Some things are worth paying more for

tpI used to be really cheap. If I had an option of buying something generic that would save me money over buying the name brand I would do it. Not only would I buy generic, I would ALWAYS pick the cheaper item if there was a choice. It seemed like it was the better choice.

Not anymore.

The old adage “You get what you pay for” turns out to be true. Well, at least some of the time. There are some things that generic or less expensive equivalents are a good idea. But there are others that I’ve decided it’s worth spending a little extra on.

Here’s a short list of things that I used to buy cheap, but now I’m willing to spend a little extra on:

  • Q-tips
  • Toilet paper
  • Jeans
  • Tools
  • Mexican Food
  • Underwear
  • Tires

There are still some things that I still think you can get by with buying cheap, though. Including:

  • Soda Pop (or coke or whatever you call it)
  • Cereal
  • Shampoo
  • Cheese
  • Freeware / Open-source software
  • Hand soad
  • Mouthwash

What would you put on either one of these lists?

[Image by exfordy]

Idea for saving money

Earlier this year I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. He outlines his plan for setting up a budget, eliminating debt, building an emergency savings fund, saving for the future, and much more. Ever since then I’ve been paying a lot closer attention to how I spend money and looking for ways to cut spending.

One idea that I had today came as I was writing some checks to pay bills. This is not a normal routine for me, because I typically pay my bills with online bill paying through my bank. The checks that my wife and I use have pictures of our dogs on them, and since we don’t write many checks any more they are a few years old and thus the picture is old. This gave me the thought that I ought to order new checks with pictures of our baby on them.

But this set me back. I realized that the reason I wanted a new picture on the checks was because of the warm feelings that come whenever I look at a picture of Emory. But I’m talking about spending money and paying bills, and I should feel good about that? I don’t think so! I want to save my money and use it the things I want to, not the things I have to.

I also thought about one the very first credit cards I got when I was in college. I applied for a card at a baseball game and got one with the Texas Rangers logo on it. Being the sports fan that I am I felt good about supporting my team and had a little bit of pride every time I whipped it out to swipe a purchse. This was not a good idea. I soon was spending too much money, but even worse I was having these good feelings every time I was doing it!

My idea is simply this. Instead of getting a fancy, personalized credit card or checkbook that reflects your personality, get the ugliest card and checks that you can find. If you’re embarassed to show people them you’ll probably spend less money. This is similar to Dave Ramsey’s idea of paying cash. It hurts emotionally more to give people cold, hard cash because of how tangible of an amount it is.

If you have any ideas like this please share them in the comments.

About to cash in your change jar? Read this first.

Not too long ago I decided it was time to cash in the change that I had been saving in a jar for the past few years. Brea and I had just replace our desktop computer, so I figured we could use the extra money. I wasn’t too excited about this process, because the last time we cashed in our change it involved first wrapping all the coins before taking them to the bank. I did not want to this again.

I decided that I was going to take the coins to a coin counting machine that I knew was at a local grocery store. There was going to be a service charge, but I was willing to pay the money to save the time and effort it was going to take to wrap the coins. When I went to the grocery store the coin machine was out of order. At first I was upset, but it turned out that this was a blessing in disguise.

While driving around trying to figure out what to do next I drove by a Century Bank and remembered that I had seen something about them having a coin counter. This turned out to being one of the best investments I have ever made. Century Bank does not charge a service fee for using their coin counter. On top of that, they will give you $50 for opening a free checking account with a minimum $100 deposit.

I had about $300 in coins saved up, so here’s the math:

Coin Star: $300 in coins – 8.9 cents service charge per $1 = $273
Century Bank: $300 in coins + $50 for opening accound = $350
Difference = $77 or about 28% increase

That’s good money. If you happen to decide to open an account after reading this, please mention that you heard about it from me (Kevin Rossen). They give a $25 credit for every person you refer to them, so that little out of order machine might end up making me even more money.