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5 Purchases I Refuse to Skimp On

skimp on Today we are all about spending money here at Luke1428. I know that’s quite a departure from what you might expect from a website devoted to guiding people towards financial freedom. Practicing frugality with our budget will help us pay off debt and create wealth over the long-term. However, are there times when it’s OK to splurge, to spend more money on an item than we otherwise could?

From my own experience I know there are times when expenses need to be slashed in order to make the budget work. Doing so means great sacrifice, usually at the cost of us missing out on certain things we would enjoy. Although I’m conscientious about our spending plan, I’ve come to realize over the years, through trial and error, that there are certain purchases I absolutely won’t skimp on.

“Skimp on.” That’s a funny phrase. When used as a financial term, it basically means to cut back, to economize on or to be stingy with. In other words, spend less than we could in a given circumstance. I’m a “skimper” in many situations, just not on these five items.

I Will Not Skimp On These…

Running Shoes
Brooks Glycerin

I ran Baltimore in the dark blue.

Three years ago, my first running shoes were a pair of $35 Asics. I think Asics is among the top tier of running shoe brands out there but this cheaper pair didn’t do it for me. I was able to complete my first 5K with them but as my distance increased, upgrades were definitely in order.

One might think I would gradually progress upward in price, testing out pairs from the $50 – $75 range first. I was headed that route until, on a whim, I tried on a pair of $90 Saucony’s. Wow…what a difference! I ran my first marathon in those and loved them. Then last fall after the first marathon, I tested out the Brooks Glycerin. It was by far the most comfortable shoe I’d ever had on my foot. Price tag – $120. I’m now on my third pair of Brooks Glycerins, the current model coming in at $140.

For me the price is worth it. The technology and materials companies pour into these high end shoes help protect the feet and allow for a positive experience on the course. Running has become a passion of mine and I’m more than happy to pay up to enjoy this hobby.

Tires for the Car

Are you sensing a theme here at least with my first two items? Both contact the ground. The quality varies based on design and materials. The higher end product will be durable and provide a smooth ride.  And both are involved with safety.

That last issue – safety – is a big deal for me. I haul four wonderful kids around almost every day in our van. The last thing I want to worry about is a tire issue. So I’ll gladly pay for a tire of higher quality. I’m certainly not going to a used tire store to make any purchases. (No offense meant to used tire stores or those who purchase from them.)


soap in dishWell, Mrs. Luke1428 is butting her way into this one. It was originally just entitled “soap”, as I hate cheap soaps that leave a film on my body after a shower. You know – the kind in the bathrooms of every hotel chain. Call me a pretty boy if you like. I want quality soap that won’t dry my skin or make me feel like a sticky note when I’m done.

My wife echoes those feelings when it comes to her cosmetics. She has tried to skimp before by buying cheaper brands. These have often caused her face to break out, the result of some ingredient in the makeup not agreeing with her skin. So it’s either pay up for the higher quality cosmetics or wear nothing at all (the latter generally not being an option in public. Am I right ladies? How come I get the feeling I’m walking on thin ice here?)

Quality Bedding

This category covers the gamut of sleeping necessities – mattress, pillows, sheets with a high thread count and soft blankets and comforters. I spend 25-30% of each day in direct bodily contact with these items, so I might as well enjoy it, right? And it might cost a bit more to make that experience happen.

We found this out several years ago when we went mattress shopping. Our original mattress wasn’t anything special. The first one married couples purchase usually isn’t. After almost a decade, ours wasn’t cutting it anymore, especially for me as I was constantly waking up with lower back pain.

The minute I laid down on that Select Comfort bed in the showroom I was hooked (until I saw the price tag. Yikes!) It greatly stretched our budget at the time, but the reviews of the product and the quality of the item greatly impressed us. So we took the plunge.

It ended up being one of the best purchases we have every made. Our quality of sleep has improved and my back pain is nonexistent.  Plus, the king size allows for a certain 5-year old boy to have some space in the middle on those nights when a thunderstorm pops up at 3:00 am.


I love vacations and the memories they produce. I know and have written about how memories can be created on the cheap. And we need to budget and save appropriately so that vacations don’t lead us into debt. I still look for vacation deals but generally speaking, I don’t mind paying for a quality trip that allows my family to experience unique people, places and events.

I shared last week with Tonya from Budget and the Beach how about a year before my wife and I were married, a friend of ours gave us a solid piece of advice. He said, “Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the honeymoon.” Most soon-to-be-married couples do skimp, worried about how they will pay the bills once they return home from the trip. So to save money, they settle for a second-rate trip they don’t enjoy and end up regretting it years later.

Taking his advice, we decided to go all out and spent a week in St. Croix. It was an incredible personal and cultural experience, well worth the money we put into it. Could we have had a great start to our marriage without such a trip? Sure. But I felt it bonded us in a special way and created some great memories that we have relived in our minds through the years.

As you can see, there are not many areas of my life where I splurge. I’m a fairly frugal person. Just not on these purchases.

And one final note: Don’t go into debt to pay up for an item. That move is financially counterproductive.

