Truth be told, I'm cheap…but I'm no cheapskate (yes, there is a difference!). While “cheapskates” will focus only on bottom line cost, being “cheap” means finding a way to get a valuable item you want and need…and not pay full-price for it!
For the most part, most of what I own is second-hand, clearance, closeout, floor sample, off-brand, or gifted. However there are a handful of things that I am willing to pay more for, because they not only work better, but they last longer and actually SAVE me money in the long run! But let it be known…just because it's an investment doesn't mean you have to (or should) pay full-price for it!
Today I'm sharing my favorite “investments” with you, and how to get them for cheaper. Yes, I'm aware that the below items are not cheap. But I promise, these items are not out of reach if you are on a tight budget! Many (most, actually) of the list we were able to buy in our poorest phase of life, simply because we got scrappy and learned to say “HOW can we afford it” instead of “we CAN'T afford it”. We asked for money to put toward it instead of gifts, we sold things for side money, we found ways to make them business expenses, worked trade for them, or we said no to several other things and put the money toward the “investment” item instead.
However you make it work, here are some of my favorite “investments” things I think are worth working for!
Top 6 things that are worth the investment and how to get them cheaper!
Let's jump right in, shall we? First up…
A Blendtec blender. Any model will do, they are all incredible. We had the Classic for several years (we paid $320), and recently was gifted the (above pictured) incredibly adorable new Designer Blender (in my favorite color!!!!) which runs $479 brand new.
When we got married Bubba and I bought a blender that wasn't top of the line, but was a reputable brand and seemed sturdy and fancy enough. It never worked right. It left our smoothies chunky, would jam up if we put anything remotely firm in it, and was impossible to clean. Because it didn't work well we had to have several additional kitchen tools to pick up the slack – including a hand blender, food processor, and chopper (no joke).
After about a year of badgering from my hubby, we finally bought a Blendtec. He was able to work it as a business expense (he would do smoothie parties at work) and it was on sale at Costco that month, so we went for it. I was skeptical. $300+? For a BLENDER?! But honestly guys, it was life-changing (and don't worry, we got it for a deal – keep reading).
We've had it for years and make entire meals in that sucker. Not to mention it has replaced several other kitchen gadgets (like 7 or something crazy like that, according to their package), and their warranty is fabulous too, so I know if something happened we'd be just fine. We make our own baby food, we are able to make delicious things out of food we would otherwise throw away, we make smoothies instead of buying them at expensive places like Jamba…the way it saves us money goes on and on. We use it almost every day in some form or another.
HOW TO FIND IT CHEAPER:
- Buy it refurbished! Our blender, $399 brand new, is only $279.95 refurbished on their website…PLUS FREE SHIPPING with the code FUNCHEAP!I know many people are wary of buying refurbished things, so I contacted Blendtec directly about it. Here's what they said:
“These blenders are by far the greatest value available, and are the lowest price your readers will find a Blendtec available anywhere. They come with a full 7-year warranty and look like new. We bring them into our factory right here in Orem, UT and do a complete rebuild on them, replacing the entire outer shell and any other components that show wear or damage. They go through the same quality assurance processes our new machines go through a 28 point battery of testing and inspection to ensure they are in perfect working order before they’re packaged. They are sent out with brand new jars, lids, and accessories along with our recipe book and shipped out.”
- Costco. We got ours $80 at Costco (around $320), because we didn't know about the refurbished magic back then. We put it on our Costco Amex so we got Amex cash back and Costco cash back (read all about how to get the most of your membership on my Costco page)
Again…as newlyweds we wanted to save a buck. Having a hairy dog, however, we wanted a nice vacuum. We invested in a $160 vacuum from Bed Bath and Beyond that literally broke in less than 1 year. I decided to listen to mom's advice and get a Dyson, even though the price tag scared us off initially. We have had our old-school Dyson for 7 years now and have never had a problem. EVER. (And we have a very very very hairy dog!)
