Managing your money wisely is about more than just spending less. It’s about spending less on the things you don’t need, and more on the things that add true value to your life. Knowing the difference is the tricky part.
While that mostly comes down to individual priorities and preferences, there are certain expenses that just about anyone can benefit from splurging on. Here are some of the most important.
The cost of healthcare in America is notoriously expensive, but that’s not a reason to avoid signing up for health insurance. If you don’t have insurance and need to visit a doctor, you may end up paying thousands or even tens of thousands in medical bills.
Worse, you may skip checkups and screening tests just to avoid the expense. Regular physicals and blood work can prevent minor issues from turning into major problems.
Even signing up for a high-deductible plan is better than having no coverage. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for a subsidy through the Healthcare Marketplace.
You don’t need to run to urgent care every time you feel a strange bump or have a cold, but it’s wise to be aware of your health. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, pay attention to your readings. If you have several grandparents who died of colon cancer, ask your doctor if you should start colon screenings early.
Almost every health problem is less expensive to fix in the early stages. Waiting may only exacerbate the cost – and worsen the outcome.
Investing in your mental health may seem like a luxury, but it can greatly improve your quality of life. Seeing a therapist or using prescription medication can reduce your anxiety and depression, along with improving both your personal and professional life.
For example, if you suffer from social anxiety, you may avoid networking events or dates. But if you find a therapist who specializes in social anxiety, you could start to become more comfortable in these situations.
Thankfully, mental health care doesn’t need to break the bank. There are plenty of ways to save money on mental health while still getting the care you need.
Exercise and Diet
Whether you pay for a personal trainer or spend thousands on a Peloton, investing in a regular exercise habit can pay off. Exercising for three hours a week can reduce mortality by 27%.
Being at a healthy weight can also affect how much you pay for health insurance premiums. If a doctor has marked your weight as a risk factor, a health insurance company may assume you’re at a higher chance of needing more medical care – and charge you higher premiums as a result.
Weight also plays a significant role in how much you pay for life insurance. Life insurance providers often require a medical exam to look at your weight, blood work and other factors.
Life insurance providers separate customers into four categories based on health, ranging from healthiest to least healthy: preferred plus, preferred, standard plus and standard. According to insurance provider PolicyGenius, a customer in the preferred plus category will pay $28 a month on average for a $500,000, 20-year policy.
A person in the standard class will pay $48.38 a month. After 20 years, that adds up to $4,891.20 more paid than the person in the preferred plus class.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us realized how much we were spending on going out with our friends. As the world is starting to reopen, some consumers are hesitant to reopen their wallets.
But don’t use frugality as a reason to avoid seeing your friends. Research shows that people with strong social connections may live longer and they have fewer mental health problems than those without. one study found that loneliness has the same negative effect on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Make a line item in your budget for social activities and think of it as an investment in your physical and mental health. If you’re feeling strapped for cash, invite your friends over for potlucks, game nights and backyard barbeques.
There’s an old saying: “Always spend money on what separates you from the ground: shoes, tires, and mattresses.”
But many consumers avoid spending money on a good mattress. The reason is simple: even cheap mattresses cost hundreds of dollars. Spending $700 on a mattress when you could find one for $200 seems excessive.
But when you spend a third of your life lying down on something, it makes sense to splurge a bit when buying it. Better sleep quality can boost your immune system, decrease anxiety and improve cognitive function.
Some people are lucky enough to work for companies that invest in their professional development. If this doesn’t describe your office, you’ll have to pay for continuing education yourself.
Going to a conference, graduate school or seminar can be expensive, but investing in your career often has a great ROI. It can help you learn the skills you need to get a promotion or find a better job at a different company. If you’re trying to switch industries, attending a conference can allow you to make new connections in your field.
In some cases, you can deduct continuing education and professional development expenses on your taxes – even if your employer didn’t require or suggest them.
After you graduate from college and start working, you realize how much time is left in the day after you come home from work. Investing in your hobbies will make you happier and more fulfilled because they offer the opportunity to build a sense of purpose outside work.
Don’t feel pressure to monetize your hobbies or choose something related to your career. Think about what you like to do for fun and pursue that passion freely. If possible, choose hobbies that involve other people or exercise, both of which will boost your mood.