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20 things you should pay more for

Smart spending shouldn't always mean going for the lowest price. Some things are worth the extra money.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 27, 2012 11:34AM

This post comes from Len Penzo at partner blog Len Penzo dot Com.


Len Penzo dot Com on MSN MoneyThere's a lot to be said for contrarian investing. Guys like Warren Buffett and Jim Rogers are routinely lauded for going against the herd and purchasing unwanted stocks at bargain-bin prices.


Image: Airport check-in (© Corbis)Interestingly enough, nobody ever gets credit for contrarian shopping -- that is, purposely choosing to pay more for certain products and services.


Don't believe me?


A recent online search for the term "investing contrarians" turned up more than 5 million results. As for "shopping contrarians"? Barely 300,000.


I know what you're thinking: Len, why would I ever pay more for something if I didn't have to?

Well, it seems counterintuitive, but there really are times when it makes sense to pay more than necessary for certain things. Usually, it's for one of these reasons:

  • Added convenience.
  • Better quality.
  • Environmental friendliness.
  • Superior customer service.
  • Additional security via guarantees.
  • Scarcity.

(Post continues below video.)

So I thought I'd put together this quick summary of things I'm willing to pay more for. What's on your list?

  • Bed sheets. I figure since I spend roughly a third of my life in bed, I may as well be as comfortable as possible.
  • Nonstop flights. For me, the ability to bypass a layover or two and avoid flight delays is usually well worth the price premium.
  • Extra leg room. When flying economy class domestically, I'll often pay an extra $20 to $75 for so-called "premium coach" seats with more leg room. Those extra inches make all the difference in the world -- especially on longer flights.
  • Food. Not only is eating essential to living, it's also truly one of life's simple pleasures. That's why I refuse to sacrifice food quality in exchange for saving a few bucks. That being said, I never overpay for organic produce.
  • Internet service. There is nothing worse than a slow Internet connection, so I have no qualms paying an extra $15 per month for service that's up to 15 times faster.
  • Soap. A while back, the Honeybee started buying low-priced "designer" liquid soaps. Unfortunately, they don't cut through grease -- at all. But, hey, at least the soaps are now color-coordinated with our remodeled kitchen and bathrooms!
  • Appliances. Although they typically have higher upfront costs, the payback period for gas appliances tends to be relatively quick because natural gas is cheaper than electricity in most places.
  • Carpet pads. I always pay extra for a thicker carpet pad. Not only does it provide added comfort, but it also extends carpet life.
  • Coffee. I'm talking about the stuff I brew at home. I can't stand Folgers coffee. Besides, Folgers is more expensive than you might think. In our house, we pay extra for the Dunkin' Donuts brand -- or sometimes a premium whole-bean coffee that we have to grind ourselves.
  • Tools. It's simple. I pay more for Sears' Craftsman tools because of their ironclad guarantee: If for any reason your Craftsman hand tool ever fails to provide complete satisfaction, return it to any Sears store or other Craftsman outlet in the United States for free repair or replacement. (No, I don't work for Sears.)
  • Home maintenance. My home is my castle, and I treat it as such. I refuse to hire unlicensed contractors or use shoddy materials on my most important purchase.
  • Comfort. Speaking of my castle, I'm not the type who is willing to bundle up during my waking hours at home just to save a few bucks on the heating bill. And during summer, we'll run the air conditioner at a reasonable setting to stay cool and comfortable, too.
  • A nice neighborhood. I'll always pay more -- or trade 200 square feet of living space -- for the opportunity to live in a better neighborhood.
  • Toilet paper. Trust me: Cheaper toilet paper actually costs more in the long run because it requires much more product to, um, get the job done. I'm sure Sheryl Crow (who advocates using only one sheet per visit) will back me up on this.
  • Shoes. If you spend a lot of time on your feet, a comfortable pair of shoes is an absolute necessity for avoiding blisters, sore feet and other problems.
  • Lodging. I learned early on that trying to cram four people into a cut-rate, no-frills hotel room is the quickest way to ruin a family vacation. We don't skimp when traveling now. We stay only in hotels that offer multiroom suites.
  • Beer. Because life really is too short to drink cheap beer, folks.
  • Desk chair. I hate to admit this, but there are days when I sit at my desk for 10 or 12 hours with few breaks. I couldn't do that with a substandard chair.
  • Open highway. I save about 20 minutes on my daily commute home because I pay $4 to use the express lane. That's a bargain, considering I'm paying only $1,000 annually to free up 83 additional hours of my valuable time.
  • Clothes. While most kids tend to outgrow their clothes before they wear out, it's a different story for adults. Over the long run, good-quality clothes are often the better deal. Heck, I have coats and jackets that are a decade or more old -- and yes, they're still in style. Well, at least I think they are.

More from Len Penzo dot Com and MSN Money:



Apr 27, 2012 6:02PM
Apparently she brings in a solid income not to skimp on all of what she (Len Penzo) mentioned. A majority of everything that was mentioned is ridiculous when on a fixed income. Get your head out of the clouds Len. You insult me and probably at least 70 - 80% of the population.
Apr 30, 2012 9:50AM
I don't drink coffee.
I worked construction for years when I was younger so most maintenance is done by me.
Quality food can be purchased inexpensively.
Same with clothes.
Same with shoes.
As far as soap, darn lady, how much grease do you have?  There are cheap soaps out there that do just fine on grease.  You gotta look.
Carpet pads-carpet seems to get dirty from high traffic areas faster than worn out.

More $ does not always mean better product.  A person can save money without sacrificing quality.
Apr 30, 2012 3:46PM

I spent a lot of money on a memory foam mattress 5 years ago and haven't regretted it for a minute.

Apr 29, 2012 2:05AM
Beggars can't be choosers. I'm trying to live within my means. Therefore I can not afford luxuries, but only necessities at this time in MY life.
Sep 14, 2012 10:00AM
Dunkin' Donuts Coffee??     Yuck.  Premium coffee is better, Dunkin' Donuts ain't premium.
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