It’s always tempting to look for the best deal, but some things are simply worth splurging on — even if you’re on a budget. When deciding where to spend and where to save, consider where quality really does matter and where experiences are truly unique.
Read on to see the 25 things that are worth splurging on, and 25 that don’t merit the extra cost.
A Good Mattress
- Saatva Loom & Leaf mattress — $1,099
You really can put a price on a good night’s sleep. Queen-size mattresses costing between $700 and $1,800 had a 74 percent owner satisfaction rating, while those costing less only had at 68 percent satisfaction rating, according to mattress review website Sleep Like the Dead. Meanwhile, more expensive mattresses have a longer lifespan.
Mattresses costing $700 or less last an average of 5.2 years, while those in the $700 to $1,800 range had an average lifespan of 6.9 years. Relatively affordable, the Loom & Leaf Mattress from Saatva was rated best overall pick by Reviews.com for its “hotel-like feel.”
Don’t Miss: 50 Ways to Live the Big Life on a Small Budget
- Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones — $279
Studies have shown that listening to music can improve your overall mood, so it’s worth investing in headphones that will give you a high-quality listening experience. Review site The Wirecutter rated the Bose QuietComfort 25 the best noise-canceling headphones. The foldable, comfortable-to-wear headphones can help cancel outside noise to allow you to better enjoy your playlist of choice.
Ordering the Tasting Menu at a Five-Star Restaurant
- Gramercy Tavern’s tasting menu — $129 to $179 for dinner, plus optional $99 wine flight
If you’re going to shell out big bucks for a meal, you might as well enjoy the best of what the restaurant has to offer — and tasting menus are often worth the hefty price tags.
“Chefs with $300-plus tasting menus are generally using much more expensive ingredients and are also factoring in the cost of the labor, which is proportionately higher in those types of experiences,” chef Ben Pollinger of New York City’s Oceana told Zagat.
New York City hot-spot Gramercy Tavern boasts the best tasting menu in America, according to Business Insider. The menu rotates seasonally, but the current offerings include lobster salad and squid ink lumache. Gramercy Tavern is a no-tipping restaurant, so gratuity is included in the price.
Attending a Music Festival
- Coachella multi-day general admission festival pass — $399
Each year, 32 million Americans flock to music festivals across the country, according to Nielsen. But are festivals worth the high cost? The average ticket price for a standard concert in North America for the top 100 tours is $72.16, Pollstar found. So music festivals can give you more bang for your buck if you consider how many musical acts you have access to with a single ticket.
For example, the cost of a 2017 Coachella ticket was $399 for a multi-day general admission pass, which gave concertgoers access to 162 artists. Broken down to cost per artist, that comes out to $2.46 to see each performer. Although it is physically impossible to see every act, it’s still a one-of-a-kind opportunity to see numerous singers, bands and electronic artists for much less than it would cost to see each individually.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail
- Gear, food and lodging to complete the hike — $7,200
The Appalachian Trail stretches 2,175 miles from Georgia all the way up through Maine, and crosses 12 other East Coast states along the way. The complete hike takes approximately six months to complete, and costs hikers an average of $1,000 per month plus the cost of backpacking gear, which can cost $1,200 or more, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
The hike is physically demanding, but completing the trail has psychological benefits that can’t be bought. People who hiked the trail (either portions of it or the entire stretch) experienced physical challenge, camaraderie, exercise, solitude, self-fulfillment, self-reliance, fun and enjoyment of life, according to a study published in the Journal of Experiential Education. Those benefits might just be worth lacing your hiking boots up for.
Plan Your Adventure: How Much Your Epic Backpacking Trip Will Cost You
Taking a Gourmet Cooking Class
- Sur La Table Modern Techniques for Every Cook class — $79
Taking a cooking class costs an average of $135, according to Thumbtack, a website that connects its users to various professionals. However, once you acquire those skills, you can save money by cooking at home rather than going out for gourmet restaurant meals. The price of supermarket food is declining, while retail food prices are expected to rise between 1 to 2 percent in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Hiring a Personal Trainer
- Five 50-minute intro personal training sessions at 24 Hour Fitness — $405, can vary depending on location
Personal trainers cost an average of $40 per session, according to Thumbtack. This might seem like an unnecessary expense, but personal trainers can help you meet fitness goals that you might not be able to achieve on your own — and you can’t put a price on health. The benefits of hiring a trainer include a personalized workout, detailed instruction, motivation, accountability, variety in workouts and efficiency, according to Livestrong.
