I’m sometimes guilty of focusing too much on getting something for the lowest price right now. Many people are like this. We want to pay the least amount possible so we hunt for inexpensive items. Whether it’s an appliance or something as simple as sheets, I tend to want the least expensive (but still decent) model I can buy. But over the years I’ve learned that this isn’t always a great strategy. Sometimes I am better off paying more now so that I won’t have to pay as much in the future.
Take something simple like sheets, for example. For years I just bought the cheapest sheets I could get that were still comfortable. But over the years I noticed that the elastic broke quickly on the fitted sheets, or the sheets wore thin rather fast. It seemed like I was buying sheets at least once a year. So I started trying some of the more expensive sheets. Guess what? The elastic lasts longer, is sewn in better, and the sheets are thicker and don’t wear out as fast. I haven’t bought sheets in probably five years. While the sheets cost more to begin with ($20 more than the cheapest model), I’ve saved that much and more by not buying sheets every year.
The same has been true with some clothes. Cheap but poorly made clothes last a season. Better quality clothes may cost more but they last for years. This may not matter if you’re clothing kids who grow out of everything in a year anyway, but when you’re buying for yourself it can make a big difference in your clothing expenditures.
I’ve found the same to be true of electronics, as well, although it’s not always only about quality, it’s also about staving off upgrades for as long as possible. I recently bought a new computer. I knew what features I needed, but I ended up buying a computer with a much bigger hard drive, more memory, and a better graphics card than I needed. It cost me a bit more, but it will be worth it because this one will last for at least four or five years. It will keep up with many advances in software and technology without requiring upgrades or a (too soon) replacement. TV’s, appliances, and other electronics can also be looked at in the same way. Sometimes paying more today will save you money because the product will last longer and keep better pace with changing technology.
There is also something to be said for paying more to get the item you really want, rather than settling for something so-so. When we bought our house, I was trying to be cheap so I bought light fixtures that I didn’t love, but I thought were okay and that were inexpensive. We weren’t in the house three months and I hated those things. They didn’t put out good light and they weren’t attractive. So I bought new ones. I would have been better off buying what I loved the first time around. A friend bought a refrigerator that she knew would do the job, but it wasn’t what she really wanted. Two months later the one she wanted went on sale so she bought it and gave the other one to Goodwill. She would have been better off simply buying the one she really liked in the first place. If you can afford it (even with maybe a little stretch) it can sometimes save you money to get the product you love rather than buying more back to back.
Of course you have to know your quality when paying more to save later. Just because something is more expensive doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better quality. It takes some trial and error but eventually you’ll get to know which manufacturers make quality items that will last and are worth a premium and which are just over-hyped names. And you still want to get the best deal you can, so watch prices, look for sales and be ready to jump on any deals you find.
Saving money isn’t always about getting the best price for something today. It’s also about buying things that last, provide good service, and have enough features so that you aren’t constantly replacing and upgrading. It’s also about being happy enough with what you buy so that you aren’t buying another one two months later because you hated the first item. Every replacement and upgrade just eats into what you “saved” by buying the cheaper model. Before too long you’ve spent as much as you would have had you just bought the more expensive one. Sometimes paying more today can actually save you a lot more money in the future.