Spending Money to Save Money: Purchases That Pay You Back Over Time

14 Jan

Spending Money to Save Money: Purchases That Pay You Back Over Time


Sometimes it’s true that you’ve got to spend money to save money. Let’s look at some things you can buy that may seem price prohibitive at first but which will pay you back over the long term.

A Smartphone

Smartphones, on both the Android and iOS platforms, are expensive to buy outright and cost even more over the long term when you purchase them on a plan. However, because of the incredible amount of productivity you can get out of one, smartphones may be a great investment that will pay you back over the years.

If you use your smartphone to answer emails, go online shopping or any of the other tasks that you would normally use your home computer for, then you may be prolonging the life of your other devices by using the smartphone. Additionally, depending on how you use it, a smartphone can take the place of other things that you would otherwise buy, such as a calculator, set of maps, compass, flashlight, stopwatch and other things that can be substituted by an app.

A Filtered Water Bottle

How much money do you spend buying bottled water? Though American tap water is safe to drink, as a culture we’ve begun purchasing bottled drinks, and water, at a fast pace. It’s not cheap. Save money by purchasing a filtered water bottle instead. You’ll get the pure taste of filtered water, save money and reduce the amount of trash you generate in throwing disposable bottles away.

Smart Power Strips

If your home is like most households nowadays you have a variety of gadgets that demand electricity. On any given day you need to plug in kitchen appliances, home cleaning appliances, lights, computers, hand-held devices, entertainment systems, etc. And, if you leave these plugged in when not in use — and who doesn’t? — you’re allowing them to draw electricity even when you’re not at home. A smart power strip, which allows each outlet to be turned on and off separately, will allow you the convenience of having many things plugged in at once while also allowing you to save energy and therefore money.

A Coffee Machine

We already mentioned that Americans spend too much on bottled water each year. But that’s not even close to the amount that we spend on coffee. In 2012, it was reported that Americans spent about $1,000 a year on their morning coffee — fully half what they spent on lunches over a year. However, brewing coffee at home doesn’t cost much at all. If you’re one of the ones who make several trips a day to a cafe for to-go cappuccinos, it makes much better sense money wise to splurge on an upmarket coffee machine and make your joe at home.

A High-Efficiency Washing Machine and Refrigerator

We discussed turning the electrical appliances in your home off at the outlet to save money. However, most of us never unplug our refrigerators or washing machines, for good reason. These appliances need to be plugged in, and will always draw electricity. If you invest in energy-efficient models of these appliances, you’ll save money on electricity and water usage. Depending on the rates in your area, it should be easy to see a return on these products in a few years’ of use.


If you mostly use your car for familiar journeys to the store or the office, you probably already know the best and most efficient way to get from point A to point B. But, if you find yourself checking your position on a road map or on your smartphone’s map app regularly, it might help you save money to buy a GPS. Not only will GPS devices tell you the way to drive so that you spend less time trying to figure it out, but the units usually track the most efficient routes, helping you drive less miles between destinations and saving you money in wear and tear on your car and tires and money for gas.

Time with Experts

Another thing that is worth spending money on, with the idea of getting more money back later, is time spent seeking expert opinions. Though you can do your taxes by yourself, people usually find they get a better refund if they consult an accountant. Though you might be able to lose weight on your own, a physical trainer gets you on the right track faster. Learning new subjects, and motivating yourself to be a better, more successful person is always worth the money and will often pay you back before you expect.

About the Author: Maria Johnson is a counselor and financial planner who assists disadvantaged households considering bankruptcy.