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Why buying cheap is not always buying value

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OK so we all know you can buy almost anything cheaper somewhere else. The idea of a single price is now almost totally redundant. Where once we would go to a shop and take a price as the price we now search high and low online for a better rate. This is fine, it makes sense, but a trend that has developed alongside this is far less constructive; assuming a low price is good value.

Why Buying Cheap is not Always Buying Value

Value vs Price

Lost cost is not always high value. Value is an almost unmeasurable thing that judges any given thing on how much use it is to any given person, family, group company etc. Something that is cheap that doesn’t work is not good value; even it that thing is free it is still bad value because it cost someone something to make it even based on the materials, plus it’s a waste.

Low Price Home Items

The idea of jumping on Amazon for a cheap tin opener or taking notice of massive low price adverts for a sofa is something we all do to one level or another, but it is creating a problematic environment in more than one way.

Buy Cheap, Buy Twice

It may be an old saying but it is almost always true. Two items that do the same thing, let’s say a dining chair may perform well initially. However, the cheaper chair is likely to be made of lower quality materials, built using less nails or glue to cut costs and more. The result… over a long period of time the cheaper chair will probably start to wobble and need to be thrown out. The more expensive chair, provided the company are genuinely good, should carry on for many years more. So the cheaper chair may have seemed like a great way to save money but it lead to the purchase of a second chair whereas the more expensive one lasts much longer.

Small can be Good

When thinking about buying things for the home try to look for smaller companies. Many of these will use more hands on manufacturing techniques and offer great quality and value. For example compare a chair from and Ikea. One is certainly cheaper by quite a long way. But one is also handmade by one person who is available to speak to anytime and will probably last a lifetime. The other is made in a huge factory and is probably only designed to last 5-10 years. The same could be said for as a quality brand, even though it’s a little bigger, you pay more but proportionately more too.


Not everyone can afford to buy expensive items, however this is not a situation of extremes. By just buying one price level up from the cheapest could be enough. This argument is not to say only rich people can have nice things, it is to say if we shop using other factors we might just get better value things for our homes. Spending more upfront can lead to spending less in the long run as products last longer and get more use.


It is not just the cost of buying a second item that is an issue here. The really big problem with cheap goods is the waste and use of materials. Recycling is common place, upcycling is too, but in many cases cheap items are so broken they need to be thrown away and some materials are not recyclable. This leads to not only wasted materials, but the use of more finite resources to build more cheap products.  It’s basically a lose-lose situation. 

Who Wins?

Well the businesses who sell things win. A lot of big companies do not want their things to last a lifetime. If they did then they limit the number of people they can sell to. By making cheap goods like home appliances, carpets and furniture they can be sure they will have people as a customer again in 5-10 years.

Who Loses?

Sadly the people who shop cheap because they can’t afford more expensive things are the worst hit.  They have the least money, but end up having to spend more over the years by replacing broken and ineffective cheap items. But shopping cheap is not just a habit of those who have to do it, nowadays it is also something most people do and so everyone loses. But the environment also loses and so do future generations.

The Exceptions

There is an issue in all of this that really is a problem. There are companies out there that charge lots of money and still make poor products. This is a very sad fact of business and can sometimes push people to buy cheap because they think everything breaks and fails anyway. Often these companies start out making great products but once the money starts rolling in they’ll upscale manufacturing and start cutting corners.

This is an important discussion and something that we should all think about. Shopping for value is good, shopping solely on price can be very bad. Remember there is a difference and maybe taking a few more months to save up for that slightly more expensive dining table might well be worth it in the long run.


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