Below, savvy folks share their advice on which items not to cheap out on.

1. Pillow

Woman sleeping on a comfortable bed
Photo by nomao saeki on Unsplash
Pillow. Always get a good one and don't go cheap.

"Pillow. Always get a good one and don't go cheap." — Mikel_Dup

Endless studies show that losing sleep affects your mental health, stress levels, waistline, and decision-making abilities- so don’t lose sleep because of a cheap pillow! Consumer Reports says most pillows last two years; if your pillow doesn’t pop back into shape after being folded in half, it needs replacing. Choose one that will support your head and neck in your favorite sleep position (back, front, side, or combination sleeper) and don’t be afraid to go with options like memory foam or cooling gel if you tend to overheat. Finally, it takes about a week of sleeping on a pillow to figure out if it works for you, so make sure to check the pillow return policy to make sure you don’t end up with a closet filled with reject pillows!

The Coop Home Goods Adjustable Hypoallergenic Pillow — at the time of this writing — is the top-rated pillow on Amazon.

2. Bras

Many bras
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash
Many, many bras

"Bras, especially if you are well endowed." — kiky23

The right bra will save the wearer a ton of shoulder, neck, and back trouble far into the future. Get a professional to measure you and always try on a bra before buying it, since sizes vary among manufacturers. Finally, after you invest in a high-quality bra, always hand wash it and hang to dry to keep it in good shape over time.

We don't recommend you purchase this $460 bra by La Perla , which happens to be the most expensive bra we could find on Amazon. At least it comes with free shipping?

3. Sheets

Young woman walking through sheets out to dry
Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash
There's nothing like soft sheets

"A good set of sheets. There's nothing like getting into bed with nice soft sheets... Sharing them with someone else is even better." — butrcupps

The online marketplace is saturated with cheap synthetic and microfiber sheets that are an absolute waste of money. These sheets pill, tear, shock you with static, and/or make you so hot you’ll think you went straight to Hades in your sleep. According to Supamil, a redditor who’s also a sheet manufacturer, the idea that "higher thread count equals higher quality" only works for sheets up to 300 thread count. When choosing your sheets, look at the fiber (material), the finish (sateen is smooooth) and then the price. Cotton is durable and lasts a long time; silk is delicate, expensive, and very warm; and bamboo (also known as rayon or viscose bamboo) sheets are soft and stay cooler in the summer. Cheap jersey cotton sheets are made of t-shirt fabric and will need to be replaced every year, while costly textured linen sheets last for life.

Amazon's own brand sheets — Amazon Basics — come in 400 thread count, 100% cotton at a great price.

4. Tampons

close tampon hand blonde woman holding tampon
Reward your va-jay-jay

"Isn't it time you gave your va-jay-jay a special treat? Rewarded it for all its years of (mostly) good service? Go for luxury pads and tampons!" — Mia Freedman

Forget your basic tampon: where would women be without "a touch of luxury where they need it most"? (Giggle! thanks for that one, Kotex.) The average hardworking tampon performs a necessary job in a harsh working environment where strength and efficiency is probably more important than being made from panda pelts or having a Chanel logo.

But one thing that might be worth splurging on is going for organic cotton tampons over the cheaper kind. Choose organic cotton tampons that don't have pesticide residue, haven't been bleached or covered in chemicals, and don't use synthetic fabrics connected to Toxic Shock Syndrome. One awesome brand is Cora, which ships the tampons straight to your door and donates pads to girls in need.

5. High Heels

woman in white dress walking in red high heels
Photo by Robert Metz on Unsplash
Never skimp on a good pair of shoes

"Never skimp on a good pair of shoes. Once your feet give in you are down for the count, and the better your shoes, the longer you can stay up." — Whiglhuf

Spending more on high heels made from better materials will get you comfortable shoes that are more stable, last longer, form to your foot, and keep you on your feet much, much longer than cheap shoes. Work, dates, and everything else will be that much more enjoyable!

Barring the "it" sneaker of the season, women's shoes generally cost far more than men's shoes. This isn’t fair, and it's probably what drives many women to be willing to bleed for a killer pair of shoes that look great. But if you're willing to spend $90 on heels that will break your feet, then just save up your money and wait a couple of months to get a pair that won't! It'll be worth it.

