Even though I usually focus on spending less money in order to save money, sometimes spending more will actually help you save. Here are 21 times when dishing out a few extra bucks can help you be frugal in the long-run.
Spending to Reduce Everyday Expenses
There are lots of inexpensive items you can buy that will quickly pay for themselves and save you more money down the road.
1. Hair Trimmer
Buy a hair trimmer kit for about $20 and get free haircuts at home. I haven't paid for a haircut since 2008!
2. Coffee Maker
Buy your own coffee making equipment for under $100 and save hundreds by making your brew at home instead of getting it at the coffee shop. I bought a coffee bean grinder, coffee maker with cone filter and thermal carafe, and a nice thermal travel mug.
Buy a large insulated lunch box and pack your lunch every day. I use my giant lunchbox so I can easily pack leftovers or even larger items like full-sized boxes of cereal.
4. HDTV Antenna
Buy an indoor HDTV antenna and get free TV forever! You won't get as many channels over the air as you do with cable or satellite TV, but free is hard to beat. You can pay a reasonable one-time price for an antenna instead of paying over $100 every month for cable or satellite TV.
Spend some money to plant a garden. Grow your own food, and even sell or trade your extra produce. Even a few productive plants can provide a lot of healthy — and cheap — vegetables.
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6. Car Wash Kit
Equip yourself to do car washes at home, and avoid paying up to $10 at the drive-through carwash. You'll need soap, sponges, a hose, and sprayer nozzle.
Buy an eReader and pay less for your books. The electronic version of books are less expensive than paper, and you don't need bookshelves.
8. Filtered Water
Buy a water filter and a reusable bottle, and stop wasting money on packs of plastic water bottles at the store. You can get a water pitcher with a built-in filter to keep in your refrigerator, or even get a water filter for your refrigerator water dispenser.
9. Reusable Items
Buy reusable items instead of disposable items. Use rags instead of paper towels, reusable glass or plastic food storage containers instead of baggies, etc. You'll save money with the reusable items, and you'll be putting less waste in the landfill as well.
Buy a Crock-Pot and put dinner on autopilot. Load up the Crock-Pot and turn it on when you leave for work in the morning, and you'll have dinner waiting for you when you come home. If you can avoid going out for dinner a few times, the Crock-Pot will pay for itself.
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Spending to Save Money on Energy
If you can spend money once to reduce your energy consumption, this can add up to lots of savings as you use less energy every day.
11. LED Bulbs
Buy energy-efficient lighting to reduce your electric bill. I am upgrading to LED lightbulbs that use much less electricity and last many times longer than incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs. Most of the lights in my house are LED now, and I am saving money every month.
12. Home Insulation
Insulating will help reduce your energy bill. Spend some time and money on caulk, weatherstripping, and fiberglass insulation, and save money on every utility bill for years to come.
13. Energy-Efficient Appliances
Some appliances use a lot of energy, such as your furnace, central A/C, water heater, and refrigerator. Get the most energy-efficient appliances available and save hundreds per year on lower energy bills. Over time, the energy savings will offset the increased initial cost of the energy-efficient appliances.
14. Programmable Thermostat
Upgrade to a programmable thermostat to downgrade your utility bills. I recently replaced my old thermostat with a modern programmable unit. A programmable thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature setting based on your schedule, so you can use less energy heating and cooling the house when no one is home.
Spending to Invest in Yourself
Spending money to increase your earnings can result in a lot of additional income.
15. 401K Matching
If your employer offers a 401K program that matches funds, spend some money to get the free contributions that will boost your retirement investment.
16. Business Attire
You will need a suit to wear to job interviews if you want to step up your income with a higher paying career. A good suit can last for many years and support a number of career upgrades.
17. Higher Education
A lot of people are talking about high levels of student loan debt that many college graduates are facing, but a college degree in a high paying field can be worth over a million of dollars in additional income over your career. Even if you borrow money to finish school, investing to get into a high paying career can be a great financial strategy.
18. Learning New Skills
I recently spent about $20 to buy a writer's market book to find new places to sell my articles. If I can sell just one extra article, this will more than pay for this investment in myself. Spend a little to learn a new skill or way to make money on the side.
Spending on Preventive Maintenance
Pay a little bit now for preventive maintenance, or pay a lot later for expensive repairs.
19. Car Maintenance
Spend money on oil changes and routine maintenance to keep you car going for years and avoid the expense of replacing your entire vehicle prematurely.
20. Dental Visits
Even though you don't want to, go in for dental cleanings. Pay a little now to keep your teeth in good shape and avoid much bigger expenses later.
21. Furnace Filters
Spend $10 or so to change your furnace filter every few months. A clean furnace filter increases the efficiency of your heating and cooling system and helps reduce wear and tear. Write down the size of furnace filter you need and keep it in your wallet so you know which size to get.