Cheap And Cheerful

In our society there’s a common belief that you should always try to get the very most you can for your money. You’re meant to be receiving maximum value for the least amount of dollars. Whatever your buying should have the lowest price possible while you enjoy the most gains. It sounds like good business sense, and even more so it sounds like great financial advice. After all who doesn’t want more from their money?

Well if that’s true, and you really do want to get more from your money then you’ll be surprised to know that being as frugal as you can is certainly not the answer. It sounds like a contradiction right? But it’s the truth - getting the most for your money doesn’t mean buying the cheapest thing you can find. In fact there are many occasions when you can actually end up wasting money by buying the cheapest thing available.

The reason is that what is cheap isn’t necessarily a good value. Here’s the most basic example I can give: We’ve all been to a public bathroom where we found the toilet paper to be somewhat lacking in quality. Now that’s definitely a place where you don’t want to skimp on quality. Well the same thought process should be applied to everything else you purchase.

A recent example I had was a new washing machine I had bought. I had saved for a few months and had a bit of money to work with and was ready to donate my old washer so I went shopping, with my budget in mind, excited to get my new washer. When I got to the store I took my time browsing and then asked a few questions about the different washers and what other customers had thought of them. The salesman gave me a rundown of the features vs. the cost and what the most reliable brands are. It came down to a choice between two washers. One was exactly what I wanted right down to the color, had all the features I needed, and was highly recommended as an extremely reliable brand. Unfortunately it was also a couple hundred dollars over my budget - something I wasn’t prepared to pay. The other machine was more of a low-key brand, didn’t have as many features or look as nice but it was well within my budget.

Guess which one I picked? Yep - the cheaper one, and I paid dearly for it. It was harder to use, didn’t work as well, and broke just a little while into my having it which I then had to pay to fix. And the thing is - the other washer had been the one I had really wanted! So now I was paying to fix something that not only didn’t work well, I was also paying to keep something I hadn’t really wanted in the first place. On top of that, when I went back to the store to get some help with my washer I saw that the other one I had really wanted was on sale - all I would have had to have done is just save a little extra and wait a couple months.

So not only did I end up paying extra because of the low quality my washer was, I also ended up costing myself time, and the overall satisfaction of having the nice washer I actually wanted. It would have been far better if I had just saved for a few more weeks and then come back to get the other washer and in the long run it probably would have lasted longer because it was such a high-quality brand so I wouldn’t have had to replace it as soon and it would have even saved me money as I did my laundry because of its efficient use of water and soap.

Needless to say, I learned my lesson. So from now on I always buy exactly what I want instead of going for what might be “cheap and cheerful” because it’s always better in the long run. Cheap things will break soon, need repairing more often, and wear out faster, than if you buy higher quality items.

My rule is that I always buy what I want but I don’t always get it exactly when I want. If I find a pair of shoes that are $90 and some alternatives that are $30 but aren’t nearly as well made I’ll wait and save up for the more expensive ones because I know that they’re probably last me five times as long as the cheap ones would - and that means I end up saving money and I get to have expensive new shoes. Doesn’t get any better than that right?

Don’t punish yourself by being stingy and not getting what you want. This doesn’t mean you should run amok with your credit cards buying everything and anything you want - but it does mean that when you’re ready to make a responsible purchase, do it right and get what you want - not what you think you can afford. If it means you get to wait a bit longer and save some more then take that route rather than buying something you don’t truly love and won’t really appreciate in the long run. You’ll be happier with your purchase and take better care of it, and it will last longer and usually break or need repairing less which keeps more money in your pockets.

I don’t always buy the most expensive option that’s available to me- and that’s not what it’s about. It’s really about having whatever you want instead of going the cheap route and saying that you’re being “frugal”. In fact all you’re really doing is depriving yourself of things you want, stressing yourself out over cheap stuff that breaks and wears out, and wasting money buying replacements.

So do a little research, look for some sales, but when it comes dow to it - buy what you want. You’ll thank yourself for it later.