10 things you should never buy cheap
These items are worth every penny. We promise.
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I don’t know about you, but when I’m faced with a choice between an expensive item and a cheap one, my gut reaction is to just buy the cheap one. The justification here is generally something along the lines of “How different can they really be?”
With some products, this is true—there’s no reason to spend $60 on a facial moisturizer. I will die on this hill. However, there are other household products that are worth splurging on, as a high-end model will make you life infinitely easier.
The following are 10 items that we really, REALLY think you should spend more money on.
1. A tomato-slicing, onion-dicing kitchen knife
For years, I used cheap kitchen knives that I bought from HomeGoods, and they worked well enough considering their discount prices. However, the first time I used a real kitchen knife? Life changing. All of a sudden, it wasn’t a battle to slice through tomato skin or dice an onion.
A good, high-quality kitchen knife is worth every penny, as they make chopping, slicing, and dicing, a whole lot easier. In our testing, we found the Zwilling Pro 8" Chef's Knife to be the best chef’s knife available today, and it’s definitely worth the splurge because it's not just sharp and well balanced, but it'll outlast the cheap knife you've been putting up with. by years.
2. Headphones with top-notch sound quality
If you use headphones once in a blue moon, I guess it’s fine to buy the $5 ones from Walmart. However, most people use headphones on a daily basis, which is why they’re always a splurge-worthy product in our book.
Not only do high-quality headphones provide better sound, but they’re also more comfortable to wear and more durable. You’ll be much happier wearing a pair of headphones you don’t have to adjust every five minutes, especially if you’re using them to exercise or during your commute.
In particular, we love the Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 over-ear headphones, which aced our tests for the best headphone review, as well as the Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless Earbuds, which are some of the best earbuds out there. And if you want true wireless, we recommend Apple Airpods or Jabra Elite 65t earbuds for Android users.
- Get the Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 on Amazon for $235
- Get the Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless on Amazon for $199.95
- Get the Apple Airpod True Wireless Earbuds on Amazon for $144.98
- Get the Jabra Elite 65t True Wireless Earbuds on Amazon for $189.99
3. Jeans that actually fit your body
This might seem like kind of a random thing for this list, but high-quality denim is truly life-changing. The first time you put on a pair of genuinely nice jeans, you’ll never want to squeeze into ill-fitting discount brands again.
Seriously, brands like AG and Hudson fit flawlessly and they’re comfortable to wear all day—no more waistbands digging into your stomach or having to pull them up every time you sit down. And if these aren't just right for you, one of our editors swears by Madewell's jeans.
- Get the AG 'The Legging' Ankle Jeans from Nordstrom for $150.17
- Get the AG Graduate Slim Straight Leg Jeans from Nordstrom for $188
4. A kitchen skillet that actually cooks things evenly
Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, I bought a cute, cheap skillet from a discount store, as I’m apt to do. Within five uses, the paint was flaking off said skillet and getting cooked onto the stovetop. Not to mention the bottom wasn’t completely even, so everything had to be cooked lopsided. It wasn’t ideal.
A skillet is one kitchen item that you’re fully justified to splurge on. High-quality stainless steel skillets cook food quickly and evenly, are lightweight, will last for years, and won’t burn your hand on the handle when you’re cooking. Just buy one. You will not regret it. In particular, we’d recommend the All-Clad 4112 Stainless Steel Tri-Ply 12-inch Fry Pan, but there are plenty of great options out there.
5. A fast, light, long-lasting laptop
Do you like slowing load screens, crappy displays, poor sound quality, and a battery that dies in an hour? No? Then don’t buy a cheap laptop.
Inexpensive laptops are fine for casual users, but if you need one for work or school, this is no time to be frugal. A high-end laptop will serve you much better in terms of processing power, screen and sound quality, battery life, and portability. In our tests to determine the best laptops available today, the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 truly knocked it out of the park, and it’s well worth the price, in our opinion.
6. A vacuum that really sucks
High-end vacuums are a good example of a product that’s not particularly necessary but will make your life a whole lot easier compared to cheaper alternatives. Budget vacuums can get the job done, but it typically takes longer and the results won’t be as good. Plus, you’ll probably have to replace them in a few years.
More expensive vacuums will help you clean faster and more effectively thanks to impressive suction and versatility and they'll last for years. The Kenmore Bagged Canister Vacuum with Pet PowerMate is a great example of a moderately priced vacuums that cleans quickly and effectively, and it's on the lower end of the price scale in its category, making it our value pick for the best canister vacuums.
7. A powerful hair dryer
It might seem like your $20 drugstore hair dryer is fine, but there's a reason it takes a lot longer when you blow dry your hair vs. when your hairdresser does it. High-quality hair dryers get the job done faster and better, leaving you with smooth, luscious locks worthy of a beauty campaign.
The bottom line? Go ahead and invest in a quality hair dryer—it will last you for years and make your morning routine faster and easier. We'd recommend the Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Dryer 2000, specifically, as it aced our tests in our search for the best hair dryer.
8. A mattress that will last for years
There are a lot of surprisingly affordable mattresses available online today—I’m talking $200-$300 for a queen size. If this seems too good to be true, that’s probably because it is.
When you carefully read the reviews for these budget mattresses, you’ll see that many people say the mattresses get lumpy, bumpy or deflated after just a few months of use. These might work for, say, a guest room or your AirBnB ventures, but who wants to have to replace their main mattress every year?
Now, I’m not saying you have to spend $5,000 on a mattress, but you should at least invest in a moderately priced one that you’re sure is going to stand the test of time. For instance, Casper is an online brand with a good reputation, and our Editor in Chief swears by his Casper mattress.
9. Strong, durable home improvement tools
Even if you’re not particularly handy, most people have a few key home improvement tools lying around the house. You know, a hammer for hanging up photos, a drill for hanging up photos, a level for hanging up photos—is this the only reason we have tools?
Regardless, it’s always better to spend a little extra on home improvement tools, and I’ll tell you why. First, well-made tools will do their jobs better and with more power, accuracy, and efficiency. Second, durable, high-quality tools will help keep you safe, since they’re less likely to break mid-job. So do yourself a favor, and invest in some good tools, such as our pick for best cordless drill, the Makita FD07R1 Cordless Driver / Drill Kit.
10. A coffee maker that will make you excited to get out of bed
Coffee is important to me. For that reason, I refuse to drink bad coffee, which is often what happens when you use a pod coffee machine.
If you need a powerful and tasty dose of caffeine to get you going each morning, then you should definitely spend a little extra money on a high-end coffee maker. For instance, the sleek Technivorm Moccamaster KB brews a complex, smooth cup of java at top speed, earning it the title of best drip coffee maker in our tests. BRB, I need to go refill my mug.
Prices are accurate at the time of publication, but may change over time.