The Fru-Gal: A list of items that are worth splurging on

Mattress section at the Sears off Saron Drive at Tates Creek in Lexington.
Mattress section at the Sears off Saron Drive at Tates Creek in Lexington. Herald-Leader

Is there ever a time when a frugal person doesn't go for the lowest priced item? Of course. Being frugal doesn't mean that you are cheap. It means you try to find the best value for your hard-earned money.

I look at many factors when I shop. Spending a little more on an item could save me money when I don't need to replace it. Apparently this trait was popular with other family members. As a frugal do-it-yourselfer, my tools are important to me. Many were passed down to me from my dad, who clearly knew that quality and name brand were worth spending a little more money on.

I am not suggesting you go out and buy the highest-priced item you can find because it has to be the best, but be aware of the workmanship that went into the items you purchase. Check out sales to save money on the high-priced items. Take your time to do your homework, making smart purchases from the beginning.

Here are a few other examples of when price and quality matter most:

Shoes. Buying shoes that don't fit well but were on sale isn't smart. With shoes I say stay on budget, but look for comfort and how they are made. It's really important to get a proper fit with athletic shoes. Doing so will likely help you prevent injury.

Mattress. A good night's sleep is so important. It affects your daily performance at work and your daily attitude. You don't have to purchase a mattress every year. The average mattress lasts about eight or nine years, so taking the time to find the right fit is important..

Light bulbs. It is so easy to buy a $2 four-pack of incandescent bulbs, which may seem like a better deal compared to $2 to $15 a piece for compact fluorescent bulbs. But the fluorescent bulbs could use about $130 less in energy costs per bulb over their lifetimes, according to

Start saving money by swapping your five most frequently used light fixtures with Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent bulbs.

Backpacks. When my kids were little we purchased those cute superhero backpacks. But, as they got older and had more books to carry, scrimping on a quality backpack just didn't work. I made sure I got a good quality backpack on sale. I looked at how it was stitched and what type of fabric was used in it. It doesn't pay to buy a backpack every three months during a school year.

Winter coat. I grew up in the Northeast, where the last thing you wanted was a winter coat that didn't keep you warm. Style was important, but in the long run, function was the major factor. As an adult, one great winter coat would last me many years. For younger kids, it is important to get a good quality coat, but remember it's likely that the child won't be wearing it next year because he or she will have grown out of it.

Basic wardrobe pieces. The little black dress is considered essential to any woman's wardrobe. But many wardrobe pieces are trendy, making them obsolete quickly. Spend your money on a well-made piece or two and change its look with your accessories.

Furniture. Cheap furniture isn't worth buying. You should buy furniture based on how long you plan to live in a specific place, and how frequently you'll use a piece. However, if you move regularly, then less durable, easily replaced furniture can be better than large, long-lasting pieces.

Overall though, it makes more sense to buy long-lasting, timeless pieces that are sturdy enough to move with you than to buy something new every time you move, or every time a piece falls apart.

Some savings ideas:

  • Through the month of September register to get a free week of yoga classes at participating locations in celebration of National Yoga Month. Your free yoga card can be used through Oct. 30.
  • Customize a Disney decal with your stick figure family members and names and then select their favorite Disney items and a background of your choosing.
  • Hyundai is giving away free NCAA college football stickers. There are 17 teams to choose from. Available while supplies last.
  • Sprint is celebrating the merger of DIRECTV and AT&T by offering DIRECTV customers who switch to Sprint a free year of service. Current Sprint customers can also receive a free year by adding a new line of service. Offer is good through September.
  • Sam's Club is hosting a free diabetes health screening for members and the public at all Sam's Club locations with a pharmacy from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The screenings are valued at $250.
  • Before canning season, bring your canner lid gauge to the Fayette County Extension Office, 1140 Red Mile Place to have it tested for free. Just stop by from 8 a.m. to 4 :30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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