by Daniel S.
Throughout the course of these articles, we have discussed ways to save money – pointing our efforts in a direction of how to squeak out the most savings from any situation or purchase. In my practices, I try to balance three key elements: cost, quality, and service. Generally, when living on a budget, the most important element is cost. Getting the most product or service at minimal cost is a constant goal. Sometimes, however, the decision needs to take more into account from the other elements. Recently, I was reminded of this point when embarking on a purchasing journey of my own. Sometimes the quality of the product or service becomes your best value point over cost.
About six weeks ago, one of my often-used home appliances, my iron, broke. Although unanticipated, these things happen. Since I need to iron business shirts regularly, I began a quick search of store advertisements to see if I could find one on sale. Unfortunately, my search revealed no such luck. My next step was to hit a couple of stores to see what would be the best value in my budgeted price range. After visiting several stores with little success, I was explaining the story to a member of my family. Almost immediately, I was offered an unused iron in the original packaging. Problem solved! Or, so I thought.
The combination of good fortune and family generosity proved not to be a favorable end to the story. The iron did not function well from the beginning, and even began to fall apart. Upon closer examination, I came to the realization that the product was a VERY off brand. Back to the drawing board I went, repeating the process of looking in the sales advertisements & visiting stores. I finally found an iron a local retail store that fit my budget. The iron was a name brand, and looked like a good fit from examining the display model. After a couple of test runs, I’m confident it will suit my needs.
The concept here is not that a free hand-me-down is an indicator of quality, but that quality should be considered in overall value of a product. Sometimes, spending little or no money elicits the old adage response of “you get what you pay for.” Although I don’t believe this in all instances, it very much applies in this case. And, remember, what is the value of your time in investigating a product of such nominal value? Is it really worth it to go to several stores to save a few bucks? In this case, I lost both time and money (mainly in my gas tank) in seeking out the best bang for the buck. These are a few factors to consider in the quality versus cost debate. Quality can be a big determinant of whether a product will provide the right service for you. Of course, please be reminded to be considerate of the generosity of others; I haven’t told my family member that their generous gift fell apart all over the ironing board!