Most of us are pretty irrational when it comes to our spending habits. We don’t think twice about small daily purchases — but if a price tag crosses a certain threshold, we start to feel uncomfortable about our buying decision.
This mindset is not good for your bank account. Small purchases are usually low-value and have a very short gratification period. Larger purchases, while a bigger investment, usually pay for themselves and continue to improve our lives over time.
With all of the holiday sales starting, now is a great time to start thinking harder about the things you buy.
This Black Friday I challenge you to rate purchases in terms of value and long-term return. Avoid picking up a bunch of cheap things just because they’re a “great deal” and go for items that will improve your life and save you money next year. Here are nine examples of purchases that check both boxes and are even better buys on Black Friday.
1) Restaurant Gift Cards
You probably don’t have every weekend planned out for 2019 but one thing I can guarantee you’ll do is eat at your favorite restaurant.
On Black Friday, many restaurants offer a bonus gift card when you purchase a certain denomination (you’ll see deals like buy a $100 gift card and get an extra $20). This is a great way to lower your food spend in 2019 without changing your eating habits. Just check the fine print as some “bonus” gift cards will need to be spent by a certain date.
2) Fitness Equipment with Live Classes
Fitness classes are a great way to stay in shape. But they can get expensive. A spin class costs $20 on average, and that price can be even higher at some studios. Attending class three times per week means you’re likely spending at least $250 per month or $3,000 per year on spin class.
If attending classes in person isn’t a priority for you, then purchasing an at-home solution can help you meet both your fitness and financial goals.
Fitness equipment with live classes, like a Peloton bike, are often viewed as fancy and expensive but when you break down the costs, they are usually much cheaper. Peloton’s 0% financing options currently allow you to pay $58 per month for their equipment and $39 per month for their membership. That means your all-in cost is about $100 per month — or less than half of what you’d pay at a studio.
That post-workout smoothie from the shop next to your gym might be great for your health but it’s destroying your food budget. Splurge on a fancy blender instead and make your own at home to seriously cut costs.
Even a top of the line blender like a Vitamix (starting at $289.95) will pay for itself in a few months if a smoothie stop is part of your regular routine. As a bonus, owning this new appliance may also inspire you to make your own almond milk or soups and further reduce your food spend in 2019.
4) Cooking Equipment and Meal Kits
Millennials are known for our love of dining out but while fast casual restaurants and delivery services are extremely convenient, they’re often not great for our health or wallets.
Learning how to cook a few of your favorite dishes well can save you tons of money and calories. Plus it’s a pretty useful life skill to have.
A great way to get started on your cooking journey is to opt into a meal-kit delivery service like Sunbasket or Blue Apron, both of which are currently offering $60 off. Their easy-to-follow recipes and home delivery make cooking a breeze for even the most novice of chefs. And if you need basic cooking equipment to get started, there are countless Black Friday deals you can take advantage of.
5) Wardrobe Staples
The avalanche of promotional Black Friday emails from retailers have already started. Most people open those emails, spot a few things they like, and make an impulse purchase. When the item arrives, they maybe wear it once or twice and then forget about it because it wasn’t practical or something that they even really wanted.
Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it. (Repeat that three times.) Instead, take advantage of low prices by buying high quality wardrobe staples that will constantly be in rotation and can handle the wear.
An easy way to determine if an item is worth buying is its cost per use. Divide the cost by the number of times you think you’ll wear the outfit in a year.
6) Coffee or Espresso Machine
If you love your morning Starbucks run, this is not for you. But if you get annoyed every time you see a $5 latte listed on your credit card statement, then investing in a top quality coffee or espresso machine can save you a ton of money.
You can replicate exactly what the barista is doing at your favorite coffee shop, but for a fraction of the cost. And since you control the inputs, you can even get your daily brew to the point where it tastes exactly how you want it to.
7) Sports Equipment
Repeatedly renting sports equipment like a paddleboard or ice skates can get expensive. If there’s a hobby you enjoy that involves equipment rental, tally up how much you’ve spent on your rentals this year. Chances are that if you rent often, it may be cheaper to buy. And owning may incentivize you to indulge in your hobby even more than you already do which should make you happier.
8) Annual Park Passes
Paying an admission fee every time you want to visit one of your favorite places can add up. Getting a discounted annual pass to your local national park or theme park means you’ll always have a fun place to go and your cost per visit will go down.
9) Water Filter
Bottled water is so overpriced. Sometimes you’re unexpectedly parched and can’t avoid picking up an impromptu Evian. But most of the time you know well in advance that you’re going to need to hydrate. Invest in a water filter and a reusable water bottle. Then watch the savings stack up.