Paycheck Chronicles

Being Cheap can Cost Lots

Okay, I know you've done it - bought a cheap whatever, only to find that it needs to be replaced really soon because, well, it's cheap. I don't want to say that I do it all the time, but I have definitely done it enough that I should maybe be a better of judge of where to scrimp and where to spend.

Example:  my cell phone charger.  The car charger for my cell phone stopped working.  I tried to go without but I was forever finding myself stuck away from home with a dead phone.  As the sole present parent for four small people, I have some responsibility to be available by telephone.  It seemed I would need to buy a new car charger.

The first time, I stopped at my local office superstore on the way to the cell phone company's store.  They had a charger for just $10 and I was pretty happy about that.  It lasted about two months.  I then picked up one of those universal car charger kits at AAFES.  For $20, I got about 15 adaptors, including a USB adaptor, plus the cord automatically retracted.  Happy again!  That one didn't even last a month before it stopped working.  (I may still try to take it back but it might be too late.)  Now I've got the $30 charger made by the same company that made my phone.  It doesn't do anything but charge my particular phone, but it works.  Basically, I spent $60 to save money on a $30 charger.

Now, I couldn't really have known that these were going to stop working so quickly.  The $10 charger could have worked just fine, and I would have saved $20.  It is a dilemma and I never know the right answer.

How do you decide when to save and when to be cheap?  Is there a trick to knowing which items will last and which items won't?

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