While I am all for being frugal and watching where you spend your money, there comes a line sometimes that you should not cross just to save a few bucks. If you buy something cheap that is only going to break or need repairs after a short time of owning it, you really are not saving yourself any money at all, but rather spending even more than you would have in the first place. Believe me, I have been there and have slowly learned my lesson about this. Here are some tips for you to avoid the frugal vs. long term cost dilemma:
Tip #1 – Do not buy poor-quality stuff.
When you are set to buy something that normally costs a good amount of money, do not instead go for the cheap version. If you have to, save up your money until you can afford the product that is well built and will last a while. An example would be buying furniture that is made from particleboard like some of the stuff at Target, Wal-Mart and IKEA. Most of that stuff is just wood veneer over particleboard, and within a few years it will probably start falling apart. Instead, save some more cash and spend the money on solid wood pieces that will last you a lifetime, will never need repair, and you can pass on to your kids if need be. In the long run, it’s less expensive than buying cheap products every few years.
Tip #2 – Do not buy something just because it is on sale.
We have all fallen for it…you read the ads in the paper and see something that seems like a steal at that price. But do you really need it? Just because it is there in front of you on sale does not need that you have to go buy it. I talk about this with my mom all the time, as she buys things “because they were on sale” but when I ask her if she needed them, she says no, not really. What sense does that make? Just because a waffle maker/toaster oven/ironing board combo is on sale does not mean you need it.
Tip #3 – Spend some money on life experiences.
Sure, it might not cost you a fortune in actual dollars, but not spending quality time with your family and/or doing the things that you love will cost you some mental health. We only get to live once; do you want to be so frugal that you never experience what life has to offer? Save up and take your family on vacation, take your wife on a date, treat your kids to a day at the amusement park. The experiences will reap bigger rewards than saving a few bucks could ever give back.
Tip #4 – Do not buy more stuff than you will ever use.
Stocking up on 15 gallons of orange juice when it is on sale doesn’t make any sense when 12 of those gallons will go bad before you get a chance to drink them. Buying some food in bulk can save you money; but buying food that quickly goes bad does not. If you are buying a lot more of anything than you could possibly use before it breaks/goes bad/expires, you are not saving money. You are throwing away good money that could be used for other expenses.
Tip #5 – When it comes time to repair something, spend the money necessary.
Ever needed a car repair, taken it in to the shop, and taken the cheap repair option? I know I used to do that, only to have my car break down again a month later. There are certain things that just require you to spend money in order to have it done right. If you need new tires for your car, don’t opt for the $15 ones that are on the sale rack…after all, it is your safety at sake here. If your roof needs fixing, don’t immediately accept the lowest bid from a contractor without checking references. Paying only once for a repair is the goal; if you have to pay 2 or 3 times for the same repair, are you really saving any money?
There is a difference between being frugal and being cheap. Do not be cheap…just be frugal. Frugal means watching where your money goes, making due with what you have, and finding creative ways to make your life easier while not spending a lot of money. Being cheap makes you run backwards – you end up spending more and missing out on more than you would have had you just been smart rather than cheap.