Save or Splurge: 5 Items That Are Worth Spending More On

By , dealnews Senior Feature Writer

Saving money is our motto here at dealnews, but occasionally we come across items worth spending a little more on. Yes, you can save money on these goods by waiting for a deal to come along, but generally speaking, these items are more of an investment where quality takes precedence over frugality. We've found that by spending a little more on items like computer systems, certain office gear, and yes, 500-thread count sheets, you actually wind up saving money in the long run because the higher quality of these items prolongs the need to replace them every year. From desktop replacements to cosmetics, below we've listed our top five items where we think being too frugal doesn't pay.

1. Get a Laptop that Lasts: Invest in a Desktop Replacement
Buying a new computer is a major purchasing decision. Not only do you want a model that adheres to your budget, but you'll also want a machine that won't be obsolete in a year, nor one that requires constant upgrading or maintenance. Depending on your needs, you could opt for a budget laptop (you can even narrow your search to specific months for optimal savings). Or if you're a demanding computer user, why not invest in a desktop replacement?

Desktop replacements are designed to meet more than just your basic computing needs, and they're not meant for everyone. However, should you choose a desktop replacement, we feel you can't (and shouldn't) cheap out. This means investing in premium features like a quad-core CPU, dedicated graphics card, maximum RAM capacity, and beefy hard drives. The more you invest in a desktop replacement, the longer it'll last and the greater likelihood you'll save money in the long term (because you won't need to upgrade every few years).

Price-wise, desktop replacements range from $700 to more than $1,000. Thankfully, splurging on a computer doesn't mean mindlessly throwing money away. Two weeks ago, we saw a 17" laptop with an Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU for just $579.99. It's no longer available, but it's certainly a sign that deals on desktop replacements are getting more aggressive. Click here to browse the latest deals on desktop replacements.

2. Avoid Work-Related Back Pain with a Quality Office Chair
Recent studies show that the number of people working from home is on the rise, and if this includes you, consider investing in a proper office chair. (If companies take ergonomics into consideration, why shouldn't you?) This means being picky about the chair you buy, and not purchasing the least-expensive model. You'll want to invest in a chair that's adjustable and doesn't encourage slouching. Features to pay attention to include seat height, seat width, arm rests, and lumbar support. Also take into consideration how many hours you'll spend on your chair and how much weight it supports.

The pictured Aeron Chair by Herman Miller (from $679 with free shipping) from Amazon has won endless praise for its design and ergonomics. Sure, it'll cost a lot more than many of the chairs you'll find at stores like Office Depot, OfficeMax, and Staples, but when you're putting in 60-hour work weeks, your back will thank you for it. And, since this chair comes with a full 12-year warranty, you won't have to spend money again anytime soon, unlike the cash you'd likely dole out to replace a bargain bin chair.

3. Sleep Easy with Better Bed Linens
If you spend your 9 to 5 sitting in an office chair, chances are you spend your 11 pm to 6 am in bed. In 2010, the average American (age 15 and over) spent roughly 8.7 hours per day sleeping, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So naturally when it comes to bedding, you'll want sheets fit for a king (or queen; or California king, if you use a mattress that large).

Some factors to take into consideration include a sheet's thread count and weave. The former tells you the number of threads a sheet contains per square inch, while the latter affects the feel of the sheet. Likewise the type of cotton that is used is also important as it can mean the difference between a dull pair of sheets versus one with a silky finish. The more comfortable your sleep, the more refreshed you'll feel the next day. Check out our thread count glossary for a more information.

4. See More Clearly with a High-End Monitor
Just like the wrong office chair can lead to lower back problems, the wrong monitor can lead to eye fatigue. Depending on your line of work — and the amount of hours you spend in front of your monitor — you'll want to avoid low quality LCD screens.

According to CNET, there are three panel technologies used in today's LCDs: twisted nematic (TN), vertical alignment (VA), and in-plane switching (IPS). TN panels are the most common and the least expensive, however, they offer the narrowest viewing angles, lowest brightness, and the most inaccurate color reproduction. IPS-based monitors — such as the Apple Thunderbolt Display ($949.66 with free shipping, at low by $19) from at B&H Photo-Video — are the most expensive of the bunch, but they provide the best viewing angles and the most accurate colors. If your monitor needs go beyond the traditional email and web surfing, you'll want to spend more money on a panel that offers a higher color gamut and more accurate color reproduction.

