This blog contains some simple tips and advice from two regular guys. We're not accountants, financial advisors, or brokers, so follow, ignore, or discuss our ideas as you see fit.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

What NOT To Skimp On

Posted By Paul

There seem to be two valid philosophies when it comes to being frugal:

"Save On Every Purchase"
The idea: when it's time to buy something, look for the cheapest option that will get the job done.

How it can go wrong: one time I wanted to buy a VCR and decided to buy the cheapest one that had the features I wanted. The result was that I got a VCR that worked so horribly that in a few months it was practically worthless. I decided to buy a VCR that was more than twice as much ($70 vs the original $30), but this one actually worked pretty well and has lasted quite a while without breaking.

"Every purchase should be viewed as the last one you'll ever buy"
The idea: if you are going to buy something, buy it with enough quality so that you will never have to replace it.

How it can go wrong: you end up buying something much nicer (and more expensive) than you need, or you end up buying something super nice that ends up becoming obsolete or useless quickly.

Being frugal is often a balancing act between these two ideas. Do you focus on purchasing quality or do you focus on saving money?

In this time where everyone is looking for ways to save money I decided to give some thought to things that you SHOULDN'T try to save money on.

Here are some of my ideas:

Things you use every day - if you're going to be using it every day, then buy some quality. If it's something that spends a lot of time in the attic or a back shelf, then skimp. For example, buy a good kitchen knife but buy a cheap fondue pot. On a personal note, my wife and I bought some cheaper kitchen knives several years ago. Now most of those knives are literally falling apart, and we're replacing them.

Things with lots of moving parts - this is my lesson from the VCR. If it has a lot of moving parts then if it's of low quality it will fall apart quickly. For me this includes things like power tools, and electric kitchen appliances.

One article I found sounded promising
Skimp Or Splurge

The article had a slideshow of 12 items they thought you should be sure to buy quality, which I thought was a pretty good list:

Men's suit
Men's Dress Shoes
Men's Overcoat
Women's Overcoat
Women's Little Black Dress
Women's Slacks
Cooking Pot
Cooking Skillet
Chef Knife

Any other suggestions out there?

1 comment:

Matt said...

The second philosophy "Every purchase should be viewed as the last one you'll ever buy" is one of my favorites. I focus more on the durability of the object than the features or how nice it is, though. I think asking yourself whether it will be possible to make the item last forever (and whether you'll be happy with it forever) is a great place to start. From there, you can look for similar models with fewer of the features or finishes that you don't need.

Obviously, it doesn't work for everything (computers, socks, etc.).

I learned several years ago not to skimp on shoes, especially dress shoes. If I bought uncomfortable shoes, I either ended up never wearing them or wearing them and regretting the purchase. I've since found that shoes I spend a lot of money on for comfor's sake tend to last a LOT longer, also. (One of my pairs of office shoes is about 6 years old and still look and feel great.)