Illustration: Lan Truong

Spending to Save
I always ask the guests on my podcast about their top splurges; after all, what’s the point of working hard if you can’t enjoy your money? People’s answers range from deep-tissue massages to flight upgrades. And it wasn’t a huge shocker when Nate Berkus confessed that he spares no expense on furniture.

It may sound counter to the “Save! Save! Save!” mantra, but splurging can make financial sense—for instance, if it pays dividends in the long run or increases your health and happiness. In other cases, we’re better served by pinching pennies and banking the extra cash. Here’s when to go big and when to hold back.

Worth It: A Quality Mattress

A good night’s rest starts with a well-made mattress. If you have the cash, says Sean Fry, founder of, go with one that’s 100 percent certified organic. Regular mattresses may be treated with flame retardants like organohalogens, which have been linked to disrupted thyroid function. Plus, organic mattresses are biodegradable. Expect to spend around $3,000 for a king-size.

13%: Amount your mortality risk increases if you get less than six hours of zzz’s per night.

59¢: Cost per day—or, more accurately, per night—of a standard $1,500 mattress, if you follow the Better Sleep Council’s advice to replace it every seven years or so.

Photo: Lake: Xantana/iStock

Worth It: Rewarding Moments
Whether it’s a yoga retreat or tickets to a symphony, spending on events and adventures can make us happier overall. A San Francisco State University study found that “people enjoy greater well-being from life experiences.” To get the most bang for your buck, book far in advance: “There’s a lot of joy in planning and anticipation,” says financial psychologist Brad Klontz.

Illustration: Lan Truong

Worth It: Green Tech and Appliances
Sustainable household appliances can yield financial benefits: A new Energy Star–certified washer could cut up to $45 annually from your utility bills, and a 2015 study found that installing solar panels can save homeowners in America’s 50 largest cities an average of $44 to $187 per month in the first year. In some cities, paying cash for solar panels offers a bigger monetary gain than investing in the stock market (specifically the S&P 500 index) over 25 years.

Illustration: Lan Truong

Not Worth It: A Gown for The Big Day
Research firm Edited found that, on average, stores charge nearly four times more for a white “bridal” dress than a regular white dress. Happily, online retailer ASOS offers wedding dresses starting at under $100. And preloved gowns are sold on and

Illustration: Lan Truong

Not Worth It: Massive Home or Student Loan
Your mortgage bill, plus real estate taxes and home insurance, shouldn’t eat up more than 30 percent of your take-home income. For student loans, aim to limit your balance to what you expect to make your first year out of school. To lessen the burden, sign up for automatic payments, which can typically deliver a 0.25 percent reduction on the interest.

Photo: y_carfan/iStock

Not Worth It: Luxury Cars
The $77,600 sticker price on that shiny BMW 6 Series may seem to represent divine quality and safety. But a significant portion of that price is purely about the logistics of production, including the cost to ship the car from an overseas factory. “At the end of the day,” says Brian Moody, executive editor of, “you’ll get to work just as well in a standard vehicle made in the U.S.”

$58,985: Approximate amount it could cost you over five years (considering fuel, maintenance, and repairs) to own a 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 luxury sedan, according to Compare that with:

2016 Toyota Camry (XLE trim level)

2016 Honda Accord sedan (E-XL with Navigation and Honda Sensing trim level)
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.