HOW TO FIND IT CHEAPER:
- Use a coupon. We used the $160 refunded to us (from the broken vacuum), a 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond coupon, and a few leftover wedding gift cards to buy a Dyson at Bed Bath and Beyond. Don't have a coupon? Google one!
- Buy refurbished. I wanted a Dyson Slim as a gift but at $300, that was painful. I saved up my blog money and when I had enough I bought a refurbished one from Amazon for almost $80 less.
- Costco. Again, Costco sells Dysons periodically, at a discount.
- Remember to use Ebates when you shop online! You get cash back, which helps recoup some cost. See how I use it and made $130 by doing nothing HERE.
- Another way to save money on vacuums is to have them serviced. I paid $35 to have my vacuum cleaned and tuned up, made it like new again after 6 years of use. So before tossing a vacuum, try to revive it first!
3) Kitchen knives
Cutco is what we have and I love them. But there are lots of other great brands out there. Whatever you choose, just make sure it's quality – do lots of research before investing! Price varies per knife, anywhere from $50 – $150+.
I grew up with dull kitchen knives. It drove me NUTS that you nearly lost a finger or popped a shoulder out of socket trying to slice an apple. Apparently I didn't learn my lesson, because in college I bought a cheapo set from Walmart that did me absolutely no good. I then married a once-upon-a-time Cutco salesman who had an entire set of knives from his glory days as a knife salesman. Ladies, I was converted. Yes, they are EXPENSIVE at $100 per knife (or more!). But even one or two knives would be enough to change your life. You use a knife nearly every single day in one form or another, and the difference when you have a quality, professional knife is incredible. Plus, sturdy, sharp knives are safer than cheaper ones! Their warranty is awesome, and they do free sharpening for life.
HOW TO FIND THEM CHEAPER:
- You can find them on Amazon, which sometimes may be cheaper than their website.
- Become a rep! Not only can you make money selling something you love, but you get discounted or even free products. Heck, you get a commission even when buying product for yourself! I have a friend who really wanted a set of designer pots and pans. The set was worth thousands. She became a rep, hosted a few dinner demonstrations, and earned her set. Bubba became a Cutco rep and paid for college by selling the knives to friends and family. He also got an entire knife set for the price of a SINGLE knife. Though he doesn't sell them any more, I wanted a block for our knives (yes, the same ones he used as a rep before college) and he was able to buy it as a discount using his ancient rep ID.
- Buy from family or friends who are already reps. Post on Facebook asking if anyone you know is a rep and can give you a discount on product. They not only earn a commission, but often times have the permission to drop pricing to help make it more affordable for people.
- Buy used. You never know! Check the classifieds and maybe you'll get lucky.
- Make them last by washing them by hand instead of putting them in the dishwasher.
4) Hair straightener
I'm no hair expert, but I have a Chi and it works great, I've had it for years. And it's pink so it's dang cute. Mine was around $80.
Have you bought the $25 grocery store straightener? I have! In fact, that's all I would buy in high school because I was in a “cheapskate” mentality. It would pull out my hair, fry my hair, hardly straightened, and would break easily, forcing me to buy a new one every year. Once I got to college I bought a chi and haven't looked back. I've only had to replace it once in 11 years, which is a pretty good track record for me! Plus, it gets so hot I can use it as a mini iron…and it's awesome. (Ps the same goes for a curling iron! Though at $30 the one I use isn't too expensive.)
HOW TO FIND IT CHEAPER:
- Buy from someone with a beauty license. Find a friend who does hair, and have them buy one for you the next time they go to a beauty supply store! They get a discount and can pass that along to you…that's how I got mine for cheaper!
- Watch daily deal sites like Zulily. I see Chi pop every now and again, so sign up for their email list and keep your eyes peeled!
- Use a coupon. SO many stores cary Chi straighteners now! Ulta, Target, JC Penney, Sally Beauty, even Overstock.com. Buy it at a store where you have a coupon! Don't have one? Google one! Then buy online and use Ebates to get cash-back.
- Ask for it for Christmas. At under $100 (for many, anyway) a professional straightener could be the perfect, nice Christmas gift from parents or even your hubby. Encourage them to not pay full-price, of course!
