15 Things Experts Say You Should Never Skimp On

Laveta Brigham

Cutting costs is a good idea if it means getting your spending under control so you’ll have more money to pay down debt, build savings or achieve other financial goals. But your cost-cutting efforts can backfire if you opt to pinch pennies on the wrong things. There are several products […]

Cutting costs is a good idea if it means getting your spending under control so you’ll have more money to pay down debt, build savings or achieve other financial goals. But your cost-cutting efforts can backfire if you opt to pinch pennies on the wrong things.

There are several products and services that are worth paying more for because the cheaper alternatives could cost you additional cash over time. Simply put, these things are just worth the money.

Last updated: Oct. 1, 2020

1. Auto Insurance

One way that people find themselves paying more over the long run is by opting for only the minimum amount of auto insurance coverage required by the state. It might make it cheaper to own a car, but if you get in an accident, you could end up forking over a lot of money.

“Paying for car insurance isn’t exactly something that people enjoy, but skimping on your policy can really cost you down the road,” said Neil Richardson, a licensed insurance agent and product manager at car insurance comparison marketplace The Zebra.

For example, if you live in Texas and have just the minimum coverage for $25,000 in property damage but total someone’s new truck that’s worth $50,000, you could be on the hook for the difference, Richardson said.

What Experts Recommend

Richardson recommends adding comprehensive and collision coverage (if you have a vehicle that hasn’t depreciated significantly), uninsured motorist coverage and ample liability coverage.

Chris Long, an insurance agent and founder of Longevity Insurance Brokers in Denver, Colorado, said, “More complete coverage does not have to be more expensive.”

You can keep costs down by getting a discount for bundling multiple insurance policies — such as auto and home insurance — with one company. Long also recommends asking your insurer about discounts for factors such as a good driving record or good grades earned by teen drivers.

2. Car Repairs

When it comes to car repairs, there are certain items you should never skimp on, said Nicole Firebaugh, manager of Preventative Maintenance Repair in Marion, Illinois. First, you should do your research before buying any parts for your car to ensure that you get the right type for your vehicle.

What Experts Recommend

“Putting the wrong types of materials in your vehicle can cause parts to go bad quicker or cause damage to other parts,” Firebaugh said. Additionally, you should check out the warranty on any product you purchase. “It might be an extra $50 to have five more years of a warranty, but that is five more years your part is covered. Just be sure that you research what the warranty actually entails, so that you do not get in even more trouble down the road.”

Finally, don’t avoid going to a mechanic just to save money.

“Even if you have seen the YouTube video or gotten advice from your local auto store expert, some things are better left to the expert,” Firebaugh said, adding that many mechanics will provide a warranty for parts and labor, so you’re covered if anything goes wrong.

3. Supplemental Homeowners Insurance

This year’s unprecedented wildfire season on the West Coast has offered a stark reminder that skimping on insurance could leave you financially unable to repair the damage from a natural disaster. While standard homeowners insurance does cover some fire damage to structures and property, in places like California where wildfires are becoming more frequent and more dangerous, it can be harder and more expensive for homeowners to get fire insurance, according to Business Insider.

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What Experts Recommend

“As California wildfires grow larger and more intense, an increasing number of insurance companies are not renewing policies for customers who live in areas they deem too risky to cover,” wrote Laura Newberry in the Los Angeles Times. “The state estimates that more than one million California homes are considered at high risk for wildfires.”

Homeowners may have to turn to surplus lines, nontraditional and more costly forms of insurance for their homes. Or they may have to turn to insurance collectives, such as the California FAIR Plan, an association of property insurers that may cover up to $1.5 million for a structure and contents, meant to be used as a last resort. Applicants have to meet submission guidelines, as well.

4. Home Repairs

If repairs need to be made around your home, taking the cheap option could be an expensive mistake. In particular, don’t skimp on anything related to leaking water and water damage, said Justin Pritchard, a certified financial planner.

“Water can cause rot and mold, and fixing those problems gets expensive,” said Pritchard, who has first-hand experience dealing with water damage in his home. “In addition to fixing whatever gets damaged by water, you’ll need to replace drywall, repaint and pay other finishing costs.” If you ignore the problems, it could be hard to sell your home down the line.

What Experts Recommend

To keep costs down, Pritchard recommends asking the contractor what tasks you can tackle in advance so he doesn’t have to charge for time spent doing things other than fixing the problem. Also consider buying high-quality materials for your contractor, he said. It might cost more upfront, but you don’t want to use substandard materials that have to be replaced soon.

Above all, be wary of offers from contractors who show up at your door offering to seal your driveway, fix your roof or make other repairs at hard-to-resist prices. They could be scammers who use subpar materials or who take your money and run, according to the Better Business Bureau. Before hiring contractors, the BBB recommends finding out if the companies are insured and bonded, researching them at BBB.org and getting several quotes.

