Too Poor to Buy Cheap: Stuff I Wouldn't Skimp on, Even if I Had to Scrounge Around the Couch Cushions for Loose Change

My pup at bath time
My family was by no means wealthy when I was a child.  My father pastored a small country church of about 50 members, and my mom stayed home with the four kids.  We never ate out, rarely bought perfectly new clothes, and our old, rusty car often protested against our combined family load.  BUT, there were certain things my parents never, ever skimped on, and those purchases were always accompanied by my father droning the phrase, "We're too poor to buy cheap, kids!"  That principle has stuck with me to this day, and even though I'm pretty sure I now make more money than my father did at that time, I still try to live frugally...with some notable exceptions:

Coats--My parents always bought us nice coats from Land's End or LL Bean, usually two sizes bigger than what we needed.  I've done the same, except this time it's a gorgeous Kenneth Cole navy peacoat (had it for ten years), a black wool mid-length coat (ten years), and a Columbia "play" jacket (5 years).  Worth every penny, and with a little care, each coat still looks new.

Boots--Our family spent its early years in northeastern Ohio, where the snow started in October and lasted until May.  We each had a pair of trusty boots we could wear (again, a size too big).  Five years ago, I splurged on a pair of tall brown boots.  The toe is slightly rounded, the heel is a pretty stacked wood, and the color is that great brown that looks fantastic with any outfit.  I take them to my shoe guy every fall for a "tune up."  The leather is acquiring a nice patina, and the boots just look better with age. 

Dog food--Well, honestly, I don't remember WHAT my parents fed our pets growing up, but I know I discovered the little miracle of organic, holistic, corn and byproduct free dog food about four years ago.  Who knew it's actually CHEAPER in the long run to buy an expensive bag of dog (and/or cat) food than to buy bargain food in bulk?  Sure, bags start at $16 (hello, first time buyer sticker shock), BUT my dog sheds less, poops less, and yes, actually eats less than he did previously.  My cost of feeding him ends up being about a penny per pound (of his weight) per day.  And, he's so healthy now that he needs the vet less, which also saves me money. 

(Psst, if you'd like to take a look at a good, holistic, organic food from a cool company, check out Blue Buffalo.)

What items are you "too poor to buy cheap?"

Posted by The Naked Redhead


Suniverse said...

I am too poor to buy cheap suits.

A cheap suit will only last so long before it gets shiny in places, and few things are less likely to invite people to think you are capable than a cheap ass suit.

Plus, buying 2 or 3 really nice basic wool suits will be enough to wear to work forever.

Anonymous said...

My parents are too poor to buy cheap food. So we get inventive, have our own garden for a lot of vegetables, and my mother bakes our own bread/makes soup, etc.

Alison said...

My parents both grew up poor, so they would never let us skimp on the things they remember missing out on or buying cheap--boots, coats, school shoes, peanut butter, meat, and crayons.

And, yeah, listing it like that makes me realize how completely random the list is. But I assure you, there's a story behind every one of them so they really do make sense.

Allyson said...

Olive oil. Okay, it's not really more cost-effective to buy better-quality olive oil, but hell, no matter how poor I get, it will be my one essential luxury.

And loose-leaf tea. Technically more expensive than bagged tea, but definitely more cost-effective, as long as you're buying simple stuff and not high-end white tea.

nikki said...

I'm pretty cheap. I cheap out on way more than I should. I buy my coats only from thrift stores because I can't stand spending the money. A good hint is to go to a thrift store near lots of rich people (mine is right across from one of the most expensive private schools in the county) where you're sure to get high end stuff that's only a year old. My kid's clothes are all used or Target brand. He's growing so fast, he barely has time to wear things before he needs new anyway.

I did buy my first ever brand new car a couple years ago. I would usually buy old junkers from the side of the road or off craigslist, and they'd last a few years, tops. I'm shocked at how little I'm spending on maintenance. That was most likely worth it. Oh and the AC is wooooonderful.

Also, I buy only organic dairy products. But that's a personal thing, not a saving money in the long run thing.

stephanie said...

i do the same thing with our dogs & their dog food - expensive, yes, but they are SO healthy!

middleagedrunner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
middleagedrunner said...

Well, my dog eats food that is absurdly expensive. Like, over $40 a bag which makes me cringe. However, before we started shoving nice crisp $100 bills down his yellow throat we were regularly spending $500 a pop at the vet due to his stupid allergies. So, we spend a lot on food but save a lot in the long run!

Anonymous said...

Good clothes. Since I have little money for clothes, I do not buy them often. When I do, I shop sales for the good ones.

Shampoo. There is a huge difference. I love for my hair to look great and a good shampoo makes all the difference.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to shampoo. And purses, and shoes. I cannot/will not carry a cheap purse.

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