What luxury goods are worth the extra cost?
May 31, 2013 8:44 PM   Subscribe

In my 30s and no kids. Help me spend my money on honey.

I'm not rolling in the dough, but I do alright. And now that I'm in my 30s, I don't mind spending a little more on items where a little extra money goes a long way. But I'm still a Frugal Fanny, so I'm always trying to weigh benefits/pleasure against cost, and I'm wondering what other premium/luxury items are worth that cost.

So far, I'm thinking perfume, honey, and cheese are worth a bit extra if you can afford it. Shoes, too. Definitely shoes. Men's watches, maybe. A good coat is worth it. In non-consumable, non-clothes, I've only got luggage on the list (ah, how I love a quality suitcase, and detest a shoddy one). Oh, and non-stop flights. Not a good or item, true, but good god, are those worth the extra $50.

What luxury or premium goods do YOU think are worth the extra money? Where do YOU refuse to pennypinch?

Thanks, MeFannys.
posted by letahl to Grab Bag (79 answers total) 145 users marked this as a favorite
Meat. If you eat it at all, get the locally-raised, organic, grass-fed, heirloom whatevers. Not just for the environmental, health, and political reasons, but because oh my God they taste so much better. I thought I didn't like chicken until I started getting farmer's market chicken.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:45 PM on May 31, 2013 [16 favorites]

Luxury bedding. You spend 8-odd hours on it, might as well get the best money can buy.
posted by pakoothefakoo at 8:47 PM on May 31, 2013 [22 favorites]

Oh my god splurge on a really good mattress. Like best of the best of the best. Now that I've slept on a good one (damn you ex boyfriend) I forever feel like I'm missing something by keeping my little old lousy one.

You can also buy me one.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:49 PM on May 31, 2013 [28 favorites]

This is a really popular AskMe topic: previously (probably the canonical one) and previously.
posted by holgate at 8:50 PM on May 31, 2013 [5 favorites]

Orange juice not from concentrate. Simple, but true. And good beer.
posted by hydra77 at 8:50 PM on May 31, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you use a bicycle regularly (like, every day to commute), pay extra for something that fits you properly and pay extra to keep it nicely maintained (or learn how to do it yourself.) The $40 tyres are also much less likely to puncture than the $15 ones.
posted by lollusc at 8:51 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

In general, now I think of it, my rule is that it's worth paying more for things you use all the time, but it's fine to skimp on things you don't use often. So your bed, your bicycle (or car if you have to drive a lot), your everyday food staples (milk, bread, meat, common herbs), your desk chair, towels, the shoes you wear most often, your glasses or contact lenses, your phone, your computer, your soap and your other daily beauty products are all worth spending enough on to make sure you get high quality with the features that will make you happy.

And also, even on things you use less frequently, if you get markedly better quality for less than about a 20% increase in price, I feel like that's worth paying. (There are other threads on here that will suggest to you what those things might be).
posted by lollusc at 8:56 PM on May 31, 2013 [6 favorites]

The two high-price items that I can never go back from are a wicked fast computer (solid state hard drive! solid state hard drive!) and pastured/straight-from-the-farmer meat, eggs, dairy, and veg. It costs more and it's worth it.

Oh, and vacations get honorable mention. I'm not advocating high-end vacations the way I advocate a high-end computer and high-end grass-fed beef, but airfare to a new place and spending money to do (not buy) things while you're there has always, always, always been money well spent in my experience. (And happiness research backs that up.)
posted by daveliepmann at 8:56 PM on May 31, 2013 [8 favorites]

also previously

Recently, I decided that I would spare no expense when it came to my glasses (within reason: I found the pair I wanted and hunted down the best deal on the frames, rather than paying whatever the local overpriced store was asking)
posted by deanc at 9:03 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

For women: shampoo/conditioner, foundation if you wear it, underwear.

I'm almost always broke, but those are things for which I have very high standards and will forever refuse to compromise.
posted by celtalitha at 9:17 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

* Nice jeans. i don't wear them every day, but i love my pair of quality heavy weight selvedge jeans. get some nudie, naked and famous, or the other popular brands. Google around and read some blog posts.

* Seconding the nice bike thing. I don't cycle commute anymore and only ride after work/on the weekends occasionally, but i went out and got a top of the line italian team race replica bike and it's like butter. Every time i ride it it puts a huge smile on my face, and hills are pretty much effortless. I could ride it all day and still be smiling. You can get a bike like this for $500-1000 if you look around on craigslist after educating yourself on whats good.

* Food in general. If i had to pick one thing, it would be this. Buy as much as you can at the farmers market, and after that the local co-op. Meat, cheese, vegetables, everything. It's all amazing if you're willing to spend a bit more.

* A couple awesome ones of every piece of clothing you regularly wear. I have a couple really nice pairs of shoes, the aforementioned jeans, a couple nice jackets, a couple nice dress shirts, etc. Every single one of these items feels worth it for sure. You don't have to go crazy here, but with everything on that list i can really notice the quality difference in how it feels. For instance on this list, i started buying all my undershirts at american apparel instead of the $5 for a package of a bunch at k-mart type. HUGE difference

* I will never, ever buy cheap speakers or headphones again. I spent close to 1k very carefully selecting a high end used turntable, CD player, DAC for my computer, amplifier, speakers, nice wiring, and several nice pairs of headphones. I enjoy this stuff every single day and as with the bike, every time i hear music coming out of it and it sounds great i smile. This is another thing to read around on and educate yourself before you dive in... but it's very much worth it. There's several albums i loved that after hearing not only on vinyl, but on this system forever sound flat when i hear songs from them anywhere else. It's like night and day.