5. Renters Insurance

If you’re a renter, you shouldn’t try to cut costs by skipping on renters insurance. Mike Delgado, director of social media at the credit bureau Experian, said he made the mistake of not paying for renters insurance for years.

“I thought I was being frugal by not paying that monthly fee,” he said. “And then someone broke into my garage and stole my not-so-frugal mountain bike.”

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What Experts Recommend

Don’t assume that your landlord’s insurance policy will cover your personal property — it won’t, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. But a renter’s policy will pay to repair or replace your items if they are damaged or stolen. And the cost is just $15 to $30 per month, according to the NAIC.

Delgado said that if he had renters insurance, he would’ve paid only a small insurance deductible after the theft, and the policy would have covered the remaining cost of replacing his bicycle.

“Overall, I could have saved several thousand dollars by just paying 12 bucks a month,” he said.

6. Safety Gear

When it comes to your safety, or your family’s safety, opting for the least expensive products to provide protection might be downright dangerous. For example, properly made bicycle helmets that fit correctly can save lives and prevent brain injuries, said Julie Rains, road cyclist and founder of the blog Investing to Thrive.

What Experts Recommend

“I had friends who hit their heads on pavement at 15 to 20 miles per hour and walked away from crashes,” she said, adding that it’s best to buy a helmet from a bike shop where you can be fitted and shown how to wear it properly.

It doesn’t have to be the most expensive, high-end version, which would likely be one designed for racing, she said. Instead, ask for a good helmet that is affordable — perhaps even last year’s model that’s on sale.

7. Hair Care

If you let price alone determine where you get your hair cut or colored, you might find that you’ve wasted money on subpar services.

“If that haircut goes south, you’ll have to go somewhere else to have it fixed,” said Beth Kessler, a stylist and owner of Parlor on Main in Bowling Green, Kentucky. She said her salon gets at least one call a day from someone asking to come in to have a bad haircut or color from another place fixed.

It will cost you both time and money to repair the damage — especially if highlights or color applied to your hair didn’t turn out right, or if you colored your hair on your own.

“Color correction is going to cost double what it would cost if you had just made an appointment with an experienced stylist who specializes in what you want,” Kessler said.

What Experts Recommend

To find an experienced stylist, Kessler recommends asking friends with hair similar to yours who their stylists are, how much they charge and whether it’s difficult to get appointments. You might be able to keep costs down if a salon charges extra for drying or styling your hair after a cut by opting not to take advantage of these la carte options, she said.

Though, right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, your options for getting a haircut may be limited by your state or county’s public health rules. It’s possible to save money with inexpensive beauty hacks, but make sure the changes aren’t permanent — like hair color.

8. Mattresses

Mattresses can be pricey, so it’s tempting to opt for a cheap version, said Joseph Hogue, an investment analyst and founder of the blog My Work From Home Money. “But you’re going to be there for a third of your day, and a good night’s sleep makes all the difference.”

Not only is it worth spending a little more for your comfort, but buying a good mattress also ensures you’re getting a quality product that will last several years. A good, queen-sized mattress can cost at least $1,000, according to the mattress-buying website Goodbed.

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What Experts Recommend

Timing your purchase right can help you save money, Hogue said.

Look for mattresses to go on sale around holidays. Labor Day and Memorial Day are particularly good times to find deals. And go ready to haggle for an even better deal, he said.

9. Shoes

If you spend a lot of time on your feet, it’s worth buying a quality pair of shoes, said Brent Shelton, online shopping expert at DealCrunch.

“Shoes made with quality materials will last longer and stay comfortable longer,” he said.

Quality shoes are especially important if you’re wearing them to walk or run for exercise, according to WebMD. With bad shoes, you could end up with injuries.

What Experts Recommend

There are ways to keep the cost of quality shoes down, though. Do research and read reviews for the top-rated shoes for your needs, Shelton said. Then you can set up alerts for shoe brands and stores at deal sites to be notified of sales and price drops, he said.

10. Grass Seed

If you want your lawn to look better but don’t want to spend a lot of money, don’t make the mistake of buying cheap grass seed, said Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal, which connects consumers with lawn care professionals. The reason the price of some seed is so low is because 10% to 20% of it is of an unknown variety, he said. In other words, the seed contains weeds.

What Experts Recommend

“Don’t try to cut corners on the seed that you buy for your lawn,” Clayton said, adding that you don’t want to go through the hard work of sowing seeds only to end up with a weed-infested lawn.

“So do yourself a favor,” he said. “Spend the few extra dollars on the quality name-brand seed, and you’ll be grateful next spring.”