- Note: Make sure it's legit! Be wary of expired or watered down knockoffs. Buy from a certified, legit source.
Sheesh, I have no idea. I am still looking for “my smell” (any recommendations??). But when I find it, I will probably wear it until I die! For Bubba it's old-school Aqua Di Gio all the way, baby! It costs typically between $60-$80 depending on the bottle. When we were in Europe we tried 100's of scents, and always went back to that one. It's straight sexy in a bottle, if you ask me…
Again, for most of my life I thought perfume was just another way for the world to make money off of us by slapping a celebrity's name and face on a package and charging an arm and a leg for something…so I always opted for bath spritz, cheap “perfume”, or nothing at all. Over the years I've done some personal market testing and guys…I hate to say it…the REAL stuff really does work better, smell better, and lasts way longer in the day. I would go through an entire bottle of cheap “perfume” in just a few months, because I basically had to bathe in the stuff to smell good. My husband has a legit bottle of Aqua and he only has to replace it once every few years.
HOW TO FIND IT CHEAPER:
- Try Groupon! One year for Christmas Groupon Goods was selling Burberry cologne (the real stuff) for almost 1/2 price. I got my little brother a bottle for $35 and BAM. Favorite sibling award.
- Again, ask for it for Christmas! My husband was out of Aqua so that was his gift from his parents this year.
- Shop around! There are BAZILLIONS of stores that carry perfume and cologne including: Sephora (8% cash back through Ebates!), department stores like Macy's, and online perfume retailers like Fragrancenet.com and Perfume.com. Be sure to use Ebates when shopping online, and use coupons when at all possible. Don't have one? Google one!
A wood crib that is STURDY. If you're buying it online, read the reviews!!!! I can't stress that enough. Our cheap one was $150, our sturdy one was about $320 which was a good deal.
When we were expecting our first baby, we were in the thick of our financial disaster. Money was tight, but we wanted to buy a new crib since we knew the dangers of buying an old, second-hand crib. Plus we knew we'd have more kids and figured we could hand it down child to child. We saved up and bought the cheapest decent-looking crib we could find, which was a $150 ditty off of Amazon. It was busted 5x over by the time our first child was done with it. The side broke completely off, the springs stretched, the wood dented, chipped, and scratched easily, it wobbled, and he could climb out of it easily.
Unfortunately it ended up being a waste of $150. Had we been patient and saved up for longer, we could've invested in a sturdy crib that would actually last through all 4(+) kids.
HOW TO FIND IT CHEAPER:
The ending of the crib fiasco story is…
After looking at the big-box baby stores we were disgusted at the $600+ price tags many of them had (even though “on sale” or “great deals”). We stopped by a local baby depot-type store on a whim (can't even remember the store name!) and they just so happened to be moving locations. They were liquidating their inventory. We found our ideal white, sturdy, gorgeous crib new in the box for about $450-$500, which was still cheaper than the big box stores. We then noticed the exact same crib that was out on display. We asked if we could buy their floor sample and got it for $320! We had to borrow a friend's truck to drive it home (so we topped off their tank with gas, maybe another $30-$40) but it was worth it. We have used that crib for every child (buying a new crib mattress every year because of the SIDS risk) and have never had any issues.
Here's how to find them cheaper:
- Floor samples and displays (just ask!)
- Outlet centers
- Scratch and dent/returns (again, just ask!)
- Used (but be careful! The old cribs aren't nearly as safe as the new ones. Be sure to check for recalls, too).
So there you go!
Those are some of my favorite “investments” that are worth paying more for. There are others that didn't make the cut, mostly because I didn't want your eyes to fall out of your head from reading so much. Some of my other favorites are my Kitchen Aid mixer (that we bought with credit card points), MAC Paint Pot eyeshadow primer in Bare Study, umbrellas (cheap umbrellas break), and Tide Detergent instead of the cheap stuff (as I explain in How I Do My Laundry).
What are YOUR “investment” items, why, and how do you find them cheaper? Be sure to leave a comment and share!