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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's important to save where you can, but it's just as critical to spend where you should.
When times are tough, most people think they should spend less and save as much as possible. That's good advice in many situations, but there are exceptions. Here are seven of them:
1. Home improvements
A recession is a great time to do work on your home. Materials will be discounted, since demand will be low. Labor is plentiful and cheap. And if the work increases the value of the house, spending extra money to get them done when times are tough makes financial sense.
2. Your health
Your health is always important, but it is even more crucial during dour economic times. You can't afford to miss work for an extended period without placing your job at risk. Preventive measures, even if they cost extra, are important. In addition, you need to quickly address ailments so they don't turn into something major later on.
3. Quality food
Food tends to be one of the few budget items that can be juggled to save money here and there. The problem is that people often choose to buy poorer quality food, which isn't as healthy. The food you eat will determine your energy level and resistance to colds and illnesses. Also, learn the tricks of the
coupon trade so you can get quality food and save money at the same time.
If you have the money, now's the time to buy stocks and other investments, especially if your timeline for needing the money is decades away. While people feel more secure when the stock market is rising, that's when equities are more expensive. Stocks today are less than half of what they were at their peak -- a bargain.
5. Products that save you money
More than ever, it makes sense to spend money on appliances and gadgets that will
save you money in the long run. Price tags and labor are cheaper, and the extra efficiency will pay off in the long run.
6. Costs to relax
When the economy turns sour, it brings on stress. Stress is not only bad for your health, it can ruin relationships, cause a decline in job performance and affect decision-making when it comes to finances. The key is to know what reduces stress and figure out a way to keep or increase that activity in your budget. For example, a gym membership may seem like a luxury when there isn't enough money to go around, but exercise is a known stress reliever. Perhaps painting is your stress relief. Whatever the activity may be, don't scrimp.
7. Repairs and maintenance
Lengthen the life of what you have and avoid spending money on brand-new equipment. The amount you spend may be a fraction of the replacement cost.