Should You Pay More Money for Quality?

Is it more frugal to buy quality items or to shop for the lowest price? That question frequently comes up in discussions about living frugally. There’s no doubt that quality is important. After all, it’s not very frugal to have to replace broken items frequently.

However, many people who are trying to live frugally are doing so because they have no extra money to spare. Price is important, and many people out there cannot afford top quality. Or can they?

Does it have to be a question of quality or price? Can you not try to have both?

Shop for Quality…at the Lowest Price

I stopped at our local Fred Meyer last week to pick up a few groceries. As I entered the store, I looked to my right and saw a HUGE clothing clearance sale! Everything was 70% off the lowest marked clearance price.

Of course I put off the grocery shopping to look around. The sale must have been going on for a while, because the pickin’s were slim. However, I found some Dockers pants in just my size, clearanced to $34. After the 70% off, I paid less than $11 for a pair of Dockers.

You can find quality at low prices. You just have to plan ahead. The pants I bought were cords, so I won’t be able to wear them much longer, as the weather warms up. But when the weather cools down in the fall, I’ll pull out my $11 Dockers, instead of paying $49 for new good quality pants that are in season, or paying $11 for a cheap pair of pants that will wear out in a few weeks.

Don’t Forget About Yard Sales and Craigslist

Years ago, when my youngest was a baby, I did a brief stint in the eBay business. I would go to yard sales and pick up high quality children’s clothing, priced under a dollar, and I’d resell them for several dollars a piece.

I frequently found high quality pieces of clothing for mere pennies! Last summer I found a whole summer wardrobe for my daughter at 50 cents per piece of clothing. Some of it was brand new. A grandmother was getting rid of it, because she had bought it for her grandchild, who didn’t like it.

Craigslist is another good place to look for high quality items at low prices. Often when people need money quickly, they will sell possessions on Craigslist. So if you’re looking for something in particular, you may find it on Craigslist for much less than you’d pay if you were to buy it brand new.

So it is possible to find high quality items at low prices. You just need to plan ahead and be patient enough to wait until you find the right deal.


By , on Mar 3, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Simple in France:

    Living in France where people don’t just cast off their lightly used clothes, furniture etc after a year or two, I miss Craigslist!!

    But I do agree that buying something to last is generally better than buying something to throw away. I try to think in terms of cost per years of use.

  2. Diana:

    Furniture —

    Since this is most often a long-term investment, quality is key but you can get some great prices. Back in ’05, I needed to furnish a home and made some dumb mistakes but also found some great buys.

    I found that, when I went into a furniture store (including on-going businesses as well as those “going out of business”), many desirable items were marked as “sold” when they were not sold out (plenty of inventory on same items). I found true out-let stores to be much better.

    For those of you in the west, Stupid Prices is awesome. I stumbled upon it when I passed by it one day. Curiousity got the cat. I went in and looked at their wares. They were all high quality. I purchased a leather living room set for less than half of the same exact items sold by Costco! I went back several times to purchase small decorative itms and gifts for others.

  3. Karen Foster:

    I have a 2 year old daughter and a son due any day and Craigslist is the best thing for kids clothes since sliced bread!

    I absolutely can not imagine paying retail (or even on sale) kids clothes. Only grandma’s are allowed to do that in our family :)

    I love not worrying about stains if my daughter walks in mud-puddles or sits down and digs in dirt for hours like she did all last summer.

  4. AngelSong:

    I quickly learned the value of Craigslist when we first moved into our home in 2007. We needed several pieces of furniture and a new bed, and we did not have the money to buy the items from a store, but we did find excellent furniture in really good shape for very reasonable prices. I was walking through a Goodwill store a few years ago, and found a crockpot for five dollars. It did not have a lid…but I had a lid that fit it perfectly at home. I used that crockpot for YEARS before it needed to be replaced.

    Sometimes, it does make good sense to pay a little more for items that need to last for a long time.

  5. Ted:

    We apply this to our car purchases as well. My previous car costs us around $7,000 in repairs in one year (yeah that killed us debt wise). So we make sure we buy hiqher quality vehicles to hopefully take down the repair costs. Then keep them for a really long time. Hoping to balance out the repair costs.

    Shoes as well. I try and buy nicer shoes as they will last longer and be better for my feet.

    And toilet paper and paper towels.

    Hopefully over time you save money by buying higher quality. Short term can be tough on the wallet unless you are finding sales.

  6. I totally agree that you should find the best bang for your buck! Better quality lasts longer, saving you money but you don’t want to pay the high premium. A keen eye at wholesale places like BJ’s can get you great stuff for lower costs.

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