These Are the Small Household Items You Should Never Pinch Pennies On

A price comparison tool might show you cheaper toilet paper, but you'll want to spend the extra money

A price comparison tool might show you cheaper toilet paper, but you’ll want to spend the extra money. |

Some of us like to shop. Others want to buy the stuff we need and never go back to the store again. Or, at least when it comes to certain items, we don’t want to have to buy it more than once. We want to buy it for life, you could say. But that doesn’t stop us from going for the cheap option, time after time. This all but guarantees we’ll be spending more money in the long run than if we had just opted for quality in the first place.

That’s not to say you should go crazy with every single purchase. Very few of us can afford that. But you shouldn’t always be reaching for the best bargain or whatever your price comparison tool is showing you to be the best deal. Sometimes the cheapest option is the cheapest for a reason, and a little research is required to ensure you’re getting a quality product.

Take a look around your house. You’re apt to see all kinds of things that could drastically improve your life if you were willing to spend a little more. From your bedding to your bum, here are some common household items you should look to invest more in.

1. Toilet paper

If there’s one thing you don’t want to skimp on, it’s toilet paper. Seriously, we’ve all been in a public restroom or at a friend’s house and had a run-in with cheap, ineffective toilet paper. We’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that all it takes is one bad experience to persuade you to spend an extra buck or two for some multi-ply. Prices vary, as will preferences.

The “buy it for life” price: You won’t buy for life, but $15 should be enough.

2. Phone chargers

Charger plug phone on car

You’ll spend more buying several cheap chargers than one quality one. |

A quality phone charger isn’t something you think you need until you’ve lived life with a crappy one. It might be that the charger isn’t getting the juice to your phone, or it might be that the cord is maddeningly short. Either way, don’t bother with the ultra-cheap chargers at the checkout stand. Bite the bullet, and spend a little bit extra to get a charger that will last and perform.

The “buy it for life” price: $25 to $50

3. Routers

Wi-Fi wireless router on wooden table

We all know how important Wi-Fi is. |

Like phone chargers, routers are built on a spectrum in terms of quality. If you go the cheap route, you’re likely to find you can’t get a Wi-Fi signal a room away, or you can’t stream anything or make simple downloads. That’s when you know it’s time to spend the extra money. Your own preferences and needs will ultimately determine how much you do spend.

The “buy it for life” price: $100 to $200

4. Computer or desk chairs

woman with back pain sitting in an office chair

Save yourself the pain. |

  • Over the past 16 years, 18 different studies covering more than 800,000 participants all concluded that sitting too long can lead to premature death.

It’s easy to learn to live with your chair. If you spend most of your day planted firmly on your butt, though, you know a quality, comfortable chair can make a huge difference. That said, a quality chair often isn’t cheap. But like everything else on this list, it’s probably worth it to spend the money and treat yourself, especially if you spend a lot of time chained to your desk.

The “buy it for life” price: $100 and up

5. Knives


Poor quality knives can be a safety hazard. |

  • The most expensive kitchen knife in the world is made from Damascus steel, 5,000-year-old oak, and diamonds, and it costs more than $98,000.

This is yet another item that can surprise you. You don’t really know what you’re missing until you’ve experienced it. In all likelihood, you’re cooking at home with a pretty crappy, cheap knife. But a good knife can change your life. You’ll no longer hack away at vegetables and meat like a neanderthal, but instead glide through them.

The “buy it for life” price: $100 and up

6. Socks and underwear

Group of gray socks

Quality undergarments can change your life. |

  • Would you spend $1,500 on a pair of socks? Because they do exist.

An awful lot of people simply wait for the holidays to roll around to replenish our stock of socks and underwear. They are unimportant in the grand scheme of things, and you don’t want to spend the extra money on them. It’s understandable. But there’s a big difference between a $5 pair of underwear and one that’s $45. And you don’t need to spend that much. Dig through the clearance racks to find some deals.

The “buy it for life” price: $20 and up

7. Tailored clothes

male tailor with colorful shirts

Make sure everything in your wardrobe fits perfectly. |

  • Tailors are in high demand but short in supply. The average American tailor is 60 years old.

