What is Money Well Spent For You?

by Katy on June 28, 2012 · 59 comments

After yesterday’s blog post asking if You Are Spending Money Where You Don’t Want To? got so much heated response, today I want to flip the same question and ask:

What is money well spent for you?

Is it travel, savings or musical instruments? Is it crafting, charity or kid activities?

Here, I’ll start:

For me money well spent is towards my kid’s education and promotion of well being. Although my kids both attend public school, we splash out on soccer fees, tutoring, martial arts and school related exchanges to Japan.

When I do spend money, I prefer to buy high quality items at thrift store prices. That way I can always resell at a profit. For example, I just bought my older son a Victorinox Swiss Army stainless steel watch from Goodwill for $15. It was new in the box and only needed a fresh battery to work. I could have bought a cheap watch for less than the $27 I paid for the watch, battery & link adjustment, but my son could conceivably own this high quality watch for decades. And if he later tires of the watch I will sell that sucker faster than you can say “Crazy Goodwill Lady.” Because this watch retails for $500!

So how about you? What do you consider to be money well spent? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessie : Improved June 28, 2012 at 6:56 am

The best money I ever spent was on the Lasik surgery that fixed my eyesight. You just about can’t put a price on freedom. 🙂


Katy @ Purposely Frugal June 28, 2012 at 6:57 am

Healthy food, quality running shoes or for my hubby running sandals, and money spent on trips to visit family.


Tina June 28, 2012 at 6:59 am

Great questions. Things I spend money on and consider it well spent:

* good shoes
* education for my kids (private school currently)
* sports (for the physical activity and social experience)
* quality food (lots of produce, good quality meats, dairy, etc…)
* travel


Liz June 28, 2012 at 7:27 am

In the same train of thought as your watch story, watch repair. I recently had my watch cleaned and a new battery installed. I have had this watch for probably 25 years, and have had the metal band adjusted so the watch does not run over my wrist bone every time I move. I really feel naked without it on my wrist.


Katy June 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I’m hoping this watch stays with my son for a good long time. Of course, I’m also girding myself for him to lose it.



Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land June 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I found the same brand of watch at a g-sale and got it to resell. Then hubby eyed it…. It’s a real beauty. I just hope no one thinks we paid retail for it. I’d be kind of embarrassed by that.


Krystal June 28, 2012 at 7:53 am

Good food, yoga, vacation. I personally cannot put a price on my health, and we have both been blessed with very very few health scares.

We have a lot of cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, etc. in my family. They are all also addicted to processed foods, no exercise, meat and potatoes. After watching our families have multiple health issues and dying young, eating good food and living a simple life have been the most important thing for us next to mortgage and keeping the lights on. I think I would give up our only car before not being able to do the things listed above. We rarely eat out, but choose wisely. We practice yoga at home when we have used up our budget for the month, so it isn’t massively expensive. I’m unemployed right now, but vacations are also pretty vital to us, and after savings and basics, we like to pool our money toward trips!


Diane June 28, 2012 at 7:57 am

Money spent on things that make life easier every day, or preserve hard-to-replace items (including our health). For example, clip-on sunglasses to fit my previous pair of glasses, and the prescription sunglasses I wear now. I bought the lens protection for my current glasses, because the last ones got so scratched up. A Gentle Leader head collar for walking the dog (though she hates it). A protective case and screen shield for my cell phone. A gym membership. Cushioned insoles for the shoes I wear most often.


Megyn @MinimalistMommi June 28, 2012 at 8:26 am

1. CHARITY…this is the thing I spend money on most willingly, especially when it involves rescuing animals
2. Food…I’ll shell out extra money for quality food
3. Gas/car-related expenses…I hate that gas is so pricey, but the ability to get around whenever and where ever I need is priceless (especially with bad public transit where we live).
4. Pets…couldn’t live without them!


Krystal June 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Can’t believe I forgot pets on mine. Man, mine are SPOILED! So worth it.


Poor to Rich a Day at a Time June 28, 2012 at 9:10 am

For me it is well spent if it is building cherished memories or from a homeschooling perspective it is ALWAYS money well spent for new experiences or fun learning material


Jennifer G. June 28, 2012 at 9:16 am

Good food. Traveling to see friends. Gifts.


Anna June 28, 2012 at 9:49 am

-Giving our family’s tithe at church. It is never questioned – it is just done, and God has always made sure that our needs were met.
-Good, high quality, food that we cook at home.
-Our children’s health and educational needs
-Travel to spend time with family, which is usually spent camping and riding our horses.