* Sunglasses, get some with proper glass lenses like the g-15 raybans and many others. You'll never be able to stand the plastic ones again(and raybans also last forever. I found a pair in my 1966 car right after i bought it, and they weren't even really scratched although obviously heavily worn)

* A mac laptop with an SSD, to add to the fast computer thing above. Definitely a "luxury" item, but they're extremely well made, the service is top notch if it ever screws up(or you screw it up), and they have basically no software issues ever. Why wait for a slow computer? you never get that time back. Ditto for futzing with computer issues. They also last basically forever, and can readily be resold for a shocking percentage of the purchase price when it's time to upgrade.(my 2009 macbook pro is still worth $7-800!)

* My smart-ass friend would say toilet paper. He refuses to buy anything but the cushy stuff even if he's completely flat broke. I can get behind this one, fuck cheap toilet paper.

* Excellent knives, kitchen utensils, and cooking equipment. Get a great set of knives, a great set of quality pots/pans, trash all your cheap appliances and replace it with The Good Stuff. Cooking is incredibly fun and satisfying if you're using quality sharp knives. My moms a pro chef, and ruined me forever when it comes to BS kitchen stuff.

The next thing i'm probably going to start doing is only buying smartwool socks, or some other good brand/series like that, but seeing as how i haven't tried it i'll save any guidance on that one for the next thread like this...

One of the first things i also thought of is an awesome car you love. When i got a "real job" one of the first things i got was a quirky 60s car i really liked. Go get your dream car, especially if you have to do a lot of driving for work/commuting. Or even just to go on interesting trips/adventures in. This could maybe even be a second car, if you already have a decent Practical Everyday Guy car in which case you can really get creative here.
posted by emptythought at 9:23 PM on May 31, 2013 [12 favorites]

Glassware! I recently purchased these I love them. It's just such a simple pleasure drinking from these glasses. I'd always bought Target stuff before and never realized what I was missing.

Seriously though, and I feel a bit silly saying this, these glasses are amazing and I never knew how much I would appreciate a solid, well made piece of glassware.
posted by Carillon at 9:24 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I will warn you away from watches, which you mentioned. Nice luxury watches start out at 5-10k and the middling point is about 50k. They work on mechanical principles so even though they have nice hand movement they're less reliable than a quartz watch. You can spend less than that but it tends to be a one upmanship thing in certain circles, so if you seem to care but don't pull it off you might look bad.

My rule of thumb is to spend the extra money on getting something that will last longer than the cheap version or is something that you do rather than own. Good quality boots you will actually save money on over tennis shoes in the long run (hehe). And if you have a great bike it will encourage you to exercise more and will improve your life more through its use rather than mere ownership.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 9:34 PM on May 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

This is a splurge, but have you ever experienced a "tasting menu" at a top-notch restaurant?
It can be an amazing experience--do you know anyone who has been to L'Etoille in Madison, WI?
I found some info and other recommendations at Chowhound on the Great Lakes discussion board. The best restaurants often have very welcoming staff that make you feel at home and explain the menu as you go along.
posted by calgirl at 9:35 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Real aged balsamic vinegar.
posted by trip and a half at 9:41 PM on May 31, 2013 [4 favorites]

I actually spend my extra cash mostly on services these days as opposed to goods. I could get another pair of shoes that I only wear a couple of times, or I could get 5 awesome 90 minute massages and come out feeling like the happiest noodle in the bowl.
posted by elizardbits at 9:46 PM on May 31, 2013 [18 favorites]

It depends on where you live, but here in the Pacific North West, I'm really loving my very spendy new rainjacket. Good ones come with vents to allow perspiration / heat to escape, and adjustable hoods.
posted by pwnguin at 9:51 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Amazon Prime is the best $75 you will spend if you order anything at all from the internet. It's seriously life-changing to be able to order ANYTHING on Monday and have it by Wednesday.

You mention luggage. Buy a good garment bag. It's now your default bag for any trips up to a week long because with some good sturdy hangers and some shrewd packing (e.g. socks and underpants in anything with pockets), you can fit an entire week's worth of clothes on 7 hangers and carry a small, light bag rather than GINORMO SUITCASE.

If you travel anywhere they have service running, Uber means you'll never be standing around like a doofus waiting for a cab again and rolling in a black car is pretty choice. Worth signing up for since it's free and you may get a taste for the black car experience.

Good booze, if you're a drinker. Not, like, rare top shelf stuff that's WAY too much to spend on getting drunk, but the really decent mid-high end stuff is great.

Good clothes. Not your knockaround stuff, but if you're going to have them on all day or need to look good, it's worth it to jump a tier into the designers because the fits and cuts are so much better. Related: Tailoring. You know how makeover shows always make people look great and celebrities look amazing in, like, white t-shirt and jeans? Tailoring. That's it. That's the secret.

Laundry service will save you a ton of time and they will probably do a way better job with your clothes than you would.

The bigger question is: what would make your life easier?

For example, part of the reason I will shell out more money for Macs even though OH MY GOD YOU COULD GET A PC THAT'S SO MUCH BETTER ALSO MACS ARE PRETENTIOUS ARGHRGHRGH is because mine have always been bulletproof. I spend like 14 hours a day between work and pleasure doing computer stuff and I hate hate hate futzing with computer shit, installing drivers, the inevitable things going wonky. My Mac hardware has been bulletproof and I will gladly pay the premium to not have to spend my weekends dealing with computer shit because it's worth it to me.

