Frugality is the art of stretching money by making long-term decisions that weigh the cost/benefit ratio. It is not the art of being cheap. Cheap can refer to the quality of the materials used or the price of an item. If a product is cheaply made, you really do not save money in the long run if you repeatedly purchase replacement products.
Here are 5 items you should buy on the cheap.
Camis. There is little difference between a high-end cami and its cheaper cousin. If you plan to purchase a shapewear cami, you want to invest a in good one. Otherwise, camis fade and stretch after multiple washings regardless of price point. I purchase most of my camis from Forever 21 for $1.80 each or wait until a store offers a clearance bargain bin of camis during a semi-annual sale. Often, camis come in neutrals or the latest color of the season. By the time the cami yellows, fades, unravels, or goes out of style, you definitely got your $2 worth.
Accessories. Scarves, hats, jewelry, belts, headbands, and bags are available at a discount. Accessories tend to follow the latest trends and have a short shelf life. It’s also a great inexpensive way to modernize more classic cut investment pieces.
Sandals. Flip-flops fall into this category as well. Beware of super cheap sandals that may fall apart after a few wears. Most sandals will stand the test of time. We really don’t expect sandals and flip-flops to have arch support, so the need to invest in higher priced sandals is not required.
Cosmetics. These are not your mother’s drugstore brands. Most drugstore cosmetics are high quality compared to the same brands 10 years ago. A search on Pinterest will yield several sites dedicated to drugstore dupes of higher end cosmetic brands. Some items are hit and miss. You will find items you love and others that miss the mark. I suggest trying several products from a brand before making a decision to chunk the whole brand altogether. You can also search for product reviews on YouTube.
Spa treatments. With a little investment in the proper tools or products, you can give yourself manis, pedis, and facials. We live in a society that has Pinterest and YouTube with tons of DIY instructions. If you miss the salon experience, most career/technical/cosmetology schools offer reduced rates on services to provide students with real live humans, so they can work on their skills and earn hours. One local college occasionally offers free services in exchange for a canned good for the local food bank.
And here are the investment pieces.
Suiting. Never underestimate the importance of nice tailored suit jacket. This rule applies to males and females. Cheap suit separates are often ill-fitting and made from poor quality fabrics. You don’t have to purchase an expensive tailor-made suit. You can find suiting on sale with a national retailer or at a nicer consignment shop. When in doubt, invest in a higher quality suit.
Shoes. Cheap athletic and dress shoes are very bad for your feet. Your feet support all of your body weight. Cheaply made shoes can cause circulation problems, toe deformities, knee and back problems, and a breakdown in arches. The situation is even more dire if you are an athlete or work on your feet all day. As with suits, you can find quality shoes for a discount. But the price you save on shoes isn’t worth the price you will pay in doctor bills later.
Lingerie. I used to judge women who shopped at Victoria’s Secret. I mean, come on. Why pay $7 for one pair of panties when I can buy 5 for $4.99. That was until I realized how much I was paying a year for bras and panties that were uncomfortable and couldn’t make it through the wash cycle without becoming misshapen. I wasn’t saving money. The same applies to shapewear. If you are feel like you are constantly buying underwear, keep an eye out for semi-annual sales and mailing list free panty offers. If nothing else, pick up a free panty and do a trial run. You will notice a difference.
Haircuts. This applies primarily to stylized haircuts or temperamental hair types. I have a pixie cut. Two people went to a discount salon to achieve a similar look. They both regretted the decision. Cheap cuts may be difficult to fix or look chopped and jagged. I’m not talking about the occasional trim. I’m referring to layered cuts, pixies, and asymmetrical bobs. Let’s not forget other salon services likes perms and color treatment. I will never forget the $29.99 perm on my thin fine hair. The kids at school made fun of the frizzy mess left after the perm didn’t take.
Leather. Purchase genuine leather products. With the proper care, leather lasts for a long time and is a classic look. Pleather is not fashionable nor durable.
Remember to look for sales, clearance, thrift stores, and discounts. However, focus on the long term investment rather than the short term price.