Quality vs. Frugality?
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  1. #1
    Registered User peanut's Avatar
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    Question Quality vs. Frugality?

    At what point do you cross the point of choosing quality over frugality? What is your specific bugbear in this whole frugality thing?

    Now we're older, for DH and I it is appliances. We've bought so much cheap stuff over the years - at garage sales ('why are you selling it?' is a very good question to ask!) and in stores - and had it break down in a year or not work very well from the start.

    Finally we just caved in and said "Enough!". We've been replacing all our small appliances with quality appliances that should last us the rest of our life.

    The funny thing is, once one breaks down, they all seem to break down. In the last year we've had to replace a toaster (used to be a biennial event!), a blender, a crock-pot (not as good quality as we'd hoped, but it was secondhand), an iron, and acquired an indoor grill (at a garage sale - brand new...she had no space for it in her apartment kitchen). Plus I had to buy, at full price, a vacuum I could handle now my back is out of sorts.

    I'm just wondering if I'm turning into a spendthrift here or if other people have these challenges as well?

    Jean
    Last edited by peanut; 11-27-2008 at 12:18 PM.

  2. #2
    Master Dollar Stretcher madhen's Avatar
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    I can't recall ever buying a used appliance. I *have* made the mistake of buying a cheap appliance, only to have to go buy another one shortly after the cheap one either broke down or proved itself too difficult to use, clean, etc. Now, I try to get a higher-end item, if that item does exactly what I want, because I know I'll use it more if I like it.

    The one exception to buying higher priced items is coffee pots. I find that Mr. Coffee lasts forever. I have a few more expensive pots, but they were all gifts. I have an old Mr. Coffee 4-cup machine that is over 20 years old now!

    I *do* look for and accept free appliances through Freecycle and CL, with mostly good results. Just got a "new" freezer that way.
    Last edited by madhen; 11-27-2008 at 12:28 PM.
    DH aka Mad Hen
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    Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want. Anna Lappe

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    I don't think buying new appliances makes you a spendthrift at all! In fact, many new appliances, because they use less electricity, will end up saving you money in the end. We got an old upright freezer from my in-law and our electric bill went up $40 a month! The chest freezer we just bought new will supposedly only use that much electricity per YEAR! If that freezer lasts us only 5 years, we'll save us over $2000 over the antique...way more than it cost.

    I struggle in the same way with furniture. Do I want to buy really nice, sturdy furniture, knowing that my two young children will be very hard on it and it might not be so nice later on? Or do I want to get big box store cheap stuff and let it fall apart within a few years and LATER replace it with better stuff. Sometimes I just don't know.

    My other similar struggle is clothing. For the kids, I try to go cheap...thrift stores, big box store bargains, garage sales, freecycle. But what about for me? Do I want something I bought in November to look worn by January? Not really. But can I really afford $40-50 for a blouse? Ugh. Sometimes I find good stuff on the clearance racks, but honestly, I'm finding less and less lately. Seems like the clearance racks only contain items that were legitimately rejected by other buyers. Lol!

    Overall, I think that if you can buy quality items, and wait for sales or find new items a thrift stores and garage sales, that's usually the way to go. I once heard someone say that only rich people can afford cheap furniture. I think that's usually true...I just refuse to go into debt for good furniture/appliances/clothing. Know what I mean?

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    Registered User Dancing Lotus's Avatar
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    Sorry but with appliances I find even the better quality ones break. I have a 1,200 dollar washer bought brand new that has been repaired 3 times. Each time is was 300.00 to fix it. I think that I would have been better off buying at cheap washer and tossing it when it broke.

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    Right before I moved my toaster and mini vacuum broke. I think I paid about twenty dollars for each item. So now I will be saving up to hopefully get better quality items. They just do not seem to make things the way they used to. This summer I got rid of my 20 year old microwave only to have the new one needing to be serviced after a month or two. I tried to research the microwave before buying but probably should have saved up more.

    I think it depends on the mfg and what it is you are buying. I bought a cuisinart waffle maker brand new at a yard sale for $15 once. And it is still working great. I try to research the product before buying now to get the best price and value. Think it is better to buy something that will last over how cheap you can get it.

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    Registered User MamaPyratekk's Avatar
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    I think that buying used isn't as big of an issue as buying cheap. To me, there are some things you just have to choose quality on. What's the point of spending $20 less on a cheap blender only to have to buy a new one later on...resulting in more money than if you had just spent the extra money. But again, used isn't as big of an issue. I bought a blender a while back. It was insanely cheap,new, and within a few months it started having mold around the motor despite my constant cleaning of it in detail. The plastic on it also cracked. I ended up throwing it out and bought a used blender at goodwill. It only cost me three dollars! It was a very old blender but was made of thick glass. I'm happy to say that we've had it for close to a year now with absolutely no issues.

