8 things you shouldn't cheap out on
Frugal goes only so far. Some things are worth the money (even though you may not have to pay retail).
He's never bought cheap equipment.
"There's an old saying with tools: 'Buy once, cry once,'" Dad said. "Of course, that applies to just about everything in life."
I've heard it another way, too: "Buy it right or buy it twice." In other words, frugality has its limits. Some things are worth the money.
Usually there are ways around paying retail. Among them: cash-back shopping, price comparison websites, clearance sales, online swap sites, thrift stores, yard sales and the Freecycle Network.
If not? Spend the money, for heaven's sake. Some things you just shouldn't cheap out on. The following list isn't comprehensive, but it's a start.
1. Shoes. Be kind to your feet or you will regret it. Buy well-made shoes with good support, and don't wear them so long that your soles are scraping the pavement. A lack of support can lead to back issues as well as foot problems like bunions, hammertoe and heel pain. All are painful, and it's cheaper to prevent them than to fix them.
2. Clothing. By all means shop secondhand, but don't buy things only because they're cheap. Select items that are comfortable, durable and, yes, flattering. This is especially true of children's clothing. Jeans with bleach spots and a worn-out "Hannah Montana" T-shirt would be fine for weekend wear, but don't subject your child to ridicule by making her wear them to school.
3. Food. Not everyone can afford an all-organic diet, but get the best food you can afford. Don't subsist on presweetened cereal and frozen dinners just because you had coupons for them. Items like dry beans, lentils, oats, rice, cornmeal, carrots, dried plums, potatoes and winter squash are cheap, and they pack a lot of nutritional punch.
You can further stretch your dietary dollars by checking out ethnic markets, restaurant supply stores, bakery outlets, "scratch and dent" food markets and even dollar stores. Items from bins in the "health food" section of some supermarkets often cost less than what's on the shelves. I bought extra-thick rolled oats for 64 cents a pound last week.
Home, health and more
4. Tools. A cheap tool makes the job harder, and will probably need replacing. (See "buy it right or buy it twice," above.)
5. Housing. Like the home shows say: It's better to have a substandard house in a good area than the other way around. (You can fix a house, but you have to wait for a neighborhood to fix itself.) Buy with that in mind, but never buy more than you can afford.
6. Health care coverage. If you can afford insurance, get it. Some people skip coverage because they feel pretty good, but they're fooling themselves. You can't predict accidents or sudden illnesses, and either one could bankrupt you faster than you can say "intensive care unit." (No coverage? See "Can’t afford health insurance? Your options" for tips.)
7. Professional advice. Don't choose a lawyer, physician, psychotherapist or financial adviser based solely on how much it'll cost you. Even a few minutes of online research could indicate anything from indifferent attitudes to past criminal behavior.
8. Automobiles. Buy the safest and most reliable car you can afford. Yes, I said "safe" and "reliable." Your wheels do not define you. They merely get you from place to place. Besides, the cooler/more head-turning your car is, the more expensive it will be to insure and maintain -- and the more attractive, maybe, to car thieves and jealous vandals.
Readers: What’s your "don't cheap out" item?
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I am reading your money ideas - we are having to tighten belts over the holidays and finding everything interesting. Especially am considering back to school and any savings can be found. Home saving and shopping advise great too - thanks Donna
That is especially so for shoes and clothing. Nothing looks as bad as worn, cheaply made shoes. Not only that, they will literally fall apart on your feet. At all cost, avoid synthetic "pheather"
boots and shoes. Once they become worn and beaten up, no amount of shoe care product can save them.
And, don't get me started on cheap clothes. I personally avoid buying women's suits, and dresses, that have no lining, or internal support such as shoulder pads. Thus, I refuse to buy from companies online and in brick and motor stores, that specialize in cheaply made women's clothing. Poorly constructed clothes have no body, make you look frumpy and they wrinkle easily.
Because I can sew, and when I've had the time to make my own clothes, I pay special attention to the internal construction of garments. I can't stress enough how important that lining is included in jackets and skirts. It gives the garment great body, and makes the item look and fit well.
Nothing's sharper than a well-tailored garment. I love to sew well-tailored clothes. That way, I can control the quality of my clothes by including lining, French seams, bound button holes, etc.
I likewise, demand this quality when I shop brick and motor stores, and browse online. I've driven sales clerks crazy while turning garments inside out to check out the structure of the item(s). I won't settle for anything less than top quality clothes at affordable prices.
Thank God, that there are many online and brick and mortar stores that let me do both.
quality products at a market price.. give the middle class that. we have overpriced name brands and option b is came apart stuff.. * might as well make it edible so at least we can save on groceries too..
I agree with buying good long lasting tools. If it is something you need for a project once, check out renting it . Most lumber yard's rent tools or can tell you where you can rent. Same is true for some auto parts stores.
NOW under tools I have to add cookware. I was given a good set for a wedding gift and have used it for over 30 years. The same is true for small appliances. I don't know how many mixers, food processers, and irons I went through untill I bought good brands. Makes a big difference in doing the job and last for ever!
Hey Donna Freedman forget the eight tips you have explained. In today's time when people aren't working and afraid that they are going to lose their job people have to be "cheap". Even people who are working are being "cheap". I'll bet you "cheap" out on a lot of things because they are too expensive. When was the last time you went all out a bought something that was beyond your reach in spending money. Where was it made? So giving people 8 tips for not being "cheap" is something you should look at your self. The next time your in front of the mirror ask you self can I really afford the item you want to get most likely your inter-voice is going to tell you "NO"
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
ABOUT DONNA FREEDMAN
Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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