Likewise, even though I'm perfectly capable of changing the oil in my car and would save money doing it myself, it's worth the premium to me to let some guy go out in the heat and get dirty while I dick around my iPad because I hate car projects with a fiery passion.

So what would make your life easier and/or give you more free time?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:51 PM on May 31, 2013 [6 favorites]

Quality hand tools, especially wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers, are well worth the extra expense. Don't consider anything cheaper than Craftsman. They will last for decades and will be easier to use than the cheap ones, and they don't cost very much in absolute terms.
posted by twblalock at 10:11 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nthing mattresses. You spend right around %30 of your time sleeping, get the best sleep bang for your buck.

Also, shoes. Not necessarily expensive shoes, but good shoes. Comfortable shoes, walk five miles on a whim shoes, zombie attack shoes, end of the world shoes. Find a pair you like and buy a couple.
posted by Sphinx at 10:31 PM on May 31, 2013

Socks. If someone had told me that I wold happily pay $40 for a pair of socks I would have told them to shoot me. Now I don't even think about it. They never wear out and they make me happy everyday when I put them on. Socks. Crazy isn't it?
posted by snowjoe at 10:34 PM on May 31, 2013 [5 favorites]

I thought I didn't like chicken until ...

Ripe fruit. I thought I didn't like apricots until I was 30 and discovered I had never been offered a ripe one. Unfortunately, I can't offer any advice on where to find it or how to recognize it. Except cherries; the good cherries are large, dark, firm, and shiny. (I'm talking about sweet cherries, obviously. Pie cherries aren't worth the powder it would take to blow them to hell.)

Butter instead of margarine. I can't bring myself to pay the extra for premium brand over store brand butter, but butter instead of margarine, definitely.

Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider.

A sturdy, durable flossing tool. Hand held floss was so horrible I neglected to do it for years. I like the Butler FlossMate.

I agree with the people who have mentioned services. I do most of my own laundry, but I happily pay to have my dress shirts laundered. Oil changes.
posted by Bruce H. at 10:41 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bedding: I personally cannot tell the difference over a 400 thread count on sheets. I vote that the higher thread counts are not worth it, though there may be a durability aspect in the long run (I would probably get new sheets every five years even if they weren't physically getting worn, but YMMV.) Mattresses are worth it.

If you cook, a CSA for farm-fresh veg, meat, eggs, etc. The food is ridiculously good, and sometimes they bring it right to your house.

Custom framing, for sure. If you have art that you like and you want it in your house, the professionals will do a great job. Ask for preservation framing with UV-protective, anti-glare glass or acrylic. It is significantly more expensive than ready to go frames, but you get the exact size you need, you get a huge choice of colors and styles, and the quality is significantly better, usually actual wood (vs. veneers, particle, LDF/MDF, or plastic.) It'll last longer, you'll actually like it, and it'll look better. It's like you're investing in good furniture, rather than putting up with cheap trend items. Shop around though.

Fine writing instruments: once you get to the multiple-hundreds-plus range, quality in terms of how durable/nice to use a pen is varies wildly. That is, some pens/pencils/etc are expensive because they are made of gold, and some are expensive because they are well designed. Test drive them in the store. I like the investment of a fountain pen because I'm not contributing to plastic waste, and I like the feel of writing with them. They certainly aren't practical for everything, though. And...you may just want to invest in a box of a nicer disposable if you're hard on your pens (chewing, losing, dropping, or lending). It's nice to have a big box of your favorite writing tool fresh and ready to go, whether that's yellow pencils or Bics or whatever.

I read somewhere-- wish I knew where-- that someone did a study and found that there are three instances where money actually does buy happiness, and they are: 1) If you have something you feel is a deformity or disability, and it can be cured or alleviated, do it! 2) Travel with or to see your loved ones, and 3) Shortening your commute.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:41 PM on May 31, 2013 [8 favorites]

People here have mentioned mattresses, but I also say furniture. You don't have to deck out your entire apartment from Design Within Reach, but the Herman Miller Eames Lounge Chair (and you must get the ottoman) is one handsome and COMFORTABLE chair. A bit overplayed, but I also like the Saarinen dining tables, especially the marble topped ones.

If you spend quite a bit of time in your kitchen, you may want to consider getting a top of the line coffee maker/espresso machine, a Zojirushi rice cooker (you can do more than cook rice in it), or a Vitamix blender.
posted by peripathetic at 10:56 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Lots of good advice, none of which I disagree with, but I'll add these:

Really good scotch, if you drink scotch.

If you need prescription sunglasses, get high quality, polarized prescription sunglasses.

If you play a musical instrument, get a good one.

If you drink coffee, a quality burr grinder and the best of your favorite method of preparation. Oh, and good beans, too.
posted by mosk at 11:03 PM on May 31, 2013

A well made, well fitted bra.
posted by brookeb at 11:05 PM on May 31, 2013 [6 favorites]

You really get what you pay for with private jets. But seriously, shoes, a good pair of men's shoes can last a lifetime. Church's, Allen Edmonds, that sort of thing. Compliments abound. Everything you wear with them looks nicer.
posted by Teakettle at 12:12 AM on June 1, 2013


Anything Apple.

A wonderful shower/bath and kitchen. And nice towels.

Nthing food. Organic and local is very worth it.

Kitchen gadgets like quality blender, rice cooker, cuisinart, oven, cookware, excellent coffee maker.