Stylish people have a secret: They get their clothes tailored. For many people, it seems like a costly and unnecessary expense. But in many aspects, it’s worth it. Why do you think Hollywood celebrities always look so good in whatever they’re wearing? Tailors. If you’ve never been to a tailor, check local reviews, and find one that does good work. Just give it a try, and see what kind of difference some alterations can make to your wardrobe.

The “buy it for life” price: Variable depending on body size and garment type

8. Snow shovels

Man shoveling snow

Those who live in snowy climates know what a difference it makes. |

If you live in a Southern, warm climate, the proper budget for a snow shovel should be $0. But if you live in a place that gets snow, even occasionally, you should bite the bullet and spend the extra money for a quality shovel. It’s easy to pick out the cheap plastic thing. But if you want it to last longer than one winter (or snowfall), go out and buy a solid, dependable steel shovel.

The “buy it for life” price: $25 to $50

9. Health care products

lady putting on contact lenses

You only want the highest quality products to go into your eyes. |

  • In 2015, the average American spent $9,990 on health care related purchases.

This is as broad of a category as can be. It can include a number of things, such as contact solution, and all of them are worth spending a little more on. While you can get away with buying cheaper generics of certain drugs, knockoffs of some health care products can do more harm than good. Plus, some times the cheaper versions end up being counterfeit or something else entirely.

The “buy it for life” price: Variable depending on the product

10. Tools

Variety of tools on wood planks

One tool with a lifetime warranty is better than buying a $5 one every year. |

At some point in your adult life, you’ll start amassing a collection of tools. And you’ll need them, too. We all need to fix or fiddle with something at some point. But if you’re going to spend money on tools, do yourself a favor and get quality stuff. Cheap and poorly made tools will break when you need them the most and wear out sooner than you expect.

The “buy it for life” price: Variable depending on the particular tool

11. Garbage bags

Black trash bags on white

The last thing you want is your trash spilling everywhere. |

It’s hard to justify spending more money on garbage bags. It is, after all, throwing away money in a sense. But if you’ve ever dealt with cheap, awful garbage bags, you know darn well it’s worth it to spend an extra buck or two and save your shoes from getting leaked on or having the bag tear apart as you attempt to pull it out of the can.

The “buy it for life” price: $12 to $15 for a large box

12. Pots and pans

Silver pots boiling

Make cooking a breeze. |

  • A set of pots and pans can cost as little as $30 or as much as $2,000.

Yet another common household item people tend to skimp on? Pots and pans. It’s easy to spring for the cheapest options you see on Amazon or at Target. But you should know they’re not going to last, and you’re probably going to be back at the store a lot sooner than you expect buying more. Pots and pans can get very expensive, but a quality set is affordable for most. Also, it depends on how often you’ll use it, so don’t bankrupt yourself buying something you’ll rarely put on the stove.

The “buy it for life” price: $200 and up depending on your needs

13. Food

Citrus fresh fruit

Spending money on produce is also an investment in your health. |

  • Wasted food is the No. 1 way in which Americans throw money away.

This stretches the definition of “household item,” but every household has food in it — or it should anyway. And you should start spending money on better quality food if you can. That means putting the Pop-Tarts back on the shelf and buying some produce. And drop the Mountain Dew 12-pack, and pick up some bottled water or seltzer. The best investment you can make, after all, is in your own health.

The “buy it for life” price: Variable depending on availability and dietary needs

14. Sheets and pillows

Stack of clean bedding sheets

Make sure you get the best night sleep possible. | belchonock

  • Theoretically, some microfiber sheets can have thread counts of more than 1,600.

Aziz Ansari does a bit about sheets and bedding that ends up with him threatening a sheet company over thread counts. Needless to say, it’s serious stuff. Seeing as how you spend roughly a third of your life in bed, you should really consider spending some money on sheets and pillows. It’s yet another common item that can make a big difference.

The “buy it for life” price: $50 to $100

15. Your mattress

White mattress

Your back will thank you. |

OK, a mattress isn’t really a “small” household item. But it might be the one thing you’ll want to splurge on. As mentioned, you spend a lot of time in bed. So buy a quality mattress. There are several types to fit your specific needs, too. So get rid of that futon, and start sleeping like an adult — one who won’t have chronic back pain in a few years.

The “buy it for life” price: $1,000

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