When to Pay More

Last month during our grocery shopping run I decided to switch to a new coffee and am now paying almost double the price.  Did I hit my head or something?  No, I decided I wanted to drink a better cup of coffee in the morning and I was frankly willing to drink less coffee overall to do it.  Overall it is still costing us more, but I’m ok with that. You see despite the fact this blog has lots of posts on how to reduce your spending on food, housing, insurance, and tax, there are points in your life when spending more is really worth it either for a personal reason like my coffee or to invest in quality.

The problem with spending more is it isn’t always obvious that paying more means you are getting better quality.  In some cases you pay more to just get ripped off.  So when does it makes sense to pay more?  Here are a few places you should consider looking at:

1) Your Bed – You will spend more almost as much time on your bed as you do at your job.  So please take the time to do some research and get yourself a good bed.  A good bed will actually help your health if you have issues with your back. But be carefully here as a lot of beds are very similar and there is a price difference on brand names that won’t always give you quality.  Personally, I happened to inherit a foam mattress when I moved out that had barely been used and I’m still sleeping on it 13 years later.  I just have to rotate the mattress every six months or so and regardless of the price when I buy a new one I’m going to get another foam one.

2) Your Cookware – Cheap non stick pans and crappy pots aren’t worth it is they must be replaced every few years.  Suck it up and invest in cookware if you are using it daily.  Think more in terms of cost per use.  If a pot costs double or triple your previous one, but lasts 10 times longer it is a bargain.  Pay the money and take care of it.  For example, never put a post on full power on your stove top…you don’t need that much heat to boil water.  Most often 3/4 power will work just fine.  Also just because you can put something in the dishwasher doesn’t mean you should.  We never put our pots in the dishwasher and guess what…they never warp on us.

3) Your Coat and Boots – If you live somewhere cold in the winter, please for the love of your fingers and toes invest in some good outerwear.  Trust me I’ve tried the cheap boots method and I didn’t like the results as all, so my next pair I’m sucking it up and investing in a good pair of boots again.  Also the same applies to a coat, get what will work best for your climate and don’t worry if you have to pay more.  Think again of cost per use.

4) Your Business – About five years ago I bought a good laser printer for my writing work.  At the time it cost about three times the cost of a cheap inkjet.  I recently just paid over a $100 for a new toner for my printer (since it finally was running out), but that should now last me another 4 to 5 years.  So yes it was expensive, but given what I use it for it pays for itself nicely and it does a much better job.  Depending on your business, it pays to invest in good quality things that you will use a lot or if it will save you a lot of time.

So as you can see a good place to invest in quality and pay more are things you will use often.  Paying more for something you only use once a year is a questionable investment.  Also you have to change your mindset when shopping for quality to cost per use rather than the initial price tag.  If you can buy a solid hardwood table than you kids can use once you die, it might be good idea to spend some money up front and then never replace it.

11 thoughts on “When to Pay More”

  1. Ha ha, the coffee quandary. It took my wife and I about a year and a half to pay off all of our student debt. During that time we always purchased the cheapest coffee and would buy it in bulk when it was on sale. Once the debt was paid off the first thing my wife did was switch to her favorite brand which was over double the price. Since paying off the debt we still stick to our budget but this was one thing she no longer wanted to compromise on. I think its great to be able to reward ourselves for our accomplishment and its nice to know that we appreciate and get pleasure out of small things such as a good cup of joe.

  2. I’ll add to the coffee suggestion with food. You don’t need to spend more, but spend the right amount to get decent food. Raman noodles and hot dogs a will save money, but it’s not good. If you invested in nice pots, you might as well also put something tasty and good for you in them. That said, if you know how to cook, then healthy food doesn’t cost as much and tastes better than most people think.

  3. Good post.

    Something interesting I found out recently when trying to do exactly what you suggest in point #1 is that it is very difficult to do any kind of research on mattresses. There is a dearth of quality information available on mattresses, and very little of what is available is provided by independent sources. Consumer Reports and other trustworthy websites don’t seem to want to touch the subject, which leaves the consumer either reading scattered reviews on retailer websites or getting word-of mouth feedback, both of which are against my hyperanalytical nature.

    In the end, I’ve come to the conclusion that the return policy of the retailer is more important than the popularity of the brand. It may be that a Sealy/Serta/Simmons/Tempurpedic is appropriate for me, but how will I know unless I try it out?

    Anyone else have any luck with due diligence on a mattress purchase?

  4. A great original idea for an article. Sometimes we get so caught up in always looking for the best deal and to save money that we forget the cheapest doesn’t always mean the best value!

    The best value is what is important at the end of the day in every area, but especially the ones you outlined. It can be applied to something like a car purchase, or any major appliance. Instead of looking for the cheapest one, or the most expensive one (while subscribing to the whole, “You get what you pay for,” theory)look for the one that simply offers the most quality per dollar.

  5. Bed and shoes.

    Because I will spend a lot of my time laying on the former or wearing the latter, I want to make sure I buy something comfortable even if it means paying more. I recall buying my bed about 12 years ago. It was a high-riser, a mattress which slides under another mattress (no boxspring) to save space. With the showroom salesman’s permission, I took off my shoes and practiced laying on different mattresses in various sleeping positions so I could make sure I bought the one which felt the most comfortable. If it cost me an extra $50 or $100 that was fine because this will last me 15 or 20 years. If I looked a little silly I did not care because I would rather look a little silly now than be sleeping badly every night for years after.

    Shoes don’t cost me nearly as much as beds, of course, but I surely don’t need to have achy feet from a bad pair of shoes. The last time bought shoes, I tried out about 4 different paris and only one of them felt comfortable. I try to mimic the dance moves after I try them with sudden starts and stops and changes in direction to make sure the shoes didn’t hurt my feet or ankles. The one pair I liked was the most expensive pair (about $50) but the extra $10 was well spent.

  6. My wife and I have a hard time making large purchases. But when we finally do, its after a ton of online research. We usually end up buying the best product, regardless of price… although in my experience you generally get what you pay for.

  7. I totally agree. I think managing money well and being frugal is all about balance. To me it’s about spending money on the things that really matter to you and saving on the rest. I personally splurge on good clothes for work, pilates classes, and a nice yard since we spend a lot of time in it.

  8. Definite +1 on winter coats. I realized this year that I’m still wearing the same winter coat that my parent bought for me in high school (16 years ago). It is actually wearing out, but it’s still super warm (down-filled gore-tex) so I’m having a hard time deciding to replace a functional coat.
    Maybe next winter….

  9. Agree! Buy something nice to reward yourself to effectively fend off the feeling of being deprived!

  10. Agreed about Kitchen items. Have been using some cheap canadian tire henckels for the past 2 years. They aren’t bad but are starting to fall apart and no longer hold an edge. Just dropped $130 oh a good Wusthof and fully expect it to be going strong when i die 60-70 years from now!

Comments are closed.