Pay More For Quality! Cheap Isn’t Always Best

by Allison W. on 2011-05-017

As someone who loves personal budgeting, I’m all for spending as little as possible on lots of things. I think it’s in my blood –- if I go shopping and I see something for a couple of dollars vs something virtually identical in a lesser known brand for a dollar fifty, then I’ll save myself fifty cents by popping the second item in my basket.

In my mind (and in reality), the fifty cents on this occasion along with the odd bits of saved money here and there DO add up. We’ve written about how this happens in this article on how money drains can add up. If you’re frugal, then you’ve got a great attitude and the foundation that will allow you to do a better job with building up your finances over time. But I also believe that being too frugal may not always be the way to go. Now why is that? I believe that there are some good reasons why you may want to spend more on certain things.

While I love to save money, there are times when I’ve gone too far in the opposite direction. A case in point would be the cheap grass trimmer I bought for the garden last year. It was just about the cheapest one on the market and I used it a handful of times before it broke. I should have returned it or got it replaced because I still had enough time for the guarantee to be honored. But a part of me felt too embarrassed to admit that I’d bought something that wasn’t up to the job!

Anyway, I’ve learned a few things along the way about spending more on certain things. Here are three reasons why I think that shelling out a bit more on certain purchases can make sense:

1. You’ll often get better quality.
While this may not always hold true, it is often the case that higher quality products end up costing more. Often, a product with a solid brand or a well-known popular name behind it will cost more than a product from a lesser known brand. One of my personal bug bears is cheap baked beans. Have you ever tried them? They’re like canned bullets. They are a few cents a can for a reason. I’d rather spend more on beans that are soft and tasty, thanks. While this may be the case with certain items, it may be a different story with other goods: if you’re a savvy shopper, you can probably find some high quality merchandise in unexpected places, where these items are sold at steep discounts. Garage and estate sales, discount stores or warehouses, home consignment stores or even auction sites may be some possible places to find nice things of high quality at lower prices. But you’ll have to be careful about the authenticity of these items when you shop. Be careful that you aren’t actually picking up a cheap knock off of what it is you’re after.

2. You’ll get something that lasts longer or is more reliable.
You may find that the item of better quality also has a longer useful life. As you’d expect, a lot of higher priced items are likely to be made of better materials, better ingredients and so on. As the cliche goes: you get what you pay for. Of course, your mileage may vary with this one, but I’ve found that this rule doesn’t normally apply to food: in fact in my experience, if I spend more cash on a more expensive and tastier pack of biscuits, I’ve noted that they’ve lasted approximately half as long as a standard pack, and don’t really stay fresh for very long. This is of course, just one example, but you catch my drift.

3. Certain more expensive items make specific tasks easier and faster to do.
Last year, our ancient lawn mower finally gave up the ghost. It used to take me forty minutes on average to mow the lawn. When we went out and bought a brand new hover mower, it took me just twenty minutes to complete the same job. So the tradeoff here is between time and money. You can always invest in an item that saves you more time during each use. If you value your time quite a bit, then your investment should be worth it over the life of the item you purchase.

You’re probably getting the picture now. It’s worth considering all the pros and cons of buying cheap vs investing a little more cash in something better but more expensive. Most of the time, something cheaper will suffice but there are times when it may be worth shelling out more bucks for something that will save you time or make things easier for you. If something you buy for ten dollars lasts twice as long as something you buy for eight dollars, it seems pretty clear where you should put your money. Or do you make decisions based purely on the price tag alone?

Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

red May 2, 2011 at 5:58 am

in my country, people said that the money is quality. The cheap things usually is not good as expensive things.

Money Beagle May 2, 2011 at 7:31 am

My opinion is that the balance between quality and price is important to identify, but also the toughest part of the battle. Often the highest priced item may not even be the best in terms of quality. Or, the item that’s half the price might be slightly lower in quality, but not enough difference separates the two to justify the extra price. It’s a balancing act. I find that for many products, tools like online reviews, Consumer Reports, and other resources, are critical.

Amy Saves May 2, 2011 at 10:36 am

time is money. The lawn mower is a great example. I would much rather spend money on something more expensive that actually works.

Cali May 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm

In my opinion, you normally get what you pay for, except when you’re buying name branded items such as designer clothing. But I do believe that if you are making a major purchase, you are further ahead to pay a little more for quality.

krantcents May 2, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I always buy the highest quality product, service or clothes I can afford.Better quality clothing such as shoes, suits, shirts, and trousers look better and last longer. I would rather have less but better quality clothes. The trick is to always buy at discount!

Derek May 3, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Are you really paying more for something that is more expensive up front? If it lasts longer and is more reliable, then you may be paying less in the long run for the higher quality item because you don’t have to replace it in the short term. You get what you pay for… and sometimes that may even be a better price in the end. – Derek

Harri @ Miss Moneypenniless May 9, 2011 at 2:10 am

A French family friend of ours has a truly incredible wardrobe. Rather than filling her cupboards with scores of fast fashion shoddy garments she owns simply a handful of timeless classic quality pieces. She puts considerable thought, time and research into hunting down the perfect clothing. Whilst the items are expensive, she almost certainly spends less than most women on clothes because her purchases are well-conceived, far from spontaneous and long-lasting. Frugal indeed!

Leave a Comment