Nobody wants to be labeled a cheapskate. But sometimes, it makes good financial sense to purchase a cheaper option if you can.
A high price tag doesn’t necessarily make something better. Often, low-cost items will serve your needs just as well. Or, the higher-quality option might not be worth the extra money.
Other times, there’s little or no difference in quality between the priciest and cheapest versions of products. Here are eight times when it’s smart to be cheap.
1. Over-the-counter medicines
When you’re sick, the sinus, headache and flu medicines you think of first probably are the ones you’ve seen advertised on TV or in magazines.
However, these well-known brands are more expensive because those advertising costs are built into the price. Often, you can find generic versions of these products at a cost much below the popular brands.
PharmacyChecker.com lets you compare the price you pay for generic drugs with prices at online international pharmacies.
2. Tools you’ll rarely use
Do you have a one-time project requiring tools you don’t already own? Think hard before you invest in expensive drills, hammers and saws.
Buying costly tools just so they can gather dust is the very definition of a bad investment. If you won’t be using these tools over and over, cheaper tools — or renting the right tool — could be the smarter choice.
3. Musical instruments for beginners
It’s great to give your children the opportunity to learn to play music. But when they’re just starting out, they don’t need an expensive instrument. Putting a $4,000 guitar in the hands of a 10-year-old is asking for trouble.
Until you see a child demonstrate true commitment and growing skill, a cheap, entry-level instrument is fine for exploring potential.
4. Formal wear
There are times when it’s important to look your best. If your company is hosting an event or your teen is planning for prom, showing up in the right outfit will matter.
But don’t head immediately for the mall. If the formal wear will be used just once, save by shopping secondhand. Try thrift shops or consignment stores specializing in gently worn items with few signs of wear. Another cost-saving option is to find a store that rents out formal wear.
For more ways to save, check out “13 Ways to Save Big Cash on Clothing.”
5. Cars for teenage drivers
It’s tempting to buy teen drivers a new car. After all, modern vehicles have fewer maintenance issues and contain the latest safety features.
But consider the financial drawbacks. New cars depreciate quickly. Even a slightly used car will you cost thousands of dollars less than a comparable new model. That’s why buying a cheaper used vehicle is your best choice.
“The 15 Cars You’re Most Likely to Drive for 15 Years” offers reliable alternatives to a new car.
6. A cabin on a cruise ship
Ahhh, it’s great to treat yourself to a vacation. And if you refrain from blowing all of your savings on this one trip, you’ll have more left in the bank for the next trip.
If you are planning an ocean cruise, for example, think about which splurges matter the most. Cabins with sea views are more expensive than inside cabins. Unless you’re planning on spending a great deal of time in the cabin, why get one that overlooks the water?
7. Greeting cards
When you buy someone a present, the purchase doesn’t feel complete unless you add a greeting card. Unfortunately, greeting cards can be expensive.
So, look for ways to save. If you’re into crafts, make your own greeting cards. Or buy them at dollar stores.
Alternatively, give a gift card. Wrap it in bright paper and ribbon and you won’t necessarily need a greeting card.
8. Overnight hotel stay
When you’re planning to stay at a hotel for several nights, why not pick one with all the amenities you’ll need? You’ll want a large room for relaxing, a restaurant, a swimming pool and perhaps a gym.
However, when you’re on a road trip and just need a place to lay your head, a cheap, no-frills hotel is a smart choice. After all, you only need a clean, secure room and a comfortable bed.
You’ll find even more savings on cruises, hotels and flights in the Money Talks News Solutions Center.
Do you think cheapskate living can pay off? Or is it just “cheap”? Let us know in comments below or on our Facebook page.”
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