I generally agree with most of what I read on Wise Bread. It’s a site full of helpful advice, money-saving tips, and unique ideas. This article, however, really does not fit any of those categories.
The author begins the post by saying:
In general, I’m a cheapskate. I look for the lowest-priced deal I can get away with. But with certain items, I look for quality rather than the lowest prices. Particularly when it comes to health and safety, buying quality items is worth it and may actually save you money in the long run. Having a long-term view of your purchases can help you to buy frugally, but also wisely.
She goes on to list 15 categories of items that should be purchased for quality – which means without regard to price. I definitely agree that there are some things that we should spend extra money on, for various reasons. Either they will last longer, they will better do what they are supposed to do, or they are just more enjoyable to own and use. The problem I have with the article is that she lists FIFTEEN categories that basically cover every possible expenditure I can think of. If all of these items should be bought for quality and not for price, how can she call herself frugal? (If you don’t want to be frugal, that’s fine by me. But don’t call yourself frugal if you really aren’t.)
Here are some of her categories (comments in italics are mine):
Food – If there is one area that I think we can make decisions solely on cost, this would be it. Off-brands are almost always as good as brand names. I will admit that there are several items that we choose to buy brand-name because of quality. The trick is to find the ones that you don’t care about (or can’t tell a difference) and buy cheap there, saving your money for the things that are more important to you.
Wine – She says, “Life is too short for cheap wine.” I don’t know what “cheap” means to her, but I do know that we can get decent wine for a decent price at our local grocery store. In fact, that’s the only wine we’re going to drink! If it’s expensive, it’s not for us.
Chocolate – Seriously? This is how I know a chick wrote this article.
Luggage – For the amount that most people travel, I think average luggage is perfectly acceptable. I bought a suitcase 15 years ago for $30, and I haven’t had to replace it until this year. I’d call that frugal.
Electronics – We are electronics junkies in our house. I am definitely not against buying expensive toys. But this, of all areas, could be the one that could be entirely cut out if you were trying to live frugally!
So, there’s my thoughts on a few of her categories. (There were more.) Admittedly, I’m coming from a different place than she is. We are in debt-crisis-mode – no spending that isn’t absolutely necessary. That changes my definition of “frugal” a bit. But when every category is covered under “quality is more important than price,” I think we’re thinking about things the wrong way.
Think of it this way: It’s one thing to have a definite preference for a certain kind of toilet paper. That’s usually balanced out because you can buy cheap shampoo, for instance – that’s not something you care about. But if you must have a certain kind of toilet paper AND shampoo AND orange juice AND diapers – if there’s nothing you can save money on – then you can’t call yourself frugal. That’s what I felt this article did.
So, tell me, am I being too hard on her? Do all of these categories require a “Quality over Price” mindset? Let me know what you think!