13 High-Quality Items That More Than Pay for Themselves
Sometimes it pays to spend a little more.
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You get what you pay for
Getting the best value entails more than sniffing around Amazon’s Bargain Finds department. It’s about making purchases that are both price-friendly and stand the test of time. “We all love a good bargain, but with some items, it’s better to dig deep and spend more,” explains veteran deal hunter and smart-shopping expert Trae Bodge. “Paying very little for something may feel like you’ve won, but quite often, low prices equal low quality, which means you lose in the end.” You won’t regret doling out a little extra cash on these high-quality items since they’ll end up saving you a lot more in the long run. (Although, you won’t want to miss out on our favorite finds from Amazon’s Bargain Finds section, either!)
Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.
Blunt Metro Travel Umbrella
“How many times have you purchased a cheap umbrella off the street and had it break that day in a strong gust of wind? Quality really matters with an umbrella,” says Bodge. “I’m not saying that you need to buy an incredibly expensive umbrella, but if you buy an umbrella for $4, consider that money wasted.”
Go beyond the single-use umbrella concept and try this Blunt Metro Travel Umbrella with a wide 37-inch canopy. The wind-resistant radial-tensioning system will help keep you protected through all sorts of storms—not just one. Reviewers love it, too, just like these other brilliant buys on Amazon with practically perfect reviews.
Google Nest Learning Thermostat
It may seem pricey to upgrade your home’s thermostats, but if ongoing energy savings are important to you, you’ll be happy to spend the cash up front. According to a recent American-based study, using a Google Nest Learning Thermostat resulted in saving about 13 percent in overall energy savings compared to baseline homes. For heating, the programmable thermostat showed between 5 and 8 percent savings, while using the same model saved upward of 14 percent on cooling. The moral of the story? This high-quality purchase may end up paying for itself. Plus, it makes a pretty nifty tech gift.
eBags Fortis Pro USB Carry-On Spinner
“If you travel regularly, buying cheap luggage will only leave you dragging a heavy suitcase with broken wheels or [dealing with] a sprung zipper at a very inopportune time,” says Bodge. “You need luggage and carry-on bags that are well-designed and tough-as-nails to take you where you need to go.”
To that end, try this eBags Fortis Pro USB Carry-On Spinner, a 22-inch business traveler’s best friend, that comes complete with all the trimmings you’ll want for the next several years. For more options, check out these carry-on bags with 5-star reviews on Amazon.
Mellanni Jersey Sheet Set
“I am definitely guilty of scrimping on bedding, and it’s been a source of regret,” admits Bodge of essentials like sheets, pillows, and other best-selling sleep products. “It’s worth spending a little more for high-quality bedding that will offer you years of comfort, rather than buying cheap bedding that feels like cardboard and starts to fall apart after several washes.”
The trick is looking for better-quality materials instead of brand names. These customer-favorite Mellanni Jersey Sheets in 100 percent cotton jersey are easy to wash—and even easier to sleep in.
Parfums de Marly Pegasus Eau de Parfum
We’ve all heard wisecracks about cheap perfume—and there’s a reason for this, according to Bodge. “Fragrance is one of those categories where it’s very hard to get it right at budget pricing, partially because of expensive ingredients like natural oils,” she explains. “The good news is that fragrance lasts so long that treating yourself to a fine fragrance every once in a while really isn’t so bad. Or, if a fragrance you want is out of your price range, ask for it as a gift.”
Try a bold fragrance like Pegasus Eau de Parfum from Parfuns de Marly. It’s ripe with lush notes of sandalwood and white bergamot.
ISDIN Photo Eryfotona Ageless Sunscreen
If you have sensitive skin, allergies, or other concerns, cosmetics and skin care are definitely not the places to try to save a few bucks. “When it comes it’s to sensitive skin, check labels closely for a high content of natural materials and formulas you know work best for you,” says Bodge. That’s doubly true when it comes to sun protection, which is (or should be) a vital daily ritual.
Try ISDIN Photo Eryfotona Ageless Sunscreen Zinc Oxide SPF 50+, a mineral-based tinted formula that’s gentle on most skin types. By the way, this is what to look for in a good sunscreen.
Naturalizer Dylana Tote
“It’s fun to purchase a trendy handbag for the season and that bag should not cost a lot. After all, the trend, whether it’s a wild color or a new and unique shape, may not be on trend for long,” says Bodge. “But in addition to that trendy bag, having one classic bag from a name brand is something you can wear if you’re between seasons or need something a bit more traditional for a special occasion or work event.”
