While I am a staunch frugalite, I am not a cheapskate! In fact, price is but one of many factors I consider when making a purchase, no matter how large or small. Like anyone else, however, I’ve made mistakes in the past that serve as continual reminders that good deals don’t always pay!
You get what you pay for…
Here are three examples that cheaper is not always better.
1. As a child growing up, my father bought ten $25 dollar lawnmowers in the span of approximately 10 years.
Problematic behavior: Although he only spent $25 each year on mowers, the trouble far out-weighed the savings. The mowers were hard to start, and rarely ran properly. We had to go purchase, pick up, and haul a “new” piece of junk home each and every spring. My father ended up spending $250 on lawnmowers and put up with a lot of headaches in search of a “good deal.” In the end, he ended up spending more than a new mower would’ve cost in the first place.
Healthy behavior: The above example doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy used. Rather, the lesson here is that you should look at more than price alone when searching for a deal. Instead of purchasing cheap mowers, my father would have been better served by buying one brand new mower for $150, maintaining it each year, and enjoying the benefits of a trouble-free machine.
2. My wife has a friend who has gotten a “good deal” at garage sales nearly every summer weekend of her life for the past 15 years.
Problematic behavior: While she’s getting a “good deal, ” she’s also accumulating a ton of crap that she doesn’t need or use. My wife and I recently spent an entire Saturday helping her move, and we couldn’t believe the enormous collection of unused goods that she has — and continues to add to. All in the name of getting a good deal!
Healthy behavior: My wife’s friend is actually wasting both money and time with her garage sale addiction. If she either used the goods, or turned around and sold them for a profit, then she’d be practicing wise behavior. Instead, she accumulates and forgets. This is a perfect illustration of how getting a “good price” doesn’t automatically translate into a good buy. A healthy change would be to de-clutter and focus on living simply. Another idea would be for her to start selling her stuff on eBay — ideally at a profit.
3. I saved some money by having a “friend of a friend” do the the body work on my Jeep Cherokee – he started in December of 2008 and, to date (July of 2009), has yet to complete the work.
Problematic behavior: You may remember the story… My wife and I are currently a one car couple. We saved money by having an friend of a friend fix our Jeep, but… Here we are, seven months later and we are still without the extra set of wheels, and are pulling our hair out dealing with this guy. Beyond the frustration of waiting, I’ve also kept the vehicle insured (I pay my insurance in 6 month intervals) because I assumed I’d have it back within a few weeks.
Healthy behavior: While I should’ve done a better job of checking out the repairman, this whole thing can be blamed on me wanting to get a “good deal.” Because I hadn’t properly budgeted for this sort of repair in the past, I made decisions I wouldn’t have normally made. Lesson learned??? Budget for the unexpected so you won’t be blindsided when the unexpected happens. Your emergency fund is your friend. Luckily, I have receipts for the money I’ve paid this guy, but the time and frustration involved have made me rethink the definition of a “good deal”!
What about you?
I’m sure we’ve all had experiences similar to those outlined above. Do you have any recent examples of “good deals” that backfired on you? What lessons did you learn?