just buy the ones that are the most expensive of the options available to me at that time.
  2. Vacuum Cleaners
    • Cheap vacuum cleaners don’t work. And why would you spend money on one and then the time to actually use it regularly if it’s not even going to do the job well? I love Dyson, but I’ve also heard Shark works really well and isn’t as expensive.
  3. Cold Weather Gear
    • I learned this one the hard way – I never felt I could wear enough to keep me warm when the temperatures were low. Walking across the Drill Field at Virginia Tech, anyone? I was always freezing! Then, I learned/realized/understood that not all coats are actually designed for warmth – certain fabrics and materials will keep you warm, while others will not. And a coat may look big and warm but be made of synthetic fabrics where the wind will blow right through you. Sure, care about how the coat looks, but care more about how it functions. A good coat will last you a long time, so I say spend more now so you can save more in the long run. (My down J. Crew puffer coat* is my go-to winter coat. It is extremely warm, can go in the washing machine, looks pretty good (if I do say so myself, ha), and should last many more years on top of the three or four years I’ve already owned and worn it.) The same is true for hats, gloves, scarves, snow pants, etc. Higher quality fabrics specifically designed for warmth perform much better. Of course, if you don’t need a coat (you already have one, live in Hawaii, whatever) buying a quality winter coat is still a waste of money.

Here are a couple of brand specific examples:

  1. Rainbow Sandals
    • They are more comfortable and look better than their cheaper flip-flop competitors (in my opinion), and they come with a lifetime warranty. Now, I’m not saying everyone needs a pair, but if you wear flip-flops I think it makes sense to not buy a cheap pair that lasts only a season and Rainbow is one option for this. (I’m sure others have found similarly high-quality casual sandals they love.) I have, in fact, mailed in old Rainbows* and received a brand new pair free. This didn’t work every time – they have some rules around it – but it has worked. Now though, to save on postage and the hassle, I buy my Rainbows from…
  2. Nordstrom
    • Nordstrom has an amazing return policy – they return/exchange everything! So, if you’re going to buy something that can be purchased at Nordstrom for the same price as some place else, buy it at Nordstrom. That’s exactly what I did with my Fitbit*, though I have since heard FitBit itself has great customer service and return policies.
  3. L.L. Bean
    • L.L Bean guarantees product satisfaction for life. Here’s what their website says: “Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L.Bean that is not completely satisfactory.” That’s a win. For me, when I wanted warm (just add their Bean Boot Socks, or something similar), waterproof boots, I bought their Duck Boots*. I spent $105 but will likely have these boots for a decade or more.

Full disclosure: Rainbow Sandals, Nordstrom, and L.L Bean did not sponsor this post, but I’d gladly accept if they did.

As always, remember that your values matter. Just because there is a high-quality, long-lasting option for something doesn’t mean you need it or even want it.

With some of these purchases, I have had to learn the hard way, and so I would love to hear what brands you buy from and the specific items where you deliberately choose to buy the most expensive option. 

If you are willing, please share. I’d love to compile a list based on these responses and then share it in a future email. We all win!

Here’s to Letting Luc,
Lucy

*If you’re interested, here are some links:

J. Crew Puffer (mine doesn’t have the faux-fur hood, but it looks like the option without it is not currently available)
L.L Bean Duck Boots
FitBit Charge HR
Rainbow Sandals


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