1. Original Art
Maybe it’s because I grew up with my dad being an artist and maybe it’s because I married someone whose mom is also an artist, but I REALLY value original art. I don’t have the hundreds and thousands (yet) to spend on all the fabulous pieces I possibly could want, but I have made it a point to start up our own little art collection.
Luckily for us, with those two artists in our families, we have a pretty awesome connection (and have some lovely pieces done by our own family members in our home). But I also have bought original artwork in El Salvador, and I’ve been eying some fabulous wood pieces by a local artisan for years.
To me, art’s worth the splurge because not only does it brighten your home, but it also makes you appreciate the finer things in life (and the people who are willing to devote thousands upon thousands of hours to perfect an art form).
If your budget, like ours, is limited, try looking for original pieces on Etsy or in a local art show (like Summerfest). Often, you’ll be able to find fabulous works of art at significantly lower costs than you would find at a bigger gallery or a similar venue.
2. Well-Made Antiques
Since becoming a Country Living fanatic, I’ve started really looking into incorporating more antiques into our home. Lucky for me, antique-store shopping is the ONLY shopping besides going to a bookstore that my husband enjoys, so we’ve passed many a happy Saturday browsing through the treasures at the local antiques dealers.
Something I’ve realized since getting married (and starting our own little home) is that many of the furniture and pieces found at chain stores are of a TERRIBLE quality. I can’t tell you how many cheap bookcases or tables I’ve bought from Walmart or Shopko that have quickly fallen apart, gotten scuffed up, or gotten warped.
Most antiques are better-made than many modern pieces, and many times you’ll get lucky with the price as well. The beautiful jewelry box above was found at an antiques place for only $35, and it’s built to last quite awhile.
Unless you only wear tights about once or twice a year, trust me when I say that tights are worth splurging on. From my experience as a missionary (where I had to wear tights or nylons every day) and my dress code as a teacher (where I wear tights probably 2-3 times a week in the winter), I know for a fact that cheap tights are not worth it–they get a run or hole after a few wears or a wash, and then you’re forced to spend another $3-7 to get more. Well-made tights usually cost $15-20 retail price, but if they’re high quality, they last FOREVER (just about anyway).
I’ve had good luck getting nice tights from places like Kohl’s and JCPenney, both of which frequently offer discounts to shoppers who are on their email lists.
When I was younger, I had terrible luck with my skin—I broke out all the time (especially on my cheeks and forehead), my skin got really dry in the winter, and my skin almost always lacked the natural “glow” and “flush” I desired.
Of course, if you looked at the products I was using, it might not come as a surprise—I was buying the cheapest name-brand face wash I could find at the grocery store for $4-5, and I hated the feeling of the cheap facial moisturizer and sunscreen I was using (so I was sporadic in my application of it).
When I hit my mid-20’s, my skin took a turn for the worse, and I felt like it looked dull all the time because it was so dry in the winter and caked with powder in the summer because it got so oily. I’m not normally one to spend a lot on beauty products, but when I went to a Mary Kay party and tried out some of their facial products, I was hooked—my skin finally felt hydrated, and after about 4-5 weeks of consistent use, my skin had never looked better. (In fact, I even considered becoming a Mary Kay rep for awhile about two years ago.)
I really love the TimeWise set by Mary Kay that includes the daily face wash, moisturizer, sunscreen, and night solution. Even though it’s a bit expensive, it’s worth it to me to spend the extra $40-50 (plus I’m good at getting discounts—my MK rep usually does deep discounts 2-3 times a year, and I always wait until those times to order).
5. Classic Coat
Six or seven years ago, I was out shopping with my dad, and we happened to stop in a Banana Republic, where I saw the most beautiful classic black peacoat. Winter was almost over, so the coat was heavily discounted, but even then, it was over $100 (which is WAY more than a cheap-o like me would usually spend on a coat). Lucky for me, my dad loves to spoil me a bit, and he made me try it on and then bought it for me.
I don’t think any other item of clothing I have has gotten even close to the use that that coat has gotten—in the winter, I wear it about 90% of the time, and I think it makes every outfit look instantly more polished.
If you think over the long-term, classic, well-made pieces like this are a better deal than cheaper ones because they won’t wear out or get ruined as quickly, and they will always be in style. I am solidly convinced that every wardrobe needs staples like this.
If you’re worried about the cost (as I always am), look for coats to be deeply discounted starting in about March (or in some stores, even as early as now). If it’s at a store that offers a rewards or loyalty program, you can save even more if you’re a member.
6. “Elegant” Leather Gloves
If you live in a place where it consistently gets below freezing in the winter, you really should invest in a nice pair of gloves. For a long time, I relied on the cheap 99-cent mittens that you can pick up at any drugstore. However, as anyone who wears those mittens knows, they hardly are enough to keep the cold out.
About 5 years ago, I was dating a guy who insisted on buying me some of these beautiful leather gloves as a gift. Even though gloves such as these probably run $25-60 at most department stores, I wear them every day, and they are fantastic because the fingers are skinny enough that I can still do almost everything I can do without gloves on.
They are definitely an item that if you counted up the cost per wear, the cost for me right now is probably at about 1/10th of a cent per wear.
Did I miss anything? What are other things worth splurging a little on?