Cheaper Isn't (Always) Better

by Michael on May 2, 2013

Image of Cheap Magnifiying Glass

In response to yesterday’s money saving tip, a reader named James e-mailed to warn against making decisions based primarily on price:

“Trust me, there are many things more important than a cheap price. Most people just can’t get this through their heads. I have seen countless people burned by the cheap price mentality.”

In short, I couldn’t agree more. Price is just one of many factors that needs to be considered, and the old saying is quite often true… You get what you pay for.

This actually gets at the root of the old frugal vs. cheap argument. Consider the following dictionary definitions:

fruĀ·gal: economical in use or expenditure; not wasteful.

cheap: costing very little; relatively low in price; inexpensive.

Notice how one of these reflects economy and an absence of waste whereas the other just focuses on price? If you make decisions solely based on the lowest price available, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll live to regret it.

But if you can get something of equal quality for a lower price, why wouldn’t you jump at the chance? That’s exactly what we did with respect to our lawn service.

We started by asking around for recommendations. From there, we solicited price quotes. Next, we threw in a bit of personal knowledge (i.e., having seen the quality of the lowest bidder’s work), and then we made an informed decision.

Of course, it’s also important to recognize that sometimes good enough really is good enough. Sure, in some cases you’ll get marginally more at a higher price point, but do you actually need that level of quality or service? Maybe. But maybe not.

The bottom line here is to use your head when making decisions. Cheaper is not always better. But more expensive isn’t necessarily better, either.

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