Questions: What item will you never skimp on and why? Have you ever been burned because you chose to skimp on an item?

Tire Image by Toa55 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Shoe Image Credit

Soap Image by artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Next Post:  I’m Running Naked

Prior Post: That Moment When You Question Your Goals

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  1. I agree that there are things to skimp on and things that you shouldn’t skimp on. I once wore a the same pair of one month disposable contacts for over two years. Not to save money but it just ended up working out that way. I got lucky and didn’t have any problems but I would recommend to your readers that they don’t skimp on contact lenses!

    • Haha…that’s hilarious Brent – I do the same thing. I wear my one month disposable contacts for six months. I usually take them out at night to increase the longevity. I never saw the deterioration in them after one month so I figured, why do I need to throw them away? I think I have supply enough from when I ordered them online to last me five more years.

  2. When it comes to cosmetics, I think it depends. There are times when it is worth the price jump (i.e. foundations, eyeliner, etc.) but other times, drug store brands do just fine (blushes, lip glosses, moisturizers). It takes a lot of experimentation, though.

  3. Kyle James says

    You nailed it with the tire piece. 5 years ago I hydroplaned my car on the highway going 65 in the rain, the car spun twice through an empty lane (thank God) and hit the center median. I had my son, 8 years old at the time in the back seat. Thank God we weren’t seriously hurt but ever since then I always buy the best tire I can afford and check the tread regularly.

  4. We had some help, but we did our honeymoon in Costa Rica. It definitely wasn’t the cheapest experience we could have had, but it was absolutely amazing and we’ll truly cherish it forever. I don’t think you have to spend a ton of money to have a memorable experience, but I would definitely agree with the advice to do something you really want.

    I would add insurance to your list. I always see the advice that you need to constantly shop around for the cheapest insurance rate and that just doesn’t make sense to me. You certainly don’t want to overpay, but good insurance is so important and I will happily pay more when I know the service will be better.

  5. I was taught as a kid having good shoes is very important. If you don’t it can mess up your back which is way costs you much more in the end.

  6. Student Debt Survivor says

    Agree on all of these. Bf isn’t very brand particular, but will only use Dove soap. Since I started dating him I’ve actually switched to Dove too. No more “fancy” and expensive body washes for me.

  7. MoneySmartGuides says

    It’s great to get these reminders. Although I do have a hard time spending too much money on any one item, I know there are certain things that I allow myself to splurge on. As long as you stick to those items and they are worth it for you, your finances will be fine if you plan around it.

    • Yes…I’m sure this list varies from person to person. Planning goes a long way in allowing us to splurge a bit on items of value to us.

  8. Holly Johnson says

    We usually don’t skimp on vacations! I can deal with cheap soap, though =)

  9. The big deal about travel is that a person doesn’t go into debt for vacations. We plan all of our trips and begin to save money months in advance. In fact, we’ve already started putting money aside for our big vacation next summer.

  10. Shannon Ryan says

    I don’t skimp on running shoes either. They are too important! Vacations are definitely one thing we don’t skimp on either. We save for them so sometimes that means it takes a couple of years to save for the big trip, but it’s worth it. And been a good lesson to teach the girls! I agree a proper mattress is important too, especially … ummm … the older you get. 🙂 In my mind, I may pay upfront more for a mattress but that beats paying chiropractors later!

    • I could not believe the difference our new bed made to the quality of my nights sleep. The bed’s design includes two separate air chambers that each person can adjust to their own firmness level. I’m a 35 on the 0-100 scale (0 being like a hammock, 100 like a stone slab). The Mrs. is more like a 65 – so we are very different. Plus the extra size on the king model keeps us from feeling the others movements during the night. Except when the boy comes in during the thunderstorm – he tosses and kicks all night! 🙂

  11. Hmmm this one might warrant a post of my own, but I would say health-related expenses is #1. I put the maximum I can each year into our HSA because I never want to forgo medical care because of a lack of funds. I have had some major health problems the past few years and I simply refuse to skimp on it. A new category that I won’t skimp on, and this is a “new” thing for me – dress clothes. I have lots of trouble finding clothes that fit me perfectly and shirts seem to go bad so quickly that I know am willing to pay a bit more for higher quality and get them tailored.

    • Health care is a great one DC! I would have included that had I thought of it. I don’t mess around with inferior coverage just to save a few dollars per month.

  12. Stapler Confessions says

    I completely agree about the tires, shoes, and bedding! As for soap — you may not need to spend lots of $$ if you can get them on sale with a coupon. I don’t think I’ve paid more than $0.50 for bodywash in 3 years, since starting couponing. We also took a vacation this year, despite being in debt payoff mode. It’s important for our family to have that time relaxing time together.

    • Coupons are a great way to reduce the cost of personal items. And I completely agree with your assessment about vacations being important. Just as long as the vacation didn’t lead you to accumulate more debt.

      • Stapler Confessions says

        Absolutely! We paid for the vacation in cash. We auto-save every month for a $1,000 vacation each year. It takes the sting away when it comes time to pay for the rental cottage.


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