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    Registered User HandyMom's Avatar
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    I get tired of that, too. I just replaced a toaster and broiler.One was new but cheap brand and the other was a thrift store buy but new in the box. I did buy cheap ones again, though, because even the more expensive ones don't last long for me sometimes. My Mom goes through a Mr Coffee a year, for example. I've been through several of them myself. They just quit working one day.

    I do have an old gas stove (Sears brand) that is over 30 years old and I've never had a problem with it not working. It's just old and not as energy efficient as the newer ones with sealed burners and electronic pilots.

    I have had my Sears fridge for less than 4 years and already am having trouble with it. I guess you can get a cheap lemon or an expensive one. I'd prefer the cheap one.

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    That reminds me of a cheap blender I bought years ago, when I lived with my parents. We made pesto... and we found chips of plastic from the blender in it!
    I sure agree about appliances that have to be good quality.

    I try not to compromise on quality when I buy food, ingredient list must not induce vomit... lol. I often buy organic eggs and butter too, and real brown sugar. And I buy recycled toilet paper.
    On the other hand I can skimp on toiletries (buy them when on sale), dish soap and more.

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    It's a balancing act, for sure. I try to research appliance purchases ahead of time so that I can get the best quality to price ratio. Price isn't the determining factor for me, as much as reliability ratings, costs to run (like electricity usage), and life span. And then comes price. Usually, items that are mid-range in price tend to be the best balance of price to quality. The cheapest things usually don't have the power, features, or reliability, and frequently the most expensive things are status-laden brand names, that really aren't all that reliable and are expensive to repair. It just depends on the individual make and model.

    My Cuisinart food processor is 25 years old, and still going strong. I inherited it from my MIL, about 10 years ago, and use it for all sorts of kitchen tasks. It was several hundred dollars new, back in the early 1980's and has been worth every penny. The motor is strong enough for heavy tasks, the blades are still razor sharp, nothing has broken. Amortized over 25 years, that $400 investment doesn't seem so high--only $16/year, as opposed to buying a cheap one at $50 and replacing it every couple of years. The same is true for my KitchenAid stand mixer. But the same cannot be said for the JennAir convection range in my kitchen, which probably cost the original homeowners a small fortune, and constantly seems to need repaired (don't get me started...).

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    Registered User kittykatstrong's Avatar
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    I get used when I can. My waffle iron and my coffeemaker are the only things that I have bought new. I got the coffee maker as a gift for my DH and the waffle iron I had bought on sale for a gift but never gave it.

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    Registered User The Muse's Avatar
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    For durable goods like appliances, I buy the best I can afford. I like having dependable workhorse appliances that I enjoy using. There *is* a difference between a $100 blender and a $20 blender.

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    Registered User melodys's Avatar
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    I am trying to only buy quality items these days, with the intent that they will last. However, I always try to get those quality items either on sale or used. Have found some great deals on CraigsList for barely used appliances that were being sold for various reasons.

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    Registered User winner's Avatar
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    Whatever I have to plug, I bought brand new, because it had warranty, but I am changing my thinking. My brand new fridge lasted 3 years, and because I didn't have 5 years warranty I had to pay for repairs. Now getting older, I have my second thoughts about buying brand new appliances. People move, sell and you can get a good deal. Under $100. I can buy chest freezer I am planning, I am sure it will last. Those toasters, blenders brake anyway, whatever they are new or used ones, so I will buy from second hand or garage sale, because at least I won't throw $20-30 in garbage bin, but a couple bucks. I plan a purchase and look for a good deal at second hand stores, if I don't find, then no choice, but buy brand new one. Now I need to buy a dehydrator, brand new cost around $35-40 so I am sure I can find at second hand store and save the difference for my vacations fund.

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    Moderator Ceashels's Avatar
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    I agree that with durable equipment and tools... which is what I consider appliances to be, I want a good quality that will do the job well and for a good long time. I don't need the bells and whistles that many of the newer models offer but a good basic appliance with a good reputation/name is worth the price for me.
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    Registered User cab54's Avatar
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    3 'better' appliances I have and love. and will never buy the cheap stuff again:

    Kitchenaid mixer

    Cuisinart food processor

    Dyson Animal vacuum
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