The following is a guest post from Kyle James at Rather Be Shopping. If you are interested in guest posting at Club Thrifty, please see our guest posting guidelines.
Some items in life are just worth the extra cost. I didn’t always have this attitude and was typically willing to exchange quality for a lower price. But as I have gotten older and had kids of my own, my views, while still frugal by nature, have changed to a more balanced approach when it comes to quality vs. price. Here are five glaring examples that come to mind.
Items Worth the Extra Money
As a guy who loves to tinker in the garage, fixing bicycles and doing small home repair, I love my tools. But over the years I have learned to not skimp when it comes to buying hand tools and power tools. Afterall, they don’t call me “Stump” for nothing. But seriously, as someone who would always buy the cheapest tool available, I can honestly say that I would spend the same amount of time getting the tool to work correctly as I did in actually using it productively. Tools that come to mind include skill saws, cordless drivers, and pressure washers. When it comes to shopping for tools, I say spend the extra money to do it right.
Child/Baby Car Seat
When my wife and I had our first child over 10 years ago we naturally went out and bought a baby car seat. We were on a shoestring budget and opted for a cheap brand. I still have nightmares of me trying to fit that thing correctly into the back seat of our car. I couldn’t get it to fit tightly, and then when I did it get it tight, it was so crooked I thought our kid might actually fall out of it. I finally threw up the white flag and bought a Britax brand car seat. It was over twice the price, received an excellent score from Consumer Reports, and was the best $250 we ever spent. It fit perfectly on the first attempt and eventually kept all three of our children safe and comfortable.
Small Household Appliances
My wife and I received a kitchen mixer as a Christmas gift a few years ago from my parents. It was an off-brand that I was not aware of, but we were excited none-the-less to get our bake on. The thing lasted about 6 uses before the motor blew on it. I realize that generics and off-brands are not all bad and often provide great value, but when it comes to small household appliances, I will gladly pay extra for a name brand with solid user reviews. We ended up returning the mixer and paid the extra money to upgrade to a KitchenAid mixer which is still running strong 5 years later.
Shoes, Any Shoes
Whenever I have skimped on a pair of footwear I have regretted it. Not only do they not last as long as I think they should, but the comfort level is horrible. I know a cheap pair of shoes not by what they look like on the outside (I could care less), but how they feel on my feet after wearing them for a few hours. I don’t go all “Queen of Versailles” and spend $17,000 on a pair of boots, but I do spend a little extra money to buy a quality pair.
A Good Mattress
You’re going to spend a third of your life on it so don’t go cheap. Your back, muscles, and long-term health will thank you. I’m not suggesting you have to opt for a $3,000 sleep number bed, but at the very least don’t buy a bed just because it’s a great deal. Being frugal is great, but I have had friends who have bought a mattress at Costco and have regretted it terribly. Luckily Costco has a great return policy. Do your own research and go to a mattress store that has employees who can guide you through your options and let you lay on them for as long as your heart desires. Make sure to bring your pillow. Also, make sure they have a good return policy (at least 30 days) in case you’re not completely satisfied.
My philosophy these days is to research items thoroughly before making a buying decision to make sure I am getting the quality I am comfortable with at a price I can afford. After all, there is no sense buying lesser quality if it means you are going to incur replacement costs in a few months. I’d rather spend a little more upfront and avoid the headache.
What “stuff” in your life has ended up causing you the most frustration because you opted for price over quality?
Kyle James owns and operates a website called Rather-Be-Shopping.com which specializes in online coupons and coupon alerts to over 800 retailers. He also has a blog, where he writes about frugal living, creative ways to save money, and the adventures of raising three active kids.