Often times frugal people have a hard time parting with their money. I'm no exception. It is hard. It contradicts your nature, and what seems “normal” to you. However, their are times where spending a little money upfront will save you a lot of money long term.
A couple of good case in points are cell phones without contracts, tv services, or renewable energy sources. All of them come with a large upfront investment and either no or a small monthly fee. However, if amortized over the life of the product, the total average costs will have you saving money vs not making any change at all (aka being lazy).
I feel (and Mrs. Thrifty will attest to this) like I'm constantly looking for ways to save money, scale back, or stretch each dollar further and further. It's just how my brain is wired. :)
With that said, I came up with five ideas of products that require you to purchase something in order to save money long term.
- Nest home system – this product was recently bought out by Google, and is one of those ideal products that require an upfront investment, but promise 20% monthly utility savings. The product learns about habits, what time you are at home, is programmable at home or remotely, and can help you save a lot of money long term. At $249, the intital investment is quite hefty. However, if your average furnace utility bill is $100/month, then this product would pay for itself in just over 12 months (if typical savings is applicable to your home). I personally don't own this device, but have been very close to buying it a couple of times when it was listed on sale. I'm thinking about asking for this for Christmas!
- Republic Wireless – I've been using Republic Wireless for over 6 months now, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. With unlimited data, texting, and phone services for $30. My previous cell coverage for 2GB of data, 450 minutes, and 1000 texts/month was costing me $84/month ($1008 per year). With Republic Wireless, I bought the cell for $299, and pay $32/month. In about 8 months I'll have broken even and after 2 years I'll have saved almost $1000 if I had stayed with my previous provider. This is a great example of where it pays to pay a little extra money up front to save money long term.
- Pre-Paying Insurance (six months or a year) – when we weren't on an even payment plan we use to pay six months of insurance at a time. This would be a large sum of money, but often times we'd get 5-10% discount on premiums. 5-10% is a lot better rate that I could get on any money market fund, so it was an obvious choice.
- Ooma home phone service – when I decided to write this article, Ooma is the exact product I thought of. We plopped down $200 initial for the Ooma base unit, but since month 6 we've stacked on the savings month over month. So far over the last 2.5 years we've saved $700+ vs our old phone provider.
- Hybrid car – now this expense is debatable, since hybrids are typically more expensive then standard cars. It really comes down to a multitude of factors. They include 1) average price of gas over the life of owning your car, 2) average miles driven per month or year, and 3) difference in price between a standard car and hybrid. Typically you can recover your costs in about 4 years, by purchasing a hybrid, and by year 4 you'll start stacking on the savings.
These are just a few ideas to help you get start on saving on the small stuff by spending a little money up front. I'd love to hear from our readers on what products you purchased or plan to purchase to save your family money long term.