Cheaper isn’t always better

I have an older car that I’ve driven for over a decade. I can’t afford a new car right now so with money being so tight, I try to save money every way I can. I have a really good friend of mine who was able to save me a fortune changing out the spark plugs. The dealership wanted almost $450 and I came out for around $75 to have them replaced. Then the cruise control went out on my car. The dealership wanted around $300 to replace it. I was able to get it replaced for $140. Sounds good right? I haven’t had any issues with the things my friends changed until I needed to change the regulator on my drivers side window. My friend has a place that he gets parts from a lot. So he got me to order the part and he was going to put it in. Then my friend waited over a month before he tried to replace it so the warranty was no longer valid. He managed to get another one because the part was defective. Again, he let the time frame collapse before he tried to change it. He came by my office today to replace the part. It still wasn’t right. He put the window back together and then promptly left. I clocked out of work and proceeded to go to my car. Guess what? I couldn’t get in my car because he didn’t do it correctly. I called him and he came and fixed it but I was stuck at work for almost an hour after work waiting on the car to get where I could drive it home. For a part and labor that was supposed to cost me $115 it’s now going to cost about $300. This was one time that I should have gone to the dealership to pay the extra price. I intend on taking a mechanics class so that I can learn how to do some of these things myself. Another time, my friend charged me $60 to do a brake flush. I don’t know what he really did but he didn’t do that correctly either. After almost $140 to get that done correctly, my patience has been wearing really thin.

This is why going the cheapest route isn’t always the smartest. We all want to save money. This pandemic has made it to where none of us have a ton of money floating around and if you do you are in the minority. People are still losing their jobs and patience in this economy.

I used to believe that I wasn’t someone who needed insurance on things. In the last decade, I’ve been proven wrong enough times that I fixed that problem but it’s interesting to note that often, we look for the best value. Sometimes we get really lucky and are able to save money. But other times, we end up spending more on corrections than what we originally thought we were going to spend. I guess the best rule of thumb is don’t assume that you are getting a better deal.

I have often used products that were cheaper in price but more expensive in the long run. For example, with electronics, most of them are made in China, Thailand, and other countries. I have rarely had issues with electronic equipment so usually when I’ve gotten a television, DVD player, or any other entertaining piece of equipment, it’s done really well and not had to be replaced every year. However, there are some things like tools, clothing, appliances, and even toys that the quality wasn’t as good as it first appeared. Within about six months to a year, some of these things needed to be replaced. There’s nothing worse than trying to use a tool that breaks while you are using it, especially when the tool is brand new. I bought a pair of shoes online for about $80. They were a good brand and it sickened me to my stomach that the shoes literally came apart within a month of the purchase.

Another friend of mine bought one of the litter robots that has been advertised so much. The first one he got was a dud. He spent close to $500 and it didn’t work correctly. He now has a new one and it’s doing a great job but for a while there, he was really frustrated that he spent so much money so that his three cats could be a little cleaner. Since most of my friends are men, it’s interesting to get their viewpoints.

One of the biggest gripes they have is that if a tv is cheap and the picture quality isn’t great, it isn’t fun to watch sports or anything on it. They take their sports extremely seriously and want to be able to see it as if they were in the arena watching their favorite football or basketball teams play against their rivals. I’m a diehard basketball fan and I love to watch the sports right along with them. I like football but I’m not into it nearly as much as my friends. The point is that if you can’t enjoy the things that you buy, then it’s not really a good deal.

The same is true for tickets. I managed to get a set of tickets to my favorite basketball team a few years ago off of a scalper. The problem was that it was for the student section and they checked the ID’s. Guess what? I wasn’t a student. That was almost a problem. I did manage to get into the game but at the time I almost lost $100. Expensive lesson but even though I got to see the game, I learned to plan ahead.

Vacations have the same problem. I won a trip years ago to West Virginia. My husband at the time and I went and when we got there, we found out that the trip was for a time share. There’s a lot of pressure in time shares and when we finally decided to not partake, it was almost a sigh of relief. That is until we got to the motel and realized that roaches were everywhere. Like I said, cheaper isn’t always better.

Don’t assume you are getting a good deal. Ask a lot of questions and do your research. Unfortunately it has gotten to the point that we have to research everything but in the long run it can save you a ton of money.

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