6. Condoms

Portrait of girl covering eyes with condoms
You can spend more money on a pack decent condoms, or...

"You can spend more money on a pack of decent condoms. Or, you can skimp on that and spend $200k and 18 years dealing with the aftermath of things going wrong." — Eddie_Hitter

Bad condoms are the worst: no one wants to have sex with a scrunch-y bag on — or inside — them! Bad condoms are uncomfortable for everyone, which actually discourages their use and increases the chances of STI transmission and pregnancy. The best condoms aren't too tight or too loose, don't cause allergic reactions, transfer heat better between partners, and protect what needs protecting. Spend a few extra dollars on quality rubbers and everyone involved will be much, much happier!

My favourite review for this Trojan 36 Count box of classic condoms is from Garrett, who says "Glad to see they don't expire for three years. I might be able to use one by then." Jeffery says "36/36 worked," which is music to my ears.

7. Accessories

Purse with book and sunglasses
Photo by Anna Hamilton on Unsplash
This is an awesome tip, and a great one for vintage lovers!

"You can make a cheap outfit look expensive as hell with nice shoes, purse etc. There are many that never go out of style. If taken care of they can last you for decades." — chirpyboyandbartjr

This is an awesome tip, and a great one for vintage lovers! Paying more for better quality materials like genuine leather for shoes, jackets, and purses will save you money in the long run because you won’t have to replace them every few months or every year. More expensive real gold and silver jewelry in classic or not-trend-specific styles will also last longer and won’t bend or break easily. Going with silver and gold may also be better for your health, as lots of cheap bling coming "from overseas" is not properly regulated and may include cadmium and other dangerous metals.

8. Sunglasses

stylish sunglasses
Photo by Katarzyna Kos on Unsplash
Polarized sunglasses

"Polarized sunglasses. They're much cheaper than cataracts surgery." — ravish

Sunglasses really do protect your eye health, and cataract surgery costs about $3,400 per eye if you pay out of pocket. So, paying more for a good pair of sunnies is an investment in your health — and in your style!

Believe it or not, I've had the very same pair of Ray Ban Wayferer Sunglasses for nearly seven years. They wear nicely, they're undeniably timeless, and they make a cheap t-shirt and blue jeans look cool!

9. Mattress

Endy mattress
Photo by Endy
A good mattress makes a massive difference in your sleep quality and life

"A good mattress. You spend ~⅓ of the time in your bed. Totally worth it!" — LordLeim

Like a good pillow, a good mattress makes a massive difference in your sleep quality and life. If you can’t afford a new mattress right now but need an upgrade, then start by getting a puffy mattress pad. When you’re ready to get a new mattress, think of it as an investment in your well-being, and take the time to really try it out. You can go to stores to test mattresses and see which bed lulls you to sleep the fastest- but there are also great options available online. For example, Endy ships you a mattress compressed inside of a remarkably small box, and it comes with a long trial period and a great return policy if you find it doesn't work for you.

10. Wine and Champagne

champagne glasses on an ocean background
Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash
Charm your friends and lessen your hangover

“You don't have to spend $50 a bottle. But a decent méthode champenoise bottle will charm your friends and lessen your hangover.” — fwowit

Low-end wine and highly sugary drinks like champagne can cause horrendous hangovers that will seriously cramp your style the next day. When it comes to vino, especially at the lower end, every dollar doubles the quality. That’s a reasonable cost to avoid needless suffering.

11. Kitchen Knives

Slicing an onion with a nice kitchen knife
Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash
Good knives are worth the investment

"A good set of kitchen knives." — Fuzzwy

Cheap knives scratch your dishes, get dull quickly, can't cut food properly, and make a bloody mess of your kitchen and your hands. On the flipside, good knives are worth the investment: they can last upwards of 30 years and resist rust and staining easily with proper care. Time is money — and a good knife will save you so much time that it will pay for itself 100x over before it needs replacing.

This 18-piece knife set by Chicago Cutlery has — at the time of this writing — 289 reviews with with an average of five stars.

