plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

May 20, 2008

I should choose frugal over cheap for appliances

Filed under: shopping — Tags: , , — plonkee @ 12:00 pm

Frugal, plonkee, is not the same as cheap. Frugal is being sensible, cheap is taking short term gains for long term pains. And, that’s the lesson that I’m currently learning from my appliances.

I don’t have a microwave or a freezer because they cost money and I’m too cheap to get one. But if I did have a freezer I could bulk buy and then package up and reheat. And I’ve been known to buy food on the way home from work because what I’ve got requires too much effort – even though it’s only turning on the oven. If I had a microwave I’d have less excuse.

Not buying appliances is one way in which I’m probably guilty of being cheap. Another is in the quality of appliances that I’ve bought before.

I know that a breadbin isn’t exactly a major purchase, but I did in fact buy one about 6 months ago. I bought the cheaper version of the one that I really wanted. Why is this not a frugal purchase? Because it doesn’t stay open unless you hold it open – it actually self-closes in quite a painful way.

The very latest thing to remind me that it’s annoying is my vacuum cleaner. It doesn’t pick up hair from the carpet very well, and there’s nothing worse than vacuuming and realising that it doesn’t really look any different to before. That’s what comes from spending about £80 on the cheapest vacuum in the shop. I may need to save up for a small Dyson.

To be fair, I’m not always cheap – sometimes I’m actually frugal. My washing machine was researched prior to purchasing. I was looking for a model that had a delay timer (so washing is ready when I come back from work) and was A rated for energy efficiency. The cheapest model that did both is perfectly satisfactory  for me. I’ve got clean clothes, what more could I want? It was similar with my fridge which needed to be 55cm wide by 85cm tall, with an icebox and again A rated for energy efficiency – I then picked the cheapest such fridge and it has worked out well.

Sometimes, I don’t realise what I need in an item until I’ve lived with a less than perfect version for a while. But I’m going to be thinking quite hard about all my appliance purchases in future, trying to work out what will satisfy my needs and then getting it for the best price. I’m going to try to be frugal, rather than cheap.

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