5 Things That You Should Not Cheap Out On

You can save a lot of money by making an effort to be frugal, and you can use that extra money to do many things.  Whatever the reason, being frugal can be great in most instances. I stress ‘most’ because sometimes spending a little bit more will mean you get a far superior product. Sometimes buying the cheapest thing you can find will cost you more in the long run and here are five examples.

Photo by Christopher Cessums via Flickr

Cars

“The cobbler always wears the worst shoes.”

There are a few variations on this proverb but we’ll stick with the one most relevant one. It seems that people that are good at working on cars will end up driving the worst cars. Buying a junker and fixing it up might sound like a cheap way to have a set of wheels but you’ll end up spending a lot more on parts, not to mention the hours of labor that you sink into your automobile.

If you’re fixing up a car that you love then it’s likely worth the cost, but otherwise you should spend a bit more and get something that wont break down every week.

A Toyota or a Honda might cost you a little more (depending on what you drive right now) but they are worth the price of admission. Over the long haul you will end up saving a lot of money on repairs and gas — not to mention your resale value, which will stay very high if you take care of your car.

Just because a car is cheaper in the car lot doesn’t mean it will be cheaper over a five or ten year period. You should also look at cars that are one or two years old because you can save 40-50% or more off the price of a new vehicle.

Internet

Free Wifi Internet access is available almost anywhere these days. What aren’t free are the $4.95 coffees, the $3.40 muffins, and the $1.99 bottles of water that you grab on the way out the door. Making a trip to these free Wifi locations can also cost you money, but the big killer is still food and drinks.

Unless you’re very strict and only use free internet at the library you’re better off getting it in your home. Some people will get lucky and have neighbors that provide them with free Wifi access.

Televisions

Spending a bit of money on a television is almost always worth it. You can get good deals on TVs but you never hear about anyone getting an amazing deal. That’s because, for the most part, the prices on televisions won’t change from store to store. It’s almost like buying gasoline.

Most electronics stores have cheaper model TVs but they’re not going to last forever.

The only way you might be able to find a killer deal is Craigslist but make sure you test it thoroughly before you buy it. And ask for a receipt so you know the TV isn’t stolen.

Mattresses

You can find good deals on great quality mattresses but you will still need to put down some big bucks.

A mattress will last you 10 or 15 years and when you think about the fact that you’re in it 1/3 of your day it might make sense to purchase a nice one. If you buy a cheap futon then you’ll need to get another one in a few years or suffer through bad sleeps.

A big comfy mattress will be good for your health, relationship, and most importantly…your wallet.

Computers

If you only use your computer for checking email then you might be fine with a cheaper model, otherwise it’s time to stop the penny pinching.

Having a good desktop computer or laptop will save you so much time and energy. It will also save your sanity.

If you’ve gone through four computers in the last 5 years it might be time to make the switch to a better, faster, and (unfortunately) more expensive machine.

These are the five things that I feel you shouldn’t cheap out on. There are still deals to be had but remember that you’ll be living with these things for many years and you’ll use most of them everyday. You’ll save by spending a bit more.

About the Author

By , on Jul 28, 2010
Donald Farber writes for the life insurance website LifeCover.ca and contributes to a number of blogs on finance and frugal living topics.

Leave Your Comment (25 Comments)

  1. Evgeniya says:

    Television is become less and less in use today. I think it’s a big saving! There was a time when people used to pay hundreds to get the latest version of plazma… Phone bills is another spending category that can be cut off for better.

  2. Andrea says:

    It does seem right to not curtail your costs when it comes to important items such as computers or internet if you want your small business to run efficiently. Good read.

  3. Clint says:

    I would add whiskey and parachutes to the list.

  4. Nathaniel says:

    I personally believe cheaper computer is a value if you take care of it, I just use my computer for a living, and my $399 laptop has lasted 5 years, my $199 desktop is fine. I talked to a older man today, he was going to buy a $1000 laptop, we discussed what he was going to use it for, found a $450 one that did everything the other did as he didnt need the blue ray player and didnt play games. For email, internet and some word processing a cheaper computer should be fine for most people. Processors today are very powerful and I am able to work with my databases, spreadsheets and precentations without any trouble on my cheap PC.

    Same with cars, I put 250,000 miles on my first Chevy Cavalier and used it from 91-2003, and purchased another in 2003 and over 100k now and going fine. Its taking care of whatever you purchase that can make a real difference

  5. adrienne says:

    I will say two things: travel and exercise equipment. When you think about how much people waste on gym memberships that they don’t use, it’s much easier to buy resistance bands-$10-15, a stability ball- $10-15, a cardio machine (at the most 300?)and dumbbells(vary on weight) should do it. You don’t even have to buy DVD’s: find exercise podcasts on iTunes for free! Exercise improves your entire lifestyle, to how you eat and how you feel about yourself. Travel can be local: camping, hiking, road trips, to going abroad. Family memories can last a lifetime and those can’t be bought. I’m focusing on these two things for the year- not buying clothes, eating out, going to the movies (hello Redbox!) or gadgets. Let me know what you think!

