Every month, prices seem to be heading only one way: up.
The cost of living in South Africa is a genuine concern. We’re often forced to cut corners when budgeting, choosing between quality and price to save money. The struggle to balance the budget is real and it’s not just about numbers; it’s emotional. The stress you feel when you can’t afford a new pair of shoes for your child, the anxiety over bills, the guilt of saying “no” to small luxuries to save money.
But let’s take a moment to ponder whether buying cheap might actually be a trap!
Ever heard the phrase “Buy cheap, buy twice”?
The notion that spending more at first can lead to saving money in the long run might seem a bit odd at first. But when you dig deep, budgeting this way ensures you save money and every rand is spent wisely. It’s about cost-per-use, not just the price tag.
Keep reading to learn more about how a hefty price tag could be a valuable tool when budgeting smart and your ticket to saving money in the long run.
The Cost of Cheap
Cheap isn’t always cheerful. And it can destroy your budgeting efforts.
When you enter a store with the mindset of quality over quantity, you open yourself up to saving money in the long term.
Let’s say you buy a R200 pair of shoes. Yay, bargain! But then, after a few months, they start to fall apart.
So you spend another R200… and another.
In a year, you’ve spent R800 or even more! Not quite saving money…
On the other hand, you could have gone for that R1,000 pair that lasts for many years, looking fresh and feeling comfy. Now that’s clever budgeting.
The Concept of Cost-Per-Use
We know how it goes when we need to save money: sometimes it’s tempting to opt for that R200 deal because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good bargain? But as the old folks say, “Goedkoop koop is duur koop” – buying cheap can end up being expensive and bad for long term budgeting.
Here’s a little maths to illustrate how you can save money by using cost-per-use:
The R200 Shoes Scenario:
Month 1: Your snazzy new R200 shoes are the talk of the town! They’re stylish and comfortable, and you wear them all the time. They seem like a smart budgeting move.
Month 2: Oops! A small tear on the side. Nothing big, but it’s there.
Month 3: The sole starts to wear out. Water gets in when it rains. Time for a new pair!
So you end up spending another R200… and another. By the year’s end, you’ve spent a surprising R800 or more just on your shoe budget.
The R1,000 Shoes Scenario:
Year 1: This pair, though pricier, keeps its promise. They fit perfectly, no signs of wear or tear.
Year 2: Still looking pretty good. Maybe a few scuffs, but nothing that a bit of polish can’t fix.
Year 3: After countless memories, they’re starting to show their age. Yet, they’ve lasted 3 whole years. When you break it down, you’ve spent R1,000 over three years versus the R800 (or more) in just one year with the cheaper shoes.
Cost Per Use:
Assuming the cheap shoes last for about 3 months (approximately 90 days) and if a person wears them every day, then:
Cheap shoes: R200 ÷ 90 wears = R2.22 per wear
Now, for the expensive shoes, assuming they last for 3 years (approximately 1,095 days) and if worn every day:
Expensive shoes: R1,000 ÷ 1,095 wears = R0.91 per wear
See the difference it can make when budgeting for quality? The pricier shoes actually save you money in the long run!
This is not just about shoes; it applies to clothes, gadgets, appliances, and more. The point is, when buying, think beyond the price tag. Consider the long-term value and how much it’ll cost you every time you use it.
Quality Over Quantity
Sometimes, a higher price tag means better materials and craftsmanship. That R700 jacket might feel a bit expensive, but if it lasts you for 5 years or even more, it’s a steal compared to buying a new R300 one every winter!
By investing in quality items, you often receive:
Longer Lifespan: High-quality products generally last longer, reducing the need for replacements.
Better Performance: Think of a cheap vs. high-end blender. The latter often produces smoother blends and can handle tougher ingredients.
Enhanced Experience: Higher quality often means better comfort, efficiency, or enjoyment.
The Environmental Bonus
Cheaply made products often end up in landfills sooner, increasing waste. By purchasing quality, long-lasting items, you’re not just saving money—you’re contributing to a more sustainable world.
Exceptions & Balance
While the mantra “you get what you pay for” holds true in many cases, it’s essential to balance. Not every expensive item guarantees quality. Research, read reviews, and be sure you’re paying for true value, not just a brand name.
Tips for Smart Splurging
Do Your Homework: Research and read reviews to ensure you’re making a worthwhile investment.
Wait for Sales: High-quality items often go on sale. Waiting can get you the best of both worlds: a great product at a reduced price.
Prioritise: Spend more on items you use daily (e.g., mattresses, shoes) and consider saving on less frequently used items.
The Savvy Shopper’s Approach
South Africans are known for being clever and resourceful. So, the next time you’re out shopping or making a big purchase, remember: think long-term, think quality, and let your rands work for you, not against you.
By understanding the long-term benefits of investing in quality, we can make informed decisions that benefit our wallets and the environment. So, the next time you’re faced with a buying decision, remember to consider the bigger picture. Who knew that spending more could mean saving more?