Saving money might seem like a no-brainer, but there are actually at least a few times when you should spend more money. It may go against all your coupon-clipping, discount-shopping instincts, but your goal in spending isn't — or shouldn't be — to always literally spend the least amount of money possible. Unfortunately, figuring out when you should spend more money is a little easier said than done. You don't want to accidentally give up on saving altogether, or to give yourself blanket permission to splurge every time.
A few rules of thumb can help you out here, courtesy of Jean Chatzky. Chatzky is the financial editor of NBC’s TODAY Show and host of HerMoney with Jean Chatzky available on iTunes. These five types of occasions are prime candidates for spending more, guilt-free. At first, it may be difficult to give yourself permission to spend more, and to have the judgment and self-control to spend more at the right times. You'll need to steer clear of the temptation of impulse purchases and to avoid treating shopping like a competitive sport. But with a little practice, spending more when it makes sense (and only when it makes sense) will become second nature.
1. When spending less will cost more in the long run
Sometimes, a dollar in time saves nine. Chatzky points out this is especially true when it comes to "your home and your health." If you need your gutters cleaned but cheap out on hiring someone and delay too long, you could flood your foundation which will cost way more to fix. Even if you're renting this can apply — no one is really excited to buy things like felt pads for the bottom of their furniture's legs, but saving that $20 is not a great deal if you end up losing a giant security deposit when you've scratched the wood floor.
And spending on your health makes good sense financially, in addition to health being good for its own sake of course. Dental cleanings are cheaper than fillings. A gym membership (even including training sessions) is cheaper than open-heart surgery down the road.
2. When you'll actually spend less per usage over time
Chatzky calls this the "amortization rule" — sometimes you can spend more now, ultimately to save on each usage of the product. In other words, don't be nearsighted! That black cardigan only costs $20, but after five washes it turns into a rag fit for the garbage. Spending $100 on a nicer cardigan now could be cheaper in the end if it ends up lasting 50 washes looking good.
3. When it helps someone else
Sometimes a purchase helps you to give back in some way, and that can serve as a reasonable consideration in favor of spending more. For instance, Chatzky shops "Small Business Saturday" to support the entrepreneurs in her small town. Is the local shoe shop going to be able to compete on price or selection with big box discount online retailers? Maybe, maybe not, but you're also getting more, in terms of local convenience. Or maybe you really like that TOMS shoes is going to donate a pair for each one you buy.
4. When you're giving it to someone else
As long as you can afford it, there's no need to cheap out on gifts. The best gifts are often the very things we wouldn't splurge on for ourselves, so go ahead and make your recipient's day.
5. Just because you want to
If you give it some thought and still really, genuinely want a more expensive item, then you can go for it. As Chatzky says, "Should you spend money you can't afford to spend — should you spend before you satisfy your monthly savings goal — of course not. But once you've checked off those boxes, if this is how you choose to spend your money, tell yourself: This is why we work."
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