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In college, we are forced to live off of Easy Mac, $5 Hungry Howie’s pizzas and cheap bottles of wine. All of which often lead to that “Freshmen 15” and terrible hangovers (read: the effects of drinking cheap wine).

Once we enter that “working world” (see “The Real World”), we are able to spend a little more money on things. Obviously, post graduation doesn’t immediately translate to massive wads of money lying around, but it does enable us to “treat” ourselves far more often than before.

When deciding to “splurge” on something…here are three things you should never cheap out on:

Number One
What You Wear
You can still dress fabulously while spending frugally. There are several consignment shops that have great finds with even greater prices. The wonderful thing about consignment shops is that they often have brand new items (of great value) with the tags still on. Several celebrities are now flocking to thrift shops and consignment shops for great vintage pieces to add to the never-ending wardrobe in their 400 square foot closets. But, if you do decide to dabble in the consignment shop world, only spend money on items that are a great deal. If you find a ‘barely used’ Sue Wong dress for $10, definite purchase. If you find a pair of ‘barely used’ Steve Maddens for $10, definite pass.

The problem about buying cheap clothes (and shoes) is that you will buy them far more often. You always should have a few staple pieces in your closet that are items you’ve spent far too much on but are also items you know will last years beyond their prime.

Number Two
What you Drink
If the old adage, “You get what you pay for” was ever considered true in any circumstance, it’s this one. One of my favorite drinks of choice is a vodka water with three limes. For one, the calories are minimal, but for two, the taste (when combined with good vodka) is unbeatable for a liquor drink. The clincher here is “good vodka.”

In college, my roommates and I bought vodka often. We’d “pregame” before going out to the bars, which usually consisted of several vodka and cranberry or rum and diet drinks. Every morning after, I woke up with the utmost of hangovers. At the time, I attributed it to the amount of alcohol I drank. Now, I definitely attribute those horrible morning afters to the type of alcohol I was drinking. We were living on a budget, so our alcohol cabinet usually consisted of plastic bottles of Albertson’s brand spirits. We should have known it wasn’t a good idea when it was sold in a plastic bottle.

My other guilty pleasure is a great glass of red wine, preferably something bold in flavor and full in body. This, my friends, is something you NEVER, EVER go cheap on. I will forgive you for purchasing cheap vodka or a cheap pair of jeans, but I cannot forgive you for cheap wine. If you want to avoid that back of the throat burning and that terrible hangover feeling the next morning, avoid (at all costs) cheap wine.

The tannins are much richer in good wine, and the wine making process is much more in-depth which produces a much better flavor but also a much higher price tag. You can still nab a good bottle for $15 or $17, but I dare go cheaper…you’ll pay for it the next day. I promise.

Number Three
What you Eat
Compare eating a good burger at a decent restaurant to eating a cheeseburger from the dollar menu at McDonald’s.  The first, you may pay $10 for, but you’re getting a better cut of meat that’s made to order, more options (as far as toppings are concerned) and you walk away with a full belly. The second, you pay $1.07 (including tax) and you get a frozen patty that was heated up slapped in between two pieces of government cheese, some diced onions and ketchup, and you walk away with heartburn and an upset stomach.

As kids, we constantly heard “You are what you eat!”

Would you enjoy being considered something sold on the dollar menu at McDonald’s?

Enjoy the good things in life. There are plenty of ways to save money these days. Cut back. Cook at home instead of going out. Bring your lunch to work.

But, by all means, know what to save on, and what to “splurge” on.

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