I am generally a cheap kinda Gal because for starters, I am no millionaire and even if I was, I probably would still love cheap.
When I walk into a clothing store, my eyes look out for those big red signs that say ‘Clearance’ and when I shop online, I filter to Sale or Clearance before I begin shopping.
Similarly, I buy the Equate version of St Ives or Clean and Clear and the Great Value version of Kellogg’s cornflakes or Nestle water because why not? My rationale is that we are paying extra money for the name and I don’t care for the name.
Of course, there’s probably more than the name but that was what I chose to believe and that earned me the nick name ‘Great Value’. Recently though, I have learnt the hard way that being cheap often ends up costing you more.
Last year, I had planned to travel in August and so I got my ticket in January because I wanted it for cheap but then I got it from one of these discount sites and made my destination a city different from where my family lives so that I could save a few hundred dollars.
But what I did not think about was the fact that I would already have excess luggage for my international flight and considering that domestic flights have even lower baggage allowances, I would end up spending the money I was ‘saving’ on transporting my baggage to my actual destination and that’s besides the flight ticket. I didn’t even factor in the stress of leaving arriving at the international airport and then driving through the city to go to the domestic wing in a city I had never lived in.
So while I was discussing my itinerary with my dad, he requested I cancelled the flight and rebooked it to my actual destination. I did that but didn’t get a full refund. I rebooked with another discount company in order to save again. The greatest shocker came in August when I got to the airport and tried checking in only to find out that I could not because I did not have a U.S Visa.
At this point, I could either decide not to travel or buy a fresh ticket. I had not been home in 7 years so I bought a new ticket for more than twice the cost of my initial ticket still on a discount site and I was just so excited to finally be on my way home. You will not believe that when it was time to return from my trip, my new ticket too could not be used when I got to the airport. Because I was making two stops in Germany, I needed a German visa.
I was so upset and disappointed in myself but there was only one choice and that was to purchase a new ticket yet again for twice the price of my original ticket. If I never understood “Penny wise Pound foolish”, this experience explained it perfectly because if I had gotten my ticket directly from the airline, would have spent $2,000 at most but ended up spending roughly $8000 because I wanted to save $600.
Sorry to disappoint you though; that was not the experience that gave birth to this post. It was yet another incident of me being cheap. Two weeks ago, my stove stopped working and because we had just finished with wedding expenses, I went online to look for a cheap stove.
Sure enough I found one for $280 (delivery included) but what was I expecting for that price? Soon after the stove was delivered, one of the burners stopped working while I was cooking and then two days later, another burner followed suit.
Now, I am stuck with a stove that barely works and I still have to spend the money to get another stove that works. This made me think long and hard about my spending choices and ‘addiction’ to cheap purchases and I learnt a few things i’ll love to share.
1. Cheap is not always bad.
When I first went to high school at age 9, I was really careless and because it was a boarding school, I was responsible for all my stuff. However, when I returned every 3 months, my mum would have to take me shopping to replace everything from my cutlery to underwear to shoes and socks since I had lost them all.
Because of that, she decided that until I had matured a little, she was only going to buy the cheap versions of all the things I needed since they would be replaced in three months anyway.
In this scenario, I believe she was absolutely justified because buying the high quality expensive stuff would have been sort of an intentional waste of money considering that they would need replacing in a matter of months.
2. Value is not Cheap.
Nobody intentionally undervalues themselves. If a price is too good to be true, it is too good to be true. If a company offers a product that provides you $1000 worth of value, there is no scenario where it would be priced at $500.
There’s a reason why similar phones are priced differently or different loaves of bread from different companies have different prices. Just to clarify, the value is not always from the product and is often bestowed by the consumers but they go hand in hand. eg Iphones, Birkins etc.
Essentially, the other sellers who listed their stoves for $450 knew that the stoves were worth the price and that someone else who appreciated a deal but was not cheap would buy it. The person whose stove I bought for $280 gave me exactly the quality I paid for.
Truly, I think this is the straw that breaks the camels back. I have learnt the hard way not to focus too much on price but on value.
Heart to Heart: I would love to hear your experiences. Have you prioritized price over value and what did you learn from it? Or do you think price is always key?