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Quality Counts

June 25, 2011
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I imagine Harrison Ford paid a little more than I did for his jeans.

When bargain shopping, consider value, not just the lowest price

About seven years ago it was time for me to buy some new jeans. For me, a penny pincher, this occurs only about once every three years.

I was teaching in Nebraska and my wife, Kerri, was finishing up her bachelor’s degree, so money was a little tight. That, coupled with the fact that fashion is not a huge priority of mine, I decided to buy a pair of $10 jeans, the cheapest ones I could find.

I was pretty happy with myself, but Kerri was less than impressed. She is not too caught up in high fashion herself, but she believes in spending a little more money than I would in order to have a higher quality item that will last longer. For her, it was not just that my jeans were unfashionable; they were not put together too well.

Needless to say, my $10 jeans did not last very long. Soon, I had worn holes in the jeans. Kerri handled the next shopping trip, purchasing jeans that cost about $50. While this seems a bit high to me, they have lasted much longer and therefore are a better value.

Bargain shopping is great, but be careful when you look to buy the cheapest of any item. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Do your research to figure out the best value for the product you are purchasing, not just the best cost today.

Fortunately for me, there are groups that have looked at items you probably should consider quality when purchasing, based on consumer reports. Below are a few:

  1. Paint: Cheaper paint not only will take several coats to finish; it usually will not hold up very long. So, unless you enjoy painting a lot, spend a little more to buy high-quality paint. A lot of them only require one coat and hold up to wear and tear.
  2. Gas grills: Consumer reports suggest you spend at least $150 for premium-quality burners, stainless-steel grates, and heavy-duty construction. If you do not mind using charcoal grills, you can save a little. My $40 charcoal grill has been working for more than five years now (it held up a little better than the jeans).
  3. Big-screen televisions: When you buy a big screen TV at least 50 inches, buy one that will last. With some of the new technologies it looks like there are ways to save on TV service. I will look into it a little more in the future. Stay tuned.
  4. Blu-ray players: This is especially true if you have a high definition TV. A quality TV plus a quality Blu-ray player can give you a quality entertainment center in your living room. You can look at it this way: Instead of spending money on going to the movie theater, you can rent a $1 Redbox DVD and have an entertaining evening at home.
  5. Fire protection: Aerosols can be much cheaper, but don’t work nearly as well as a traditional fire extinguisher. When it comes to an emergency, you want to make sure you have protection measures that work.
  6. Mattresses: Consumer reports suggest you spend at least $800 for a queen-sized set. This will help prevent years of sleepless nights and could enhance your health. Reading about the importance of a good night’s sleep in terms of one’s mental and physical health, I am glad Kerri and I invested in a good mattress.
  7. Grass seed: Cheaper blends may have weeds and annual grass seeds that die after one season. If you are replanting, make sure you spend the money and take the time to get something that will work and will last for the long haul.
  8. Canister vacuums: Cheaper vacuums will quickly lose suction if you have heavy-duty work or a hairy pet like my family’s 75-pound fur ball. This was another lesson I learned. Our former $100 vacuum did not last too long, nor did its equally cheap replacement. If I make a mistake twice, Kerri usually can eventually correct it. A couple years ago we purchased a Dyson, which works great. We paid top dollar for it, but I know it works when I see the massive amount of hair and dirt it collects.


I am sure there are many more, but this is just a start. It is tough to pay for quality, especially if you look to save money right now. However, there are things you can do to save. For instance, you can buy spring and summer items such as grills in the fall. Look for specials home improvement stores have during certain times of the year such as Memorial Day. You also can try to negotiate the price of just about anything, especially high dollar items.

And remember, the next time you are making a significant purchase, do your homework to see if you should pay a little more to get a pair of jeans that will last more than a couple of months.

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