Never Scrimp on These 10 Things

If you’re on a fixed budget, it’s wise to watch your spending and look for bargains.  Everyone likes to save money, but sometimes buying cheap, poor quality items, or skipping some necessary expenses altogether can cost you a lot more in the long run.

Some things are so important to your health and safety that it’s just not smart or cost-effective to scrimp on them.

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Don’t cut these from your budget no matter how broke you think you are:

  • Health and dental care Regular checkups can help prevent smaller problems from morphing into major issues.   Prescriptions can be expensive but using old medications to treat yourself can be dangerous. Neglecting your teeth can cause severe damage in the long term.  

  • Tenant’s insurance – If you’re a renter you need insurance to protect your household goods. Likewise, if you own a condo, your personal belongings are not covered in the building insurance you pay for as part of your strata fee. The cost of tenant’s insurance is low, and you will be protected if you experience a fire or flooding, or your belongings are stolen.

Paying more upfront for a quality item that lasts longer makes good financial sense. I’m not suggesting you buy top-of-the-line for everything, but for things you use every day, buy the best you can afford.

  • Shoes – As a person who used to wear 4-inch heels daily, I know the value of good quality shoes. Cheap shoes that are worn a lot won’t last long and will have to be replaced often. You spend a lot of time on your feet, even if you’re retired, so you should be comfortable – or your feet and back will pay.
  • Cookware and knives that you use every day. Cheap pots will warp and not cook evenly and are harder to clean. Inexpensive knives dull quickly.  Yes, you can sharpen them, but most people will use a dull knife for far too long, resulting in hands cramping and tiring quickly, and the risk of serious cuts.
  • Paint – It may seem like a bargain, but cheaper paint is usually of lower quality and more watery. It will give you terrible coverage and you will have to do multiple coats and may need to paint more often. This not only negates the cost-saving, but it also requires more time and labour.

Don’t go too long before replacing these items:

  • Mattress – Few things are as vital as a good night’s rest. If you get out of bed all hunched over while you hobble off to the bathroom, it’s probably time to start looking for a new mattress. This is especially true if you’re a couple and one of you weighs considerably more than the other.
  • Car maintenance – I was told by a mechanic that a lot of car problems could be avoided by simply doing regular oil changes. You don’t want your car to break down in the middle of the highway, pay to get it towed and for an expensive repair job because of your neglect. Keep your vehicle in top operating condition with the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance.
  • Tires – I’ll admit I have driven on seriously worn tires in previous winters. Needless to say, this has a big impact on your car’s safety. It’s not worth the risk to save a bit of money.

Don’t think you can scrimp in these areas:

  • Insurance – Insurance companies can vary widely in their costs, and it pays to shop around.  But don’t just buy the lowest premium.  Make sure you have the coverage you need.  You don’t want to find out your policy won’t cover a claim when you need it the most. 

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  • Household DIY – If you are experienced and comfortable with doing the work, it’s a good way to save money. However, if you are going to have work done – whether renovating or repairs – sometimes it’s wise to pay for professional help right from the start rather than be forced to get someone in to fix a problem that you have caused yourself with your inexperience.

The bottom line

Bargain hunting and being frugal is part of the way of life for many of us. Being economical is generally wise but you need to look for value too.

Shelling out a little extra cash will save you aggravation, time, and money in the future.

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