It’s a simple truth: You are more likely to have your more expensive belongings repaired. If the heel wears down on that $60 pair of shoes, you probably can’t be bothered to take them to a cobbler. But if you spent $300, you won’t be so quick to throw them away. And for less than the cheap shoes cost, you can have the heels replaced and have the shoes cleaned and polished, so they look almost new.
Being cheap means always paying the lowest price for everything. Being frugal means spending enough money to get your money’s worth. Don’t be cheap; be frugal. Buying the cheapest option isn’t always the best way to save. And dollars and cents aren’t always the best way to measure value either. If you want to save money, time and aggravation, these are three things you should never cheap out on, according to our ValuePenguin research.
1. A Sofa
A sofa is typically the most expensive piece of furniture we buy when furnishing a home. There is a wide range of prices and a wide range of quality. The sweet spot is about $1,800 to $2,000. Why? You can certainly get a sofa for much cheaper, sometimes $1,000 or even less.
Because a well-made sofa can be expected to last as long as 25 years and a low quality one just about five years, when the cushions are so sunken you need a hand up to get out of it and the upholstery is threadbare.
The more expensive sofa, when taken care of, will cost you $40 a year over its lifetime. The $1,000 sofa will cost you $200 a year. Not to mention the hassle of shopping for a new one, the expense of having it delivered and the cost of disposing the old one.
There are some things to look for when choosing a sofa; the frame should be made of kiln-dried hardwood, something like maple, birch or oak. Most cushions are made from polyurethane foam and long lasting ones will feel dense and heavy. Legs should be part of the frame, not detachable.
Moving out? Figure out how to split the costs of your past purchases with your roommate.
2. A Bike
More and more cities are becoming bike-friendly. If you have good bike infrastructure in your city, commuting to work via bike or at least doing some of your errands on a bike can save you money. Plus, it’s good for your health and good for the environment.
According to a 2015 AAA study, it cost $8,698 a year for the average sedan owner. You can certainly get a bike for less than that but if you are going to be biking a lot, you want a quality two-wheeler that is comfortable and reliable. While you can certainly spend much more, you can get a good commuter bike for as little as $300 or $400 according to bicycling.com. Any lower than that and you may have the same problems you encounter when you buy a cheap car: constant repairs. (If you can avoid paying to having your bike tuned up by becoming a “DIY” expert, you can save even more.)
If you’re able to give up your car, that’s a big savings, more than $8,000 a year. But even if you keep the car and use the bike more often, you can save on things like gas, parking and wear and tear on your car.
If you’re new to bike commuting, don’t buy your bike online or from a big box store. Go to a proper bike shop where the staff are knowledgeable and can help you not only pick the best bike for the circumstances of your commute but advise you on the accessories you need: a helmet, lights, and a lock to keep you and your bike safe.
3. A Mattress
A good mattress is an important factor in the quality of your sleep, which is important to the quality of your life. A high-quality mattress can be expected to last 7 to 10 years and can be purchased for $600 to $1,000. You can also buy a mattress for just over $100; that’s fine if it’s for a seldom-used guest room and won’t get a lot of use, but if you’re buying the bed you will sleep on every night, you will be replacing that $100 pretty quickly.
There are other factors that can save us money when we spend more to purchase quality items. We are more likely to properly care for them. If you buy a cheap mattress, for example, you won’t think anything of it when your kids use it as a trampoline. This of course, shortens the mattress’s life even more.
If you had spent a higher amount of money on the mattress, not only will you not allow it to be jumped up and down on, you are more likely to turn in regularly, which evens out wear and can help extend its life.
There are three main types of mattresses: memory foam, adjustable air and innerspring. Do a little research on the best kind for you before you head to the store, so you’re not overwhelmed by the choices once you get there.
Make sure the store or site you buy from has a liberal return policy. Even a high quality mattress won’t be a good purchase if it’s not the right type for your needs and ten years is a long time to be stuck with a mattress you don’t like. And while it is better to invest in a high-quality mattress, which means spending a little more, you can cheap out a bit on the box spring. Despite what a salesperson might tell you, you don’t have to buy the one the store has paired with the mattress. The mattress is much more important than the box spring so you can save a little there.
Not all short-term bargains are a bargain in the long run. Spending a little more up front on these three items is a good investment.