The reason I started this blog is so people would hopefully learn from my mistakes. Well, my financial mistakes that is (life is another thing). Looking back, it’s pretty amusing at some of the silly/stupid things I’ve done. I’ve done some amazing things to save money, but there are a few times I’ve cheaped out when I really shouldn’t have.
I’ve already talked about when saving goes wrong, but there are times we can be too cheap. The problem is, we usually have good intentions when buying cheap items. But the problem is, certain things are cheap for a reason. Everything below I’ve personally bought and regretted it shortly after.
Groceries are one of my biggest expenses, so I’m always looking to save. When I was younger, I was looking more at snacks (junk food), but since I had no money, I would focus on the lowest prices. I’d buy the no name chips and the cheapest frozen pizza, they tasted awful! Honestly, some of the stuff I’ve purchased has tasted like paper.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of generic brand items out there that taste great. It just takes some trial and error to figure out what you like, so don’t buy new items in bulk. On the flip side of things, more expensive groceries doesn’t automatically make them taste better. If I shopped at Whole Foods, I’d blow my monthly grocery budget on just a few chicken breasts.
I love to travel, but travelling can be expensive. In my early travel days, my goal was to travel as cheap as possible. I saw a ton of cool places, but at time, I didn’t feel like I was a traveller. I didn’t have tapas in Spain because it was cheaper to eat sandwiches (mind you I was on a backpackers budget). When I was in Buenos Aires, my wife and I decided to walk 30mins to La Boca through a questionable area instead of taking a cab that would have cost us only $4 Canadian.
I’ve learned that travelling is an experience and you shouldn’t do it for as cheap as possible. Well you can, but you’ll miss out on certain things or possibly waste time. What you want to do is have realistic expectations and budget accordingly. Trust me, the last you want to do is look back at your travels and have regrets because you didn’t spend money on certain things.
Where I used to live, the local grocery store would always have sales on toilet paper every other week. This wasn’t some generic no-name brand, it was a brand name product that everyone is familiar with. However, the issue I had with the toilet paper was the quality. Whenever I used it, it would fall apart you know where. Since this was a brand name product, I just assumed it was a regular thing with all TP.
I’m not sure why, but one day I decided to try a more expensive brand (it was probably on sale somewhere else). When I used it, it changed my life. It was firm, yet soft. It was literally a life changing experience. From that day on, I swore to only use that brand at home.
This is one of those things where I think we’ve all made the mistake of cheaping out when we shouldn’t have. I remember when CDR burners first came out, blank CDs would cost a minimum of $3 each. When I found a retailer selling them for $2 each, I thought I was getting the best deal ever. I travelled halfway across the city to save, but when I started using them, half of them would fail. In the end, my costs were even higher!
These days, I still struggle with paying the high price for electronics. We depend on so many expensive gadgets in our daily lives, but it’s not realistic to buy the best of everything. If I do decide to purchase a premium product, I try to make sure it’ll last me a few years.
To be fair, buying cheap furniture is a personal preference. When my wife and I were renting, we purposely bought cheaper stuff because we knew we would need new stuff once we bought our own place. Well as you all know, we bought a place recently and started to furnish it with things that fit our style and space.
This doesn’t mean we spent $15K on a table (seriously, we saw tables for that price). But we felt it was worth spending a little bit more on furniture that will last longer (and looks better). There are plenty of moderately priced furniture stores that won’t ruin your budget.
Everything is subjective. For some of us, saving money is a bigger priority than comfort or quality. It’s all about finding a balance that works within your budget. If you can afford a little bit more, don’t be afraid to spend.