It wasn’t until my 20s when I realized why people spend money on stuff: It’s because that stuff tends to last longer. Buying well-made things means you’ll save time and money in the long run. But that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank on each purchase. So what should you drop cash on? Below are some high-quality items that are worth the extra price-tag digits.
When I first moved to New York, I bought a $75 mattress and threw on sheets I had stolen from my mother’s linen closet. I spent two sleepless weeks in that torture chamber before I gave up and upgraded to a quality mattress. Don’t make my mistake. You spend a third of your life in bed, so make it count. Purchase a good mattress, and it’ll last for at least 7–10 years. And for a cheaper way to upgrade, you can also throw on a comfortable, high-quality mattress topper.
An electric toothbrush seemed like a gimmick to me until I actually ended up buying one on the advice of my dentist. While a diligent brusher can probably make do with a manual toothbrush, lazy people will benefit from an electric. Most of them come with a timer to make sure you’re brushing for the requisite two minutes. Consumer Reports also shows that electrics reduced dental plaque by 21 percent. That will pay off when it’s time for your annual cleaning.
By that same token, though, if you’re going to buy an electric toothbrush, you may want to shell out a little more cash for one that’s high-quality. I initially bought the cheapest one I could find, and my dentist still thought I was using a manual. Plus, the more expensive versions have neat features that will tell you when to switch sides and when to clean your gums.
You never really think about your light bulbs until they go out and you’re left in the dark. And that’s how it should be. I’m five feet tall, so replacing a light means stacking a step stool on top of a chair and trying not to break my neck. The longer I can go between replacements, the better. GE’s smart LED light bulbs are long-lasting, extending the time before they need to be replaced. That means you save yourself some cash. Some bulbs even last up to 25,000 hours. The technology also features dimmable, warm, soft light, so you can bask in lighting that’s actually pleasant.
I spent years narrowly avoiding sliced fingers by using a dull, cheap knife I inherited from an old roommate. When I finally dropped some cash on a good chef’s knife, I was blown away by its precision and efficiency. A sharp knife that fits comfortably in your hand will cut uniformly, so everything cooks evenly and your food tastes better. While a high-quality knife doesn’t come cheap, this extra investment will pay off in time and taste.
Cashmere often seems like an unnecessary luxury item. But if you live in a place that gets cold during the winter, it’s a solid investment piece to add to your closet. Cashmere is super warm and very comfortable, which makes it versatile. I usually wear one on airplanes, because it’s soft enough to not bother me during a long flight, and warm enough to handle the frigid onboard air conditioning. Cashmere tends to last a long time, so it’ll pay off to get a basic one that you’ll wear for years to come. Plus, direct-to-consumer options like Grana and Everlane make them more affordable.
Nandita Raghuram is a Senior Writer at Studio@Gizmodo. She tweets here.