Sarah June 28, 2012 at 9:51 am

Sending my kids to after school activities. Two girls, two very different personalities – one takes karate and is part of a lacrosse team. The other is into dance (getting more expensive each year) and a little community drama club.

It’s an expense, but it’s mitigated by us avoiding pricey restaurant meals and creating wardrobes from thift and consignment store finds.


Debineezer June 28, 2012 at 9:56 am

Cute shoes. I’m an unapologetic shoe whore and sadly, with my feet I can only get them at Nordstrom. However, I take them to the cobbler when needed and on average wear a $100 pair for 8-10 years. They make me happy.

I’ve never regretted my VW Beetle. In the 10 years I owned my first one, there was NEVER a day that I didn’t enjoy driving it. Of course, the yearly $1200 repair after warrantee was galling, but really, for that much enjoyment?

Otherwise, I’m pretty cheap:)


Megg June 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm

I LOVE my VW Beetle! I’ve had it for 5 years now and I love it to death! It’s fun to drive and I figure that I’ll be upgrading to a “family car” eventually so I might as well enjoy my fun car while I can have it! The repairs are expensive though, I do agree, but I’ve never regretted my car decision 🙂


Debineezer June 29, 2012 at 10:10 am

When my mom totaled my first Beetle, I was convinced it was time to get a family car due to our fertility treatments. I have 3 small pooches that currently have a kennel in the back that takes up 3/4 of the back seat. My husband finally said to me “I have a practical car and your mom has a practical car. You will not be happy in anything but a Beetle, so that’s what we’re getting.” My hubby? Best ever!!! At 7 months, I worry from time to time, but the pooches were here first, and after having a Beetle for close to 12 years? Still in love.


Laura June 28, 2012 at 10:19 am

For me, it’s quality whole food, hands down. And experiential activities for our children, especially travel (our daughter is on an immersion-related trip China this summer, one went on her middle school trip to China earlier this year).

BTW, I hope your son’s Swiss watch holds up better than my husband’s did. He was given one of those $500 Victorinox Swiss Army watches for his 10th year anniversary at his job; it didn’t even last a year and he’s not hard on watches. Our cheap Timex and Casio watches, however, refuse to give up.


Bauunny June 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Education and experiences for my children – definitely. The investment in that has paid off beyond my wildest dreams. We have sacrificed ( no expensive vacations, new cars, eating out, etc.) to fund those things and I have no regrets. I also like to give generously to causes (anonymously), quality food and ingredients and also like to spend on things that make my surroundings comfortable, warm and attractive (flower gardens and refreshing my decor thru thrifted items).


Bauunny June 28, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Whoops, I forgot to say “self care” and things that feed my soul and keep me healthy……massage, reflexology, enrichment classes and yoga.


Jennifer June 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

1. Organic / local food.
2. Education, including music and self-defense lessons.
3. Health care. The things that addresse my family’s medical needs most effectively, naturopathy and chiropractic, aren’t covered by our insurance, but we cannot do without them.
4. Experiences, including travel.
5. Good shoes.
6. The perfect outfit for a job interview, performance, or presentation.


Katy June 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Yeah, I’m alla bout the good shoes as well. Danksos and Keens populate my closet.



Laurel June 28, 2012 at 11:13 am

Money well spent for me is:

*Donations to various non-profit cat rescues
*Quality cat food
*Regular car maintenance
*Well-fitting but pricey bras
*Good tools
*Motorcycle safety gear including full-face helmet, armored jacket, leather chaps, Kevlar jeans, motorcycle boots
*Locally grown food at the farmer’s market
*Canning supplies
*Good winter boots


Barb June 28, 2012 at 11:51 am

We live frugally so we can afford to give generously. We support our church and it’s ministies and also give regularly to World Vision.

Our grown children don’t live close by so I mail little gifts to the grands and we travel there as often as we can – without making ourselves a nuisnance (I hope). 🙂


Robin June 28, 2012 at 1:08 pm

High quality food and good wine 🙂


Reese June 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm

1) Travel–Growing up, my mom paid for all my travel. On my recent trip to see her? I bought my airline ticket myself for the first time. I was hurting initially about that coming straight out of pocket..but absolutely worth it. I hope all trips will be like this.
2) Books–Regardless of where we get them (used store, library or brand new), if my husband, me or our future kids decide they want a book? I’ll give it to them. Especially if it means not shelling out for a cheap plastic toy or some other nonsensical expense.
3) Cookware–I bake and cook ALOT. If I could, I would live in my kitchen. So no more low-end, cheap, just-to-get-by items. I need to invest in some items that will serve me and my family well..and perhaps be something to hand down later!

