We caught up with Mike Sullivan, chief education officer for non-profit credit counseling agency Take Charge America, to hear his tips on how to spend a little more to save money in the long run. Here are his suggestions for savvy spending on common household bills.
"Cheap health insurance is a bet that you can go all year with no serious health problems," explains Sullivan. "But high-deductible plans mean that you can lose a lot of money with only one injury or hospital stay." Spend a little more on your monthly health insurance costs to avoid a giant bill if something goes wrong, particularly if you don't have a lot of money in savings.
Sending in an extra $100 to your mortgage company each month can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage. "That $100 goes straight to the principal and decreases the amount of your mortgage quickly, potentially turning a 30-year mortgage into a 25-year mortgage," said Sullivan.
Childcare is certainly expensive, but Sullivan is adamant that it's not a place to cut back on spending. "A better childcare experience can eliminate the need for later remediation and enrichment activities," particularly because kids go through most of their brain development before the age of 5. It's more important to spend money on high-quality early education than on private school or enrichment activities for older kids.
"It will cost more to buy a hybrid, but you will save on gasoline each month that you own the car," says Sullivan. You can expect to pay $100 more per month, but you will likely save far more than that on fuel expenses, unless you drive very little. Not only that, hybrid cars have a higher resale value when it's time to trade in.
Sullivan states that opting into expensive fresh foods can actually reduce your health expenses over time. Increase your food budget by $50 each month so you can buy high-quality fresh foods to stave off illness and weight gain that can cost you big later in life.
"Seriously. An extra $50 on a pair of work shoes can make a huge difference," says Sullivan. The extra $50 will pay for itself 10 times over by reducing ankle and back pain and eliminating the need for surgical or chiropractic intervention to fix pain caused by low-quality shoes.
Spend more on the items that you truly love — like wine, lattes and chocolate bars. "Sinful pleasures should be savored and enjoyed infrequently," says Sullivan. You're more likely to enjoy and appreciate your sinful pleasures if you spend the money to purchase what you really want, rather than throwing away money every day on a terrible cup of coffee.
Finally, don't skimp on your home internet. Sullivan states that it's wise to spend money on high-speed internet so you can stream movies and TV shows through services like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Doing so will allow you to drop your cable service for a savings of at least $50 per month.
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