Unfortunately, practicing frugality is too often translated as buying the least expensive products or services. Particularly in difficult economic times, there may be a tendency to make every effort to spend less no matter what. Blindly spending less is not frugal…it’s cheap. Being frugal means spending money wisely in an attempt to get as much value from selected products and services as possible.
There is no doubt that discount stores and other low-cost options can be attractive; however, you have to be mindful of the fact that you often get what you pay for. It makes no sense to spend your hard-earned money on products or services that will not hold up, that will not stand the test of time.
Does that mean that you should look to brand name products first? Not necessarily. Too often people overpay for products and services, basing their buying decisions on flashy advertisements and name recognition instead of thorough research and evaluation.
Quality and Consistency
When conducting your research and evaluating different products and services to spend your hard-earned money on, you should consider these two factors first, quality and consistency.
qual•i•ty [kwol-i-tee] noun
Dictionary.com defines quality.
1. An essential or distinctive characteristic, property, or attribute.
2. High grade; superiority; excellence.
con•sist•en•cy [kuh n-sis-tuh n-see] noun
Dictionary.com defines consistency.
1. Steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.
Quality is a more important factor than cost. If you pay $50 for a pair of jeans that last you two years, that is better than paying $20 for a pair of jeans of questionable quality that only last six months, after being washed a handful of times. Does buying the same pair of jeans four times ($80) over the course of two years make much sense when you can buy one pair of jeans for $50 that last as long? Of course not!
When you spend your hard-earned money you want to be certain that the quality will be consistent from purchase to purchase. One potential benefit, one reason to consider name brand products and services, is that you can generally count on consistency.
Whatever you think of McDonald’s and its food, you can have a high level of confidence that a hamburger and fries purchased in November, in St. Louis, is going to taste the same as a hamburger and fries purchased in July, in San Francisco.
Getting the Most Bang for Your Bucks
Put it all together and what does it mean? Being frugal does not mean automatically buying the least expensive good or service. Also, it certainly does not mean only considering name brand products or services, even though you might have a better idea of what to expect in terms of quality and consistency. Practicing frugality means taking the time to do your research to determine which products and services will give you the best bang for your buck; constantly evaluating if the products and services you normally buy are delivering quality on a consistent basis.
There are times when that will mean buying the least expensive product or service and there will be occasions when that means buying a more expensive product or service that just happens to be a well-known brand.