When is cheap a waste of money?

‘You get what you pay for’, so the saying goes. But is this always true? Does spending more guarantee better quality or are you wasting your cash? Will you live to regret buying cheaply?

When it comes to new furniture, I think it is likely. Cheap flat packed stuff rarely stands much family wear and tear. However, good quality second hand items are a whole different ball game. An old but solid wooden wardrobe can be painted to fit in with your decor, chairs can be cleaned or re-covered, and a sanded pine table can be a thing of joy to last and last. 

I frequently pick up designer dresses to sell on eBay and I have been shocked at just how shoddy some of these are. When you consider that they cost hundreds of pounds new they should be top quality.  I buy basic vests and t-shirts from cheap shops and market stalls sometimes but they don’t wash well or last long. I prefer second hand decent quality finds from eBay, charity shops and boot sales. I go for Marks and Spencer, Monsoon, Phase Eight and Laura Ashley if I can find them as they are well made with good fabrics that wash well.

With food you get what you pay for up to a point. I don’t like really cheap baked beans, but I’m happy with supermarket own brands. However, the vegetables I can buy on offer in Aldi or Lidl don’t taste any different to the more expensive ones in the bigger supermarkets. My taste buds aren’t sophisticated enough to to detect the difference between decent supermarket teabags and the premium brands. 

I have written many times about the racket that is the makeup and toiletry market. With the most expensive brands I really believe you are paying for the marketing and packaging. Sprinkle a bit of pseudo-science in an advert and some people will believe anything. Really cheap shampoo is usually a mistake, but again the supermarket brands are pretty good. 

It is always worth trying cheaper when you are on a budget but you don’t have to give up on quality.  What do you think? Is expensive always better?

11 thoughts on “When is cheap a waste of money?

  1. Abi

    Definitely not! I used to work on that principle with shoes but now even the expensive brands have crummy one piece soles that you can’t get repaired, or leather uppers but synthetic lining or insoles…

  2. Kirrie

    Shampoo doesn,t bother me is just soap. Morrisons litre bottle 40p, but I have fine tangly hair so conditioner essential. Got bottles of henna conditioner from approved foods for 45p normally £2.50 yes just out of date I don,t care.
    For now everything I buy is cheap, but then again my mortgage will be paid off in 4 months 14 years early!.
    Today in co op wanted ice cream, bought tub twice the cost Madagascan vanilla, but I felt guilty, did I taste difference yes but ordinary vanilla would have been fine.
    I am being so frugal , lodger etc, have carrot dangled over my nose. When house is paid for in 4 months will save up go to Paris and buy a Chanel bag. Cheap Chanel bag no!. I deserve real after years of being frugal to get me freedom. After that will continue to be frugal until I can retire in 2.5 years n live in Greece taking my NHS pension and lump sum and running to freedom.

      1. Kirrie

        Jane,
        Have a look on money saving expert mortgage overpayment calculator.
        Astounded me how quickly the mortgage could be gone, overpaying every free penny.
        Each £1 paid in has saved an extra £1.50 plus in interest.
        Has been my motivationx
        I only started overpaying 5 years ago, lodgers money and at least 65 percent of salary has gone to mortgage, I make it a game. I prob live on about the same as jsa for now.
        5 years ago I sat down and looked at finances was due to pay mortgage until I was 67 didn,t appeal, no government pension until. 67 so would need to cut costs to retire at 55 and live on small NHS pension.
        Freedom appeals more than fancy toiletries, expensive food, or new clothes weekly like Collegues.

  3. nitenurse

    I tend to buy expensive lipsticks. Yes, they are packaged beautifully. BUT you can test them on your skin.

    I’ve bought too many from shade cards in the drugstore that were a disaster. Four terrible inexpensive lipsticks cost more than one Clinique or Dior.

  4. Louise Houghton

    I constantly shout at the TV, must be my age, when those stupid mascara adverts come on. They drive me mad about how you can stretch and change your eyelashes Aaarrgghh!!!!!!

  5. Cathy

    Always buy good quality Egyptian Cotton towels and fitted sheets as the cheap ones don’t wash well. We shop mainly in Lidl as we cook from base ingredients and a carrot is a carrot at the end of the day Washing powder is always a brand name as is tea and coffee but usually wait until it’s on special offer then stock up. All my clothes are ebay or charity shop but sometimes buy these new from ebay businesses depending on price. I did save £20 on a pair of Clarks shoes I saw in town by purchasing identical ones from an eBay business

  6. Eloise

    For me cheap is a waste of money when buying shoes. Leather wears better and is better for feet than synthetics. Also I believe that you can get away with an inexpensive dress if your shoes are good ones, but cheap shoes ruin the look regardless of what the dress cost.
    Also, I hate cheap coffee.

    1. shoestringjane@outlook.com Post author

      I’m with you on the coffee. I get good quality shoes cheaply because I’m happy to buy secondhand – usually barely worn. I got a pair of leather Hotter flats for £12 and a pair of leather Clarks trainers for £15 in the past few weeks, both in perfect condition and they fit really well

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