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Financial Wellness: Sometimes it’s best to spend a bit more to save later

Sherri Richards

A quote on my Facebook feed caught my eye last week. “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little.”

Pay too much, and you’re out the monetary difference between what you spent and what you should have paid, it went on to explain.

Pay too little, and you could be out a lot more.

I thought about the 5½-year-old dishwasher my husband, Craig, and I recently replaced. It was among the cheapest models at the appliance store, and never did work well. A few months back, the dishes started coming out as dirty as they went in.

When we went shopping for a new one, I had to keep steering myself away from the cheapest model, reminding myself that it isn’t always best to spend the least.

We chose a middle-of-the-road appliance, and it seems to do the job better than its predecessor. We still saved money by forgoing the bells and whistles and stainless steel. And hopefully we’ll also save money by not needing to replace this one prematurely.

More often lately, I’ve been reminding myself and Craig to spend a little more, with the hopes of saving more in the long-run. Now solidly in our 30s and further along financially, we can afford to spend more upfront.

It’s honestly a difficult task for this penny-pincher, and advice I give with caution. Don’t take this column as carte blanche to spend, spend, spend.

It’s a balance.

Always choosing the more expensive option will likely hamper your financial goals. Reality is, we can’t always afford the best quality out there. You need to operate within your financial realities. And there are purchases where choosing the least expensive option makes the most sense. I find this to be true with many generic food and household products.

But again, the cheapest price tag isn’t always the most financially smart.

The key is finding that middle ground, where you’re getting the most for the least money.

For our anniversary, I told Craig his gift would be a new bicycle. He’s been riding the same no-name bike since college, and it’s in rough shape.

Last summer, the bike was swiped from the front of our house. Police found it about 2 miles away. I’m guessing the thief ditched it after realizing the seat wouldn’t adjust and the brakes didn’t really work.

When Craig went to pick out his new bicycle, I suggested he look at the slightly nicer bikes. Not the $700 precision cycles but something better than the $50 model we likely would have gravitated toward.

His anniversary/Mother’s Day/eight more future holidays gift to me was a refurbished iPhone 5, a vast improvement from the infuriating el cheapo smartphone I’d been using for about a year. But again, not the latest, greatest or most expensive out there.

Taking time to make thoughtful decisions about quality versus cost isn’t encouraged in our immediate gratification society, but doing so can result in the best choice based for your budget.

Sherri Richards
Sherri Richards has worked for The Forum since 2002. She is the features and business editor, overseeing Variety, SheSays, Farmers' Forum, the daily Business pages and Saturday Business section.     Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to letters@forumcomm.com
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