When to Buy For Life and When to Buy For Price

I talk a lot about buy-it-for-life items here on my blog and in life. Buying quality items that will last is something I am passionate about and something I believe in. I pride myself on being careful with my money, and for me, buying items that will last is the ultimate way to be careful with my money. But that doesn't mean I'm always buying the highest quality everything. Some items aren't going to last no matter what quality you purchase. So how do you know when to buy-it-for-life versus when to buy-it-for-price?

5 Items You Can Buy for Price:

1.) Food

Food is the obvious one because it's not meant to last forever. By its nature food is perishable, meant to be consumed. That makes it an easy area to save a couple of bucks. I'm not saying that you should buy boxed foods over fresh; instead, what I'm saying is that it's okay to buy the store-brand rather than name brand cereal.

Apps like "Grocery IQ" and "Checkout 51" can help direct you to grocery items that give you more bang for the buck.

2.) Disposables

This category includes garbage bags, paper towels, toilet paper, and tissues. Basically, if your plan is to use it once and then throw it away, there's no reason to spend a lot of money on it. That said, items like cloth diapers, handkerchiefs, and wash cloths can limit the money you spend on disposables. 

3.) Children's Clothes

I love my son and I want him to have everything he wants and needs, but that doesn't mean that I spend an arm and a leg on his clothes. Kids grow fast! There's no point in buying name-brand clothes that they're going to grow out of quickly anyway. If you do want some of the name-brand items, look for nearby consignment stores which often have high-quality items at discount prices.

4.) Undergarments

Socks, underwear, and undershirts are items of clothing that you can scrimp on. They're all clothes that you sweat in, and as such even the highest quality undergarments will stain and smell over time. I wouldn't suggest telling your wife to scrimp on bras, which are a whole different kind of undergarment, and certain jobs may require higher quality socks to protect the feet, but for the most part, undergarments are an easy area to save money. Buy in bulk and forego fancy patterns to save some money.

5.) Electronics

I like movies, TV shows, and computers as much as the next guy, which is why I know that no electronic can really stand the test of time. Technology is constantly changing and improving. Only a short while ago we all had VHS players in our houses. Now those of us with collections of VHS tapes know that they're pretty much obsolete. The change for electronics like computers and cell phones is even faster. In six months it won't matter if you bought the latest model cell phone because a new model will be out--so go ahead and buy one model behind to begin with to save your wallet some heartache.

5 Items You Should Buy for Life:

1.) Bags

Whether you're looking at backpacks, suitcases, or purses, bags are something that really can be purchased for life. If one member of your family doesn't need the bag any more, you can be sure that another member will be able to find a use for it. Instead of having a large quantity of low-quality bags that are going to break when you need them, buy bags that can stand the test of time.

2.) Wallets

Your wallet is with you every day and it holds some of your most important documents. You want a wallet that is strong, durable, and functional for your purposes. This is a purchase you want to spend some time on because it is with you so often. Properly cared for, a sturdy leather wallet can last years. This also makes an engraved wallet a great gift for a special occasion.

3.) Jewelry

Jewelry is often passed down from mother to daughter--or, in the case of watches, from father to son--which means that if you buy jewelry that's made to stand the test of time, it could last not just for your lifetime but for several generations. High-quality jewelry can even appreciate in value over time. The trick with purchasing jewelry is to pay attention to both the metal and to any stones and make sure both are of high quality. Also ensure that you are buying from a reputable source.

4.) Furniture

There's a reason antique furniture has such value. Older furniture was often made by hand out of high-quality wood, and as such its craftsmanship is admirable. When buying furniture for your own house, you want heavy-duty, durable items that will hold up over the years. This is especially true of wooden furniture like bed frames, dressers, and tables. If you buy attractive, high-quality items in these categories, they can last the rest of your life--and even be handed down to your children when they strike out on their own one day.

5.) Bedding

A good night's sleep is invaluable. Sleeping well can increase productivity and alertness the next day. This means that sleep is one area you really want to invest in. High-quality sheets can help you relax and can help regulate your body temperature. Quilts and other bedding can also be multi-purposed, used not only in the bedroom but on the couch when watching movies or outside on a picnic. Having strong, durable bedding is a must.

Although these tips provide a general guide to which things to buy for life versus which things to buy for price, it's also important to listen to your gut. Your job, family situation, and hobbies will affect your priorities. Buy-it-for-life items should be items you use regularly and want to keep in good shape, while buy-it-for-price items are better reserved for purchases that are temporary in nature.

What items do you buy for life?