As much as I’d like to add things like shoes, clothes, hair cuts, to our list… if money were tight? I’d be giving those things up more than I do now.

The food is a hard one. We don’t buy the best there is right now. I’m trying to move toward more conscious food spending… but we buy fresh. I suppose if we were that hard up, fresh food would go..but my top three would be the first to perish. So maybe ultimately… fresh, non-prepackaged, already prepared food is the superior thing here? I’d rather make my own bread than buy it. And eat sauteed fresh vegetables than a frozen dinner?


Diane June 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I really don’t spend at all aside from basics for living….but I will purchase a quality Speedo swimsuit this weekend because they fit and last for my daily swims.


Katy June 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I’m a fan of Land’s End suits, although the price tag always gives me a mini-heart attack.



Rebecca June 29, 2012 at 8:01 am

I grew up in TYR. We would only get a new suit once we outgrew the old one–they never wore out!


Trish June 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm

1. my pets – dogs and horses.
2. gym membership, and fees for a personal trainer. I do a crossfit workout once a week with the trainer, and then repeat it 2 times on my own. it feels great to have upper body strength and to do such an effective workout. I am 47 and I feel pretty good.
3. food- good and healthy, not processed.
4. my garden- I will sink money into it to get delicious tomatoes, which I devour from July thru October, and cukes for pickling. My hot dill pickles brighten winter days.

not in any particular order. btw, I love my cable tv.


Diane June 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I really don’t spend at all aside from basics for living….but I will purchase a quality Speedo swimsuit this weekend because they fit and last for my daily swims. And high quality grain free dog food for my skin allergy pup.


Abby June 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Anything purchased from a local farmer, brewer or crafter.


Denise June 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Our kids’ education—private school.
Putting extra money toward our mortgage.
A GOOD camera.


nicoleandmaggie June 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm

ice cream!


Another Portland Katy June 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Giving to re-elect the president. Many health problems in my family and I’m grateful for the advances in health care. Also, various social justice organizations.


Dylan June 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Lasik was a gift to myself – one that I’m thankful for every day.

I also love my MP3 player, because it helps me get through difficult days at work and keep my sanity. That? Is priceless.


Shannon June 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Experiences and education for the kids and family -music lessons, camping gear, scouting, community sports. Also long term household things, like remodeling or good furniture. My built in shelves drastically improved our daily lives, and soon a new mattress will improve our nights. Funnily enough, I was happy to have the cash to pay for out son’s braces. My parents couldn’t afford t for me, so I had to wait until after high school. I could relate to my boy when I noticed he stopped smiling for pictures. Now I have his smile back 🙂


Renee CA June 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Orthodontia. Definitely worth it. At 63 I’m still dealing with a jaw and bite that wasn’t corrected when I was younger. Over two years in braces in my mid thirties and again for several months in my late 50’s. Im religious about wearing retainers every night.


Kristen | The Frugal Girl June 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm

A good camera and lens. 😉


Katy June 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm

For you it’s an investment, since you make money as an amateur photographer.



Kristen | The Frugal Girl June 29, 2012 at 9:34 am

And I also use it for my blog. My blog would be quite different without pictures!


Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land June 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm

My son’s school tuition. We are so, so very pleased with his school, and how he–despite the autism–is integrated into the regular class and cherished by the other students and the teachers.

I also like to give. Because we’re very frugal, money tends to collect faster than we can use it, and I don’t want to hoard money.


Megg June 28, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Quality cat for for my kitties
A gym membership (I’m the type of person who has to have that accountability…I won’t just go for a walk)
Travel, most definitely!
My computer! I’m a Mac person all the way!
Beer. Good, quality beer. I have to have some fun in my life! 🙂


Mary June 29, 2012 at 5:16 am

As so many others have said, education and health are our biggest monetary priorities. Private education for our daughters and braces…worth it, for sure. It’s hard tho,so our very frugal lifestyle is more important than ever. When we were shopping for a private high school, we paid attention to the quality of the guidance department. This helped to maximize our investment in high school (with its tuition less than college tuition) so that our eldest, an excellent student, will graduate from a private university with very little debt.