Great, great speakers.

Real oriental rugs.


A wonderful car.

Quality medical and dental care.

posted by bearwife at 12:17 AM on June 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

When on vacations or trips, resist the temptation to save money via the hotel room (often the largest expense so the natural target), consider upgrading instead. When exhausted at the end of the day, coming back to a lovely place can upgrade your entire vacation more than you might realize beforehand.

Amazon Prime

Wool socks.

Top-end smartphone. Some with NFC can do wireless charging. Unlimited 4G data plan,

Obvious: A nice (not necessarily new) car that is still well under manufacturer's full bumper-to-bumper warranty. No car troubles.

Nice tools are a topic in themselves.

Vented umbrella.
posted by anonymisc at 12:52 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Many great ideas here I particularly agree with good quality sheets, towels, knives, and mattresses. Also, I have found that good quality handbags (I like Coach myself, but you can of course find much more luxurious ones) last forever and bring up the tone of even the most casual outfit. Same for briefcases and book bags.

The best advice I ever got, though, was to spend some time trying different things to see what makes a difference for you. For example, while I can definitely taste and appreciate the difference between a $10 bottle of wine and a $20 or $30 one, my palate is just not sharp enough to go beyond that range.
posted by rpfields at 12:54 AM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

A bunch of people have mentioned tools.

Tools are great, if you actually use them, and if they do better than cheaper alternatives (instead of just costing more).

I wouldn't spend a lot of money on hand tools (since I don't use them), but as a person who's constantly on the computer, I've probably spent more money on keyboards and mice than some people have spent on their entire computer.

Mechanical keyboards don't require more and more force as they age like cheap membrane keyboards do, and their weight keeps them anchored to the table. Mice that don't cause your hands to cramp up and have enough buttons so that you don't have to do the same repetitive movements.

When I was in school, I spent the coin on fountain pens because I wrote day in, day out. They wrote faster for me. But I wouldn't spend anything on them now since I don't use paper for anything.

Just being able to buy/explore things that you are interested in (but don't need) can itself be a luxury. Instead of wondering what you're missing, you can find out firsthand. I've got both an iPhone *and* an Android phone, a chef's knife in the normal French pattern *and* a Chinese cleaver, a super cushioned pair of running shoes *and* a lightweight minimalist pair. They both don't need to be high-end but you have the ability to find out what works better for you.

You can afford backups of things that you already like. Worried about a pair of shoes getting discontinued? Buy five pair of them!
posted by meowzilla at 1:07 AM on June 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Hand made soap - it is always far, far nicer than supermarket soap in every way. I make my own, and it's a kind of pricey hobby, and I still buy other people's soap from time to time because it is so much nicer.

Good quality bone china or porcelain crockery. It will be lighter, finer and bizarrely stronger and longer lasting than the cheap stuff. Nicer to drink out of than the usual thick china mugs most people end up with.

Cloth goods (including clothing) are always worth spending more on, if you know what will make a difference or can get someone to teach you. Down filled quilts. Linen bedsheets that will soften and improve every year (I don't like high count cotton myself). Well finished garments, made from good quality fibres. Good towels.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 1:29 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cloud storage. An account, somewhere, to which all your important files, etc, are automatically backed up. How upset would you be if you suddenly didn't have photos of your beloved dead dog, or your child's first three years?

If you bake, a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Not one of the fancy new ones, but one of the old school ones--they'll run forever. You want one made by Hobart, not by Whirlpool. My mother and I each have one, and they're both 35+ years old (at least one of them's closer to 50) and going strong.
posted by MeghanC at 1:30 AM on June 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Great pajamas. Whether your "thing" is cotton, flannel, silk or satin, getting the best grade in that fabric that fit well will make your bedtime routine a luxurious one, and improve your sleep.

Great socks - smartwool or cashmere for everyday, padded and wicking for sport.

Exercise gear. I never appreciated good exercise clothing until I tried some for a 4 hour training session. Now, I'm hooked and all my shopping budget will go towards the stuff until I have a decent amount to train everyday in.

A really, really good everyday bag. Take a look at every bag you've ever owned, think about the features you love, and then find the finest version of that.

Change your showerhead to one that gives you the best, most massaging shower ever.

Bath sheets, not towels. Mine are from Sheridan, and ribbed (so not fluffy but super absorbent). These are huge and make me feel like a towel party has erupted everytime I finish a shower.

A cashmere scarf for winter. Cashmere lined lambskin gloves. Silk thermal underwear.
posted by shazzam! at 1:30 AM on June 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Agree with a lot mentioned above, but haven't seen anyone mention pillows yet, so I will. Shelling out for an expensive pillow is so worth it - not waking up with sore neck, etc. Plus lasts a really long time. Paid $80 for mine about 10? more? years ago, so much better than all the crappy $15-$20 pillows.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:02 AM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Travel before you get too old to travel.
posted by empath at 2:20 AM on June 1, 2013 [8 favorites]

A great mattress - your back will thank you.
Good quality leather handbag - I never realised the difference this made til recently, both in looks and durability.
Seconding Apple anything, I was raised on them and the few times I've had to use a PC, I shake my head and wonder how anyone can stand to use these unreliable, virus filled machines.

Roomba robot vacuum cleaner. I just got one and I swear it's one of the best things I've ever ever purchased. I value my time more than luxury goods and as someone with a lot of surfaces in her home and a toddler that makes getting anything done difficult, this thing has transformed how much time I spend cleaning. I come home and the floors are spotless. Instead of spending hours cleaning, I now get do something better. Cannot stop raving about it.