Getting a Dog
- Estimated cost of the first year of dog ownership — up to $7,604
In addition to the initial costs of adoption or buying from a breeder, having a dog can cost $1,471 to $2,008 per year depending on its size, according to the ASPCA. And the first-year expenses of dog ownership can be more costly — as much as $7,604. That might seem like a lot, but owning a dog can provide a plethora of both physical and mental benefits. Studies have linked dog ownership to better heart health, increased exercise, improved happiness and reduction of stress.
- Traveling to Greece — $998 for flight and hotel
While traveling to a foreign country can easily cost in the thousands between airfare, hotels, food and entertainment, the experience can be life-changing — and even good for your health. Going on vacation is linked to stress relief, which in turn has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and depression, according to the Global Coalition on Aging. Traveling abroad can also help increase your creativity, the Academy of Management Journal reported.
Budgeting for Your Trip: How I Traveled to 8 Countries With Only $2,700
Getting a Facial
- Exhale 60-minute True Facial — $155
The average facial costs $100, according to the latest statistics provided by the International Spa Association. You can give yourself DIY facials at home, but for a real deep clean it’s worth it to go to a professional. Trying to remove blackheads at home can irritate the skin, and not removing them can cause build-up in your pores. For truly healthy skin, experts recommend seeing a professional aesthetician about every four weeks.
Earning a College Degree
- Estimated cost to attend UCLA for one academic year — $34,047
The average tuition at four-year public colleges is $24,930 and $33,480 at private colleges, according to the latest statistics provided by CollegeBoard. While this is a large investment, it does pay off in the job market.
“Investing in your own education so as to qualify for a promotion or a better job will have a lifetime of returns,” Crystal Stranger, an enrolled agent and president of 1st Tax, a nationwide tax firm that serves small businesses, told GOBankingRates. By comparison, Stranger said, you would need to have $240,000 in savings to get an additional $6,000 in income in a savings account with 2.5 percent interest. But you can easily get that kind of boost in a raise by getting new certifications or taking on new job responsibilities.
A Top-of-the-Line Refrigerator
- The GE GFE28GSKSS refrigerator — $2,084
Refrigerators last an average of 13 years, so if you’re going to be stuck with something for that long, you might as well invest in an appliance that you like. When selecting a refrigerator, Reviews.com recommended choosing a brand that is easy to fix, and its study found that any major brand fits the bill except for LG and Samsung.
The review site chose the GE GFE28GSKSS model as the best French-door style refrigerator for its size and features, which include an ice maker built into the left front door and two rows of shelves that can be moved to different heights.
An Amazon Prime Membership
- Amazon Prime membership — $99 for the year
An Amazon Prime membership will set you back $99 for the year, but you’ll very likely make that back in saved shipping costs alone, plus you’ll receive many other member perks. Amazon Prime members enjoy free two-day shipping, access to free streaming TV shows and movies, access to Amazon Prime Music, unlimited photo storage, free Kindle books and more.
A High-End Chef’s Knife
- Victorinox Rosewood Forged Chef’s Knife, 8-inch — $177
A sharp and effective chef’s knife will save you time and frustration. The multi-use tool helps you slice, dice, mince and de-bone, and it’s worth spending a bit more for a high-quality knife that will keep its sharpness and a keen edge. Good Housekeeping named the Victorinox 8-inch Rosewood Forged Chef’s Knife its top pick for best chef’s knife based on its traditional shape and effectiveness for a variety of uses.
Luxury Movie Theater Tickets
- iPic Theater premium plus seat ticket — $29
The average price of a movie ticket in the U.S. is $8.65 and rising, according to the latest available data from the National Association of Theatre Owners. Although tickets at luxury movie theaters — such as AMC Dine-In and iPic Theaters — are more expensive, many come with a variety of perks including free popcorn, fully reclining seats and full bar and waiter services.
