What Are Things You Never Go Cheap On And Why?

by Hank Coleman

The following is a blog swap post from Joe at Retire By 40, where he writes about his journey to early retirement and other fun stuff along the way. Check out my post I Don’t Mind Paying Full Price For Experiences at his site today!

What are things you never go cheap on?What are things you never go cheap on and why? This is a pretty tough question for me. The crux of the question is the definition of cheap. If cheap means paying less than full price, then I go cheap on pretty much every product I purchase.

We buy generic brand groceries because it’s cheaper and the quality is the same. The only thing I buy at full price is Colgate because I don’t like the taste of the cheaper brands. Oh, I buy microbrew beer but I only buy a six pack/month so it’s really negligible. Other than those, we pretty much don’t care about branding. The same story goes for clothes, furniture, electronic, and other consumer products. I always try to buy these things on sale and avoid paying full price.

The next thing I thought about was baby products. We just had a baby this year and we probably didn’t go cheap on him … or did we? Actually, I think we are being cheap here too. Most of his clothes are gifts or 2nd hand. His crib and stroller are used. He drinks Kirkland brand formula instead of Enfamil. Although, if I find out Kirkland formula is inferior in any way shape or form, I wouldn’t hesitate to pay for Enfamil.

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There must be something we are willing to pay full price for. After a few more hours of going over the bills in my head, it hit me. We are not willing to compromise on safety and health related expenses. Sure, I buy generic drugs instead of brand names, but I wouldn’t skip my prescription. We consider health insurance a necessity and would never risk going without. If the doctor recommends a procedure, we would not hesitate to go and get it over with.

We also just purchased a new car seat for baby RB40. We could have stayed with his 2nd hand infant car seat for another 6 months before he grows out of it, but the expiration date is coming up in December. I hadn’t known there was such a thing when I purchased it last year. Now that I know car seats do not perform as safely after the expiration date because the plastic wears down, I will always buy new or very recently used. A real cheapskate (my dad), would ignore the expiration date and keep using it.

Do I consider myself cheap? Yes, I do because I avoid paying full price as much as I can. I put off purchases until I find a sale and often I lose the desire to own that particular thing. However, health and safety come first and I am willing to pay for them.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.

Hank Coleman has written 582 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }


I think that’s a very good balance. I definitely need to get away from name brands more. I agree that the name brand doesn’t matter much for groceries, but they do taste different so sometimes you have to learn to adjust. I use name brands for all of my personal care items, because the difference from one product to another can be huge.



If there is a big quality difference then I also stick with the brand name – like the Colgate I mentioned. Most generic items work quite well for me though so I guess I’m pretty lucky. Also I don’t have buy a lot of personal care items. I can see that brand names can make a big difference there.


Vince Thorne

I hesitate to shift away from originals from a new product. Thus, if I am buying a LED Smart TV, I will rather pay full price. On ther other hand, LCD technology is mature now and there is not much incentive in paying for the brand as everyone is at about the same place with that technology. Hence, I might buy the cheapest product. Same with medicin. Acetoaminophenons have been in the market for ages. I will not spend a premium to buy tylenol in that case.



I see your point. I’d rather stick with old technology until the new technology mature though. The cutting edge cost a lot of money.


Carrie - Careful Cents

I feel the same way. I like to save money where I can, but I don’t purchase items just because they are less money than something I really want or need.

I prefer to buy quality items, even if they are pricier than to keep rebuying products that will break or wear out too soon. I especially agree with your safety and medication points. No one should put their safety (or their kids) or health at risk to save a buck.



Never ever go cheap on health and safety. Anyting else you probably can compromise. Unless it is a micro-brew beer! 🙂



Spoken like someone who spends 2% of her income on alcohol. 😉



I too buy store brands for everything, except Scrubbing Bubbles. Nothing else gets the job done like that stuff! I also have a pair of jeans that cost me $120. I bought them 10 years ago and they’re still in great condition. So at $12/year, I think that’s a good investment!

Side note, Enfamil and Kirkland formula are indeed the same. And Kirkland’s vodka is filtered more times than Grey Goose. Some fun facts I learned while working at Costco years ago 🙂



I agree wholeheartedly on ditching the premium brands in favor of the generics for most items. It took me a while to learn that 95% of them are exactly the same.

One thing that gets me, and I know this is a little different than what you had in mind, is kid toys. When my little girls are in love with Cinderella the generic blonde doll in a blue dress never works! They’ve got to see that Disney logo or it’s a nogo!


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