If you like coffee, good beans and a machine are a must. Such a simple pleasure.

Good knives and pans. Then you only need to buy them once and they last forever.

Seconding a short commute. This can be the biggest luxury of all, being able to live close to where you work but the jobs that have involved long commutes have coincided with miserable times of my life because I had no life, just the office and home. No time to do anything else. Something to consider.
posted by Jubey at 2:57 AM on June 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Varifocal contact lenses.

I could manage on the normal lenses, and maybe become one of those people that sheds reading glasses wherever they go. The normal lenses cost £12 a month, the varifocals are around £27.

But for the sake of £15 a month I would want to become someone who says "my reading glasses, where are my reading glasses?", and one more thing to carry, and aren't reading glasses at least £11 a pair anyway and by definition, since you don't wear them all the time and have to keep putting them on and taking them off, wouldn't they inevitably get lost?

Also, my glasses have photo reactive lenses in them so that I never have to deal with switching to prescription sunglasses in the middle of the street or the sun going down while I'm driving. I also spent hours choosing the absolute most stylish frames I could find, because you want to relish wearing your glasses, not avoid it. Because I shopped around I didn't end up paying very much at all, but there are some damned expensive frames out there and if the £599 frames had been the ones that suited me the best and I couldn't find them cheaper elsewhere, I would have spent the money.
posted by tel3path at 4:22 AM on June 1, 2013

Time, via efficiencies of scale.

You can afford backups of things that you already like. Worried about a pair of shoes getting discontinued? Buy five pair of them!

This, but not because it means I get to always have great shoes. I can always find quality goods if I look for them, and if I look longer then I can probably find a good price on them, but identifying and ordering takes time. Stocking up on stuff I'm sure I'll eventually need is a way of buying time, which is very much worth buying.
posted by jon1270 at 4:42 AM on June 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

posted by backwards guitar at 5:00 AM on June 1, 2013

Electronics. I buy brand names and (unless there is a good reason for it) almost NEVER buy the $3 ebay cell phone chargers and the $9.99 Walgreens DVD players, and most of the stuff I own almost lasts longer than I wish it would. Contrasted with certain friends on mine who are on a constant search for cheap stuff- they are always bragging about the deals they get. But their shit breaks all the time.

But I'm also smart about it. I buy my computers on the Dell refurb site, so I get more for my money and what amounts to a free warranty.

I also prefer buying new cars, or used cars that I know the provenance of. I have seen too many people get burned buying used cars and getting "deals" on nice cars. They may spend less money, but its a constant hassle. Reliability is, like, the #1 reason for owning a car, and a car that doesn't provide that has failed at its job.

I'll choose the thing I want, and then search for the best value. That's important- decide why you want to have a thing, and then buy one that does those things. There is really nothing more disappointing than being penny wise and pound foolish. A great example for me is the digital camera. I've probably spent more money buying "pro-sumer" point-n-shoots with "features", that end up not doing what I want. The last time, I bought the cheapest "real" DSLR and could not be happier with spending that money. This is a camera I won't want to replace until it becomes unrepairable. Unlike all the other ones I've owned, where I've wanted to replace them practically before the warranty was out.

Long story short: price and value aren't the same thing. A cheap thing that doesn't do what you need is not a good value.
posted by gjc at 5:45 AM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

First class on Virgin America.

(I've never had occaision to fly on Virgin Atlantic, but I'm sure its fabulous.)
posted by jgirl at 5:46 AM on June 1, 2013

Coffee maker. I couldn't believe the improvement in my quality of life that was delivered daily by a decent coffee maker. You don't need to go all out, I dropped ~200USD on a Jura Capresso about 5 years ago and am reminded every morning of what a great investment I made.
posted by buggzzee23 at 6:15 AM on June 1, 2013

Not, like, rare top shelf stuff that's WAY too much to spend on getting drunk, but the really decent mid-high end stuff is great.

Also true of wine. Prices on the top, top stuff is being bid up too high, "decent mid to high end" is a good short description of what to aim for. And cheap just sucks 90% of the time in comparison.

Bit more of a niche item, but something I've owned for many years is a nice ice cream maker/gelato machine. Mine is great; I just did some "shopping research" for a friend who was asking about getting one.

Important to get one with a self-contained freezer in the device, this is what gives you the awesome low effort to high gratification ratio. There are several in roughly the $250 to $300 range that look nice, you can spend more if you want. It's kind of a lot to spend on a single-purpose kitchen appliance, but trust me: it will pay off in pleasure dividends again, and again, and again, both for you and anyone you might serve homemade gelato to.
posted by gimonca at 6:20 AM on June 1, 2013

This depends on whether you own or rent, but the best insulation you can find and triple pass block out curtains. And obviously track down and block every crack that lets in a breeze.

Also flights at convenient times. No red-eyes, anything that leaves too early or from Sydney during rush hour, or stupidly long layovers. Just not worth it.

Nthing soap, some furniture (couch, bookshelves, dining chairs) and polarised sunglasses.

Another thing to consider is don't buy good quality if you're not going to maintain it. No use in having a nice bike if it's going to spend all it's time outside in the rain. Or good leather shoes if you're not going to polish them. Or expensive earphones if they spend most of their time shoved in a pocket.
posted by kjs4 at 6:46 AM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seafood in its many forms: Buy from a reputable fishmonger, indulge in fresh oysters, and eat the highest quality sushi you can find.