WinterLightHomestead June 29, 2012 at 6:21 am

1. Gas money to go out of town for a day or few hours every now and then: I despise, oh let me stress this – HATE, where I currently live. I am trapped here by complicated circumstances for at least 15 more months. I’m not going to go into details, but this IS a BAD place. Once every month or 2, I spring for the gas money to go someplace for the day or just for the evening. This is usually the hour’s drive to a small city west of here, or an hour and a half’s drive to a big city south of here. It usually involves enjoying a few hours at a bookstore 😀 (but only spending MAYBE $10 if that much on a juice and a craft patterns or DIY or history magazine — this sort of indulgence is a rare and fabulous luxury for me!), perhaps a long planned stop at Hobby Lobby to pick up some needed project supplies (e.g. embroidery floss, large snaps, etc.). (I do handmade and upcycle Christmas. Also, I take orders for/sell handcrafts.) that I’ve been marking on a list for the past month or two, picking up groceries, stopping at one or more of the “locally grown” mom and pop produce stands along the rural highways around here, going to a museum or art exhibit, going to a special event a friend’s church or to hear someone I know sing in a choral concert, or the like. I do these trips very much on a tight, tight budget. Last month, it was an hour and a half’s drive to a pair of small towns northwest of here where I enjoyed a visit to a very cool museum ($5 donation), learned some very interesting and inspirational things, walked nature trails, got to get needed groceries at an Aldi, and regained my sanity for a day! Strange story: I think I was MEANT to make that day trip as, during the drive home out in the middle of nowhere on a very rural state highway, I found a growing grass fire burning down the side of the road and called 911. It was so far out that the dispatcher was trying to figure out who he could get to respond on it! But, I found it before it was able to spread further and destroy acres of farm crops. I was soooo grateful to be used in a right-place-at-the-right-time piece of magic!

Sometimes, exceedingly tight though my budget is, escape money is money WELL spent. It helps “reboot” me. Cleansing mental stimulation and small burst of freedom and hope. I find that afterwards I have better self-discipline and a healthier, more productive attitude.

2. Money spent helping someone. Most months, I barely have money to meet all obligations. But, I LOVE to help when and how I can. Usually, that’s through volunteering. I’ll pitch in to help with this or that with my labor, skills, etc. But, sometimes, there’s something I can pitch in on with a bit of money. For example, 2 Decembers ago, 9 of us went in together to buy a piece of equipment a friend needed to help with her disabled son. The piece of equipment only cost about $100, but that money was a HUGE barrier that family couldn’t conquer. I couldn’t do it by myself, but I was able to rally people so we could do it together. So, the 9 of us combined forces and conquered it for them. Happiest Christmas I’ve had in a LOOOONNNGGGG time! And, the most amazing part? When a friend of a friend, chosing to remain anonymous, found out what we were doing and what the combined forces had achieved, s/he pitched in additional money to buy the mom flowers and to buy groceries and Christmas gifts for the children in the family. That person has sent word that our mutual friend isn’t allowed to reveal his/her identity until 10 years later. How fun! LOL A wonderful, mysterious, Christmas miracle! 🙂

3. Good, sturdy, cushioned shoes for work: I walk A LOT at my job, and I have a heel spur in my left food. Buying decent walking shoes to wear to work helps prevent a lot of pain and limping!


Linda H. June 29, 2012 at 6:44 am

Good shoes. Well worth the money.


Rebecca June 29, 2012 at 8:06 am

Quality food seems to be a common mention, and I agree! Though it doesn’t always have to be expensive–we went in with some friends to split a 1/2 cow from a local farmer, and it was very affordable.

I will always buy quality dog food as well. Some stuff out there is just atrocious. The Honest Kitchen is a really good brand, and their Preference line is a good base for customization (you add the protein).


emmer June 29, 2012 at 8:19 am

good health care, good local/organic food, shoes tht support my arthritic feet, good (mostly hand) tools, local experiences (portland abounds in live theater, sporting events, music, the rose test garden, the arboretum, the zoo), the occasional day trip to the coast or mt hood, and for me–the best is–knowledge. all money well spent.


anexactinglife June 29, 2012 at 8:46 am

Real, fresh and local food, reliable car and computer, and (as Emmer said above) – experiences, such as day trips, festivals, plays, concerts, and occasional restaurant meals that I wouldn’t or couldn’t make at home!


D. Savage June 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Books! They’re like air to me; i truly believe they saved me when i was a kid. The library, too!


teri June 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Medical care (that I agree with) is money well spent. Now, some doctors order thousands of dollars in tests that I feel are needless in many cases. And some meds (statins, flu shots, and other things) I consider useless or even dangerous too. But if it is for medical care that I think is needful, then it is money well spent in my opinion. Paying $50 for a digoxin level every year is worth every penny to me. But paying for CBC with no symptoms that call for it annually seems kind of wasteful to me. Same with annual EKGs if there are no symptoms that indicate the need. Dental xrays at every appt seem wasteful and even dangerous, but a $100 cleaning seems like it is worth the price. It just depends on what I feel is needful and useful rather than simply commonly done.

