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There are times when my main goal is a good price, and am willing to purchase less than high-quality. I do my grocery shopping on a budget. Recently, I found a deal of 10 pounds of potatoes for $1.60 in a flyer. When I went to the store, I could see that they weren’t the greatest potatoes. Did I mind? Nope! My goal was to get a great price. I knew that I’d be eating these before spring.
However, there are times when I believe that looking for high quality can really pay off. Where I buy these items doesn’t matter: it might be new in the store, or it might be in a local yard sale in the summer. You could say that buying quality is always a good idea. That’s true, but I can’t always afford to do that. In this article, I am going to share what items I have found that buying quality dramatically extends their life and, therefore, saves me even more money!
In addition, there are other factors that sometimes are hard to put a price on. A few examples of this are enjoyment, pleasure, beauty, pride. So, I am also going to share where I have really felt that searching for and buying higher quality has really added extra value, has added something to my life that has made looking for that quality worth it.
Before I met my partner Peter, I never knew what high-quality bedding was. I owned cotton/polyester blend sheets. I didn’t think much about bedding. I didn’t care. No one in my family owned nice sheets. I didn’t know what they were. Peter didn’t have a lot of money, but he had very good taste in many things. He once showed me what a good quality high thread count sheet was and how to feel the difference from the ones I was used to.
I have found that there IS a difference! Perhaps I can best explain it like this: I used to just get into bed and go to sleep. When I use high-quality sheets and bedding, I look forward to getting into bed. It is enjoyable to actually BE in bed. I get a lot of enjoyment from the sensation of the soft cotton on my skin. Do I spend a lot on my high-quality bedding? Heck, no! Careful shopping at our local thrift shops has allowed me to keep myself in both smooth cotton sheets for our springs and summers and also soft cotton flannel sheets for our falls and winters.
High-quality sheets last for years. I have two for using on my bed and two backups of each kind (summer and winter). That way, if one wears out, I can use the other set until I find a new one. To find high-quality bedding, do some “research” at local thrift shops. Look for a 100% cotton label. Feel the texture of several sheets and see if you can tell the difference. Try it out. You may be pleasantly surprised if this is new to you.
During the pandemic, I needed some hand towels. There were very few places open during lockdown, and all of the thrift shops were closed. This was an enormous hardship for me, as I basically NEVER buy things new. Because of my need, though, I bought some nice-looking hand towels at one of the only stores that were open (think big box). They looked okay at the time, with a nice grey color and decent texture. Fast forward only a month or two: they were fading and noticeably thinner. It was already to the point where they were heading for the rag pile! That purchase just underlined my belief that high-quality towels are worth the wait.
Do I buy my high-quality towels new? Heck no! By keeping an eye on local thrift shops, I am able to keep a good supply of quality hand towels and backups. I buy darker colored towels that won’t need bleaching. Colors like brown and dark grey are my favorites. I look for a thick, thirsty texture rather than a velvet texture. I also look for 100% cotton.
One hand towel I found a number of years ago said “Turkish cotton.” This was before this got trendy. All I can say about this hand towel is that it appears it will last forever. It is dense in texture, thick, is not fading or wearing visibly in any way. I think it cost me two dollars. To me, it is worth its weight in gold!
I had a friend a number of years back who got me into high-quality footwear. I liked wearing sandals in the summer, and she introduced me to a high-quality brand. At the time, I didn’t realize what a difference it would make to my foot comfort and also the longevity of the sandals. I still love that brand! I own a couple of pairs.
I now know that you are getting into high-quality footwear when there are parts that can be replaced. For example, these sandals have a comfortable suede-covered footbed that can be replaced if it wears out. The sole is of such high quality that it will just go and go and go.
Do I pay full price for my high-quality footwear? Heck no! I frequent one local thrift shop where brand new end-of-seasons and discontinued high-quality shoes and sandals regularly appear. I check there regularly and keep an eye out.
