When(& When Not) to Pay More for Quality

In general, you should pay more for quality on items that you use frequently, that keep you safe, are critical to your work/livelihood or that separate you from the ground(car tires, mattresses, shoes etc.)

On the other hand, don’t pay more for quality on items that are trendy, are easily lost, will become obsolete quickly, or you will only use on rare occasions.

Obviously, these are general guidelines.

There will be cross-over in the two above categories depending on each person’s life circumstances and priorities.

For example, a freelance videographer will consider the quality of his video and computer equipment to be a top-priority because his efficiency, reputation, and livelihood rely on it. Therefore, he will still buy quality equipment even if it becomes obsolete in a few years.

For most of us, though, a cell phone camera is more than enough for vacations and Instagram updates.

Smart Phones: Don’t Pay More

You know you’re gonna want a new one in a couple years anyway right? Besides, most smartphones come with at least a one year warranty.

Plus, tech giants practice endemic planned obsolescence: Smartphones are practically designed to die in 3-4 years no matter how much you pay. (Remember Apple’s “throttling” scandal?)

Mattress: Pay More for Quality

Don’t get carried away here. You don’t need to spend $3000. Some folks swear by Amazon mattresses. I’m not a mattress guru, I’d rather test one before buying rather than order one online.

You spend 1/3rd of your life sleeping… its kind of important that you get this one right. At the very least get a decent quality memory foam topper from Costco or something.

Computers: Pay More for Quality if…

I’m just going to say it…if you’re on the fence between a PC or Mac..just pay more and get the Mac…you can contact me later to tell me how much you love me for freeing you from the tyranny of PCs. (All you Mac haters can go start your own blog)

Seriously though, if your productivity/livelihood depends on a computer…Do Not Skimp on a Mac or PC. However, if all you do is occasionally write an email and surf the web, just get a burner PC at Walmart.

Tires: Pay More for Quality

A friend of mine’s brother died when his SUV rolled over. After an investigation, a defective tire was found to be the cause.

Just remember this: when you are driving: everything is riding on your tires..your life, your kid’s lives and even the lives of others outside your vehicle.

Trust me, 4 meters of extra stopping distance is too much when it’s a kid in front of you or the back of a transport truck appearing out of the fog.

When it comes to safety…don’t be a cheapskate. Don’t entrust your life to $50 no-name tires.

Windshield Wipers: Pay More for Quality

Image by Foundry on Pixabay

This is another safety item on your car that’s deserving of its own category.

Clear non-streaked visibility on misty nights is imperative, especially in deer country. A good set of wipers don’t cost an arm and a leg either. Plus, they last way longer.

For instance, these PIAA Silicon wipers are so good car parts shops don’t even stock them. They just last too long. They want you to come back every year and pay them for a new set of crappy wipers.

Shoes: Pay More for Quality

Listen, if you are a shoe-aholic(yes I just said that) be reasonable. This isn’t a license for you to run out on a spending spree. Make sure you are spending more for quality…not brand names, trendy looks or prestige.

Proper comfort and support are rarely found in $50 shoes, and even if they are..they won’t be that way long because of flimsy materials and sub-par cushioning. (Exception: the Addidas Sambas)

To get you started, here are a few articles on top-quality boots, sneakers, and flip flops.

Cars: Don’t Pay More For Quality If…

…if you always trade your cars in before the warranty runs out. Then quality is less of a consideration…(I’m looking at you Range Rover owners!)

Otherwise, buy a second-hand Lexus or Toyota.

If you do prefer other brands, at least choose the ones with the best reliability ratings….oh and stay away from Chrysler(In general, they are basket cases on wheels).

Car Parts: Don’t Pay More Unless…

Unless…you plan on owning your car for a long time. If you trade your cars in every few years then just get the generic brand parts.

For all you folks who are in a longterm relationship with your cars then go with premium or OEM on the major components (especially electronics). Also, take advantage of lifetime warranty parts. For more on that check out “How to Make Your Car Last Forever.”

Clothes: Don’t Pay More for Quality

Midrange quality is fine. If you’re going to spend more on high-end clothes, at least spend on timeless styles. Your hard-earned money is better used in places other than trendy fashion. Use it for things that last.

If you are extra hard on clothes then go with durable brands. Check out these articles to help you choose: Top 5 Clothing Warranties and the Most Durable Pants.

