Buying Reliable, High-Quality Products

This idea may seem to go against most money-saving advice, but the truth is that high-quality products tend to last longer.

If you buy a well-researched, reliable car instead of an inexpensive economy car, you'll pay substantially more. But if the economy car fizzles in three years and the Volvo keeps running for 15 years after that, you'll probably save money in the long run.

Keep the following tips in mind, however, when shopping for quality:

  • If buying the quality item will wreck your budget, either save up and come back when you can afford it or make do with the less expensive item.

  • Don't automatically assume that higher price equals higher quality. Sometimes higher prices are simply the result of savvy businesspeople thinking that consumers will associate their products with quality if they charge a lot.

  • If you aren't sure how to recognize reliability and quality, check out Consumer Reports, your best source for honest, detailed testing results for tens of thousands of products. If Consumer Reports thinks a product has problems with quality, keep shopping.

    Because they don't accept advertising dollars, their testing results are unbiased. Most libraries have subscriptions to this publication, so if you're willing to do a bit of research, you can get the information for free.

  • Don't worry about buying a quality product if you're not planning to keep it very long. If you're on vacation and forget your swimsuit, don't spend a lot for another one — just buy something that will see you through.

Not Buying Trendy Items

Before you buy anything, ask yourself whether you're buying it because it's the best-quality item you can get for the price or because it's a hip, happening item that makes you feel good for the moment. Women's shoes and purses come to mind as short-term, trendy items that tend to be out of style in a year or two.

Many budgets are blown on novelty items, and what's so frustrating about buying them is that a couple of weeks or months later, you can't figure out what you saw in the item in the first place! Before you buy anything, apply the one-year test: Is this an item you'll want a year from now? If not, pass it up.

Becoming a Late Adopter

You don't have to be the first kid on your block to get everything. Personal electronics, especially, tend to have a high initial price, and then settle into a lower price for late adopters. For example, iPods of all shapes and sizes are now available at Sam's Club for less than you'd pay elsewhere, but it takes a while for the latest colors and models to reach the discount stores. Give it a few months, and then make your purchase — if you budgeted for the item!

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