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Paying for Quality Saves Time and Money

Written by Matt Jabs - 12 Comments

As long as you are not smack dab in the middle of aggressive debt reduction (and perhaps eve if you are), paying extra for quality is rarely a bad idea. Sure, as with anything there are exceptions to the rule, but rather than focus on those exceptions, let’s focus on the rule itself.

Quality is well worth the price

My father, bless his heart, has always been a man who valued price over quality. I’m not sure how I landed on the opposite side of the spectrum, but I’m glad that I did. Maybe it’s because I watched as “great deal” after “great deal” turned into more work, more headaches, and ultimately the need for yet another “great deal” to replace the last.

That just plain doesn’t make sense to me. I see things differently.

Regardless of how it came about, I prefer this approach:

Research the dickens out of things in order to find the best solution, shop around for the best price, go in for the kill, and exit the transaction feeling confident that I received a high quality item for a great price.

For me, price is just one of many factors that shapes my buying decisions. Although I always try to land the best price possible, I’m prepared to pay a little more for quality items that function better and last longer.

What’s your buying style?

We can really boil things down to two main buying styles:

Price-first: When a buyer is concerned almost exclusively with price; if it’s the cheapest, then it’s the best deal.

Quality-first: When a buyer is concerned more with the quality of the purchase than with the price.

You may not think it frugal to value quality more highly than price, but remember: cheap is not necessarily frugal. Price is only one factor to consider when determining the true value of goods and services.

I purchase almost exclusively from a “quality-first” point-of-view, and cannot think of a single case of regret from following this strategy. For those who believe that buying cheap is the more frugal option, read on.

How quality saves time and money

Remember, time is money, and purchasing from a “quality-first” first perspective can save you both in many different ways; here are just a few.

  • Increased efficiency and decreased frustration due to superior performance.
  • Items need to be replaced less often.
  • Less bother with things like purchase returns due to poor manufacturing.
  • Less time and money spent on repairs.
  • Higher quality items come with better warranties, so you spend less time/energy worrying.

One of the main reasons my dad is a “cheap-first” buyer is because he fails to factor the cost of his time. He would rather spend 50 hours repeatedly repairing a broken down lawnmower than pay an extra $200 for a new one. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

Maintain balance and plan your purchases

Ultimately, price and quality considerations make purchasing a bit of a balancing act for consumers. Despite the truths outlined above, you cannot simply assume that just because an item costs more, that it is of higher quality. Likewise, there are limits on how much you should pay for quality.

So remember… Next time you have a purchase to make, don’t be overly concerned about price. Do your homework, define your needs, trust your research, stick to the plan, and leave with a quality item at a fair price.

Published on December 24th, 2009
Modified on December 23rd, 2009 - 12 Comments
Filed under: Frugality

About the author: is a thirty-something IT manager and blogger who wants to help himself and others get out of debt. He writes about personal finance and debt-free living at Debt Free Adventure.

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12 Responses to “Paying for Quality Saves Time and Money”

  1. 1
    Daniel Says:

    I say go cheap for the small things and go quality for the big ones. That way you limit your liability for poor quality while saving money.

  2. 2
    Jon Says:

    It’s important, I believe, to pay the premium for quality for those things which you’re going to get a lot of use out of. I like to buy quality shoes, from Redwing or Florsheim, because they’ll wear forever, and provide maximum comfort. When buying tools, if it’s something I’m going to use over and over again, I’ll spring for Craftsman or Snap-On, but if it’s something I’m only gonna use once, I’ll buy the cheap version from Harbor Freight. Appliances and home furnishings, it’s best to pay for a little extra quality, if you hope to get five, ten, or twenty years use out of it.

  3. 3
    Noadi Says:

    I’m with Jon, I go for quality when it’s something I’ll get a lot of use out of. For example I recently spent a painful amount of money for a new camera. Now I really needed a new one, I have to take product photos for my business and my old camera is in bad shape. I did a lot of research and read a lot of reviews before choosing a very nice 12MP camera with good optics and manual controls that also shoots HD video (basically the next step down from a DSLR). I use my camera almost every day, I plan on getting at least 4-5 years of use out of it.