- DSTLD jeans — $75 to $95 for men, $85 to $125 for women
Designer jeans might cost more, but you get what you pay for. Designer jeans cost more because they use higher quality raw materials, take more time to make, and use highly skilled seamstresses to make them, according to fashion website Who What Wear.
Designer jeans often feel softer, fit better and won’t fade as quickly as less expensive jeans, so you can keep them for longer, too. GQ named DSTLD one of the best designer men’s jeans brands for their premium quality and “perfect cut.”
- Basic AAA membership — $49 for the year
Your AAA membership provides more than just roadside assistance. AAA members also enjoy discounts on hotels, rental cars, restaurants, restaurant gift certificates, apparel, electronics, phone service, shipping, airport parking, rail travel, theme parks, prescriptions, travel packages, movie tickets, gym memberships and more. These discounts could save you over $200 a year, according to AAA, which will more than pay back the $49 cost of a basic membership.
- Round-trip nonstop ticket from Los Angeles to New York — starting at $277
Nonstop flights often cost more than connecting flights, but they ultimately save you time and the extra hassle. A connection usually adds at least two hours to your travel time, and also increases the chances of having complications due to weather or mechanical issues. There’s also the annoyance of having to maneuver your carry-on bags through a crowded airport, often in a hurry.
More Airport Secrets: Tips and Tricks Only Insiders Know
Keurig Coffee Maker
- Keurig K50 Coffee Maker — $110
Making coffee in a Keurig is pretty much foolproof, and drinking K-cup coffee is much less expensive than buying a coffee at Starbucks every morning. Spending $1.75 on a coffee every day can cost you $638 annually, while K-cups sell for an average of 62 cents per cup, making the cost per year $226. Add in the cost of the machine, and you’re still saving about $300 in your first year of ownership.
- Tandem skydive at Skydive Santa Barbara — starting at $159
Aside from being a one-of-a-kind experience, the adrenaline rush that comes with skydiving can also have health benefits. That burst of adrenaline floods your body with oxygen-rich red blood cells, giving your immune system a boost, and releasing dopamine and endorphins, which can reduce pain, according to Psychology Today. Between that and the incredible views, the experience is worth the average $120 to $250 it can cost you.
A Dependable Vacuum Cleaner
- Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 vacuum — $160
Vacuum cleaners are another product whose lifespan can vary with the quality. Many vacuums losing their cleaning ability after a year if they are not properly maintained. A high-quality vacuum will work well on different surfaces, pick up pet hair, dust and debris in fewer passes, and continue working well after its first year. The Sweethome review website named the Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 the best overall for its effectiveness and affordability.
Product Warranties, Insurance and More: Are These Extras Really Worth the Cost?
- Ray-Ban Aviator Flash Lenses — $200
Polarized sunglasses usually cost more than standard lenses, but they make it easier to see in very bright conditions and can reduce eyestrain. Taking good care of your eyes is always worth a little extra cash.
Premium Quality Sheets
- Garnet Hill Fiesta Solid Percale Bedding — $12 to $68
When shopping for sheets to get the most comfortable sleeping experience, know what to look for. It’s actually the quality of the thread, not the thread count that really matters, according to Real Simple. For the softest sheets, look for those made with 100 percent cotton thread and a percale weave, which will feel softer and be more durable than a basic weave used to make less expensive sheets.
Good quality sheets might set you back more than the standard fare, but you can’t overvalue sleep. Adequate sleep is necessary for proper brain function, emotional well-being and physical health, according to the National Institutes of Health.
A Powerful Blender
- Vitamix A3500 — $600
What makes the Vitamix blender worth its hefty price tag is its reliability. Vitamix is the high-end blender brand least likely to encounter problems by the fourth year of ownership, and owners reported significantly fewer problems than with other brands, according to Consumer Reports. It’s also extremely versatile — it can be used to make juices, soups, sauces, nut butters and more.
Plush Toilet Paper
- Cottonelle Ultra Comfort Care — $6.49 for a 12-pack
Higher-ply toilet paper does cost more, but you’ll also use less of it because of its effectiveness. And who doesn’t want a little softness where it really counts? Cottonelle’s Ultra Comfort Care toilet paper was ranked highest by The Sweethome for its softness and durability.