Money Saving Mom recently ran a guest post from Abby at Mother on a Mission about how she’d wanted to buy a nice laundry hamper years ago. But she realized it was a want, not a need, and she’s survived just fine with her husband’s old dorm-style laundry bag. It’s a standard frugal story, though as Abby answered comments, it became clear that she isn’t against spending on nice things, particularly when they are priorities. The question is when that might be.
As I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve been making a list of when I look beyond price. Four major categories:
If it will be used daily. Kids carry backpacks daily and bang them up. It’s nice to find one that lasts. If you cook, you want good pots and pans. If you’ll just hang clothes on a treadmill, it doesn’t matter what you buy, but if you’re a serious runner, you want one that works. For some families, a good laundry hamper would fall in this category, particularly if you’re doing 5-plus loads per week.
If it’s a tool to help in your profession. My MacBook Pro was not the cheapest laptop on the market, but it’s now lasted through four years of hard use (knock on wood!). I’ve worked at a kitchen table or even (oh, the ergo nightmare) hunched over a laptop on the floor and I definitely prefer my current suite of office furniture. Clothes aren’t assets, of course, but looking pulled together at work can make people think that you’re pulled together — and worth doing business with. Quality childcare could go in this category too.
If it’s about a value. Maybe you support buying local produce, or patronizing local businesses, even if their prices aren’t always cheapest. Maybe you refuse to buy from certain companies because of labor practices or environmental records. If so, you’ll likely pay more for some items, and you’ll be fine with that.
If it’s a real source of pleasure. As a work-from-home sort, I’m not near coffee shops daily that might tempt me with fancy beverages. I am not particularly into designer shoes. I’m fine with the $15 bottle of wine rather than the $150 sort. On the other hand, I love the few pieces of art I have chosen and bought and hung in my house. There is nothing frugal about original art, but that’s not really the point.
What categories would you add?