16 Things You Don’t Want To Skimp On

healthy vegetables

While I’m all for being frugal, there are some things that you just don’t want to skimp on. Some things are so important to your health or safety that it simply isn’t wise or cost-effective to look for the cheapest options, or to skip the item altogether in the name of “saving money.”

While everyone has some minor things that they refuse to skimp on (I know people who won’t buy anything other than Tide laundry detergent or Charmin toilet paper, for example), these are simply matters of preference. The things you really don’t want to skimp on will affect your well-being in more ways than simply getting chaffed by store brand T.P. Here are sixteen important things you don’t want to skimp on.

A Good Mattress

It’s well-known that a good night’s sleep is an important part of good health. Sleeping on a cheap mattress will usually leave you worn out with kinks in your back and neck. While you might be able to get away with it when you’re young and flexible, the older you get the more important it becomes to get a mattress that will support you in all the right places.

Quality Shoes

Shoes that are too tight, too small, incorrect for the way you walk, poorly cushioned, and poorly designed will lead to foot problems down the road. You’ll also experience more problems with your hips and back because your feet support everything else. Go to a good shoe store and get professionally fitted.

Healthcare / Health Insurance

If you don’t have your health, everything else in life is much tougher. Make sure you get a good insurance policy and don’t skimp on recommended tests and treatments to catch things early. Yes, it’s expensive, but if something ever goes wrong with your health, you’ll be glad you spent the money.

Healthy Food

You are what you eat, so spend the money to buy good quality, nutritious food instead of junk food.

Your Car and Its Maintenance

No, you don’t have to buy the most expensive car on the market or even a brand new one, but make sure that whatever car you get is safe and reliable. Don’t skimp on the maintenance, either. Make sure you get good tires and brakes and that any problems are dealt with promptly. Having an accident or breaking down on the side of the road because you skimped on maintenance isn’t financially helpful.

Smoke Detectors

If you’re short on cash it can be tempting to skip the smoke detectors, but they can save your life in the event of a fire. They aren’t that expensive, so get at least two: One for the kitchen and one for outside of the bedrooms. If you can get more, do so.

Fire Extinguishers

Like smoke detectors, these may save your life or maybe even your home if fire breaks out. And don’t just buy it and put it away. Train yourself to use it. A fire is not the time to be reading the directions.

Child Car Seats

You don’t want to buy cheap, overly used, or outdated car seats for your kids. Make sure that whatever you get meets current regulations and is in peak operating condition.

Home Maintenance & Repairs

It’s tempting to think that the roof will make it one more season, or that the leak in the faucet can wait a few more months before you fix it, but small problems can quickly become big problems that can cost you a fortune to fix. Fix things promptly and pay for a good professional if you can’t do something correctly yourself.

Pet Food

If you have pets, it’s tempting to just get them the cheapest food out there. But cheaper food often means more health problems and trips to the vet. Just as you do for yourself, get the best quality food (which isn’t necessarily the most expensive) you can afford. You’ll make fewer expensive trips to the vet and likely keep your pets around longer.


This is simple. If you can’t replace something (home, car, your income, etc.) without assistance, get it insured. This includes your income in the event of a disability or death. Insurance is expensive, but if you gamble that you won’t need it and lose, you’ll find yourself in trouble (http://www.savingadvice.com/articles/2009/07/28/104910_a-life-without-debt-insurance-helps.html).


If you have a kid, don’t skimp on things like baby gates, outlet covers, and cabinet locks. Homemade versions, overly used equipment, and broken items aren’t good enough. Pop for the good stuff to keep the little ones safe.

Your Career & Education

You don’t have to go to the most expensive private school there is to get a good education, but you don’t want to go to some fly-by-night school, either. Invest in your education and make sure you keep learning new skills to keep up with your field. It will pay off with better and higher earning job opportunities later.

