6 Services Worth Paying Extra for to Save Money in the Long Run

Quick Answer

It’s wise to look for opportunities to save money and stick to your budget, but there are times when paying a bit extra is absolutely worth it. When it comes to these six services, think twice before you go with the cheapest option since it could end up costing you far more in the long run.

Happy little boy pointing at something in the distance while enjoying on balcony with his mother during summer day.

Being frugal is a wonderful way to stretch your budget in the short term, but it's smart to think twice before always going with the cheapest option on purchases.

Some cost-cutting measures have little to no risk, like buying generic groceries instead of brand name, or canceling unused subscriptions. Other forms of scrimping may have short-term benefits—but could result in severe and costly consequences down the road. This is especially common with professional services.

Here are six services it's often best to pay a little extra for upfront. With greater peace of mind, protection and savings in the long run, your future self will thank you.

1. Plumber

Plumbing requires a significant amount of training and expertise. Plumbers spend years learning the complexities of installing and repairing piping systems and fixtures, and they have advanced tools and equipment at their disposal.

You might be fine unclogging a toilet yourself or having a general handyman fix a leaky sink. But for bigger issues, failing to pay for a licensed professional can lead to damage and flooding that costs far more. Even if you have to dip into your emergency fund, it's better to ensure the plumbing is done right the first time to avoid more expensive problems later.

Look for plumbers licensed in your state; you can typically contact your state to verify there aren't complaints against them. Request proof of insurance and references.

For basic plumbing jobs, it typically costs $45 to $200 an hour, plus parts, though rates can double for nights or weekends. But when compared to the cost of replacing a flooded carpet or wood floor due to a shoddy job for an unlicensed plumber (or overeager DIY-er), the cost could well be worth it.

2. Contractor

Everyone loves a good home improvement project—except the many homeowners who have had contractors ghost them after payment, do shoddy work or go way past schedule.

So what's a homeowner to do? For some basic projects and handiwork with low financial risk, you could DIY it. Tasks like painting, landscaping, changing a showerhead or staining a fence are doable for beginners with some research and a visit to a home improvement store. If you mess up, it may not be too expensive or difficult to fix.

For larger projects or repairs, always use a trained, certified professional. You might feel pulled to try it yourself or hire a low-cost general handyman, but the costs associated with mess-ups can be massive to fix since homebuilding and renovation materials, and labor, aren't cheap. Plus, quality work lasts longer and will pay off if you sell the home.

When looking for a reputable contractor, collect bids from multiple businesses, and don't go with a low-ball bid. Look for contractors with professional addresses, licenses, certificates and proof of insurance. Carefully read reviews online, look them up on the Better Business Bureau and ask for references. Don't go with someone who requires a large upfront payment or who doesn't know what's required for permits (or asks you to handle it).

3. Hair Coloring

If you've been using the same, reliable boxed hair dye at home for years, cheers to you. But if you want a major color change or highlights, think very carefully before trying it yourself or using a cheap, inexperienced provider to pinch pennies. Remember all the hair disasters during the pandemic lockdowns while salons were shuttered? It turns out there's a lot of science behind hair color, and a bad dye job will haunt you daily.

If you try yourself or use an inexperienced stylist, you risk damage to your hair and poor results. Sometimes these mistakes can be fixed, but it can take a lot of time and money. Getting high-quality, professional hair color isn't cheap, but top-notch salons will do it right the first time.

Look for professionals or salons with a large amount of positive reviews, before and after photos and years of experience. It also helps to ask for recommendations from trusted locals.

4. Caregivers for Loved Ones

The cost of professional caregiving is pricey, whether we're talking senior care, child care or even pet care. Sometimes you can score a great deal from a quality service provider, like if someone you already know and trust offers a reduced rate. But in general, this isn't the time to go cheap since the life of your loved ones is literally in this person's hands.

It can be worth paying a little extra to find someone who's more qualified and experienced, and perhaps has additional training and certifications. Make sure to ask for references and run a background check, or use an agency that handles this part for you.

5. Travel

Sometimes, quality travel companies do offer legitimate sales. But in general, with many travel services, you get what you pay for.

Sometimes the lowest-priced option is fine, but there are also horror stories galore, like people showing up to Airbnbs that don't exist. When you book the cheapest car rentals, hotels, cruises, vacation rentals or flights, you run risks such as poor quality and service, lower standards of safety and cleanliness, and possibly hefty and sneaky fees.

A vacation is a hard-earned, well-deserved treat. Sure, the cheapest cruise available is affordable, but is it really worth it if the food is bad, the cabin is uncomfortable and there's nothing fun to do?

You can help protect yourself with travel purchases by carefully reading reviews, researching and asking for recommendations and by purchasing travel insurance.

6. Insurance

Speaking of insurance, this is another service you shouldn't skimp on. Nearly all states require drivers to hold liability insurance, but optional, more robust protection costs extra. It can be tempting to go with the minimum, especially if you might never need it.

Now imagine accidentally backing your car into a parking garage column, or finding that your car has been broken into and vandalized. If you only paid for liability insurance and declined comprehensive or collision insurance, you're likely on the hook for all repairs. Some car insurance also lacks coverage for bodily injury should you or your passenger be hurt in a wreck.

The same goes for flood insurance, since flood damage isn't usually covered by regular homeowners insurance. Those in flood-prone areas are often required to buy it, but it's optional in less risky locations. But flooding—the most common and expensive natural disaster in America—can happen anywhere, especially as climate change accelerates. When Hurricane Harvey walloped Texas in 2017, tens of thousands of homes flooded and were severely damaged or destroyed. An estimated 80% of these flood victims lacked flood insurance, many due to the cost or not thinking they were at risk. They had to rely on personal savings and government assistance, or whatever else they could scrape together. Spending more on insurance now, even if you never end up needing it, can save your finances in the future.

The Bottom Line

It might not feel bad to pay up on a hair color you love seeing in the mirror daily, or on a caregiver who improves your loved one's life. It's a lot less fun to cough up money on services that don't feel as enjoyable or rewarding, like plumbing or flood insurance. Just remember that the point of paying more upfront is that it's less likely you'll have to spend (possibly more) money later to fix mistakes from a cheap provider or DIY.

If paying for one of these services exceeds your budget, you could find other ways to make your money go further, or swap what services you do and don't pay for. For example, say you pay for professional lawn care; consider switching to mowing yourself to save money and put that savings toward services where quality is paramount.