Frugal Student Tip #10 – Buying Quality Saves

Being frugal doesn’t equal being cheap.

Buying quality saves money, frustration, and time.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  1. You don’t have to buy the very best of every single item.
  2. Brand name does not necessarily mean best.

Quality Matters

Clothing. Cheap clothing is almost never a good thing. The seams fray, the hem of the sweater never lays flat after the first washing, and you’re soon needing to buy a replacement. By “cheap” I mean cheaply made, of course, not bargain-priced. Finding a cheap price on a high-quality item is a huge win. As a fan of thrift shopping, nothing pleases me more than purchasing a high quality cashmere sweater for $3.79 at my favorite nearby thrift store.

Food. The old adage “garbage in, garbage out” applies here. If you aren’t on a dining plan at your college and you’re doing your own grocery shopping, you are in a position to make some excellent health choices. You don’t have to break the bank every time you go food shopping — it’s possible to eat well on a budget.

Don’t fall prey to the lure of the brand name. On many items, the store brand is just as good — and is often made or picked at the same facility. Bananas pretty much taste the same from any banana tree, and canned goods and cereals are just as tasty from the plain packages.

Cosmetics. As with food, this goes in your body, so quality matters. (Yes, items that go on your skin do enter your body. That’s why pain relief creams work. It’s important to pay attention to what you’re putting in and on yourself.) However, many store brand cosmetics are the same (or similar enough) to higher-end brands to save you big money over the course of a year — shampoos, lotions, soaps, all the way to mascara.

RELATED: Dorm Items You Actually Need

Everyday Items. In this case, by “everyday” I mean items you use every single day. Going cheap is never a good idea if it’s going to affect your life in a negative way each and every day.

While a kitchen trash can may be an odd example here, it’s telling. How many times a day do you use your kitchen trash? Even if you’re a busy student who’s not home much, I’m betting it’s multiple times — if only to toss the microwaveable meal wrapper. (Then, of course, again to retrieve the box when you realize you need the instructions. It’s o.k. — we all do it.) This is a perfect example of a “negative impact on your life” if you have a cheap item that’s used each day. A decently made trash receptacle is better than one of those dollar store cans that’s too small for a week’s worth of garbage and the lid falls off at the slightest misfire.

Cheap can be o.k. sometimes

Something for one use, like a craft item for holiday decorations, probably doesn’t need to be constructed for heavy duty usage. (But if you will be putting lights outside, I’d advocate for the heavy duty outside-approved lights and extension cords. Electrical shock is not quality of life, friends.) Try the dollar store instead of the national chain craft store if you need glitter and glue.

Special occasion clothing, like a costume or very dressy outfit you’ll only wear once, does not have to be purchased with wear-and-tear and multiple machine washes in mind.

Keep the long-term use in mind to determine whether going cheap is all right. Also, don’t forget to borrow if you can. Free is even better than inexpensive!


Pinterest Very Pinteresting! Find some frugal tips and ideas on our Pinterest board for Frugal College Students.

DollarsHow can you eat quality food on a low budget? Look at this Buzzfeed post for some great ideas.


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