12. Designer or Custom Clothing

stylish woman in black dress
Photo by Nicklas Bajema on Unsplash
You need to buy what you love

"You need to buy what you love.  But cost per wear is the metric I use for determining value." — LoriM

Getting a high-quality dress or jacket in durable materials and expert construction is worth the cost every time. If you buy a $600 designer suit in a timeless or not specifically trendy style, you can easily get over a decade of use out of it. That suit might get 300 wears in 15 years, costing about $2 per wear. You only need a few designer pieces in your closet; even a single designer element can elevate a jeans-and-t-shirt look with ease. And a good-quality fitted suit from a custom tailor will last years and will make you feel like a million bucks, whether you're wearing it to work, a fancy event, or impressing your date.

13. Cheese

beautiful cheese display
Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash
Good cheese is one of the greatest pleasures in life!

"It's a cardinal sin to buy cheap Parmesan cheese." — another_one

A good cheese can change your entire day. It can also change the cheapest, simplest dish into manna from heaven. Awesome parm can create a bomb risotto or turn a pasta with just olive oil into one of the best things you’ve ever eaten. Ever tried a fresh burrata? Baked brie with garlic slivers and jam? Blue cheese with sautéed pear? You won't be disappointed.

14. Toilet Paper

Toilet paper
Room 76/Shutterstock
Nobody likes one-ply. Nobody.

"Toilet paper" — Matthme

Wiping your hiney with single-ply paper is like rubbing your bum with sandpaper — and frankly it takes more paper to get the job done. This actually makes buying thinner ply less economical than buying thicker, softer TP, unless of course you own a fancy fanny-cleaning gadget like a bidet.

For $69 you could also buy a Tushy bidet, which attaches to most toilets. You'll majorly cut your toilet paper usage and boast a cleaner butt to boot. If I can be serious for a moment, I recently purchased a Tushy , and it's probably the most magical $69 I've ever spent.

15. Tattoos

Woman with a tattooed arm holding yellow flowers
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
You get what you pay for

"Tattoos. You get what you pay for. That sh%t is on you for life unless you get it covered or lasered." — edwardshinyskin

Some services just turn out better when done by pros and not by your emo cousin or her friend. A true tattoo artist will give you an opinion on your design idea and draw up a rough draft before they ink you. Don’t let yourself be pushed around by someone’s crazy artsy vision, though! Visit a few tattoo parlors before you make a decision, and be prepared to pay for quality.

16. Eye Surgery

Operation on the eye surgery
Perhaps you shouldn't be choosing the doctor offering two for the price of one?

"Lasik eye surgery." — wjbc

According to the American Refractive Surgery Council, the results of this 10-minute surgery are expected to last forever, with only a slight degeneration in vision over many years if your eyes happen to get a bit worse. Still, they’ll never go back to being as bad as before the surgery. This surgery has really changed lives and is able to give vision to people who are practically legally blind.

17. Condiments

woman in red jacket dressing food with ketchup
Photo by Matt Heaton on Unsplash
Turn bland into bliss

"Dip for your fries. Every time." — EnoughHorses

Whether you’re into a classic American ketchup, fancy French mustard, tangy mayo, or gourmet pine nut pesto (is there any other kind?), having your favourite dips at home can turn the blandest dishes into pure bliss.

18. Headphones

white and gold beats headphones
Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash
Beats by Dre

“What's the point of listening to music if you're not able to hear it?” — Gigivdv

Excellent question. Frankly, if you love music then you can really only enjoy it if it’s coming from a decent pair of headphones or from a good speaker. Instead of spending $30 for a cheap pair of headphones every few months, you can shell out the $150 for the only ones you’ll ever need. With a little research, you can buy your audio equipment when it’s on sale or even go for second-hand (for speakers, that is).

The Beats Solo 3 Wireless Headphones shown in the picture above have four and a half stars and over 1650 reviews on Amazon at the time of this writing.

19. Helmet

Mother attaching her daughters cycling helmet on a sunny day
Whether you’re on a bicycle, scooter, or motorbike, a good helmet can save your life

"Helmet. Get the better one." — A40

This is nearly self-explanatory: whether you’re on a bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle, a good helmet can save your life. You should be taking extra precautions if you're riding faster than 50 mph, as a crash is exponentially more dangerous. Consider a helmet with a full-face covering if you’re riding a motorcycle.

The Schwinn Thrasher helmet — at the time of this writing — is the top-rated adult helmet on Amazon.