A personal splurge of mine is Gaviota strawberries from Harry's Berries from my local farmers market. At $6/basket, the PPS (price per strawberry) means I usually limit myself to one or two baskets a month during peak season but it's so worth it.

If you care about such things, spend as much money as needed to find a mascara that you really love and then buy a fresh tube every three months, even if its $30/tube.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:52 AM on June 1, 2013

Food in general falls into this category for me. We have a proper milkman who delivers milk from the dairy across the mountain once a week, and I won't settle for less than great at the grocery.

I also believe jewelry should be nice, but I'm a tactile, talismanic hedonist who makes jewelry, so perhaps a bit biased there. I've bought SO MUCH junk jewelry in the past, I shudder to think, but now will only either buy or make quality things.

The best food processor that fits your needs - ditto a stand mixer and powerful blender.

Bedding, bedding, bedding.

An enormous thin-but-warm shawl - my forever favorite is a deep red raw silk thing my husband bought for me that's almost the size of a twin sized flat sheet.

...and here's the honey you should buy...
posted by ersatzkat at 6:53 AM on June 1, 2013

Also flights at convenient times. No red-eyes, anything that leaves too early or from Sydney during rush hour, or stupidly long layovers. Just not worth it.

God yes. I instituted this rule for myself at a very young age, when my friends and I would go on road trips. Traveling at night is awful. It makes (almost) everyone cranky, whether they admit it or not. So the time you save is wasted with catch up naps and arguments.

But making travel your "job" for the day makes it downright civilized. Pack the night before, get an early but not ridiculous start on the day, and you get to where you need to go at a normal time.

And always leave room at the end of the trip to decompress, do laundry and allow for any difficulties in the return trip.

Travel is doesn't need to be as stressful as people make it, and de-stressing one's itinerary isn't as costly as people seem to think.
posted by gjc at 7:18 AM on June 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

Sex toys.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:20 AM on June 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you own a car: spend big on tires and windshield wiper arms/blades.

And if you love to drive (vs. consider it a necessary evil), spend up on a niiiiiice ride (whatever that means to you), and spend what it takes to keep in in good trim.

Mine goes into the shop regularly for a look-over, whether it seems to need anything done or not.

And I treat myself to fancy carwashes. There is something about having that car spic-and-span for my daily drives that really enhances the experience (unless I am out grubbing it up in the wilderness).
posted by nacho fries at 8:01 AM on June 1, 2013

I'm very frugal, and I make a strong distinction about things where I can live with less or tolerate the generic version. I make a distinction for spending more where social justice is involved, like buying fair trade coffee, not shopping at Walmart, buy from companies that try to use fair labor practice, buying recycled, etc.

For many of these things, buying quality means the things will last a long time. Good socks, luggage, sunglasses, sheets, leather jacket, woodstove, wool rugs, art that you really love, etc., will last well, and are a bargain in the end. Once I figured out what my style was, I started occasionally buying a great piece of distinctive clothing that would last, and those things stay in my wardrobe. For me, coffee, bourbon, beer, and bread have to be good quality. Once in a while, I'll splurge on great bourbon.

Buy less stuff in general. You don't need every cooking gadget or tool; it costs to buy, to store, and you'll end up de-cluttering a lot of it. My biggest luxury is living in a house that's paid off.
posted by theora55 at 8:12 AM on June 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

NB re: mattresses - make sure you pay extra for whatever guarantee you have to pay for in order to be able to return the mattress for a full refund/store credit/exchange/whatevs within a 30 day period just in case you find out on day 10 that it's not the comfiest thing in the universe after all.
posted by elizardbits at 8:12 AM on June 1, 2013

I agree with so many of the ones mentioned above (particularly good dairy/meat/eggs/seafood). Here are some others:

Good tailor/seamstress/cobbler

Good hairstylist

Regular medical/ dental checkups (boring but prevention is always worth it if you can afford it). Also depending on your skin, a dermatologist for skincare.

Merino, cashmere, or silk

Dyson vacuum

Vornado fans

Lessons/ trainer for any skill or ability you want to learn or improve


In addition to short commute... a regular cleaning service (frees up your time for other pursuits)

ANYTHING that enables a good night's sleep regularly
posted by kitkatcathy at 8:13 AM on June 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Nthing flights at convenient times. We're flying to Orlando in August, and our flights were something like $340 each, but we don't have to wake up early and don't get back too late.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:15 AM on June 1, 2013

I tell you what, paying someone to clean your house is a damn nice luxury. Plus, you help someone else make ends meet at the same time. Even if it is only once a month for a major cleaning, it is great!
posted by jcworth at 8:53 AM on June 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

Shaving products: cream, aftershave/moisturizer/balm, razor/blades/cartridges. And I'll Nth an SSD in the computer.
posted by maxim0512 at 8:57 AM on June 1, 2013

Another might be delivery from a shop you really like, even if it's far away. Have See's chocolate sent to your door, on the East Coast. Order from Murray's Cheese shop. Stuff like that.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:08 AM on June 1, 2013

I was coming in to say a housecleaner.

And an SSD based laptop.

Nice paper notebooks and pens. i can't tell the difference between "a bit too expensive" and "ridiculously over priced".. but the difference between cheap and nice is REALLY worth it.

