There is a time for quantity and a time for quality. There is a difference between cheap and frugal. Being a good financial steward doesn’t mean being cheap.
Being cheap often stems from a hoarding-money mentality… sometimes even a love of money. It can stem from being scared to spend money.
But it often backfires. You spend less and get what you pay for, as they say (whoever they are). So instead of going for quality and buying something once, or infrequently, you buy a new something every few months because you bought a cheap something.
There are ways to save money on everything, but saving money doesn’t mean being cheap.
The idea behind being a savvy shopper and a good steward is to spend money on the important things and then you can feel free to buy cheap for the unimportant things — the things that don’t need to be quality.
Quality usually lasts long enough to make the prices come out the same if not better.
So let’s look at some of the important places to not go cheap…
In the Closet
You don’t need to spend $100 on a t-shirt or $500 on jeans. That being said, the idea is to own fewer clothes, so you can spend more on the ones you do own, keeping in mind that they’ll last much longer than the cheap stuff.
Regardless of how much you spend on daily clothes, don’t skimp on these things…
You’re walking around in these all day. You don’t want the cheap stuff. If you’re a runner, you need good shoes, and if you’re running a lot, you need to be replacing them every three to six months. Even your daily walkers need to be comfortable. We must protect our feet. Amazon comes to the rescue for this one. If you’re worried about getting the wrong size, you can always send them back and try again.
This is one of those things you may have bought cheap your whole life. Men tend to do this more than women, and since I’m a man and I don’t want this to get awkward, I’m going to focus specifically on men’s underwear.
I just said I didn’t want this to get awkward, and then immediately said, “I’m going to focus specifically on men’s underwear.” Seems like I failed. Anyway, once you’ve experienced quality underwear, you’ll never go back. Underwear protects you, and [most of] you wear it all day long, so it’s important not to skimp on quality.
Good underwear is going to cost you around $20 and up per pair, but do you really need more than eight pairs of underwear? I highly recommend Saxx Underwear. The quality is there, they feel great, and they last, which means it’s not really much more expensive than buying cheap underwear more often. Try a couple pairs. if you decide they’re for you, replace your whole drawer. Plus, when it comes to light travel, Saxx Underwear takes up half the space of most cheap underwear.
I know I said I wouldn’t get into women’s underwear, but ladies, from what I’ve heard, it’s worth it to get quality bras. If you buy cheap bras, I’d suggest looking into all the reasons you shouldn’t be.
This is up to you, but there are plenty of places to get high-quality, gently-worn clothing and I think this is your best bet. But you don’t need gently-worn underwear. See above for that. Don’t be gross.
In the Kitchen
Do you need the most expensive dishes? Not really. What about your kitchen table? Buy what you like, buy there is no reason to buy a brand new one. Basic utensils? You can find those inexpensively.
Here are the kitchen areas where you should fork out the money (see what I did there?)…
It is possible to spend reasonably and eat healthy meals. We do it for under $400 a month. We have many tricks to make this possible. You don’t want to slash this part of your budget. Your health is too important to be eating cheap, processed foods.
5. Kitchen Knives
Cheap knives are frustrating and you end up buying a new set every few years (or just using dull knives). Find some good knives that will last you a lifetime. You have a lot of options. And it’s not like you have to spend $1,000. A couple hundred bucks can get you a great set.
Read reviews and find a quality set. Here are a couple options:
6. Garbage Bags
Cheap bags tear and you end up using twice as many. Go for quality in this area. Find some good Amazon reviews on trash bags and pay a few bucks more.
In the Bedroom
Do you need a fancy $5,000 bedroom set? Why would you? All you do in your bedroom is sleep if you’re doing it right… ok, that’s not all you do in there, but kids read this blog, so…
Here are some things you just need to pay for…
You probably already know the importance of a good mattress, or at least if you think about it, you could see why it’s important. You’ll be asleep for 1/3 of your life. Even though we still don’t really understand sleep and what it actually is, we do know that this is when our bodies repair and regenerate. A good night’s sleep means a productive day. Good sleep also leads to weight loss and of course, a higher energy level.1 Don’t sleep on a cheap mattress.
