Stop Being Cheap and Invest In Yourself

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yakezie challenge yakezie saving money frugal living blog swap

The following guest post was written by Aloysa from My Broken Coin as part of a “Yakezie blog swap” where members of the Yakezie Personal Finance Blogging Network pair up and exchange guest postings on a common topic. The topic of this blog swap was to discuss a certain thing or category of things that we absolutely refuse to go cheap on in our lives. Hope you enjoy! You can view my guest post over at My Broken Coin today as well! My Broken Coin is a personal finance blog of a big spender and a shopping addict who is trying to save, budget, set up goals and still have fun along the way.

Stop Being Cheap and Invest In Yourself

I am a spender. But even big spenders like me have their limits. Sometimes, I decide to make an effort to be frugal and save money. I start looking for bargains. I have to admit that my biggest mistakes were caused by me trying to save a buck or two on things that should not be settled for because of the price. Believe me or not, sometimes expensive means quality, style, and comfort and cheap means….crap. In the end, my attempts to save money cost me more.

I am not telling you to follow my excessive shopping habits and go shed unreasonable amounts of money on stuff. Think for yourself and be smart about your spending. But, I would advise to not look for bargains when it comes to the following:

Hair Stylists

My hair defines me. It gives me style and a distinct look. I never let anyone cut my hair using a razor, but for some unexplainable reason, hairstylists in cheap parlors are obsessed with razors. Maybe scissors are too expensive. Maybe they like to slice and dice people’s hair. I don’t care! I ran away from them a long time ago and never looked back. I settle for expensive salons for one reason only: I get what I pay for. In the end, I am not paying twice: once for a cheap color and cut, and later, for an expensive salon hairstylist who desperately tries to fix my mullet like, razor shaped haircut. I save money by choosing to pay more.


Shoes

Shoes are not all about the looks. I am a shoe snob who doesn’t believe in striking a balance between comfort, quality, and affordability with cheap footwear. Every time I go for a low price and breathtaking looks, I end up in pain, misery, and with a health issue. I walk a lot during the day, and if I don’t get the appropriate support, my feet and back hurt. I don’t want to be in pain every day. Do you? I consider shoes one of the best investments we can make. Good quality shoes won’t bring you any monetary gain. However, they will definitely benefit your health. Is there a better investment other than investing in your health?


Bed

I love to sleep. I love to rest. Preferably in the comfort of my big bed. Most of our waking hours are spent either flying above the pavement in our expensive and comfortable shoes (see above) or sleeping in our beds. I always ask myself how much is a good night’s rest worth to me. Believe me, it is worth a lot!  In fact, a good night’s sleep is priceless.

Work Clothes

This is very simple. If you work in a professional environment, do not settle for bargains and sales when choosing a suit for the following reasons:


 - You will look cheap in substandard quality fabric.
 - You won’t look professional.
 - You won’t look sophisticated.

Remember a saying “Dress to impress?” It applies in the office, especially if you want to move up the ladder one day. Invest in your professional looks. It will pay off, trust me.

How about you all? In what areas of your personal finances/life do you draw the line at being cheap? Why do you feel this way about these areas?  


Share your experiences by commenting below!

Jacob’s Thoughts – Listed below are my random thoughts as I was reading this article.

