A couple of weeks ago Melissa wrote a post on this site exploring why it can be a good idea to pay a little more in order to buy quality, especially on certain things. While buying lower quality may save a few dollars on the front end, those items often end up wearing out or breaking long before their time. A higher quality item often will last longer and save you money in the long run.
I'm often the first one to cut corners when it comes to things I don't care that much about. Cleaning products? I buy the cheapest. Socks? I buy a 10 pack of the socks on sale at Walmart. But when it comes to things I care about and that I use on a daily basis, like a car, a laptop or a bike, I tend to prefer buying quality because I know it usually pays off in the end.
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Cheap Is Not Always Frugal
People often fall into two camps when you talk to them.
- Price: Those who always consider the price first when making a purchasing decision. If the item is cheaper, that means it's the better deal.
- Quality: Then there are those who are almost always more concerned with the quality of the product they're buying, even if it means they have to pay more.
For me I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I tend to go for the cheap things when it comes to things I don't care about, or when it comes to things that are of comparative quality regardless of price. For things that vary greatly in quality, I tend to come down on buying the quality item instead. After all, just because something is cheap, doesn't necessarily mean that it's frugal. If the cheaper item wears out before it's time you're going to be spending more money to replace it.
If It Matters To You, Find A Way To Buy Quality
If the item you're thinking about purchasing is important to you, or is going to be used often, it will often pay to buy something quality that won't wear out as fast.
While quality items can be more expensive, if you take your time, search around and do your due diligence you can usually find a good deal on what you're looking for through year end closeouts, coupons, sales, rebates or other promotions. Don't just assume that you'll have to pay a LOT more, take your time and find a good deal.
Buying A Quality Bike
Back in 1998 while I was still in college I had a bike that I used to commute to and from school, I used it almost daily. One day the bike was stolen from my parent's house. I needed a replacement.
In the past I had purchased cheap bikes, and had the components wear out or break on me in no time flat. I had also purchased a better quality bike (this last one) which had held up well for a couple years until being stolen. Having been through both extremes with bikes, this time I determined that I was going to buy a quality bike that would last me for years and save me money in the process.
I searched around at several local bicycle shops to find a bike that would fit my needs. I enjoyed doing some off road riding, and I wanted something that would be durable and light. I found that most of the bikes that would fit my needs were not cheap, they were running in the $700-1000 range, which was a lot of money for me back then.
I was patient, however, and I ended up finding a bicycle after a couple of months in an off-season sale when they were liquidating last year's models. The bike was originally $725, but I was able to get it for $450 because it was an older model. (I found the original receipt in our files – see below!)
Little did I know just how long that bike would last.
Quality Lasts Longer
So I now had a quality bike with decent components that I figured would last me a few years at least. What I found was that often quality lasts longer than you would think.
I've now had the bike for 14 years, and it's still going strong. The bike was getting a bit ragged from a lot of use over the years, and I just brought it in for a tuneup this past week. The repair tech told me the frame is still in great shape, and after the tune-up and a couple of new components, it's like a brand new bike (see the picture at the top after the tune-up). It may not have all the latest advances in technology, but for a weekend warrior like myself it is more than adequate. I'm sure I can get another 10 years out of this thing!
Quality For The Things That Matter
For me my philosophy on the quality vs. price debate is to find a middle ground. On the things I use on a daily basis or that vary greatly in quality, I buy quality. For the the things that don't matter much, or that are throw away items I tend to go the cheaper route.
In other words for the things I care about, I buy quality.
How about you? What's your philosophy? Do you buy for price or quality, or both?