Buying Quality vs. Buying Cheap

by Tim on August 8, 2011

The cheap ones get here sooner

I hate it when things break, don’t you?  Maybe you can relate to what happened to me last week.  We just finished moving into our new place and unpacked our appliances.  Now before I share about the great appliance mishap, let me preface quickly.

We couldn’t take the microwave from our old apartment because it was built into the kitchen.  My wife’s parents had an old (but sturdy) microwave that looked bulky and, well, old.  They also had a newer looking, cheaper brand microwave that looked nice.  They offered either one to us to pack and take with us – so we opted for the new shiny one.

Now fast forward to the great appliance mishap.  The new shiny microwave hadn’t been plugged in for more than one day before it died.  Go figure, right.  All the while, the old, wood grain-laminate, quality made microwave sat in a garage 300 miles away just waiting to be used.

The remedy….or so we thought.

Microwaves aren’t too expensive, right?  Well, the cheap ones are inexpensive, yes.  So being the tightwad that I am, I opted for the cheaper, lower level microwave at Walmart.  A microwave is a microwave is a microwave, right?

Well, I’m sure the inexpensive microwaves can do the job just fine, but apparently this one didn’t want to function.  After setting it up, we realized that it wouldn’t heat up any of our food.  We ended up biting the bullet and returning the cheap brand microwave.  We forked over a little more money and bought a microwave that had solid reviews and good specs.

Lesson learned?

That old saying, “you get what you pay for,” has truth to it, and it took two nonworking microwaves for me to finally get it.

Instead of buying new, we probably could have saved some money by purchasing a quality microwave that was used, but we didn’t want to go through another appliance breakdown and not have the option of returning it.

Moving forward, I’ll probably start leaning more toward buying quality items over the cheaper version but it’s going to be a challenge.  I was the person who always looked at the less expensive goods and didn’t think about the quality and its potential to last long.  Now that I’m married and we’re filling our house with things that will hopefully last for years to come, I’m seeing the value in buying quality goods over the cheap, inexpensive items.

Have you had a similar experience yourself?  What would you pay a little more for because the quality is worth it to you?

Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan. Find him on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to the Faith and Finance RSS feed.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Judith August 8, 2011 at 7:11 am

I’m always waiting for a sales and then buy quality stuff at half price


krantcents August 8, 2011 at 11:30 am

Many times the inexpensive choice ends up being considerably more expensive because you end up replacing it over and over again. You don’t have to buy the absolute best of everything to find quality items, it just takes some research.


blairsville georgia real estate August 9, 2011 at 12:19 am

Even i dont have any such hard rules while buying things, i just go with the flow, and if i am in the mood to buy some quality stuff, i go fot it, and if i find some low quality thing equally good, i get it also!


Erin August 9, 2011 at 2:12 am

Those old machines works a lot better than those new ones, I love prefer old and works !


Tim @ Faith and Finance August 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm

@ Krantcents – you’re right. A little research goes a long way. Consumer Reports is a good resource if you’re ok with paying for the info.


Invest It Wisely August 16, 2011 at 7:23 am

Buying for quality definitely has its benefits but you always have to evaluate the cost/benefit tradeoff.

Personally I prefer quality over cheap for items I expect I will use for a long time and want good performance out of; in other cases, like when I go camping and want some utensils to use over the fire, I will go for cheap since I will likely recycle or throw it out afterwards.


PCL January 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Some of the comments here illustrate why I hate the expression “You get what you pay for.” Bad grammar aside, it’s only true some of the time, and when it’s not, it’s often used by people hawking over-priced goods and services, hoping that you’ll just assume that a high price guarantees quality. With enough research and vigilance, you can often get the quality you want at a decent price. Very expensive products like $3000 ranges, cutting edge televisions and feature-dripping washing machines often have either un-proven, trouble-prone features or extreme qualities that may justify the expense to one buyer while just annoying many others. I have a $300 GE TV from 1988 that has “just worked” for 23 years during which it has needed exactly one repair; with the DTV conversion, the picture is sharper than ever and the color is still better than on my other (flat screen) TV. During that time, many of my friends bought cutting-edge TOTL TVs that only lasted a few years before their risky design got the better of them. The truth is that you have to research the market to have much hope of getting “what you pay for”.


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