Trying to save a few bucks on these everyday purchases may cost more in the long run.

5 minute read

It’s only natural to try to cut corners on everyday expenses, especially during a troubled economy. Be careful, though. Some corners are better just the way they are when it comes to saving money on certain things.

Going the cheapest route on large expenses can also be a mistake. So, what are some items or services on which you should never skimp?

Below are seven times you get what you pay for when trying to save a few bucks.

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1. Buying discount clothing

That $10 shirt from a discount retailer sure is a good deal – until it starts falling apart after just a few washings. While there’s no guarantee that your clothes will last longer when they come with a higher price tag, it’s a pretty good bet that if you buy a new article of clothing for next to nothing, the fabric will be cheap and the stitching won’t hold up for long.

Don’t despair if you want to save money on good clothing, however. You can still get quality clothes at bargain prices by shopping end-of-season clearance racks at higher-end department stores.

Find out: 7 Ways Trying to Save Money Can Cost You More

2. Walking away with cheap shoes

Just like shoddily made clothing, shoes cobbled together with cheap materials won’t stand the test of time if you wear them much. Even worse, the money you saved on cheap shoes could be outweighed by how much you may spend at the doctor for back and foot problems caused by wearing poorly made shoes.

Find out: 60 Creative and Simple Ways to Save More Money

3. Wiping up savings with cheap paper towels

You know that paper towel brand sporting the picture of a lumberjack who looks like he can wipe up any mess you can muster? Well, cheap paper towels should have a picture of a twig-like man being tossed about the kitchen by ceiling fan winds, because you get the equivalent when you cut costs on paper towels.

The thing is, pricey paper towels will last a lot longer than a package of six flimsy rolls you can get for less than half the price. That’s because you won’t have to use three or four paper towels to clean up a mess that one good absorbent paper towel can easily cover.

Find out: How to Reduce Spending and Save Money by Cutting Expenses

4. Rolling cheap toilet paper through the checkout aisle

Nowadays, even the cheapest toilet paper isn’t cheap, since the pandemic put the fear of not a square to spare into the American public. So, it’s tempting to grab the package of toilet paper with the lowest price and worry about quality later.

You won’t have to wait long, however, since you and your family will blow through several rolls a day of that one-ply “bargain” brand and you’ll soon return to the store to buy toilet paper again. If you want to save, it’s better to clip coupons, watch sales and buy a better brand in bulk.

Find out: 10 Money Saving Tips That You Should Avoid

5. Fly-by-night handymen

When you get a costly estimate from a plumbing business for a new water heater and installation, you may think you’re saving money by hiring a guy on Craigslist to install it for one-third of the price. That low-ball installation may work out fine, but there’s also a chance it won’t. When that happens, you’re stuck with the shoddy job and no recourse.

What if the Craigslist handyman injures himself falling down your basement stairs? What if he leaves the job half-finished and never returns? He could install the appliance improperly, causing dangerous carbon monoxide leaks. Maybe improper installation invalidates the appliance warranty.

With home repairs and appliance installation, it’s better to hire a reputable business that has insurance and workers trained to do that specific job, along with warranties and guarantees. If the price is too expensive, ask friends and family for recommendations of reliable, skilled technicians to perform home repairs and appliance installation.

6. Snipping away at haircut costs

There’s a reason why haircuts and styling are so cheap at those walk-in places that charge only $10 or so. You won’t find many – if any – hairstylists with years of practice cutting hair there, so every customer is a learning experience.

The good news is that hair – along with self-esteem after a bad haircut – can always grow back. And you only need to spend an additional $20, $30 or maybe a little more to walk away with a hairstyle you love.

7. Dripping stinginess into paint purchases

Paint is expensive, so buying cheaper house or interior paint to save hundreds of dollars may seem like a smart move. However, when you buy cheap paint, it typically doesn’t cover well, at least not compared to more expensive brands like Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams, so you end up using more paint and having to repaint sooner.

Here’s a better idea: Wait to buy paint at 20% to 40% off regular prices from higher-end stores during sales offered for Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July and other holidays.

8. Budget furniture

That $300 sofa online may look cool in the photo, and it could look just as good in your living room. Maybe it even seems comfortable when you first plop down on it. But when you go cheap on a sofa, you could end up with more problems than just a stiff neck and a backache from sitting on a couch made for style over comfort.

Cheap sofas tend to break down fast, whether it’s the shoddy frame or the bargain-basement fabric that begins to pill after a few weeks. Throw in daily use, whether it’s just you or an entire family of people and pets, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be aching for a new, better quality sofa soon. Then you’ll just have to spend more money on a new one.

Instead of trying to save money on a cheap sofa, shop around for a good deal. If you have good credit, you may be able to buy a comfy, quality sofa that will last and finance it with a 0 percent APR for a year or longer. Check out sofas in local furniture stores’ clearance sections, or wait to buy the couch at a discount when the store has a sale. You’ll also find quality used sofas in excellent condition at online venues like Facebook Marketplace.

9. Cheap mattresses

We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping, so skimping on a mattress is a really bad idea. In addition to needing a new mattress sooner than you should, you could end up paying a chiropractor, massage therapist or physical therapist to straighten out or relieve body aches caused by sleeping nightly on a terrible mattress.

You don’t have to pay thousands of dollars for a mattress that lets you get a good night’s sleep. But you also don’t want to buy a mattress so cheap that it’s lumpy and breaking down after only a year or two. To find an affordable mattress that will last, wait until businesses put mattresses on sale for President’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July or another national holiday.

If you don’t have enough right now for a decent mattress, find one that you can finance at a 0 percent APR for a year or longer so you can pay it off a little at a time with no interest.

10. Bottom-of-the-line appliances

You may think choosing the cheapest dishwasher, washer and dryer, stove, refrigerator or hot water heater is a great way to save money. But it’s a better idea to spend more for appliances priced at least mid-range.

That’s because when you buy appliances with cheap parts and materials, they probably won’t hold up as well as more expensive appliances. So, you could end up shelling out money for repairs or even a replacement appliance sooner than you’d like.

If you need to get out of debt so you can start saving, we can help you find solutions.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC