This may sound contradictory, but there are actually ways to spend money that will help you save in the long run. Here are ten purchases that are worth the expense. Many of them are in the energy-saving category, so they're good for the environment as well.
1. WARM CLOTHES. You'll be able to turn your thermostat down a little more in the fall and winter, if you wear sweaters and heavy socks around the house. No need to buy new, either; head over to the thrift shop and pick up some items for a couple bucks. Older clothes are more likely to be thick, real wool too.
2. PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT. Speaking of thermostats…a programmable one will optimize your heating, and save money on your oil, gas or electric bill. Try the highly-rated Lux TX9000TS; it costs under $70 at Amazon.
3. CLOTHES DRYING RACK OR CLOTHESLINE. You'll likely save more than $100 a year if you air-dry your clothes instead of using a dryer. I bought a wooden drying rack for about $20 and hang my things on it. After I put the clothes away, the rack collapses and folds up for storage. You'll find drying racks at most discount stores, hardware stores and home supply stores. If your community allows it, and you have the room, hang out a clothesline and get that fresh air smell, too.
4. TAP WATER FILTER. You can get one that attaches directly to your home tap, like this disposable faucet mount filter for about $25. Yes, disposable. I found this actually to be cheaper than the kind with replaceable filters, because those replacements are the expensive part. This one lasts up to a full year, and has a little light to tell you its time is up. Chances are, you're spending a lot more than $25 a year on bottled water, so this is a great option. Or, if you prefer, you can get a pitcher filter, such as the Brita pitcher.
5. COMPACT FLUORESCENT (CFL) BULBS. Compact fluorescent (CF) light bulbs cost more than regular incandescent light bulbs, but they are well worth it; they use about two-thirds less energy and last years longer. You can expect to save about $10 a year in electricity cost for each 100 watt bulb you replace – so multiply that by the number of bulbs in your home.
6. RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES. Think of all the devices that use batteries – such as your remotes, battery-operated wall clocks, games, and more. It seemed like I had to buy batteries nearly every week for one of those stick-up bulbs in my closet, even though I only used the bulb for a few minutes per day. I bought some rechargeable batteries, which can cost up to twice as much as regular batteries – but I haven't had to replace them for a year now. Make sure you get Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries; they have replaced old-style NiCad rechargeable batteries and have a much higher capacity than NiCad’s
7. QUALITY PAPER GOODS. It may be tempting to buy those generic brand paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper, but you'll end up using a lot more because they aren't as absorbent. You don't have to buy the most expensive ones out there, either…but go for quality, and you'll have less paper to throw away and flush away, too.
8. SAFE DEPOSIT BOX. We all hope the situation won't come up…but what happens if your home is robbed or it burns down? It's important to keep your irreplaceable documentation and valuables where they'll be safe. It'll save you time and money later also, if you have to settle any claims.
9. BULK BUYING. When you see a fantastic sale on something you already use, it's wise to stock up. Just make absolutely sure it's something you need regularly, is non-perishable, and you have room for it. You won't save money by buying things you don't need. Good candidates for bulk buying: meats ( I buy steak when it's half-price on sale, then I freeze it); paper towels and toilet paper; pet food, etc.
10. GROUP MEMBERSHIPS. Think of your alumni association, professional association, ARRP (if you're over 50), credit union, AAA, etc. Most groups negotiate good discounts on various products and services such as insurance, cars, hotels, and much more. You'll likely save far more than the membership fee.
Photo credit via Flickr