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Is the Cheaper Product the Right One?

Is the Cheaper Product the Right One?

The answer to this question may seem obvious at first glance. After all, if there’s a cheaper product on the shelf and you don’t buy it, haven’t you just wasted your money? But the reality is that for anyone who wants to save money, this is actually a difficult question. And it’s a question you should ask yourself on a regular basis, because the cheapest product on the shelf may or may not be the right one.

How can you tell when to go with the economical and when to splurge on the pricey? Try asking yourself some of the questions below and give honest answers. No cheating!

Will it work?

Ask yourself if the cheaper product will do what you want it to do. Inexpensive lotions or moisturizers, for example, often don’t apply well or feel right on the skin; they don’t absorb correctly, or leave a nasty residue. And if a product does that, I’m not going to want to keep using it and will therefore have wasted my money.

Similarly, it would be wise to compare health insurance before buying; if you go with cheap health insurance that doesn’t cover you when you need it, you’ve wasted your money. On the other hand, take a product like sugar. Inexpensive store-brand sugar sweetens just as well as pricier name brands, so there’s no need to pay more. Just select the package with the cheapest price per ounce or pound and be on your way.

Will I use it?

Ask yourself if you will get the same use out of the cheap product and the expensive one. If the cut-rate yogurt, for example, is made with imitation fruit extract instead of real fruit, I’m not going to be happy about eating that product. What you’re looking for here is why the expensive product is more expensive. Is it because of a genuine quality improvement, or just the brand name attached to it? Is it because it has fancier packaging, or better craftsmanship? If there really is a difference, does that justify the difference in price?

Will it last?

This question is important for categories like clothing. For example, I bought inexpensive boots every winter for three years and destroyed them by the end of the season because they were cheaply manufactured. Last year I asked for a very nice (expensive) pair for Christmas. Those boots are well into their second winter and are still looking fantastic; and that’s not because I use them differently but because they were simply a higher quality product to begin with. When the time comes to replace them, I’ll be purchasing more of the same high-quality merchandise.

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My personal rule is that if the item is a staple that I’ll get a lot of wear out of, I can go with a pricier item for the sake of quality. Slacks, shoes, jackets, etc, all fall into this category. But if it’s a trendy item or one that’s likely to wear out quickly, I’ll go with a cheap option.

The best part about asking yourself these questions is that they allow your priorities to come through. For example, I have friends that love getting cheap, cute earrings on a regular basis; it’s a great, inexpensive way to update their look. Unfortunately, my ears react to cheaper metals, so I have to be careful of what I buy and the economical product doesn’t cut it. When it comes to your personal splurges, there are no set-in-stone rules. Just make sure the product you splurge on is worth the price.

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