It’s no secret that I am a reformed cheapskate. I used to cheap out on all kinds of things: food, clothing, utilities, toilet paper—the list can go on. It took some time and practice to understand the difference between being cheap and being frugal. Eventually, I learned to appreciate quality and sustainability over rock-bottom prices.
It can be challenging to determine what’s worth the cost, especially when income and value differences are taken into account. What’s worth the investment to someone might be considered an unimaginable luxury to another. The decision to spend or invest comes down to personal affordability and comfort.
Consider What You Cheap Out On
Ultimately, it’s important to reflect on what’s genuinely an expense versus an investment. What purchases are you penny-pinching or avoiding altogether? Will these decisions hurt you in the long run?
Here are some common things that you may end up paying for later if you cheap out now:
It’s estimated that human beings spend nearly one-third of their lives sleeping. That’s a lot of time to be sleeping on a substandard mattress. Save yourself from years of potential back pain and sleep loss by acquiring a comfortable, high-quality mattress.
A good mattress doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. With many styles available on the market, price points and promotion opportunities vary. Compare options online and directly through mattress manufacturers, big box stores, factory outlets, and liquidation warehouses. Some manufacturers even offer trial periods that allow you to try a mattress anywhere from thirty days to one year, during which you can decide to return, exchange, or keep the product.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your physical and mental health. Investing in a quality mattress means investing in your overall health.
If you own a vehicle, then buy some quality tires. Ensure they’re a matching set and keep them maintained. Not only do good tires offer improved fuel efficiency, but they also provide better traction, grip, and control. Skimping on tires can lead to dangerous or deadly accidents. Are the savings from buying cheap tires really worth potentially jeopardizing your or your passengers’ safety?
How often are you on your feet? Well-made shoes will save you from having to spend money on frequently replacing shoes in the long run. Poor-quality footwear tends to succumb to wear and tear more quickly than others.
Shoes with proper support and cushioning will keep your spine properly aligned and reduce strain on your hips, knees, and ankles. Quality footwear is beneficial to your wallet and your health.
4. Health Care
Many Americans struggle to afford quality health care. Unfortunately, some delay or even skip necessary care because of insufficient coverage. I cannot offer a one-size-fits-all solution to affording health care. However, I can share that delaying or skipping necessary care can potentially harm you much more than the cost of health care.
Maintenance costs are a part of life. When we acquire assets, we maintain them in order to increase longevity, reduce costly replacements, and show respect. Our bodies and our lives are assets. Treat your body well. Review your coverage options, whether they are provided by your employer, your community, a non-profit organization, or other financial assistance programs. If and when you require health care services, you’ll have some idea of where to go and what to do to ensure some level of affordability. Skipping health care can lead to far more harmful situations than figuring out how to pay hospital bills.
5. Birth Control/Abstinence
Unplanned pregnancies lead to unexpected costs. There are different paths one could take after discovering an unplanned pregnancy. In all instances, there are both costs and rewards, monetary and otherwise, associated with each decision.
If you want to prevent an unplanned pregnancy, however, it’s wise to invest in birth control or simply abstain. Choosing to cheap out on birth control could cost you 18 years of parenting; that’s so much more expensive than a $12 box of condoms. It’s currently estimated to cost over $300,000 to raise a child from birth to 17 years of age.
6. Home Repairs/Renovations
There are certain repairs that can keep your home or appliances functioning well enough. For example, instead of springing for a new refrigerator, Brian and I were able to keep our fridge up and running by hacking a fuse replacement on the control board.
In order to determine what repairs work and don’t work, you just have to try different things; trial and error is how you learn and understand your boundaries. However, be wary if you’re working with insufficient tools or supplies. There’s a chance that if you cheap out on these items, it could cost you more down the road.
This statement is true even if you’ve hired help; unfortunately, trusting professionals to complete repairs or renovations properly doesn’t always guarantee professional work. We’ve learned this working with contractors on the townhouse as well as rebuilding our master bathroom, which was renovated by the previous owners only a year prior.
Inadequate tools, materials, and/or workmanship could lead to all kinds of damage to your home. There are a number of costly problems that could arise, from waterproofing failures to fire hazards, poor framing, and more.
7. Emergency and Safety Equipment
Skimping on the things that are designed to protect you could put you in real danger. Consider some of the different gear or equipment that is supposed to keep you safe:
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Safety glasses
- Nitrile disposable gloves
- Roadside safety kit
- Heavy-duty work gloves
- Hearing protection
- First aid kit
It’s better to have these items than to go without when you could really use them. The decision to use emergency and safety equipment can impact your overall health and quality of life. Good protection doesn’t need to be expensive, but it should be durable and of good quality.
Be a Smart Shopper
We all have different budgets and values. Consider what’s important to you and shop accordingly. Choosing to cheap out is sometimes the easiest thing to do, but it can lead to more costly outcomes in the future. Are you willing to risk that?
You can avoid being cheap by being a smart shopper. Smart shopping can mean sorting through sales and promotions, securing quality hand-me-downs, or choosing to pay more upfront for quality in order to save more in the long run.
What other purchases could cost more later if discounted now?