Sunday, August 24, 2014
Can you go TOO cheap?
As a poor student, I once decided to cook everything from scratch. My reasoning was that I enjoyed cooking (well, baking), and it would save me money, plus I would eat healthier. I also decided to buy local, in-season, or cheap food. As a result, I bought cabbage, turnip, dried beans, etc. You can already see the disaster. My beans weren’t fully cooked (it takes hours to cook them!), and I never liked cabbage or turnip. So the result was that I ate out almost every night that week.
Later, a few weeks older and definitely wiser, I bought food I enjoy: eggs, salsa, carrots, lettuce and avocados, tomatoes. I made tomato sandwiches to take with me to avoid buying lunch, made a great salad to eat with an omelet spiced up with salsa. Eventually, I learned to make my own salsa (tastes better than stored-bought, but not cheaper since I couldn’t buy tomatoes at a discount price), bought a bread-maker on sale to make my own bread (I still won’t make it completely by hand), and I can make killer salads and my own salad-dressings. I learned that going too cheap can result in a larger expense to correct the mistake.
One of my friends once bought very cheap bed sheets; after a few washes, they were almost falling apart. Same for socks, too cheap means holes for your toes.
However, there are some items that you CAN go cheap for, without much or any negative effects:
- Food close to the ‘best before’ date – that is what that date means: BEST before – not unsafe or unhealthy to eat after! As well, you can often freeze the food and eat it later.
- Trendy clothes – especially if it’s an item you know you won’t wear for long
- Formal wear, if you are buying for one event – such as a formal dress/gown
- An item on sale because it’s being discontinued; if it doesn’t work, the warranty should still be valid and the company will replace it with one of equivalent value.
- Decorative items; if their sole purpose is to look good and they won’t be handled much, they should last even if cheap.
What NOT to buy because it’s cheap?
- Anything you do not want or do not need: if you hate pink, do not buy a pink shirt because it’s cheap.
- Anything where you suspect the low price reflects the low quality
- Anything sold ‘as is’ if you are not prepared to fix whatever doesn’t work.
So, is it possible to go too cheap? Absolutely, especially if it will be costly to repair the mistake. Be wise in your frugalness.