  • Very good post here, Aloysa, and thanks for being my blog swap partner! You bring up some very interesting points and some good areas for where NOT to be cheap. 
    • Personally, I would classify myself as a “saver,” so it’s interesting to read a “spender’s” take on the issue of where we draw the line of being cheap.
  • @ Cheap sometimes meaning low quality
    • It really resonated with me in particular when you mentioned above that some of your biggest money mistakes involved you buying something cheap, only to find out that quality of the product was very low.
    • As someone who is VERY frugal myself, I frequently am tempted by cheap products and have fallen in to this trap as well. 
    • What will happen with me is that I’ll find out that I need to buy something new, and upon investigating the full retail price of my “first choice” product, I’ll find out that the item is quite pricey. Being a very frugal person, I then start to look for ways to obtain the same sort of product at a cheaper price. Often, this has resulted in me buying stuff from eBay, Amazon, or other various discount-priced outlets that HAS been cheaper, but has also been of much lower quality. 
    • Since the product is of lower quality, I will often have to either buy another one immediately to upgrade (wasting time and money), or the cheap product will break and will need to be replaced.
    • I’ve decided to devote an upcoming post to this topic since there is only so much room in this comments section. However, listed below are some of the various “cheaper-version” products I’ve purchased over the years that have probably cost me more money in the long run than simply buying the more expensive version from the start:
      • Hiking poles
      • Road bike
      • Laptop battery (the one I purchased on Amazon didn’t interface correctly with my Toshiba laptop and would switch my computer’s power on and off unexpectedly!)
      • Heart rate monitors
      • Sunglasses
  • @ Investing in your self - 
    • I am a big believer in not being cheap when it comes to investing in your self growth. 
    • Each month, I set aside a small portion of my income to save to be used for one of the following ways to invest in myself: 1) continuing education classes at a local community college, 2) books, 3) seminars, and 4) conferences.
  • @ Why hair salons use electric razors vs. scissors -
    • I’ve also noticed the trend in recent years that hair salons have started to almost stubbornly use the electric razor to cut as much of your hair as possible. This is especially true at many of the discount hair cutting operations that you see in Wal-Marts and shopping malls.
    • I’m pretty certain that the reason that this shift is occurring is because using the electric razor is 1) quicker, 2) easier, and 3) less awkward (they don’t have to grab your hair and cut it with scissors).
    • Since my hair is VERY easy to cut, I actually started noticing back in 2009 that the hair salons were starting to only use the electric razor (on one length setting no less) to cut my hair. This simplicity prompted me to buy an electric razor kit at Wal-Mart and use it to cut my own hair, which I have done since and couldn’t be happier with! I’ve calculated that this has saved me $300-$400 so far!
    • As a whole, I think that probably the majority of guys (at least the ones with fairly simple hairstyles) could in fact cut their hair at home using an electric razor. On the other hand, women have more complex hairstyles, and therefore, I think it still makes sense for them to visit a hair professional.
  • @ Dress with high cost clothes
    • I have to respectfully say that I somewhat disagree with the idea that you have to spend big money on fancy dress clothes for work. 
    • Thus far in my working life, I’ve worked in multiple settings (casual manufacturing plant and semi-formal corporate headquarters) in multiple locations (big city and small farming community), and not once, was I ever looked down upon for not having fancy designer dress clothes. All of my dress clothes were either bought from Wal-Mart, JC Penney’s, or Target. 
    • In fact, I often got compliments of how well/nicely I dressed for someone of my young-ish age in the workplace.
    • Of course, I suppose that this attitude towards “level of style” all depends on the nature of your job. 
      • All of the roles I’ve had involved working with other scientists, pharmacists, or engineers (even at the corporate level). And, as a whole, I’d posit that these people place less importance on style, provided that someone looks presentable to some degree. 
      • If you worked somewhere such as a fashion firm or as an investment banker, it might be different.

***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/4354618648/sizes/l/in/photostream/

Comments

  1. 20sfinances says:

    Great post. Splurging makes sense every once in a while. I agree with Jacob and Aloysa that hair stylists make more sense for women than men. Like Jacob, I have my own clipper set and my wife cuts my hair. Nothing cheaper than free!
    My recent post What Would You Do with Extra Income?

    • Nicely done Corey on the clipper set! You ever tried to cut your own hair without the wife? I've got it down to an art where I don't even have to look in the mirror!
      My recent post Easy Like Sunday Morning Weekly Recap and Roundup – # 5 – December 17th, 2011

  2. Maria@moneyprinciple says:

    I fully agree with expensive haircuts and shoes. If I had to add several of the areas where I refuse to compromise these are: coffee (low quality coffee is so not worht it); wine (see the entry for coffee); gym and races (I run marathons and love it) etc. Generally, I believe that frugality is about optimising rather than restricting spending – that is, about lowering expenditure by eliminating waste without loss of quality.

