My mother once told me that if you are trying to live a frugal or financially prudent lifestyle, you have to relinquish the idea that you need to own “the best” of everything. As a budget-conscious consumer, I’ve found this to be very sage advice. Sometimes it isn’t feasible to absolutely love everything you own, à la Marie Kondo; there’s a certain value to making the best of what you have.
I am all about scouring thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, and Target clearance shelves for everything from curtains to serving-ware for our home, trying to save money on household goods on which it is easy to overspend. But, through trial and error and a lot of advice from more experienced family and friends, I’ve discovered that it sometimes pays to invest in good-quality items, even if that means waiting and saving up until you can spend a little more money on something.
If you are moving out on your own or simply discerning where and how you can upgrade items in your home, consider the following investment pieces for regret-free purchasing. If you are a bride-to-be thoughtfully considering what to register for, don’t be afraid to include a few splurges, especially in the following areas. Chances are, you’ll find that your guests will be happy to purchase them for you, knowing that they will be used and last a long time.
There is, arguably, no other item in your home that gets used more than your bed, since we spend roughly one-third of our lifetimes in bed. There are many reasons that good sleep is extremely beneficial for your health, as well as many reasons that good sleep can be hard to come by. Thus, if there is any one household item worth splurging on, I would argue that it’s a good mattress.
There is a lot to consider when choosing which mattress to buy, including personal preferences on firmness and regular sleeping positions. While there are various pros and cons to buying a mattress online, I would highly recommend making the trip to one or several mattress stores in person, in order to really test them out and get an idea of price ranges and preferences. You could then use this information to order a mattress online—or, like me and my husband, you might find the perfect fit in-store with a nice long warranty to back up your investment.
Casper and Serta mattresses consistently get good ratings based on comfort, Leesa mattresses are a popular online ordering option, Avocado mattresses are a wonderful organic and non-toxic option, Sleep Numbers are a popular option for sleeping with a spouse who doesn’t share your preferred level of firmness, and Tempur-Pedic mattresses are wonderful for memory foam-lovers. Beside these tried-and-true brands, there are myriad mattress options in-store and online, and it will take some research and testing to decide which kind is the best for you.
Like buying a mattress, the bulk of the decision for buying sheets, pillows, and blankets comes down to personal preferences, and I’ve been surprised by how long it has taken me to finally figure out what my preferences actually are! Doing a little research on different bedding materials, weave, and thread count certainly helps. But there is such an abundance of information, advice, and conflicting consumer reviews when it comes to sheets, that it can be quite an overwhelming purchase. Ultimately, finding your perfect bedding will most likely also require some trial and error.
After sleeping on a lumpy or flat pillow (or half-lumpy, half-flat) pillow for many years, I could not believe the difference when I finally decided to invest in a quality pillow this past year. Knowing that I wanted a cushy, memory-foam pillow that does not lose its shape, I settled on the Coop Home Goods adjustable pillow, and I have not been disappointed. I have friends who also love the similar, adjustable Nest Bedding pillow, while others may prefer a luxurious down pillow like the one from Boll and Branch, or an organic latex pillow like one from Naturepedic.
As for sheets, look for brands with generous return policies, so that you don’t splurge on a set that doesn’t work for you. Lands’ End and L.L. Bean have wonderful options for percale and flannel sheet sets, and brands like Brooklinen, Boll and Branch, and Wamsutta are known for their quality and luxurious sheets.
I’ve learned, though, that a higher price tag—or higher thread count—is not necessarily indicative of better quality, and that some research and personal testing will always be essential. I upgraded our thinning, pilling sheet sets recently with the very affordable and highly-rated microfiber Mellani sheet set from Amazon, and we have not been disappointed. Others swear by the affordable 400 thread count Threshold sheets from Target. A good investment does not necessarily have to be a huge splurge.
When it comes to your dishes, you can’t go wrong with a durable, well-made bone china, stoneware, or porcelain set, like this one from Williams-Sonoma. Even if it costs a little bit more money initially, a good dinnerware set will likely save you money in the long run by preventing you from having to replace broken pieces. Especially if you don’t intend to invest in a fine china set—and many people don’t anymore—it’s worth investing in good-quality dishes that you will use for all situations—both everyday casual dinners and fancier meals with guests.
Noritake, Lenox, Williams Sonoma, Crate and Barrel, and Corelle are a few trusted brands when it comes to high-quality and functional dinnerware sets (Crate and Barrel’s Aspen set is a very popular and affordable option for first-time dinnerware buyers). The most important thing to do is to consider all of the important factors for your personal needs before making a decision, from which pieces you will use the most to size and washing specifications.
04. Vacuum Cleaner
Many of my friends joke that they realized they were “officially adults” when they got excited over their first good vacuum purchase. This was certainly the case for me, as I was possibly more excited about the Shark Navigator upright vacuum than any other item off my wedding registry. The sheer amount of vacuum varieties, special features, and minute variations can be a bit overwhelming, to say the least; however, it is well worth your time, energy, and money to carefully research and invest in a vacuum that will work well for a very long time. As technology advances and cordless vacuums and robot vacuums become increasingly popular, it’s also worth looking into these newer models and deciding whether they would better suit your needs.
If you’re really looking to splurge on a vacuum with incredible suction for frequent use in a high-traffic home, I have both read and heard personally that you cannot do better than the Miele canister vacuums. Especially if you have children and/or pets (and/or a lot of carpet), a durable, high-functioning vacuum will likely be a necessity for you.
05. Kitchen Knives
Kitchen knives are one of those items that tend to fluctuate drastically in price, and you probably want to steer clear of a $20 Amazon set (ask me how I know). If you think about just how often you use knives in prepping food for meals, and how good knives not only make the cooking process easier but also faster, and more enjoyable, it becomes clear that a high-quality set of knives is a smart investment.
If you are a real chef, you may opt to buy your knives individually to better suit your cooking needs; however, if you are only an amateur, then buying a top-notch set—including such basics as a chef’s knife or santoku knife, paring knife, bread/serrated knife, and kitchen shears—is a must.
A basic set like this Wusthof one is often all you really need for everyday cooking. Shun and Zwilling are also known for making high-quality kitchen knives, and my dad swears that his life changed after he started using just one Cutco knife. Know your knife basics and the differences between them to make the smartest purchase for you, and you won’t regret the investment.
It can be hard to shell out a lot of money on household goods, but part of thrift is recognizing that sometimes investment in high-quality home goods are more than worth it—they can even save you money in the long run.