Business Protection

If you have a business, make sure you keep it and yourself fully protected. This means hiring good lawyers and accountants to help you handle things you don’t understand, and purchasing all the necessary permits and insurance to protect yourself in the event of a lawsuit.

Personal Security

You don’t want to buy the cheapest locks for your home. They’re too easily picked or simply kicked in. Similarly, if you’re going to buy a security system (either for your home or something for your person like Life Alert), get one that you know will work when you need it. Cheap systems that don’t work when you need them are no better than having no system.


Take it from someone who has worn glasses since the age of ten. The cheap ones are not as good as those of better quality. The frames don’t last as long, don’t hold adjustments well, and sometimes the cheap ones don’t even get your prescription right. Also, don’t try to guess what you need and buy cheap reading glasses at the drug store. Get your eyes professionally checked. If the doctor says you can get by with reading glasses, then great. But know what you need before you get the wrong thing.

Note that none of this means that you have to buy something you don’t need or buy more than you need. If you don’t need a certain type of insurance, don’t buy it in the name of “not skimping.” And you don’t have to buy the super expensive smoke detector if the $20 model is proven to work well. Use your common sense and find a good balance between covering your health and safety needs without cutting costs so much that you put yourself in jeopardy.

Of course you should always look to get the best quality you can afford in any item. Generally speaking, quality clothes, appliances, electronics, and furniture will last longer and need less maintenance/repairs than the cheap stuff. (That’s not always true, of course, and some trial and error will show you what you can safely skimp on and what you can’t.) But when it comes to items for your health and safety and that of your family, you don’t want to skimp. Get the best you possibly can and don’t think, “I won’t buy that so I can save more money for that swanky vacation.” You can’t go on vacation if you’re dead or hurt.

(Photo courtesy of comprock)

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6 Responses to 16 Things You Don’t Want To Skimp On

  1. Jay says:

    Agreed. And yes, quality counts! For example, good shoes, if taken care of, will last years and can be repaired multiple times. As you say, too, there are situations where one has to ask, what is good enough? $300, $500, $1000 mattress….? Hybrid, Electric, or traditional car? Sometimes it can get complicated.
    Regarding auto and home insurance, tried and true economy measures are possible: a high deductible (set aside the deductible as part of your “Emergency fund”) and grouping both with the same carrier. There are also multiple ways to get discounts, including loyalty and [ahem] Good Driver discounts, smoke detectors, and a home alarm system. Also, document (in “the cloud”) belongings you would want to claim in case of disaster.

    Nice, thoughtful article.

  2. Bill says:

    Unless someone else (parents, grandparents, scholarships, etc.) is going to be paying a large part of the tab, a public university is a much better choice than any private college. There are no advantages, career-wise, of a private university over a public for that first degree. There are small advantages for getting that professional or graduate degree at a prestigious private university, but they are seldom worth the extra $50,000 to $100,000 it takes to get the degree. Once you have that first job, the advantages are reduced even further.

  3. Cynthia Ford says:

    I agree with most of these suggestions except maybe the pet food and education. I have a $40,000 piece of paper, I mean degree and so far I don’t feel it has benefited me enough to really say the expense was worth it. A well thought out career plan is important and doing some research to see what jobs are going to be in demand when you are going to graduate can make your college time either a productive investment or a waste of time and debt. As for pets, my parent’s always fed their dogs cheap dog food and weren’t the best at checkups and such and their dogs were not only healthy, but lived happily to very old ages. I think lack of exercise and overfeeding are two of the biggest contributors to poor pet health. That of course is just my opinion.

  4. Minny says:

    You are either in bed or on your feet – so good mattress and good shoes. Worth getting the best you can afford.

    I recently stayed somewhere with a very comfortable mattress, I learned it was a latex mattress. When my wonderful memory foam mattress needs replacing that’s what I’ll get.

  5. Minny says:

    I agree with the pet food comment Cynthia.

  6. Seth says:

    I have to agree with Bill on education. I see so many borrowers with massive student debt that they could have avoided!

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