Frugal Vs Quality: Buy Cheap, Buy Twice
I’ve been reading personal finance blogs for quite a number of years now. Over that time, I’ve read tons of advice on ways to save money, best ways to purchase items, investing advice, the list goes on. Most of the time, the advice makes sense. Every once in awhile, there will be a post or a comment that may ignite a response of “well, I wouldn’t do that myself, but okay”. Very, very rarely will a post or a specific set of advice incite disbelief, rage, and frustration. One post a number of years ago on The Simple Dollar advocated purchasing a more expensive garbage bag. The response was quite interesting, as some commentators simply disagreed, blog posts were written in response, and it was all because one person decided that the least expensive garbage bags were of lesser value than more expensive bags.
When you are purchasing a less expensive item, you have to take into consideration why it is less expensive. Is it because the other brand has an inflated price, or is it more expensive for a reason? Often, the most frugal option is not the least expensive option, as cheap items are only cheap for a reason – poor quality control, lower manufacturing standards, less quality materials.
Part of the reason there is so much controversy is because nobody can agree on what is “worth” the extra cost. Often it comes down to how much you use the item, and what standard of quality you expect from the item. Here’s a couple of things you should probably consider a more expensive option when purchasing.
Feet are important. You never really realize just how important your feet are, or how much they support you, until you injure one of them. Walking around on a wound is an incredibly painful and uncomfortable experience, and I don’t recommend it for anyone. That being said, take care of your feet. When it comes to shoe quality, cost is, unfortunately, often a good indicator of the type of material and construction that went into the creation of the shoe. More expensive shoes will often mean that your shoe will last longer. This is not to say that you should buy the most expensive shoe in the store.
As always, do your research, find shoes that fit properly, and get someone to guide you if you are inexperienced. If you know, for example, that you are going to be needing a pair of dress shoes 5 days a week for the next 10 or so years, it may be worth investing in a pair of shoes (or two) that can handle that type of wear and tear while maintaining their structure. Think $300+. While that is very expensive, if you can buy one pair and make it last 10 years, it is far less expensive than replacing $70 shoes every year.
Inexpensive vehicles are very often inexpensive because they don’t have the same features as more expensive vehicles. If it is something like air conditioning or a nicer stereo system, then yes, that is something that may be worth giving up in order to have a less expensive purchase. If it is things like anti-lock brakes, air bags, or higher crash test ratings, well, then that’s something that I would suggest you pony up for.
Vehicles are a strange breed in that within each class of vehicle (sedan, truck, minivan, etc.) there is going to be a range of prices. You don’t want the least expensive (bare-bones, no warranty, potentially poor safety features), but you also don’t want to go to the top end of the spectrum as well, where you’re paying more for the brand than the type of quality construction. In addition, if you’re thinking about a used vehicle purchase, if you go into the “too old” and “inexpensive” range, you’re going to be dealing with more maintenance and higher fuel consumption than if you look at a more recent and more expensive model.
Inexpensive computers are everywhere these days. However, if you buy an inexpensive computer, expect to get very little life out of it. Cheap computers, whether a laptop or a desktop, is going to skimp somewhere in order to continue to make a profit. It may be the case, sacrificing airflow, or it may be the power supply. While those aren’t necessarily deal breakers, they introduce two very important factors when determining the life of a computer – heat and instability.
If a computer isn’t built well, it won’t have the ability to keep itself cool. While computer components are designed to heat up and cool down, reducing the strain on the equipment will prolong its life. Laptops are especially poor for this as they have very little chance of getting proper airflow without getting taken completely apart by a professional on an annual basis.
When it comes to power supplies, you never want to get a cheap powersupply. The PSU’s job is to regulate the amount of electricity flowing into each of your components. An inexpensive unit will give your components fluctuations in power, causing damage over time and potentially ruining the component. A poorly made unit can fry your entire computer.
By far the most frugal option for a computer purchase would be building a desktop computer with quality components that has the ability to upgrade your computer over time. More expensive at first, far less expensive in the long run.
What do you spend more money on in order to get a better quality product?