    • Thanks for sharing those things that you won't go cheap on Maria. With coffee, I can tolerate the cheap stuff to a point. For example, Great Value coffee isn't too bad, but the generic Kroger kind tastes like metal! haha

      As far as wine goes, I can drink a $3 bottle from Wal-Mart and be pretty satisfied. On the other hand, I can't tolerate an equivalent quality of beer. I guess I'm weird!
      My recent post Easy Like Sunday Morning Weekly Recap and Roundup – # 5 – December 17th, 2011

  3. Jacob, I enjoyed working with you as much as I hope you enjoyed working with me. :) Loved your post on My Broken Coin!
    My recent post Where Not To Go Cheap

    • @ Aloysa – Definitely! I hope we can work together again. Please let me know if you'd ever like to guest post on my site. I need to stop by the post on your site again and check to see if I need to follow up on any comments people have asked.
      My recent post Easy Like Sunday Morning Weekly Recap and Roundup – # 5 – December 17th, 2011

  4. Mrs. YFS and I purposely budget in fun. This keeps us motivated to keep up with our spending plan. About 3% of our income goes to fun money.
    My recent post Come visit me at the Moneywise Financial Empowerment Tour!

    • @ YFS – Sounds like a great idea! I used to contribute 5% of my income to fun money for a while in college, but then got out of the habit. I found that a lot of times, I wouldn't use all of my funds earmarked for fun.
      My recent post Easy Like Sunday Morning Weekly Recap and Roundup – # 5 – December 17th, 2011

  5. I have to agree about shoes. I have big feet- big. About the time I reached 6th grade, my feet were big enough that most stores did not carry my size. Going shoe shopping became a traumatic event- I had to hunt down a sales person and ask if the store even carried any shoes in my size, and if so, which styles. It made me feel like a freak. So, I started shopping at Payless. They carried my size and I could see exactly what they had for me. But I was buying new shoes every season, and my feet were in pain.
    Now, I only buy shoes from Nordstrums (or quality men's atheletic shoes) because they not only carry the larger size shoes, but their website lets me know if the store near my has the shoes I want in my size in stock. Instead of feeling like a freak, I can go in with confidence. And, my feet don't hurt.
    My recent post Sunday Evening Post #15

  6. Sometimes spending more IS worth it. I like to buy the highest quality so that I don't end up throwing my money away in the end. It has never failed me. Some things you just cannot go cheap on.
    My recent post Yakezie Blog Swap #13: What Do You Never Go Cheap On And Why?

  7. Great post. It really helps put this topic into perspective. I am a firm believer in investing in yourself. To me it is one of the most valuable investments you can make. Like YFS, we have allotted room in our budget for these kinds of things because it is important.

    I really like what Maria said “I believe that frugality is about optimising rather than restricting spending – that is, about lowering expenditure by eliminating waste without loss of quality.” I think this is a great motto to live by.

  8. It is all about spending alot on what is important. When we try to skip on everything then we end up saying that nothing is worth our money, at which point, what in life is worth living for?

  9. Investment Insight says:

    My bed is probably my best investment. I never had a nice bed growing up, so when I was able to afford one, I went all out. I've had it for a few years now and it isn't letting me down. The hardest part is leaving it in the morning.
    My recent post What are the Different Types of Bonds?

  10. hahaha. It seems that everything that you listed can be utterly expensive. Even if you are frugal about everything else in your life, buying these things can set someone way back. I know females who spend $60 weekly on their hair. My friend just purchase a Temperpedic bed for $5000. A work suit can cost $200, even with a Joseph A Bank Sale. But like you said, there are some things that we never want to compromise on. Me, however, I always look for a deal so I can have money remaining to waste on an abundance of things. lol
    My recent post I am not Dave Ramsey!

  11. lanzones56 says:

    I have big feet- big. About the time I reached 6th grade, my feet were big enough that most stores did not carry my size. Going shoe shopping became a traumatic event- I had to hunt down a sales person and ask if the store even carried any shoes in my size. | :P

  12. Hope to Prosper says:

    I guess it's a good thing I'm a guy, because I will only spend so much for shoes, clothes and haircuts. Obviously, these are bad things to underspend on. But, overspending doesn't seem so great either.
    My recent post What if Everything you Know about Money is Wrong?

  13. I am also a fairly frugal person but do not feel lacking for anything. I definitely agree with Aloysa's list of things to splurge on and always do so as well. My concern is that I have begun wasting a lot of time trying to optimize purchasing decisions rather than just buying something conveniently or taking buses instead of planes to save money. I know that money can always be replaced but time is finite. I feel like an addict who has to fight this tendency.

    Any suggestions?

    • I know how you feel Sal. Typically, if I look at discount stores such as Wal Mart and Target and also online for an item (Amazon/eBay), I can gauge pretty well what a good price is. By doing that, it's much easier to pull the buying trigger without feeling bad at the end of it.
      My recent post Saving Money on Your Health Insurance

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