Good books are worth the price. I didn’t buy my kids twaddle, but spending money on good books was easy for me. My kids had hundreds of books growing up….. good books not silly ones that sold a tv cartoon or movie or something.

I think money spent to stock on food when it is on sale is well spent. I would rather buy 50lbs of meat when it is on sale than simply buy a couple pounds for us to eat a week at full price. I do feel that money spent on empty calories and junk food is wasted money. Protein, vegetables, fruits, complex carbs, whole foods are all worth spending money on, especially when stocking up on something at a good price.

Money spent on good quality, durable tires or other “safety” products is money well spent. In fact money spent on durable products that you don’t have to replace as often is always money well spent. Why buy cheap shoes that fall apart in a month instead of spending more on shoes that will last a couple of years?


Susan June 29, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Good shoes. I walk over 3 miles a day so yeah…good shoes.


Ellie June 30, 2012 at 9:00 am

Some of these are already mentioned…

– Good shoes, well-fitting bras, and a good winter coat. I get my shoes repaired, and they last forever. A good winter coat is just a comfort issue, and also lasts for years and years. And cheap bras just don’t fit right. All other clothing – that can be cheap!
– Good-quality food.
– The pets.
– My one expensive hobby, horseback riding – it’s physical exercise AND de-facto mental health therapy!
– The gym. DH uses it more than I do, but the expense is worth it if it gets us to exercise in all weather – which it does. My gym is a YMCA, so it’s nonprofit and has a lot of good community health and kids’ programs, so I don’t mind giving them my money, rather than a corporate chain gym.
– Charities.
– Consumer Report “best-buy” appliances and a reliable car – I think spending a little more up front on these things can cost less in the long run. And I take good care of my stuff.
– Getting good-quality older stuff refurbished or repaired. My 70+ year-old re-upholstered and re-finished wood furniture not only has sentimental value, but is well-made and will last another 70+ years if treated right. Repairing a few older small appliances was also worth it, since that stuff’s better-made too.
– The occassional theatre tickets or dinner at a restaurant serving food we can’t make at home, and the occassional massage. These are quality-of-life things that are worth budgeting for now and then.
– Travel, at some point – we can’t afford it right now, but after we get some other expenses squared away, the opportunity to see other countries and expereince other cultures would be worth spending money on.


Candice July 2, 2012 at 5:10 am

– Cats- We have two and we get so much enjoyment from them that it’s totally worth the cost.
– Cable, Netflix, and Tivo- We have all three and watch shows most of the evening and weekend when we’re not doing chores. It’s our only form of entertainment, so it’s cheaper than if we went to movies or did other activities. We’re not outside people, so most of our entertainment would cost something.
– Food- We buy good quality, organic food. We cook at home except for one meal a week, so it’s worth it to use to buy quality food that we enjoy and want to eat. I also like to support local stores and local farmers with my food purchases.


Lilypad July 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I have a bad back from a 1996 car accident, so a huge thing for me has been a quality mattress. We spent $4000+ 5 years ago (after a never-to-be-repeated financial windfall) on an amazing natural latex mattress. I still often have sleep troubles (other health factors that wake me up frequently, sometimes snoring husband, special needs kid who has his own sleep issues and requires help to get back to sleep) but when I can get back into bed and sink into that mattress, aaaaah! It’s also free of nasty flame retardant chemicals (I had to give the mattress company a letter from my naturopathic doctor in order for them to legally make it without the chemicals) and does not out-gas like most mattress. It’s hippie heaven! 😉


DustiMc July 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I could have posted this in the previous post but today, I’m grateful for it. My 3 younger kids have ADHD as well as other mental/ emotional issues. Consequently, I spend a lot of my Flex spending account (for which I am extremely grateful!) on psych appointments and meds. My son’s ADHD meds ran almost $200 this month. I’m aggravated that, even though this med has gone generic, it still costs so much. But on the other hand, I’m glad that we have counselors and MDs to help us through this and that (most) people don’t chalk it up to bad parenting now.


Amanda July 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Oh God! You mean my sweet but persistent baby boy is STILL going to take two hours to put to bed in 14 years? *sobs quietly*


Katy July 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm

He did have number of good bedtime years in between the two extremes.



Rose July 24, 2012 at 9:07 am

I’m with a lot of commenters in that good food is at the top of my list. This time of year the majority of our grocery shopping is done at the farmer’s market and our local CSA, so we’ve got an abundance of fabulously delicious local food.

Even aside from fresh produce, quality does matter at times. You just can’t beat amazingly flavorful olive oil or balsamic vinegar as thick as molasses.


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