I’ve never been much of a frugalista. I do try to get good value for my money, and I do try to get the best possible price for what I want, but I don’t always subscribe to the idea that cheaper is better. Indeed, there are some cases that I think that cheaper definitely isn’t better, and that there are times when it’s worth it to pay more.
How Many Times Will You Have to Buy That?
The first problem with some cheap items is that they can be of lower quality. If you are buying something that you hope will last, it can make sense to spend a little more for higher quality. By spending a little more on garden tools, we have higher quality items that don’t break as we use them. Indeed, our neighbor, who buys the cheapest he can find, has been through three sets of tools in the last seven years. We’ve spent less than he has in the same amount of time because we bought higher quality tools the first time.
This philosophy works for shoes, furniture, and many other items. We don’t buy overpriced items that are just expensive, though. We look for true quality. We usually end up paying more than the cheapest we could get something for, but we don’t usually buy the most expensive item, either.
For something we know we will get a lot of use out of, we like to spend what it takes to get better quality, so that we aren’t just turning around and buying it again in a few months.
I’m known for being willing to pay a convenience fee. Pay an extra $50 or $100 for a flight that leaves at 11 a.m. instead of 6:30 a.m.? Sign me up! I’ll pay a convenience fee to buy movie tickets and concert tickets online so that I don’t have to stand in a line at a ticket booth. Pay a little extra for a hotel closer to a downtown area and public transit? Sure thing! I won’t have to drive so much; maybe I won’t even have to get a rental car.
While you can’t always pay for convenience if you don’t have the financial resources to spend the extra, if convenience is important to you, and you can afford it, there’s no reason not to. In this case, though, it comes down to personal preference. I know people who are perfectly happy flying a red-eye, and glad to save the money. I’m just not one of them. I’d rather leave on my own terms, and I’d rather be in a position use my time more efficiently — and maybe get a little extra sleep.
Consider what’s important to you, and how much you value your time and convenience. If you can afford it, it might be worth it to pay extra.
Do You Really Need That?
Sometimes, it’s tempting to buy something just because it’s the cheapest version of something that you’ve seen in a long while. We like to find good deals. However, buying something just because it’s on sale, or cheaper than it normally is, isn’t usually the best plan.
Ask yourself if you would have bought it anyway. No matter how cheap it is, if it isn’t a planned purchase, you are still spending money — not saving it. Buying something cheap just because it’s a good deal falls into the category of “mindless consumerism” and it can lead to long-term money problems down the road. You are usually better off taking a step back, and evaluating the purchase. What will you use it for? Is it really necessary? Will it truly make your life better? If not, pass it up no matter how inexpensive it is.
Deciding to forgo the cheaper option isn’t always easy. Often, it’s ingrained in us to pay as little as possible, every time. However, you might not be better off in the long run. Evaluate the value of your purchase, and consider the likelihood of buying it multiple times, as well as the convenience factor. Try to stick with items that have true worth, and that are more likely to enhance your life.