The argument I have with my wife is always about 'time'. Spending a few extra bucks to get an hour or two back always seems worth it to me.
posted by DigDoug at 9:12 AM on June 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Pedicures. Getting your feet taken care of pays big dividends in relaxation, health and appearance.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:31 AM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

nthing good bedding and I think I saw it mentioned a few times but along with good bedding would be big soft wonderful towels. You probably bath 1 or 2 times a day so it makes sense to spend cash on something you do often.

Speaking of another product you use frequently and can upgrade: toilet paper. You don't need to buy the most expensive version but spending money on a good enough brand will literally feel better.
posted by mmascolino at 9:57 AM on June 1, 2013

If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, ergonomics is one area where you don't want to skimp. I recommend a standing desk -- it's done wonders for my chronic neck pain and terrible posture, both of which were the product of 10+ years of bad ergonomics. Since you won't be standing up all day (I usually try to spend about 60% to 70% of my time standing) you should pair this with a high-quality office chair. I recommend the Steelcase Leap every chance I get, but different chairs work for different people. These chairs can be hella expensive, but you can get them used much cheaper, in fact this one place (MeMail me for details) sells them re-upholstered and good as new. Finally, get yourself a good adjustable keyboard tray (I like the Fellowes brand myself) and one of those really nice adjustable monitor stands. The tray and stand are important : since you're using a standing desk, that means you actually have two different working positions to accommodate. Read up a little on ergonomics, just so you have a good idea if what you want your working position to look like. It's actually not terribly complicated. You really just want to be sitting and standing in neutral positions while you work, while not slouching or hunching.

I know, I know, a lot to swallow. And this stuff is not cheap. But you only get one body, and just because you're not a coal miner doesn't mean your work can't affect your health.
posted by evil otto at 11:15 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're a woman: Definitely a well-made, well-fitting bra. Same for sports bras. Also quality hair styling tools (I have a Chi flat iron and a Chi blow dryer and they made a huge difference).
posted by radioamy at 11:45 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Spend your spare money on the same things you spend your spare time on.
posted by srboisvert at 12:50 PM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

No one ever regretted buying quality footwear.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:25 PM on June 1, 2013

Good quality tonic water for your gin and tonics - Fever-tree or Q Tonic. It makes a difference!

So many above that I agree with, but the short commute is really worth it. Being somewhere that you can get around easily on foot is a real lifestyle enhancement, so spend money on living somewhere awesome.

I love my Revo Heritage internet/digital radio so much that I have bought two (for my one bedroom apartment). It does everything and looks good too.

I also select my services on the basis of both price AND service standards, which means I will spend more money if the company offers better service. I generally find this means companies who have not off-shored their call centers, but will also look at consumer reviews or third-party rankings (e.g. in Australia, I often check Canstar and Choice).
posted by AnnaRat at 3:51 PM on June 1, 2013

I thought of a few things when I saw the title, and I know some of these are already mentioned.

1. Bed. We spent a few thousand on a top of the line sleep number bed and can honestly say that it is the best purchase we have ever made. 20 year warranty and she sleeps on a very firm 80 and I like a soft 35. No mattress can match that. Unlike memory foam you do not sweat in it and it is easier to roll over in.

2. Camera lenses. Always buy the best you can. With the better lenses you can buy a new camera body later and the lenses will still work great. It is a bummer if you get cheap lenses and then find out that you are not getting the most out of your new camera because the cheap lenses degrade the image quality to where it is lower than the sensor ability of the camera. Better lenses also control artifacts/flaring/chromatic aberration (colored fringing) well.

3. Rain coat. I spent a couple hundred on a nice rain coat. I actually look forward to the rain - just so I can wear it.

4. This will sound odd, a good office chair. I was using a basic $100 model from the office store and then work (I telecommute) gave me a nice $400 chair. It is SO much better. My body doesn't mind the sitting time...

5. Headphones / Speakers. Why use speakers that cannot do justice to what is driving them?

6. Good food. We raise our own meat and I can tell you - there is a big difference. Buy quality and your mouth and body will appreciate it.

7. Travel. Do it, have fun, get memories. If you lose all of your money, or lose everything in a disaster, you still have those. I can say that I have been to Coney Island, have a pic of me in front of the Eiffel Tower, went to the Hard Rock Cafe in London, the Oktoberfest, Fishing in Alaska, the Panama Canal, Hollywood, Mt Rushmore, and much more...
posted by Leenie at 4:06 PM on June 1, 2013

House cleaner. I've done the cost-benefit analysis and while I'm cheap on some things, having someone else clean is delightful, plus then I don't argue about having a messy place with my husband and we can have fun on the weekend instead of cleaning.
posted by kat518 at 5:24 PM on June 1, 2013

The idea behind a quality bed also applies to your office chair. If your ass in in a chair for hours at a time, it needs to be indulged. The Herman Miller Aeron is always the gold standard, but there are others that deserve honorable mention.
posted by megatherium at 8:29 PM on June 1, 2013

I know your question is asking about luxury goods (i.e., stuff), but putting extra money toward paying off a mortgage, investments, or buying a car with cash is a beautiful thing. Travel also well worth the money as it's a different sort of investment.

That said, being able to spend more to get quality furniture and well-made lighting with some style is awesome. Get an $90 hoodie from American Giant. A very good mattress and quality sheets are also totally worthwhile.

Overall, the difference with being able to spend more on stuff up front is that it will last longer and (I'm not sure if this makes sense) the stuff will have more of a soul because it was made with thought and care. You can pay more to buy stuff made in the USA if you so desire. You could even get custom items, pay more to buy perfect fitting jeans and get them hemmed to be exactly the right length.