“You say that because you’re a guy and guys don’t care as much about fashion.”

To which I say, “Bravo! Yes, guilty as charged.”

A buddy of mine(who actually cares about fashion) regularly comes out of thrift shops wearing Eddie Bauer, L.L. Bean and Banana Republic clothes. Yes, it’s possible to still look good and keep up with the trends without breaking the bank.

Home Renos: Pay More For Quality

Image by skeeze on Pixabay

This is where the quality of workmanship matters even more than the materials! A poorly installed roof could result in well over $10k worth of water damage. Don’t cheap out on materials, but above all, don’t cheap out on your craftsman.

Finding a quality craftsman is like finding gold. These guys work faster, do more with less, and do much better jobs than 90% of the hacks out there.

You know the type of loser I’m talking about the …they show up late, over-run costs, text constantly, take smoke breaks every 15 minutes and have to “run out for materials” 3 times a day.

Yes, I’ve had a few bad experiences.

Whenever you do find a good craftsman, pay him well. He’s well worth it.

Yard Tools: Pay More for Quality

Image by Amber_Avalona on Pixabay

Unless you’re a strange new species…most of us hate yard work.

Think about it, you’re tired, sweaty, halfway through a job that already you hate…and then you’re yard tool breaks.

A couple years ago I bought the cheapest grass edger I could find at Walmart…the handle snapped after 45 seconds of use.

Nope! Don’t do it! Pay twice as much if you have to but, for goodness sake, make sure you buy quality. -Fiskars is a good brand to start with.

Loose axe-head anyone? How about that crappy plastic snow shovel that cracks after three uses? Fahhgettaboutit!

Furniture: Pay More for Quality

Obviously, if you have young kids or a devil-cat then high-end leather furniture is a really dumb choice.

Well-made solid wood furniture lasts for generations, transcends time and can be refinished to keep up with trends if you like too. Estate auctions are great for snagging beautiful pieces for super deals.

Sunglasses: Don’t Pay More for Quality

Truth is, a good quality pair of shades doesn’t cost much at all. Besides, Sunglasses are lost, scratched and crushed to way easily. Why cry over over sunglasses.

Plus, it’s cool to be a non-conformist these days. $300 Oakleys and Raybans are what desperate people wear. Be an individual.

For example, Sunski and Suncloud Optics both over lifetime warranties and nice shades under $50. Nothing to cry about there.

Puppies: Pay More for Quality

Image by Fran__ on Pixabay

If you plan on getting a four-legged friend anytime soon then do your research especially if you have your heart set on a purebred breed.

Cheap pups are cranked out of puppy mills or backyard breeders who force their dogs to have litters once or more per year. Usually, these bloodlines are rife genetic with issues and health problems.

You may think $500 extra for a pup is a lot…its nothing compared to the first vet bill after you discover congenital issues.

If you’re on a budget, get a mutt. They are far less disposed to genetic issues and often demonstrate something called “hybrid vigor” which is sign of a very healthy animal. That’s why mutts seem to live forever.

If you do go with a purebred, ask the breeder lots of questions like, “What are your goals in breeding?” “What guarantees do you offer?” What health checks and needles do your pups come with?”

A good breeder will grill you too. You might even feel like they are reluctant to sell their pups to you. Don’t be offended, it’s a great sign that they really care about their dogs.

Heat Pumps: Pay More For Quality

Get this one wrong and you’ll be out in the cold in the dead of winter. If you can’t get an 8-10 year warranty on a new unit then walk away. Reputable brands like Mitsubishi and Fujitsu produce very good units.

Pay more for a reputable installer too. Its just as important as the unit. Stay away from “whiz-bang” radio deals promising insane deals on no-name brand heat pumps. Mark my words, You WILL regret it.

I know too many people who have fallen for this and wasted thousands of dollars repeatedly repairing units that were only a couple years old.

For more suggestions on top-quality brands check out: The Complete Guide to Lifetime Warranties (120+ Brands)

What other products should you pay more for quality for? Share your comments below.

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Don Longworth

Don was born and raised in sub-saharan Africa. Now based in Canada, his extensive experience in non-profit work has served him well over multiple deployments in Africa. Don's experiences have made him a practical "to-the-point" type person. He is a no-frills, low-key guy who appreciates quality and simplicity.

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