Not what you were expecting to hear is it? It may seem counterintuitive but you can save a lot by avoiding being cheap. It comes down to the old argument of quality versus quantity. You shouldn’t just go for the cheaper alternative all the time and expect to save money that way. Think of a big budget item like a car or a laptop. There are expensive consequences to buying a really cheap gadget. After all, you get what you pay for. Having to pay for repairs and replacement parts when you could’ve dished out some extra cash upfront for a top-quality product will really hurt your wallet.
Essentially, if you need to invest in something practical which you are really going to use and need to withstand wear-and-tear, then you’ve got to be prepared to pay for it. Think of it as a long-term investment. From here on out I’m going to start using clothes as a metaphor, so prepare yourself! If clothes aren’t really “your thing”, just imagine something else you buy a lot of and use regularly –maybe its tech, maybe its toothpaste. It applies to nearly everything!
I subscribe to a method of dressing which I call the high-low method. I can’t take credit for it because it’s basically what my mom has been doing since the '60s. The gist of it is: mix and match high and low-value items and you’ll come out looking like a million bucks. Just make sure the high-value items are staple pieces that don’t go out of style, and the low-value items are trendy pieces that won’t last.
For example, a black blazer will never become passé. Maybe the style of the cut will, but cuts don’t pass out of fashion nearly as quickly as special pieces like tube tops did. Remember those? I bet some of you reading this don’t even know what a tube top is. If for some silly reason you think tube tops are still in, they’re not. On a side note, crop tops are basically the new tube top and for all you guys and girls who love this trend, I give it two more summers before everyone at Coachella is wearing something else. So, try to keep it under $15 and don’t buy more than three unless you’re a belly dancer. You’ll thank me in 2018.
Also, if you’re going to buy something that you’re going to get a lot of mileage out of, don’t be scared to spend a few extra dollars on it. I admit that last term I went out of my way to buy a kate spade new york bag… I’ve mentioned previously that I’m usually very frugal during school, no? It was on sale with 75% off (special sale at the outlet plus an additional 30% off with a coupon, if you’re curious) and it still came out to the tune of $200. I was a little angry with myself about it later, but you know what? It’s a black leather suitcase. I use it for work, and it can fit my wallet, water bottle, book, lunch bag, and files. It’s real black leather with proper stitching and hardware, which means if I don’t go out of my way to abuse it, this bag is going to last me at least 10 years.
It also pairs well with my $20 work pants, $3 thrift store blouse, and yes, a black blazer my aunt gave me for my birthday two years ago. (Protip: If older employed adults ask you what you may like as a gift for some holiday/celebration or another, ask for relatively expensive but necessary things that you don’t want to pay for yourself). When I’m walking around the Financial District of Toronto with all the hoity-toity business people nobody bats an eye. So don’t punish yourself by going for what’s cheapest all the time. Invest in the future you, and disguise your bargainer’s soul with a smoke screen of good fashion!