Recently, I was at our local church-run thrift shop that has very reasonable prices. I found a pair of shoes that I had been looking for for several years: a hiker-style running shoe from a major high-quality brand. I have large wide feet for a woman. They were like new, just needed new laces. My cost? Just a couple of bucks! Woohoo!
If you’d like tips on buying high quality used footwear, check out this Frugalite article for more info.
I have written before about the importance of cultivating joy in our lives during these difficult times. One of the ways I do this for myself in my eco-cabin is by listening to uplifting music. While many sources of music are free if you look (like the library or free options for streaming), last year, I made what I considered a major investment in my music joy.
What was this? A small high-quality blue tooth speaker. I had received some cash as a gift and thought carefully about how I would spend it. The music player I had was malfunctioning. I did some research and narrowed it down to two portable blue tooth speakers. I went to the store to discuss the two items with a salesperson. They had demo items on the floor that you could listen to, and both sounded pretty good. When he realized what I was choosing between, he simply said, “Nothing will outperform the quality of this name brand long term. It is the best.” So, that helped me make my selection.
At my income level, investing $130 in a music speaker was not something I took lightly. I thought long and hard about whether I should do this. I had bills to pay. Money was tight. I still have debt resulting from my eco-cabin build…
However, it turned out to be such a gift to my life! I have never, in my entire life, owned a speaker of this quality. When I play my favorite choral music on this little speaker, the quality is so high that I feel like it reproduces some of the acoustic qualities of the church or room where the choral music was recorded. Whether I am playing choral music or streaming traditional Irish music Radio Siamsa from Dublin or watching my Star Wars movies, the quality of this little speaker adds so much enjoyment to my life.
While music might not be your thing, there might be some other area of your life where a quality item could bring you a great deal of joy. I hope you find out what that is, too!
Things of quality have no fear of time.
During these difficult times, we may need to choose more carefully what we buy. Have you found that buying quality in certain items saves you money in the long run? Do you have an example you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!
16 thoughts on “How Buying High-Quality Can Save You MORE”
I’m so happy you found Radio Siamsa! It brings me so much joy. What brand of sandals are you talking about. I have wide, flat feet andI have trouble w/foot wear. Thanks.
Hi Denise, Oh, I’m so glad that you saw my update there. In fact, I was just at a friend’s house today and introduced HIM to Radio Siamsa as well. I learned that it is run all by volunteers and they depend on donations to run the station. I hope to donate at some time in the future to suppor them.
Regarding the sandals, I have found two brands that work for my quite wide and long foot (Ladies 10, but is also considered wide in men’s sizes!): Finn Comfort. I own a pair of open back shoes that I wear all winter with wool socks in my eco-cabin. They have a velcro strap across the widest part of the foot that makes them completely adjustable for width. I think these shoes will last forever. As well, I have had quite a bit of luck with Naots. Because my foot is so wide, I need to buy versions of these sandals that are adjustable across the widest part of the foot (usually buckles or velcro straps). I hope you find some wonderful shoes or sandals for the coming season, Denise! Wishing you all the best!
The saying is you get what you pay for. I never understood the people who’d buy an extremely cheap version of an item at Wally World (such as a tool despite it being a “good name”) then complain it didn’t last. The John Deere lawn mower you buy at Lowes/Home Depot isn’t the same as the one you buy from a John Deere dealer. Stihl is picky re: who they allow to sell their products which I applaud. They don’t compromise quality in order to lower the price.
Educating yourself on the product you need (well I’m sure the occasional want but more of us here are needs people) is the key. Sure, you may luck out at the thrift shop/garage sale and score a high quality item. You’re likely to miss more quality items than not however. If you have a friend that is more savvy than you, bring him/her along. I’ve done that a few times in the past.
Those of use with wide feet (especially short wide feet) find it a challenge. As kids get bigger (on average), I’ve found more options but most are not high quality. I used to like Doc Martens but today’s are no where near the quality of the ones I purchased in the 90s (which I still wear). While I take reviews with a grain of salt, I watch for key words/recurring theme.
Hi Selena, You have raised many valuable points here. I agree about the more savvy friend option. I am not shy about asking friends who know more for help. I always try to return the favour, too! Much appreciated!
