Sometimes when you try to live frugally, you completely stop purchasing non-necessities. Which isn’t bad! You’re far better off being completely content with what you have than always wanting to buy whatever you lay your eyes on. There are, however, some purchases that can end up saving you far more than the price of the item. Here’s a list of 7 items to get you started.
1. LED Bulbs
If you’re going to use light bulbs (which I assume you do), you might as well use LED bulbs. LEDs are more affordable than ever and the energy savings from an LED will easily pay for the bulb within a year. LEDs also have a life expectancy of 10-20 years, letting you continue to reap the savings and saving you trips to the store for more lightbulbs. Furthermore, LEDs are instant on and don’t come with the mercury that CFLs have.
One note- if you are buying for enclosed fixtures, be sure to buy bulbs that are specifically designated for enclosed fixtures. Otherwise they will burn out faster.
2. Coffee Maker
For coffee drinkers, a coffee maker is a no-brainer. Gas station coffee costs $1 per cup. Starbucks coffee costs $2 per cup. Homemade coffee costs pennies on the dollar. You can find coffee makers as low as $12, which will pay for itself within a week.
3. Wireless Modem/Routers
Your internet provider likely has an option to lease a modem and router from them for 5-$10/month. They also likely make the router lease sound like a good deal (or the only option). It’s not. You can buy your own modem and router and dodge the rental fee. The payoff time depends on the rental fee and the price of the modem. Typically, however, you’ll recoup your cost in roughly a year.
Buying a router/modem does mean that you forgo the free tech support from your internet provider, so only go this route if you have a little techy know-how. Also, make sure to get one that is compatible with your internet provider- DSL for DSL or Cable for Cable.
4. Smart Thermostats
Smart thermostats help you conserve energy on heating and cooling when you’re not home or sleeping and don’t need the furnace or air conditioning running at full blast. For example, in the winter, you might want your house set at 62 while you’re sleeping, 55 while you’re at work, and 67 while you’re home. Of course, you could manually change the temp 3 times a day, but that’s not practical (and you’ll come home to a cold house).
Thermostats come in all ranges of smartness, ranging from basic programmable– where you set the thermostat on a schedule, to thermostats that add in remote access from phone apps. And of course, there is the Nest Learning Thermostat, which learns when you are home and away and adjusts accordingly. Even though the Nest is one of the most expensive thermostats money can buy, Nest claims the energy savings will pay for the thermostat in 2 years.
If you have a nearby museum, zoo, theme park or other attraction that you enjoy visiting, consider purchasing a membership! Often the membership pays for itself with two or three visits. Even better, these memberships often come with reciprocal benefits, giving you free admission to venues across the country. We have a membership to our local zoo and science center, but have used the memberships in 4 other states too!
6. Water Filters
If you are happy drinking water straight from the tap, great! If you buy bottled water for convenience, keep buying bottled water. But if you buy bottled water because of taste, health or safety reasons, consider getting a water filter. Bottled water typically costs anywhere between $1 and $4 per gallon. Tap water is virtually free. The right filter will remove some or all of the taste or potential contaminants. On the low end, a $17 Britta filter will at least improve your water quality with a low upfront cost. Pur filters come with similar results and cost. These filters, however, only partially purify your water. They also require frequent filter changes- typically every 40-50 gallons.
Berkey filters are a solution with a higher up front cost, but much lower ongoing cost (for replacing filters) and better results. Each Berkey filter unit is able to handle 3000 gallons. Unlike most other filters, Berkey filters also purify water beyond purification standards set by the military for overseas use. For the nitty gritty details, here’s a full list of what Berkey filters remove. Also unlike other filters, Berkey filters completely remove bad flavors. Until we got our Berkey, my wife would refuse to drink plain water out of the tap or any filter we tried. It either had to be bottled or flavored. She loves the water from the Berkey.
So with bottled water being at least $1 per gallon, a $250 Berkey (2 filters inluded), will pay for itself after filtering 250 gallons. And with the 2 filters, it will filter another 5,750 gallons!
7. Financial Assets
This might be thinking a little outside the box, but if you’ve got extra money to spend, rather than spend it shopping, purchase stocks or bonds. Over time, your investment will double, triple and quadruple. And if you consistently purchase financial assets, the dividends will grow into a nice passive income stream.
Bonus- Corelle Dishes!
If you’ve got toddlers or spunky pets and hard tile floors, corelle dishes will pay for themselves in no time. Check out Picky Pincher’s love letter to her dishes!
What About You?
I know there are other smart purchases- so what about you? What purchases have you made that have really paid dividends? Feel free to share in the comments!
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- While I do strive to only write accurate information and dispense valuable advice, I am not a licensed financial adviser. All information is based solely on my personal experience and personal research and should be treated as such. Find out more.