You can get mattresses online too. You may want to go into a store to try them out, but online will provide more cost comparison.
8. Bed Sheets
While we’re on the topic of sleeping, another thing to spend money on is your bed sheets. For all the same reasons you spend a lot on your mattress. It’s important to be comfortable while you’re sleeping. Quality sheets will outlast the typical junk you buy off the shelf. Go for a high thread count and a nice material. You only need, at most, two sets of sheets per bed.
I think you get the point about sleep. Find quality pillows. Be willing to spend money on anything that helps you sleep at night (literally).
10. Blackout Curtains
Speaking of anything that helps you sleep, blackout curtains are one of those things. Buy high enough quality that they actually do their job.
In the Bathroom
You probably don’t need to fully remodel your bathroom. Ikea makes some great, inexpensive rugs for in front of the shower. The little shelves you find that barely fit in the bathroom are usually pretty affordable too.
Here are the places to sink your money in the bathroom (ok, I’ll stop with the puns)…
11. Toilet Paper
Why are you still buying cheap toilet paper? Or as Tim Ferriss says, why are you still buying single-ply? This is another one of those things you probably did when you first started life and you’ve just stuck with buying the cheap stuff. It’s worth it to get the good stuff in this area.
Your skin is your largest organ. Don’t skimp on the products you use to clean it.
Cheap deodorant is full of chemicals, like most cheap hygiene and cleaning products. I have been loving Lume’s natural deodorant lately. It’s not just for your pits; it’s for your underparts and your feet too. Men, your spouse will thank you.
In the Garage
I’m not going to include your car here, but you should go see what I say about cars in, 6 Things You Should Buy Used. Long story short, you don’t want to buy a $1,000 car every three months, but you also don’t want to buy a $50,000 car just because you’re frustrated with your junker.
Here’s where to spend your money in the garage…
When it comes to tools, you want quality, but I’m going to let Kevin Kelly sum up this point, because this advice is pure gold:
Buying tools: Start by buying the absolute cheapest tools you can find. Upgrade the ones you use a lot. If you wind up using some tool for a job, buy the very best you can afford.Kevin Kelly
15. Car Cleaning Products
If you were smart about it, you bought a fairly-used, affordable car you can rely on. You want to keep it clean, because we all want to be good stewards of the things we own. That means you don’t want to clean it with cheap, harsh chemicals. Go ahead and go for the quality stuff.
Around the House
A few leftovers that didn’t really fit in the other sections…
Buying cheap lightbulbs can be wasteful. You’ll replace them more often and use more energy, which means you’re really not saving much in the first place. Look at the life of the bulb before you buy it. Or, if you live in Europe like we do, just assume that because everything is 220 volts, all of your bulbs are going to blow regardless of what you do. Pity party over.
17. Cleaning Products
You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money on cleaning products. You can easily make your own. Just don’t buy the cheap stuff with all the unknown chemicals. You don’t want those chemicals destroying the quality things you’ve spent money on and you don’t want those chemicals in the air.
I’m on the fence with this one. You want quality so you don’t have to replace appliances often, but you don’t need to sink thousands into your fridge, oven, washer, dryer, etc. Go for a decent brand. Shop around. And stay away from rent-to-own stores. We prefer to buy our appliances used. I recommend it . You’ll stretch your dollar and get a quality appliance.
One final point is this: don’t skimp on your giving!
Ok, what did I forget? Let me know below!
Further Book Reading
- Budgeting for Kids: How to Teach Budgeting From Age 3 to 18
- 8 Minimalism Books to Help You Declutter Your Entire House
- How to Travel Light With Kids (A Comprehensive Guide)
- The Complete Guide to Saving for and Sending Your Kids to College
- Your Kids’s First Car: Everything You Need to Know
- The System We Use to Pay Our 5 Kids for Work Around the House
- Pullen, C. 2017, June 6. 7 Ways Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight. Healthline.