    On the other hand, some things I go with cheap over expensive are things I’m going to wear out quickly or use only once or twice. Socks are a great example, I tend to wear my socks around the house instead of slippers, which I find too hot, and wear holes in them. So I buy cheap comfy cotton socks and don’t care if they get ruined. I buy used furniture for the same reason, I have a large dog and she’s pretty rough on furniture. I’d rather get a used couch and put a slip cover on it than buy a nice new one and have the dog ruin it.

  4. 4
    David Says:

    I am an American expatriate living in Ukraine, where incomes are a fraction of those in the U.S. but many items cost as much or more. Here, buying quality is a recognized necessity, and pays off many times over.
    That said, many Americans don’t take the time to learn to recognize quality in many items, thinking that brand names alone are sufficient. Many store brand food items are every bit as good as name brands–often made by the same plants–as one simple example.
    It appears that for now the “disposable society” is in decline–let us hope that continues.
    When buying something you are not familiar with, it is also good to do your homework to learn to recognize what real quality is in that kind of goods. That will also help you be satisfied with your purchase, knowing it was the best available option of quality, price, and value.

  5. 5
    bodark Says:

    First – Happy Holidays to everyone!

    Quality… If it is what you make your living with, buy the absolute best you can. Wrenches or calculators… it will make life better.

    And when you buy for your significant other: Women love clear and sparkly diamonds, and a no self respecting man would turn down fine whiskey (unless he didn’t drink, then whatever it is he does).

    All the best to everyone and May the Lord bless you and yours during this holiday season!

  6. 6
    Evan Says:

    I think there is a skill in determining which products/services you should apply quality vs. price calculations.

    I just had this discussion the other day, I can’t remember the product, but I remember saying to my co-worker I could buy 3 of product X before meeting Product Y’s cost.

  7. 7
    John @ Hard Work = Blogging Says:

    I prefer a mix of quality vs price. I’ll group products into quality/feature tiers. Then i’ll determine the tier level i need. Then i’ll make my determinations within a level based on price.

    Sure i may not get the best quality items. But this way i am not spending for more than i need for items. I may only get the one that last 100 years instead of 150 years but i don’t need those extras.

  8. 8
    John DeFlumeri Jr Says:

    Balance and planning make the most sense. Quality is usually worth the money, but not on something you’ll never use.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  9. 9
    Funny about Momey Says:

    Well said!

    When I first entered singlehood and believed I soon would be living under the Seventh Avenue Overpass, I determinedly bought everything on the cheap, following the model of a successful cheapskate pal.

    This led to a series of Big Mistakes, signal among which was the “bargain” Monkey Ward washer and dryer. True…I got the pair of them for the price of one good Kenmore.

    Truer: a year or so later I had to shell out the price of one good Kenmore. The washer started to crap out within months, and since I had no children with me, it only ran a couple loads a week.

    The dryer ran well, though, and for a long time. Maybe a dryer is a simpler device?

    I prefer to spend more for things that will last several years — especially clothing, which I’m not interested in replacing every six months. And shoes: for women, shoes that a) are not bone-crushers and b) don’t look like Granma’s orthopedics are mighty pricey.

  10. 10
    LeanLifeCoach Says:

    I grew up in a family that put more weight in quality than in quantity and lived my life that way; until a few years ago.

    Professionally I was introduced the business concepts of Lean Management. I have since applied many of these principles into my personal life with great success.

    One of the core concepts is to buy the items with the “best cost not the lowest cost.” You have to look at more than just the purchase price; you also have to look at the cost of use as well.

    Quality is very subjective anyway. Which has better quality; a Monte Blanc pen or a Bic pen? I have found both to be dependable but considering how often I misplace pens a Bic is the better option.

  11. 11
    Doctor Stock Says:

    Interesting… I’m cautious always… but willing to commit to the purchase after ample research.

  12. 12
    Pastor Jim Kibler Says:

    Great article. How refreshing to find someone who does not have a poverty mentality. It seem like my life work to get the poverty mentality out of the people in my church and as I do financial increase conferences around the country. Less is not always best.

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