5. Skip the Cheap Cosmetics and Save Face
The point of cosmetics are to enhance a person's beauty in an inconspicuous way. In particular, products that correct blemishes and skin tone discoloration, as well as prep the skin for additional makeup, need to blend in seamlessly; the goal is to make your skin look naturally flawless, which means no one should be able to see your makeup. Unfortunately, the cheaper the cosmetics, the more likely they'll look unnatural, or cake up later in the day.

Better quality cosmetics are far more likely to work with the conditions of your skin. Moreover, since you're wearing a product on your skin all day, we recommend that it's made with the highest-quality ingredients, to prevent irritation and further imperfections. (Otherwise, the process of covering up blemishes can actually be the cause of those blemishes in the first place.) bareMinerals by Bare Escentuals is a popular brand that conceals while purportedly doing wonders for skin quality. These mineral-based products offer longer-lasting coverage and are less likely to flake away throughout the day.

There are some outliers — Maybelline's Great Lash Mascara ($4.24 with $1 s&h) continuously makes top beauty lists — but as a general rule, you'll probably be happier with the long-term results of a higher-quality beauty regime.

Splurging on the aforementioned items doesn't mean blindly buying luxury brand goods. Instead, we encourage you to find the best deals possible and never pay full retail price. (There's always a deal somewhere.) Also take your budget into consideration" overspending and being in debt isn't the point either.

And now we open the floor to our readers. Do you agree or disagree with our selection? What items do you think are worth spending more on and why?

Front page photo credit: Mainstreet

An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisRamirez. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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I can't say I agree completely with the other comments here as I think this article does a good job of sharing some insights. Items 2-5 fare spot but the best desktop or laptop might be hard to invest in. They become outdated so quick you can buy last year's model at 1/2 the price - and replace it again in 2 years with a newer one. I would replace #1 to be in conjunction with Item #3 the new bed linens. Problem is they do you no good if you put them on a bad mattress. A pain relieving great sleep (for me) is the most important thing one can have. The cool thing is it may be less than you think - I used this mattress comparison tool to compare the most expensive vs affordable mattresses and am happy with my new bed. Now to go out and get a better chair and some new bed linens! (I sleep like a baby though even if my office chair is less than comfortable!
But the absolute best mattress you can afford.  You spend so much time sleeping that  a bad mattress is a nightmare and can ruin your days, not to mention your back. Next, buy a good pillow that supports your neck.  Your body and mind will thank you. Also,in the winter there is nothing like good quality flannel sheets.  I love Eddie Bauer, Lands End and L.L Bean.  PRicey, but a treat through the cold winter months. Otherwise, 400-800 count Egyptian cotton,  Watch for BB&B sales.  Got 800 count King sheet set for $49- sale and coupon.
Because computers are obsolete even before you walk out the door, I buy the least expensive laptop I can get away with that has the speed and the capacity I need.  That way, when it is completely obsolete in 2 years, I don't feel guilty about selling it and replacing it.  Lots of seniors will buy decently functioniung used computers as will parents of younger kids looking for a first computer.
Desktops can be upgraded with new parts.  Just make sure you have a son who can replace the components!!  My current desktop is 5 years old and runs like a dream with only 2 replaced parts, a fan and an additional hard drive.
Have fun in 2012! 
I agree with the list and with SelectiveSecond's recommendation on QVC Northern Nights bed linens. Best sheets at best prices around.  And I really love the large sizing of the sheets.  They fit thick mattresses and never pull out.
Overbuying a laptop just guarantees you spend more money while sticking with it longer as you watch mid-grade and entry-level machines pass you by three years out. Buying in the middle makes more sense. And, really, those 17" monster desktop replacement laptops aren't very good as laptops. Batteries wear out, and then you either pay $125 for a new one, or watch your power hog consume a battery in 60 minutes flat.
Dan de Grandpre (DealNews)
Ergohuman chairs cost a bit less than the Aeron but IMO are just as good.

The best sheets I own (for the money) are the highest thread count Egyptian cotton sheets sold by SmartBargains. Wait for its occasional 25% off coupon. Expect to pay $100-ish.