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Buy Once, Cry Once

Why spending more can save you money in the long run.

Buying the cheapest option at the store isn’t always going to save you money. Some things are cheap for a reason: they lack quality. You may have heard the phrase “Buy once, cry once.” It might seem backward to save money by spending more money, but investing in quality items is worth it. Keep reading to learn where you can skimp, where you should spend, and how to understand value.


Not spending a lot isn’t necessarily a good value. A pair of running shoes that costs $35 is not the same value as a pair that costs $135. A good shoe will fit better, be made of better materials, have more quality control, last longer, and have better warranties. Value isn’t having more money left in your wallet at the end of the day.

Well-made things last longer. It’s not just the material or the craftsmanship that lasts longer, the designs are also important. You can buy a $50 “ski” jacket at the big box store that sells no-name stuff. It will keep you warm and dry; that’s the goal, isn’t it?

Then there are the big brand names in ski coats. They cost $600–$800, a seemingly outrageous price. That jacket does the same as the $50 jacket, keeps you warm and dry. But the expensive jacket is lighter, fits better, has useful features, and has an overall thoughtful design. Not to mention it’s built with better materials, quality control, and a warranty that will replace the jacket if anything happens. A quality item also tends to have a more timeless look—sure it might not be the hottest trend, but it will still look great in 20 years.

The $50 coat will last a few years, but, despite your best intentions, will eventually fall apart. Buying a quality, well-made item will last years longer, and if it gives up, it’s replaced with a warranty. A $50 jacket that lasts two years costs more than a $400 jacket that lasts 20 years. The value isn’t what you paid for it; it’s what it costs over time.

Where to spend and save

If you didn’t catch on in the last section, clothing is something that you get what you pay for. If you’re buying quality clothing items, they’ll last longer and stay in fashion longer. Fast fashion, often found at those huge stores at the mall, is made to be disposable.

Electronics are another thing you get what you pay for. You don’t need to buy the latest and best, those usually go for a premium. Buying the Black Friday special will most likely get you an off-brand device that lacks the support, quality, and longevity of a brand-name device.

One place a lot of people spend money they don’t need to spend is pharmaceuticals. The store brand is the exact same thing as the name brand when it comes to anything you’re going to take over the counter or prescription. Pharmaceuticals are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration for safety reasons, so the active ingredients are all going to be the same.

Household goods are hit or miss. Zip-top bags are generally seen as single-use, so if you’re using them to keep some chips in your lunch, you’re probably fine. Freezing gallons of pasta sauce? It’s a risk to go cheap, but it’s your call. Toilet paper—well, we all know how that can go.

Do you have the money or can you afford it?

There is a difference between having enough money to buy something and being able to afford something. If you need new shoes, but can’t afford to drop a few hundred on quality footwear, buy the best you can. Being able to afford something means you’ll still have money on hand to cover emergencies. If you only have $500 in your account and spend $400 on a new jacket, you had the money for that jacket, but you couldn’t actually afford it. If you can wait, save until you can afford something that’s better than constantly replacing.


College town thrift stores can be goldmines of good stuff. If you can put in the effort, take the time to look for quality items. Not only will they last longer than something you’d find at a box store, they’ll be cheaper at the thrift store.