Buy Once, Cry Once

What's Hot

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

How a Mexican Tariff Will Boost the Cost of 6 Common PurchasesFamily

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

How to Protect Yourself From the ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Phone ScamFamily

Report: Walmart to Begin Selling CarsCars

Is Your TV Tracking You? Here’s How to Tell — and Prevent ItAround The House

Trump Scraps FHA Rate Cut — What Does It Mean for You?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

11 Staging Tips to Help You Get Top Dollar When Selling Your HomeAround The House

8 Tuition-Free U.S. CollegesCollege

10 Overlooked Expenses That Ruin Your BudgetFamily

4 Car Insurers That Might Raise Rates Even When the Accident Wasn’t Your FaultCars

How to Invest If Trump Kills the ‘Fiduciary Rule’Grow

20 Simple Hacks to Make Your Stuff Last LongerAround The House

12 Surprising Ways to Wreck Your Credit ScoreBorrow

Some things, like tools, are worth spending more money on. Just make sure you take proper care of them.

My father, a constant remodeler and handyman, has always favored Craftsman tools. His vise grip got used pretty hard, especially in its last few years of life when Dad was working at an automobile factory.

One day the tool shuddered, sighed and broke — you can ask only so much of even a good vise grip.

Sears replaced it for free (store policy), and he’s been using it ever since.

“There’s an old saying with tools: ‘Buy once, cry once,'” Dad said. “Of course, that applies to just about everything in life.”

Some things you just shouldn’t cheap out on, like tools, or shoes. (Or condoms.)

That doesn’t mean paying top dollar, mind you. You can meet many needs through thrift stores, yard sales, The Freecycle Network, the clearance rack, and cash-back shopping sites like Mr. Rebates, Extrabux and Ebates.

A whole bunch of this year’s Christmas shopping was done with points I got from a pair of rewards credit cards and with Amazon gift cards from the Swagbucks program.

Although I like to joke that only amateurs pay retail, I also know there are times when you can’t help it — and that sometimes it’s absolutely worth it.

Examples? So glad you asked

Footwear. I have plantar fasciitis. While I can’t say for sure that it’s because of buying cheap shoes as an adult, I can state that ultimately opting for decent footwear, orthotic inserts and a program of gentle stretches keeps the pain at bay.

Vehicles. Maybe you like a flashy car as much as you like head-turning clothing. Do think about reliability, though, lest you spend a lot of time driving a loaner car while your flashy wheels languish on the mechanic’s lift. Myself, I have three criteria for autos: high MPG, easy to parallel park, and too boring to steal. Your own mileage may vary.

Insurance. Think you don’t need it? Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’ll never be sick a day in your life. Or you could, say, fall down a friend’s steps and wind up in the emergency room. If you can possibly afford health care coverage, get it. (And if not, see “Can’t afford health insurance? Your options.”)

Clothing. For some people it’s an outward statement of personality. For me, it’s to cover the outward parts. I don’t much care about style, so I can get away with yard sales and thrift stores for 90% of my wardrobe. If you like to shop, use a price comparison website such as or

Housing. A “good” neighborhood means different things to different homeowners, but here’s what it means to me: conveniently located, safe, relatively close to natural features as well as man-made ones and, most of all, within my price range. (It’s a moot point right now, since my new roommate already owns the joint.) Don’t overextend yourself and remember, the “perfect” place will come along again.

Food. Some of the healthiest foods are actually pretty cheap: dry beans, cornmeal, potatoes, carrots, lentils, hard squash, yams and rice. You can cut the price further by checking restaurant supply stores, “manager’s special” meat, bakery outlets, ethnic markets and, yep, the dollar store. That last may give you flashbacks of contaminated-food scares, but it’s possible to buy, say, rice that was grown in South Carolina and jars of pickled vegetables from Italy. Oh, and be sure to check the health food or bulk-buy sections in supermarkets: I recently bought extra-thick rolled oats for 59 cents a pound in Fred Meyer’s health food section.

Got it? Care for it

A bit of vigilance ensures optimum value for the dollars spent:

Eat well and get enough exercise and you’ll likely reduce both short- and long-term medical costs.

Garden tools left out in the rain will rust.

A spaghetti sauce stain should come out if you treat it promptly.

A friend of mine faithfully follows the manufacturer’s suggestions for her Acura, which she’s been driving for 17 years in Alaska, and it still purrs when it starts up. I wish I could say the same for myself. Despite eating a lot of lentils and vegetables, I make funny noises when I get out of a deep chair.

Readers: What are your “don’t cheap out” categories?

More stories on

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top Dollar

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,846 more deals!