Cutting back on these items because you're paying down debt may actually end up costing you more.

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When I was in my late 20s, I bought a barely used futon bed from a friend. At that tender age, I was looking for style. Now I know better. That’s because the entire three years I slept on that futon, I woke up frequently with a stiff neck, unable to turn my head without sharp pain.

Eventually, I wised up and spent $600 on a Sealy pillow-top mattress set on sale. I haven’t had a stiff neck since. A good mattress isn’t the only thing you shouldn’t skimp on to save money, though.

Here’s my list of seven “spend-now-or-pay-later” items you don’t want to neglect.

1. Paint

If you buy cheap, or even moderately priced paint, you’ll still spend more because it won’t cover well, so you’ll use more paint. After learning this the hard way, I use only Sherwin-Williams’ paint on the interior and exterior of my house. Sherwin-Williams is expensive, and so is Benjamin Moore or any high-quality paint. But the higher cost is totally worth it because the paint covers better, looks better, and lasts longer.

Tip: Look for 30-40 percent off sales at Sherwin-Williams during Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day and other holidays.

2. Insurance

It’s tempting to buy the cheapest auto, homeowner’s or health insurance but that’s a bad idea. Go with a name brand, not some fly-by-night company advertising during late-night Cheaters reruns.

Tip: Comparison shop. Talk with insurance agents but also consult brokers who don’t work for any particular insurance company. Check into getting a higher deductible to lower your premium.

3. Shoes

Those cheap shoes may seem like a bargain but your feet may disagree. Take time to find a shoe that fits your foot and pay extra for quality. In other words, don’t buy $20 shoes unless you want to pay later with issues like plantar fasciitis, back pain, knee problems or other injuries.

Tip: Watch for sales and use rewards programs to save on shoes.

4. Car maintenance

I once ignored a mechanic’s recommendation to replace the timing belt on my truck. Then one day my truck died in the left turn lane in a busy highway on-ramp at lunchtime. Not only did I have to buy a new timing belt, I also had to pay for a tow.

Tip: Change your oil every 3,000 miles, replace tires and brakes when necessary and don’t ignore unusual car noises or replacement parts. My 2004 Toyota Matrix has 206,000 miles and is still going strong because I always keep the oil changed.

5. HVAC maintenance

There were only two times in 12 years of home ownership that I didn’t get the yearly tune-up on my furnace or air conditioner. As a result, my furnace quit working one weekend night during a snowstorm. The A/C puttered to a halt on a steamy August afternoon. Now I pay $190 for an annual plan that includes two tune-ups, which helps avoid extreme weather surprises.

Tip: Don’t wait to repair or replace expensive appliances when you’re at the mercy of a repair company. Purchase a new furnace in the spring or summer and the A/C unit in the winter when prices are lower.

6. Pet food

You don’t need to spend $90 for a 40-pound bag of dog food but at least go for a mid-range price on a reputable brand. The cheapest dog and cat food out there is little more than junk food for your pets. If you feed your dog or cat junk, obesity and other health problems can lead to high veterinary bills down the road.

Tip: Check pet store and manufacturer’s websites for coupons and discounts.

7. Healthy human food

I’m the noodle and rice queen when I’m trying to save money. However, I also mix in plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and salads. Just like with your pets, too much bad food equals too much money later for prescriptions, doctors and medical bills.

Tip: Buy fresh vegetables you can use in more than one dish. Also, bagged fruits such as oranges or apples are generally priced lower than when you buy individually.

I had to spread three coats of cheap paint onto four walls and block a highway exit at lunch to learn the value of spending more now to save money later. Next time you’re thinking about skimping on essentials to save money, go ahead and cough up the extra bucks. You’ll reap the savings in other ways later.

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Meet the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp


Hipp is a freelance writer based out of Missouri.


food and drink, health insurance, save money, Very Personal Finance

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Article last modified on March 26, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: 7 Things You Should Never Skimp on to Save Money - AMP.