My mother was one of 13 children and people would often comment on how well they were dressed. My Grandma said that that shirt or pants or skirt had to go through at least 4 kids so she always bought quality material.
When hubby and I were first married and had kids money was tight, and now that the kids are all grown I can’t get out of the habit of looking for the best deal, reading reviews, and asking questions. I too buy most things from thrift stores, bedding, shoes/boots, jeans etc….although mismatched towels in the loo drive my OCD loopy so I’ve always bought those new.
Hi Kate, What a wonderful story you told about your mother growing up in such a large family. Your grandmother’s comment is the best testament to quality materials that I can imagine. Thank you for that. I plan to tell my mother and sister about your comment during our weekly video chat! It sounds like we are similar shoppers. I dream of matched towels in my loo….I just keep telling myself to wait a bit longer. One day! Thank you so much for sharing!
Quality material is almost non-existent these days. My kids wore items of (purchased) clothing I wore as a kid. And these garments *still* have useful life. 100% made in America (material and garment construction). Not too many mothers/parents can say they have pictures of their children wearing the same clothing as s/he did.
They also wore some handmade clothing which also still have useful life. All are stored safely away, awaiting the day they’ll be worn again.
Hi Selena, Isn’t it sad what’s being done for the almightly dollar? I wrote a piece on “Fast Fashion” for the Frugalite and talked about my t-shirt I owned for 20 years. Quality! I was wearing the sweater my sister knit me….35 years ago…quality! Glad to hear you kept the quality items you had. May they get many years of use in the future!
Someone will get use of the items. Both of my kids are experts at ensuring nothing goes to waste. There is always need and all of use do our best to help when/where we can.
That is a wonderful attitude and spirit to have. Good for you. If I had children with that “can do spirit” I would be very proud!
I live in South Florida and thus live in my sandals. Sketchers: $.50.00 lasts 6 months. Ecco $100.00 lasted 3 years ( and I only tossed them cause got too grungy). Dan River towels were a major miss to the point where its been dedicated to the dog.
Hi Corsaire, Great observations on the extra time your got from buying your Eccos. Thank you for sharing these helpful details!
Totally agree! I take care of my feet, especially given how far I walk in them. Good shoes are part of that. I also spend on my glasses and don’t let dental care go by the wayside. Similar to one comment above: good shoes will last me 3 years or more. And I don’t like the lifestyles in China and other countries that places like Wally World create. I wouldn’t want to live as some in Jamaican factories do, so I don’t support the companies that exploit them. I do plenty of shopping in thrift stores. Other things are best purchased new and of high quality.
Hi Amy, I appreciate your insights and connecting the dots….cheap anything usually means someone is paying up the line….like workers with dangerous working conditions in fast fashion factories, where deaths caught the media attention in the past. I follow practices similar to yours in doing my best to take good care of myself and my health. Wishing you the best!
I very much appreciate the spirit and personal experiences in your article. I think the point you make here is very important in todays throw away culture. Frugal doesn’t always equal cheap. I have found that folks who invest in quality products seem to live a more fulfilling and sustainable life. They also seem to extend that same investment spirit into their relationships with friends, family and community. Like you, taking the time to share with others their successes and failures. Just like you would no longer “cheap out” on the items mentioned in your article we shouldn’t “cheap out” on our valued relationships as well. Blessings to all.
Hi Paul, Thank you so much. What a remarkable and insightful comment you have shared here! I was amazed that you were able to see some of my deeper values through reading this brief article. Yes, I believe deeply in sustainable living and have built an eco-cabin that reduces my use of resources, both through innovations like passive solar design, and also through my use of reclaimed building materials like used cupboards and oak flooring salvaged from a dumpster.
I do also believe deeply in my connections with family and friends. These relationships are the true treasures of my life. Like my garden, though, deep loving relationships do require attention and care. I agree wholeheartedly that we shouldn’t “cheap out” on those true treasure of life. Thank you for your insights! It was a pleasure to read your comment!