Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: When Cheap Actually Costs More

While traveling along this journey towards thriftiness I have realized that there are some items for which spending less has actually ended up costing me more.


Yep. Quality does indeed trump a cheap price when the item in question fails to perform well, thus resulting in a big 'ole waste of money.

So, I thought I would take today's post to list a few items for which I would rather pay more simply because they out perform their cheaper alternative's.

Ritz Crackers
My children love, love, love, Ritz crackers. Harper develops recipe's with them. Zane eats them every day.

We have tried the store brands of imitation Ritz crackers. They are certainly less expensive. Almost $1.50 cheaper. But, they are also a crumbly mess. They can not withstand the salsa and cheese and nuking that my daughter does to create her Ritz cracker pizza's. Heck, they can hardly withstand the trip from the shelf, to the belt, to the bag, to the car, to the kitchen.

Several times, enticed by the cheaper price, I have purchased Target's brand of "Ritz" crackers. I am disappointed every time and end up chucking one entire roll of what should be crackers that are actually in one piece. Sure, I could keep them to sprinkle on soup, but honestly, I don't eat the stuff. The funny thing is, I've done this again and again and again - tempted by the price - only to be frustrated with the quality.

And the crumbled one's just make the kids sad. We've had entire boxes come home crushed. And who really wants to waste the time and gas to drive back to Target to return a box of crackers? Doesn't it make sense to just purchase the better brand?

The imitation just doesn't stand the test.

Nutella is the nectar that gets my son to eat his vegetables and 100% whole wheat, fleck included, breads and bagels, and fruit. He's just not a nutritious eater, but dab a little Nutella on the plate and every vegetable disappears.

I've tried the store brands. Zane has tried the store brands. He won't eat them. How has that saved me any money?

They just don't spread well. They just aren't creamy.

They just aren't the friend I call Nutella.

Ok, this one is for the ladies.

Ladies, forgive me for sounding like Oprah here, but PLEASE purchase a quality bra to hold up the ta-ta's. Seriously, ladies, unless you are a A or B, a $9.99 bra ain't gonna do it. I can't stand watching women walk around with their girls hanging down by their belts, or their shoulder's hunched forward due to extra frontal weight that isn't being properly supported. These situations just are not necessary if one has the right equipment. Yes, in my case, bra's are pieces of equipment.

If you don't think I'm qualified to speak on this subject, take a good look at me . . . ahem, I know what I'm talking about.

THREE YEARS AGO I purchased two bras for almost $60 a piece. Ouch! Right? Well, think again. That was THREE YEARS AGO. I had a proper bra fitting at Nordstrom's, and then INVESTED in two that I wear every week. Every week! I haven't bought a new bra since that visit.

I wash them in a lingerie bag to keep their shape, I hang them up to dry, and I've even had a tiny rip repaired.

When the time comes, I will invest that amount again. And again. And again.

Mary Kay - yeah, I know. Enough with the Mary Kay!
I don't really need to write anymore about this, except to say that the Mary Kay brand is not the least expensive brand out there. I've never said it was inexpensive. However, it's certainly not the most expensive either.

Priced higher than drugstore brands, (although have you seen the number of skin care lines they now carry at CVS? There are like a trillion of them along the wall as you enter the store and they are priced pretty darn high for a drug store), but less than the department store brands, Mary Kay falls right in the middle.

I'll continue paying for the stuff.

In the past, I found that some cheaper brands just didn't have the staying power - more product was needed to get the desired result, (both in terms of skin care and color), resulting in having to repurchase items more frequently. Plus, not all stores guarantee that a product can be returned for a full refund once used - many will just offer store credit.

So, that's that. Not a very full list - just a smattering.

Ritz, Nutella, Bra's, and MK. A crazy list to be sure.

Are there items that you are willing to pay more for even though a less expensive alternative is available?

Please share!


Amy said...

Heinz Ketchup. Store brands don't match-up.
I don't know about Target's policy, but if you purchase store brand at Dominicks or Jewel and you don't think it measures up to the name brand they will give you can bring it back for a refund. I love it because I can try the cheaper version, but I don't loose anything if it isn't good.

Stace said...

I COMPLETELY agree about the Ritz crackers! We "settle" and then are repeatedly disappointed! Our other biggie is Hershey's Syrup. Nope. Nothing else will do. We tried. We WISH we could like the cheaper brand! Cheez-it crackers is our last REAL "MOM, why didn't you get our REGULAR brand?" issue. We've tried them ALL...and I mean all.... Aldi, Target, kroger, Meijer, Walmart...NOPE. They just sit in the cupboard. I HATE spending almost $3.00/box but it's gotta be done! (Aldi offers the money back guarantee as well)

Debbie said...

I may not be thrifty the way many are, but I do consider myself a steward of what I've been given. Some of my "rules" are:
-I don't buy anything I don't love, be it clothes, shoes, food, facial tissue, etc and so on.
-The Aggravation Factor is key for me. Is it worth another dollar to throw away part of it? If the bag is hard to open and I spill 1/3 of the cereal on the floor is it worth saving the .50? If I have to go to another store to get it, is it worth the gas and especially my time and energy? Maybe, maybe not. Case by case basis.
-I use a "cost per use" method. I'll spend more for my jeans because I wear them every day for years. Works out to, what, a penny a day versus cheaper jeans I have to replace in a year, not to mention the time involved with that. For a top that is "in" now and "out" tomorrow, cheaper is totally fine.
-I have to drive a minimum of 1 1/2 hours to shop anyplace but Walmart. Is it worth $30 in gas and an entire day to shop or can I do better online with discounts and free shipping? Case by case basis again.
And then there is the old Chinese proverb, "when you buy the best you only cry once."
I know, TMI. Just some things I consider. :)

karen said...

We love barbecue sauce. I pay extra for the brand that does NOT have high fructose corn syrup. Partially because I don't like HCFS anyway, but partially because it offends my Southern sensibility to put it in barbecue sauce! I mean, that is SO not authentic! :-p

I also pay extra for Paul Newman ranch dressing--no MSG! :)

And I'm with you on the Mary Kay thing too. I am the world's biggest tightwad, but I bought MK at full retail price for 9 years before I ever became a consultant. :)

melody said...

SHOES! I will always spend more on a good pair of shoes. I still have some Birkenstocks & Softs from high school. I can spend $20 a year getting them recorked or resouled and still have shoes I love that fit perfectly.

And I also go in to get my feet specially fitted for running shoes. Debbie Cull suggested this when I first started running and it's been smooth (and pain free!) jogging ever since!

Cuppa Jo said...

Yes on the running shoes, Melody. I was fit for running shoes 10 years ago and continue to use the same make and model to this day, as thankfully, Saucony has not discontinued them - although the color scheme is waaaay dated.

Thank you for reminding me about shoes, or, rather, "bras" for the feet.