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Ask DSM Readers: Is Cheaper Always Better?

Posted By Tara Kuczykowski On October 3, 2008 @ 1:32 am In living on less | 29 Comments

mom in reflection with storm clouds
photo credit: emdot

Alyssa over at Keeping the Kingdom First posed a really interesting frugal dilemma tonight. She's in the market for a new pair of sunglasses, and she's wondering when is it worth it to buy a more expensive item? I had to laugh when I read this, because I struggled with the exact same problem just last spring.

I had a pair of beloved JCrew sunglasses that I wore for, I kid you not, 9 years. That's like EONS in sunglasses life!!! Though I bought them on clearance, I would have obviously gotten my money's worth even at full price. They finally bit the dust last spring when I dropped them walking in the door from outside. They landed just the wrong way and the hinge broke off in such a way that repairing them wasn't even an option.

So my hunt began. I looked at every store we went to for a cheap pair, but well, they were also cheaply made. The plastic wasn't smooth, they felt flimsy, and they just didn't feel like they fit properly. I just wasn't happy with anything I found.

Finally after much insistence on the part of my husband, I went to a Sunglass Hut at our local outlet mall. There I found a really nice pair of Ralph Lauren glasses for about $90. Now, that's definitely not cheap, but I could have done a LOT more damage, so I was pretty satisfied with my find.

Since I wore my last pair for 9 years, I expect for this pair to last me roughly that long. I could have purchased a cheap pair for roughly $10, but I probably would have had to replace them much sooner, possibly even annually. So when you break it down, the yearly cost for wearing the quality item versus the yearly cost for wearing the cheap item is about even.

Given those figures, I'm perfectly happy with my decision to invest in a more expensive item.

What's your take on whether cheaper is always better? Even if you disagree with my decision, I'd love to hear from you. I find these kinds of discussions so interesting, and there's really no right or wrong. It's what works best for you in the long run.

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