11. Toilet Paper

Anyone living in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic will remember the great toilet paper buyout of 2020, when panicked shoppers, uncertain on how long they would be sheltering in place, bought toilet paper in excess. At the time, people were buying just any kind, but buying cheap toilet paper is like throwing money down the drain — literally.

“When buying the cheaper, single-ply toilet paper, most households will end up using more,” Shelton said. “You’ll be running out of it faster.”

Plus, cheap toilet paper is made with fewer fibers and might not hold up to the job, said Kendal Perez, a savings expert. This is one product that you want to perform well, she added.

What Experts Recommend

Instead of skimping, opt for two-ply or three-ply toilet paper, which is more expensive but will save you money because you won’t have to use as much, Shelton said. You can keep the cost down by buying in bulk, and get ahead of any future toilet paper panic — which will save you up to 30%, Perez said. Additionally, you should look for toilet paper coupons at sites such as Coupon Sherpa and stock up during sales.

12. Plumbing/Pipes

All it takes is one bad pipe experience — a flooded basement, a toilet backing up into your bathtub — to make you appreciate the importance of good plumbing and having the right person to fix the job. If you’re installing pipes in a home, consider longevity and quality over price.

What Experts Recommend

“Think about the last time you caught a cold. Your nose was runny, and your throat hurt. Maybe you took cold medicine because it made you feel better. That cold medicine didn’t cure your cold though, it just relieved the symptoms for a while. That’s how your plumbing works! That leaky pipe is likely just a symptom of a bigger problem, and without calling a professional, the true problem won’t get fixed,” write the experts at Morris-Jenkins Heating and Plumbing.

To find a good plumber, The Washington Post reported that you can review a plumber’s license in the state or county where you live and ask for an estimate up front.

“A plumber should always be a plumber first, and a salesman second,” said David Spaulding, president of The Plumbing Works in Port St. Lucie, Florida. “We should be giving you different options, hopefully ones that fit your budget.”

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13. Energy-Efficient Appliances

If you care about saving money in the long term and helping out the environment at the same time, experts say that energy-efficient appliances are worth the upfront investment. From washers and dryers to refrigerators and dishwashers, the benefits are worth the cost.

What Experts Recommend

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can reduce the cost of your energy bill by 5% to 30% with energy-efficient appliances. Look for appliances with the Energy Star logo, the government-approved sign of energy efficiency.

“Households are saving hundreds of dollars annually as a result of increasing appliance efficiency standards,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, the senior energy and environment policy council at Consumer Reports. “Programs like Energy Star are helping consumers easily identify products that will result in long-term savings.”

“Appliances represent the third-largest energy spend, at 9% of your energy bill. Specifically, refrigerators and clothes dryers typically have the highest operating costs per year,” said Jim Nanni, Consumer Reports’ associate director of appliance testing.

14. Children’s Car Seats

When it comes to kids, companies often charge the big bucks because they know parents will do whatever is necessary to keep their kids safe. And car seats are no exception. While high cost doesn’t always mean the best product, if a car seat price is more than you want to spend, consider the price of your child’s safety. High quality car seats are often convertible, as well, starting out with inserts for infants and offering modifications that meet a growing child’s needs.

What Experts Recommend

While you can’t put a dollar amount on your child’s safety, the healthcare costs of injury from an accident can be immense. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car seat use reduces the risk for injury in a crash by 71% to 82% for children, as compared to only using a seat belt.

Child passenger safety technician Greg Durocher told Safety.com that he also recommends parents “keep their children in a rear-facing child restraint for as long as possible.”

“Studies show it is five times safer. Although many state’s law still say rear-facing until 1 year old, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping children rear-facing until they are at least 2 years old. We as child passenger safety technicians recommend as long as possible which means — depending on the child and the restraint — it could be until about 4 years old.”

15. Paint

Paint is paint, right? Well, not exactly. Whether you’re painting indoors or the exterior of your home, it’s worth investing in the quality stuff for both appearance and longevity.

What Experts Recommend

“Price can be a good indicator of quality level. Spend a few extra dollars on a high-quality paint, or at least something mid-tier. With a cheaper paint, you might have to use more coats, and it won’t go on as smooth,” Fallyn Flaherty-Earp, a marketing manager for the Paint Quality Institute, told Open Door.

Additionally, good quality paint can make a space feel more than new, according to Christina Hoffmann, concept manager of HouseLogic.com. “Paint is the simplest, most effective and most transformative way to change a space,” she told Open Door. “The right kind of paint can make a small room look bigger and a cavernous room look smaller.”

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Jordan Rosenfeld contributed to the reporting for this article.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 15 Things Experts Say You Should Never Skimp On

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