Last Updated Jul 14, 2010 6:04 PM EDT
Often, we're just kidding ourselves - it just makes sense to go for the lower-priced alternative, especially if you're in the market to save. But believe it or not, some merchandise (and some memberships) can be be well worth the splurge. Here are five examples, including some ways to save on the splurge:
1. Designer Perfume
Lusting after a $100 per ounce eau de parfum? If you purchase and commit to just this one bottle, you can potentially save close to $50 over the course of two years. How? Cheap scents aren't formulated to last. At best, they'll last a good two or three months before becoming distorted or running empty because you've been spritzing so much to get the same high-end effect.
Higher-quality fragrances tend to contain higher-grade oils and less alcohol, so that the scent lasts longer and does not become distorted during the day or over time in the bottle, according to Polly Blitzer, founder of BeautyBlitz.com. Splurging on a pricey classic eau de toilette can last you at least two years (or 15 cents a spritz) when used once day. With the cheap stuff, you'll be running back to the designer-imposters counter four times a year.
Savings tip: Add more life to the perfume by requesting a few free samples of the scent. You can use them before moving on to your actual bottle.
2. Unlimited Music Plans
Services like Rhapsody and Napster, which offer unlimited music for a monthly fee, can be worth the splurge if you're a major music lover. You pay $10 or $15 for Rhapsody's unlimited music streaming, for example - but if you're buying 20 songs a month off iTunes or in stores, you're already spending north of $20. You have to pay extra to actually download the music files - but if that's OK by you, Rhapsody can save you at least $5 a month and get you tons more songs. Potential savings: $60 a year.
3. Quality Sneakers
If you're an avid runner, high-quality sneakers are more likely to wear better and last longer because of high-end construction and support. Most shoes over $80 are considered performance running and generally will last between 350-500 miles, depending on the size of the runner and the surface they're running on, according to Dan Griffin, a rep for Brooks Sports. At best, that's just a little more than 6 cents per mile. Good running shoes are designed to protect you from injury. For example, they may better cushion the repetitive pounding that would otherwise wear on your joints. Cheap sneakers on the other hand, may mean spending more money down the road to repair the aches and pains ... not to mention calluses and blisters.
Savings tip: Ask the salesperson for shoes with "improved cushioning and stability." Those are the keywords that mean "quality." Generally, the higher the price, the more cushion and/or stability the shoe will provide. Then, test-run the shoes outside the store for a bit. This isn't a purchase you want to do in a hurry. Invest at least a half-hour in making sure they offer comfort and fit.
4. Video Game Rental Clubs
Have kids who go bananas over the newest and latest games? At Gamefly you can rent two games at a time for $23 a month. If you normally buy at least five games in a year (at $60 a pop), you would actually end up saving you around $24 a year at Gamefly and you can play dozens more games.
Savings tip: First-time members can sometimes get a trial run that's either free or much lower than the standard fee. For example, at Gamefly, if you sign up for a 1-year gift certificate (2 games out a time) you get 20% off the regular price, so it'll cost you around $18 a month, instead of $23.
Photo courtesy Tibchris' photostream
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