I’m not a spender. When given the opportunity, I’ll squeeze a quarter until George Washington squeaks. However, in the last few years, I’ve discovered several not-so-cheap (and some downright expensive) things that are worth parting with my money for. I don’t think of these things as “splurges” — they have been necessary to preserving my time, health, and sanity.
Before I jump in, I want to be crystal clear: I understand my absurd privilege in being able to write this article. I started my adult life with no debt thanks to my parents’ generosity, have a good job at a well-established company, and am stuffed so full of luck it defies logic. With that caveat in mind, here are six expensive things I’ve paid for in the last few years, and will definitely pay for again.
1. Professional movers
Cost: $1,100 – $1,800, including tips
I’ve used the same movers, Little Guys, for our last three moves — including the one where we shuffled just two blocks over. Are movers expensive? Yes. Are these guys a little more expensive? Yep. So why do it? Simply put, because it makes my life easier, and I can afford it. I can’t lift heavy objects, I’m too freaked out to drive a rental truck, and I don’t want to guilt/bribe friends into helping me by buying them pizza and beer.
This decision is as much about strategy as it is convenience. A huge perk of hiring professionals is that many of them offer insurance coverage. If I’m moving my husband’s computer and drop it, I am SOL; if the movers break it, they pay for it and hubby gets a new computer. The actual move takes less time because it’s done by strong people who basically play giant games of Tetris for a living. And while they’re moving our stuff, we can focus on packing the last few bits and bobs, being at the new place to set up Internet, etc.
Being a minimalist and a mega-planner also doesn’t hurt. We never have much to move (most recently: furniture and 37 boxes), and we have everything labeled, packed, and stacked when the movers arrive.
2. High-quality bras
I used to get bras at Victoria Secret, just like almost every woman I’ve ever met. But eventually, I got tired of not being able to find a normal bra — everything was push-my-boobs-just-under-my-chin or covered in lace and bows and sparkles (or both). When I moved to Austin, someone recommended I go boutique and check out the Petticoat Fair. You can browse the place like any other shop, but the employees’ goal in life is to stick you in a dressing room, figure out your size and what kind of bra you need, then help you try on everything until you find it.
I buy a couple new bras every year, or every two if I can make them last. I can’t get out of the store without spending at least $120 — and I am always over the moon about it. I’m wearing the right size instead of guessing, the salespeople aren’t pushy, and I leave with just what I want: two plain bras, one black, and one flesh tone. Nary a bow or bedazzled strap in sight.
3. Cushy headphones
Cost: $80 plus shipping
This doesn’t seem expensive in the grand scheme of things, until you learn that the most I’d spent on headphones prior to this was about $15. A couple of years ago I found the Sony MDR7506 headphone, and I haven’t looked back.
I wear headphones a lot. My desk at work is ringed by Chatty Cathys, and I often watch movies on my laptop while my husband plays video games. Earbuds start hurting me pretty quickly, and even on-ear sets squish my ears into my glasses and make my head hurt. I can’t wear either kind for more than 30 minutes at a time. These Sony headphones are amazing. I can wear them for hours without discomfort; they help me focus at work and not annoy my husband with Netflix period dramas while he tries to figure out if Sylvanas Windrunner has actually lost her mind.
4. Rideshare apps
Cost: $80 both ways, including tip
I don’t go out much, but when I do, it’s inevitably to something downtown on a Friday or Saturday night. Looking at my RideAustin transaction history, this happens once every few months and runs about $80 round trip (I don’t use Uber because seriously what the shit). The savings-obsessed part of my brain hates this — it’s clearly cheaper to drive myself and park. But have you tried parking in any downtown recently? It’s hard to find a spot, and when you do, it’s a million blocks from your actual destination. Add to that the fact that I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than walk down a dark downtown sidestreet by myself at 11 PM after a show, and this cost is well worth it.
5. New car
Cost: Approx. $27,000
My biggest purchase to date ever, and at a critical time. In late 2015, my poor Honda was 13 years old and needed $1,200 more in repairs than Kelley Blue Book said it was worth. I was commuting two hours a day, and the car was on its last legs. So I did my research and bought American-made and new. American-made was a no-brainer. The car I got has a high safety rating and cost less than an imported model. Repairs are generally cheaper as well, because no new parts have to get shipped overseas.
Going with a new car was the harder decision. My job paid enough to let me afford a car payment, and I thought about doing the whole Dave Ramsey “save cash for a used car” thing. But I needed a car now, not in a year. And because I fully intend to have and maintain any vehicle I own for at least a decade, it made more sense for me to buy new. Thanks to a gift from my parents (there’s that privilege again) and my savings account, I was able to give a solid down payment. I pay more than the minimum every month, and as of today I am 43% paid off.
6. Monthly massage
Cost: $90, including tip
This is one of only three real “self-care” things I do (therapy and singing are the others, in case you’re wondering). On days when I feel good, a massage is a glorious way to relax; when my neck hurts so bad all I can do is lay there and cry, a massage is a lifesaver. This is one expense I denied myself for years — first because I couldn’t afford it often, then because I thought it was selfish to spend “so much” money on myself. But the older I get, the more I realize that’s bull. Taking care of myself means I have enough strength to get things done and live a life I’m happy with.
It’s taken me years to get to the point where I’m not petrified to spend money. But that’s what it’s for: to spend in the pursuit of a life that is meaningful and happy. I don’t believe you should spend your cash on these things if you don’t want to, or can’t afford to. I just want people to know that it’s okay to spend money — lots of it — on things that improve your quality of life. We only get one, after all.
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