  6. Ralph says:

    You usually sleep in a bed every night but I think buying a mattress is usually one of the last things on their mind. Thanks for the post.

  7. Jim says:

    i like the point you make about free wifi not being free if you buy expensive and over priced muffins….

  8. Moneyedup says:

    I agree with every item on this list, they are all important. This is just me, but I don’t cheap out on food or skin care products. I try to buy as much organic and fresh food as possible, which may mean spending a bit more. I spend more on skin care products because I have sensitive skin.

  9. bp says:

    hmm don’t agree on the TVs and computers… tvs – depends on what you’re willing to put up with in terms of quality. computers – i believe in buying cheap since technology is always changing and you’ll want a better/faster computer in a few years anyway. and with laptops being so popular, the wear and tear they go through in a few years will make you want another one.

  10. Brandon says:

    Computer is a good one. I know folks who will buy the $300 Computer from Best Buy, but then spend another $300 upgrading the RAM (they never sell you enough), and then another few hundred when something inevitably breaks, then another $300 computer in 2 years. I went top of the line for my last computer, and I’ve had it 5 years with no expensive problems at all.

  11. Kris says:

    I agree on the car point. I just bought a used car and all the safety and reliability ratings point to Honda & Toyota as being two of the best values. Especially if you buy used. It will cost a little more, but those cars usually won’t give you much trouble.

  12. Interesting list! I agree that computers shouldn’t be cheaped out on. I kind of splurged on an apple macbook and am glad I did- instead of getting a cheaper non-apple computer lol. =) No viruses to worry about, or crashes, or anitivirus software. priceless!

  13. Roger says:

    I knew a woman who bought her shoes second hand. For other clothes that works fine because women discard clothes so easily there are lots of good secondhand clothes. But she walks to work (that’s just healthy – a good 30 minute walk) which wore them out so quick it was ridiculous. I finally persuaded her to spring for a new pair of good waterproof shoes (water was the big problem) and she has been amazed. The “save money by buying the cheapest” mindset is tempting but so often wrong. Shoes, food, sleep, communications – the essentials of life.

  14. Shoes. Definitely don’t skimp on shoes. Poorly made shoes not only don’t last as long, they can damage your feet and cause back trouble.

  15. Joe says:

    “A Toyota or a Honda might cost you a little more (depending on what you drive right now) but they are worth the price of admission.”

    Hmmm… For a long time this might have been worthwhile advice, but it has not been recently. Take a look at the latest JD Power Reliability report (http://www.jdpower.com) and the Top Overall Quality vehicles: 1. Porsche, 2. Acura, 3. Mercedes, 4. Lexus. The first time you get to a non-luxury vehicle: 5. Ford 6. Honda. Stuck down around 21st place in Toyota, behind the likes of Hyundai, Chevrolet, Nissan, Mercury, Buick and Mazda.

    Why would you pay “a little more” for a vehicle with lower reliability?

  16. KP says:

    I’m frugal, but I also happen to be a value shopper (quality matters) too. As Warren Buffett says, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

  17. Arthur says:

    hard to go cheap on a mattress they are expensive.

  18. Mark says:

    “You should also look at cars that are one or two years old because you can save 40-50% or more off the price of a new vehicle.”

    This is a myth for most cars. Typically you can save about 25% on a car 2 years old. Definately nowhere near 50% off for a car that is 1 or 2 years old.

  19. Jenna says:

    I think buying a used car makes way more sense than a brand new car. Definitely saves you a ton of money. In my head there is a huge difference between a “used” car and a “junker”.

  20. Stephan says:

    i agree with all of yours and i would also vacations to the list. i know some might disagree with this, but my plan is always to save up enough to have a killer vacation once a year, instead of 3-4 lower scale vacations a year.
    Preferred Financial Services Blog

  21. Khaleef says:

    I definitely agree with computers, mattresses and the internet. Those are things that will cost you in time and frustration (and pain with the mattress) if you go the cheap route.

    I would also add food to this list. I’m mainly thinking of cheap, processed, unhealthy food, vs fresh, healthy, whole foods.

  22. I never cheap out on computers. A good workhorse computer is necessary (as is my own high speed Internet) since my livelihood depends on being about to be online. I also agree that high quality food is important.

  23. Arthur says:

    Food. Get the best deal on healthy food but don’t get the cheapest food that is just bad for you. Got to watch what you build your body with. Medical bills and no health from not eating right will cost more than what you save.

  24. Ibrahim says:

    You are absolutely right. Even though I’m a frugal fella, these few things I splurge on. It really makes a difference.

  25. Ben says:

    I will add: a contractor that will do work on your home. Cheap, uninsured guys will usually perform shoddy work.

    You get what you pay for (especially when everyone that got laid off from factories are contractors, these days).

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