Quality vs. Quantity: What to Buy When You’re on a Budget

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When you’re on a budget, it’s easy to get caught in the spiral of spending your “fun money” on clothing, shoes, and gadgets that  fit within your budget, but will fall apart or become obsolete within a few years, a few months (or even a few days, as was the case with a t-shirt I bought at T.J. Maxx earlier this year. Maybe the holes it developed after the first washing make me look “alternative”?) There is a misconception that if you are on a budget, you shouldn’t own nice things. I wholeheartedly disagree. Why would you want to spend your hard-earned money on junk that falls apart any more than someone with a big pocketbook?

I came to this conclusion a few years ago after weating yet another pair of boots from Target that had holes in them, leaked when it rained, and hurt my feet. I had been eying a pair of Frye boots for about five years, but didn’t have the money to purchase them. Then it occurred to me that the money I had spent on repeatedly replacing cheap footwear added up to almost the same amount.

I decided that I was finally going to bite the bullet, but that I needed to stay within my budget. Instead of buying from the manufacturer or at a store, I found the boots on Amazon. I saved up Amazon gift cards from Christmas and my birthday, and waited until the fall, when Amazon puts all of their boots on sale. That left me with only a small amount that I had to pay out of pocket.

I love my Frye boots. LOVE them. They are the single most comfortable piece of footwear I have ever owned, they will last for years, and I wear them all of the time. They were pricey, but I don’t feel any guilt about the purchase, because by being a little creative, I was able to stick to my budget.

Here are 4 steps you can take to increase the quality of your belongings without destroying your budget:

  • Step 1: Figure out what it is that you really want. Is it high-quality, or will it fall apart within a couple of years? Are you purchasing something just for the label, or the quality?
  • Step 2: Don’t buy it right away. Wait and see if it’s truly something you want, or if it’s just a temporary desire because you saw someone else using it or wearing it.
  • Step 3: Figure out how you can spend as little out of pocket as possible. Are there promo sales? Can you ask your family for gift cards, rather than actual gifts for your birthday? Is there a website that carries the same product at a lower price? What about a consignment store? Can you sell any of your current belongings to help with the cost?
  • Step 4: Incorporate the final expected purchase price into your monthly budget. Save up a little over the course of a few months, if needed.

By following these steps, you can learn to stop filling your drawers and closets with mass-produced, low-quality items. Instead, make your purchases with an eye on the long-term. You might end up saving money in the long run!

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