Her advice is in line with that of top stylists, because they suggest adding these classic bags to every woman’s wardrobe. This Naturalizer Dylana Tote is a good bet because it’s built to stand up to all sorts of lugging, and it’s stylish enough to elevate any business casual outfit.
Natural Formula Keratin Intense Shampoo
Before we talk about products, let’s talk about hair care, in general. Spending your money on a good cut is worth it. Think of it as an investment, not a splurge. “If you have tricky hair or if you are going for a new color or style, don’t go to your local beauty school or inexpensive salon chain to get your hair done,” says Bodge, who happens to pride herself on her buoyant mane. “A good cut will look great out of the gate, and it will also grow out well, lasting you longer than cheaper decisions.” You don’t have to fork over an absolute fortune, though, because good-quality cuts and styling are available in most areas.
Choosing the right products also goes a long way. Consider upgrading those buy-one-get-one grocery-store shampoo deals to still-affordable brands with better quality ingredients, like Natural Formula Keratin Intense Shampoo, which is free of color and keratin treatment-killing ingredients like sodium chloride. The result is less damage—and a longer life for your haircut. This line also made our list of the best hair masks for damaged hair.
Tea Collection Smocked Romper
“Babies and small children have sensitive skin and needs, so it is ill-advised to scrimp on products for them, especially on items like clothing, skin care, cribs, and strollers,” says Bodge. “Check clothing labels closely for a high content of natural fabrics, and for gear, do your research and read a lot of reviews. These items will cost you more, but it’s worth it.”
In terms of clothing, choose easily coordinated basics and color palettes, so you can mix and match pieces from labels you trust at prices you can afford, like 100 percent cotton essentials from Tea Collection.
Stems Sheer Magic Tights
Any woman who has ever worn tights knows that nothing goes in the trash quite as quickly as cheap pantyhose. Sure, the cheapies are basically priced for single use, but the more reasonable way to approach this wardrobe staple is to invest in quality tights that will stand up to wearing and washing.
Try Stems, a line designed to be soft and extremely durable. They’re available in a wide range of sizes for women of all shapes. If you want them to last, tights are also one of the things you should never put in your dryer.
Chefman Air Fryer Toaster Oven
When it comes to investing in kitchen appliances, think long term. Suzanne Cook, owner and designer at Atmosphere Kitchen & Bath, tells her clients to consider their kitchen-appliance purchases more like investments—and not just because a well-done kitchen will increase the value of your home. “Buying quality brand appliances from a reputable distributor is always a wise choice. Should you run into an issue, you will have their store warranty as well as the manufacturer’s warranty to fall back on, and that’s worth every penny,” she explains.
You don’t have to be remodeling and making double-door-refrigerator purchases to take advantage of this idea, though. Smaller countertop appliances are worth the same level of investment. Take, for instance, this Chefman Air Fryer Toaster Oven, which combines modern function with classic design, and has a brand name to back the quality. Whatever you do, though, avoid these common mistakes with your air fryer.
Wolf Gourmet Programmable Coffee Maker System
It may be tempting to go for the cheapest drip coffee maker on the market, but if you’re prone to passing it by in the morning in favor of an expensive Starbucks habit, it’s probably time to upgrade your home brew. Spending just a few dollars a day on café-bought coffee easily adds up to thousands of dollars each year, and nobody is counting all the extra time getting there and waiting in line.
Try investing in a restaurant-quality machine that sits neatly on your counter like this Wolf Gourmet Programmable Coffee Maker System. It comes with a 10-cup thermal carafe, precision technology, and a built-in grounds scale. You’re definitely going to be the hottest weekend brunch ticket in town with your friends, and it’ll be worth the investment when you realize how much time and money you save each month.
Rugs.com Bukhara Square Rug
Cook stresses the importance of buying quality furniture pieces instead of fast fashion for your home. “In terms of furniture, the same rule I explained about appliances applies, however, if you opt to make something custom, using a vendor who has a strong reputation for being attentive and producing quality is key, read the reviews,” she says.
Furniture, rugs, and cabinetry should last for several years, and if you’re expecting to get a decade or more out of an item you’ll look at every day, it’s worth paying for quality. Try a trusted retailer like Rugs.com for handmade, vintage-loom antique Oriental rugs, which come with the site’s backing. To get the best deal possible, make sure you know the best time to buy these 43 items throughout the year.
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