20. Tools

Wood working tools
Photo by Barn Images on Unsplash
Tools, you get what you pay for, at least most of the time

"Tools, you get what you pay for, at least most of the time. This includes pens, pencils and other drawing tools like compasses and squares. Often this extra money will give you tools that will last your whole life." — Meistermett

If you buy a cheap tool, consider that you will definitely have to replace it. Cheaper tools are made with less hardy materials: they tend to use plastic instead of metal, poorly manufactured parts that break easily, or thinner aluminum or mixed metals instead of tough steel. If you can't afford to buy the hardiest tools right away, then go ahead and pick up your tools for a low price that fits your budget. Since your tools should be with you a long time, it’s best to upgrade to higher-quality tools when your cheap tool breaks. Once a tool breaks, it's a good sign that a more expensive replacement will be worth investing in because you used your cheap tool so much that it's now destroyed!

21. Bicycle

Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash
Keep your bike in good repair

"I once tried to cheap out on a bicycle, and it was just a terrible experience. I finally gave up when the chain snapped unexpectedly. If you're getting a bike, make sure you do some research, and don't just buy the cheapest thing you can find." — FetchFrosh

Cheap bikes are usually manufactured with low-end parts that break or perform worse than those used in more expensive bikes. High-end bikes use durable parts and usually come with better warranties. Keeping your bike in good repair will also make it last longer, so it’s worth it to spend a bit of money on maintenance to keep it rolling along for years.

22. Work Boots

Brown leather work boots on a black background
Garrick Gillette/Shutterstock
Compared to cheap boots, higher-end boots will let you walk longer, will keep your feet warm and dry, and will last for many years

"Work boots" — Drocavelli

We actually wrote an article on The Boots Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness. Compared to cheap boots, higher-end boots will let you walk longer, will keep your feet warm and dry, and will last for many years. Buying an expensive pair could keep your feet dry for many years (depending on how you use them), while cheap pairs would need to be replaced so many times that they would cost more than the expensive pair did to begin with. Leather is a hardy material that can last for a long time with good care. Dan Post Boot Company explains that different boot materials need different care, but all good boots need to be cleaned and conditioned regularly.

The Timberland PRO Pitboss Steel Toe — at the time of this writing — is the top-rated pair of work boots on Amazon.

23. Wiper Blades

Windshield wipers
Photo by Charlie Deets on Unsplash
Wiper blades are some of the cheapest but most important accessories for your car

"Wiper blades for your car. The nice ones last a lot longer and don't make any noise." — number1dork

Wiper blades are some of the cheapest but most important accessories for your car: good ones allow you to see properly in all weather so that your car rolls along safely in all weather conditions. Good wipers hug your windshield as closely and won't lift or freeze. Look for wiper blades made from silicone or coated with graphite.

24. Brake Pads

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
Stopping like a shot can literally save your life

"Auto brake pads...because it [email protected]%king stops your car. Don't cheap out on those. Tires too." — annoyingone

Stopping like a shot can literally save your life, so spend wisely! Brake pads are already cheap, so getting higher-end ones won't break the bank, and they'll perform better for longer than the cheap ones will.

Better quality tires will last you years and give you a much safer, smoother ride, so they too can be worth the extra money. Just make sure to get the right tires for your use and season for best results!

25. A Proper Workstation

Cluttered desk workstation
Photo by Jesus Hilario H. on Unsplash
Keep your workstation organized and accessible

"A good desk chair and keyboard if you spend a lot of your day working at a desk. Or a standing desk." — Prof_Chaos22 points out that office workers spend thousands of hours sitting in a chair at a desk — meaning that a chair can literally make or break you! Choose a chair with an adjustable back support so it can be customized for your body. The experts at also recommend adding an extra low back support to make sure your entire back is resting comfortably against the chair, saving your muscles from having to work so hard to keep you upright. Finally, spend a bit more to get a keyboard that has an adjustable tilt, wrist wrests, or is ergonomically designed for a more natural hand positioning.

Consider this incredibly highly-rated ergonomic wireless keyboard from Logitech .

Knowing when to spend more money is just as important as knowing when to save. Share these smart shopping tips and spread the savvy shopping love!

About the Author

Rona Richardson

Rona Richardson

Freelance Contributor

Rona is a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.