Also, having extra cash gives you the freedom to pay full price and not wait for what you want to go on sale, so give yourself permission to buy only clothes you love even if they are pricey. If you have more money up front it basically is buying you choices. You can get fewer items that are nicer, knowing that you have the funds in your bank account to replace or add as needed or wanted. You can really take any of your basic stuff that you'd normally buy and just get the thing that is 1) better quality and 2) the type/brand/color that you find yourself absolutely loving. And donate the old stuff!

As for where I refuse to penny pinch - shoes. I cannot wear plastic shoes, don't care if they only cost $10. Leather shoes, leather soles are awesome.
posted by belau at 8:33 PM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Perfume is so dependent on taste that I don't think cost is necessarily the main factor. Niche lines sell fragrances for sometimes less than a department store counter will set you back; I'd rather have something cheap and cheerful than, say, Angel or Poison, as they're not to my taste. Some celebrity scents are VERY well-regarded by hardcore perfumistas; I have a gorgeous and more-expensive-than-I-want-to-admit perfume that my SO is convinced smells of fish. I think it's too abstract for there to be a cost/quality ratio in the same way as, say, wine.

It's more about judging taste than buying the most expensive out there - some people really prefer the taste of Dairy Milk to Valrhona, and some people prefer Galaxy to Dairy Milk, or Neuhaus to Valrhona. The only rule is to buy the thing you love if you can, and not the cheaper/'off' substitute. Go to somewhere like Surrender To Chance, order some of their sampling packs, and have the fun of trying stuff out.
posted by mippy at 9:57 AM on June 2, 2013

Do you rent or own? If the latter, get things fixed. That coat closet door that kind of sticks, that sink that drains a little bit slowly, etc. Immediate pay-back in reduced annoyance.

Haircuts and hair products.

And yes, soaps, every time. I'll expand it to say nice smelling pump hand wash and nice smelling dish soap. Your hands are with you everywhere, make them nicer to have around.

I'll respectfully disagree wrt not spending money on things when traveling. I hate to shop at home but if you can buy something funky and practical on travel, it will remind you pleasantly of good times whenever you use it (includes but not limited to olive oil and honey).

But yeah, travel is the ultimate answer to this question.

Lastly, if you are giving money away, always err on the side of more. Charity, office collections, tipping, whatever.
posted by Morrigan at 4:39 PM on June 2, 2013

My two indulgences are wine and honey.

Wine's complicated; you should find what you like, and try to zero in on a couple of bottles that aren't terribly expensive (in general, unless you really know what you're doing, anything more than $50 a bottle is going to be wasted), but that aren't $6 Trader Joe's blends. If I had to throw a dart at a board for an unknown person for what to start with, I'd say Oregon pinot noir tends to have a lot of breadth and depth, and isn't hyper-trendy yet so isn't all that expensive. Your local store can do you a lot of good.

Honey should either be from your local beekeeper, or you should go buy half a gallon of this, which is the single most luxurious food substance I have ever eaten.
posted by Mayor West at 4:38 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

A SimpleHuman garbage can and liners. The liners just fit perfectly and don't show over the edge. They're very sturdy so nothing sags or leaks. And in my experience they're Terrier-proof!
posted by radioamy at 7:17 AM on June 3, 2013

I know everyone is going to find this incredibly hilarious/ridiculous, but check out the BioBidet on Amazon. Once you try it, it changes everything.
posted by geraldhaven at 3:07 PM on June 3, 2013

There is only one person above recommending first class, and they haven't flown it on the airline they recommend. I think there is a reason for this.

I will say that if you have a shit tonne of money, business class, particularly for a long haul flight, is a very nice perk. If you don't make multiple six figures however, its probably not going to be worth it to you to have 12+ hours of your life be tolerable rather than uncomfortable. (First class, I've learned, if you're paying for it internationally, you are generally working with service providers that are competing with the private jet industry. While I've not flown international FC I simply can not imagine what it is that makes it worth paying for that over business.)

That said, if you're like most of us in the more moderate income brackets, you can get an extra week (or more) of travel time on the ground covered, cost wise, with the money you save from not buying the business class fare. Do that and see more of your destination (or do more while you're there).

I also loved Amazon Prime but after reading a few articles (I think linked here on MeFi, but can't find them at the moment), and one in particular about how they treat their staff, I decided that my morals - at least in some cases - are worth more than my convenience.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:12 AM on June 4, 2013

Loose-leaf tea, if you're a tea drinker, along with various infusion tools. I think it was Graham Greene who compared an ordinary tea bag to a drowned animal.

Upton Tea has you covered.
posted by seemoreglass at 3:17 PM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

We were bumped from business to first class on Virgin, from Heathrow to LAX. I would totally think about paying for it next time, before choking at the last minute. The reduction in engine noise, and the ability to lie down, would be the two big wins. The service and food were a significant improvement too. We don't fly that far very often though. Maybe one direction.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:04 AM on June 5, 2013

Real maple syrup.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:30 AM on June 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm seconding premium wrist watches, such as Omega, Breitling, IWC or Zenith. If you're able to choose the right watch, then you

* Have something for your lifetime. If you treat your watch right, it will last very, very long!
* Show understatement (as long as you don't buy something with gold and jewels,), not like driving a fast sports car.
* Have a accessory which has a timeless design (again, make the right decision. Think about Omega's classic "Moonwatch". Timeless design, isn't it?).
* Have something really beautiful and an engineering masterpiece
posted by donut at 1:05 PM on June 6, 2013

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