Do You Get What You Pay For?

by Katy on February 18, 2012 · 8 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

Marmoleum Flooring

Who among us has not made the least expensive choice and then lived to regret that decision?

The most glaring example for me was a quick and dirty bathroom remodel from when we first bought our house in 1996. At the time, everything in our fixer-upper of a house needed major attention and it was hard to focus on the details. Add to that my status as a night shift nurse caring for a one-year-old baby and it’s amazing we got anything done at all!

We picked out a cheap-o bathroom sink, console and bathtub from Home Depotand bought a cool blue swirly remnant of marmoleum.

Voilá, home improvement at its worst!

The cupboard turned out to be only partially real wood, and the side that faced the toilet proved itself to be absorbent of urine. Which was also true of the marmoleum.

You try potty training two exuberant boys in an absorbent bathroom. It wasn’t pretty.

We ended up ripping out the cupboard and floor in 2004 and installing a small hexagonal tile floor and a porcelain pedestal sink. The theme was nothing that can absorb urine.

Because we went the route of cheap materials, we ended up having to redo almost everything. And that %#$$@** Home Depot bathtub is too shallow, which means the kids are forever slopping water over the sides.

We should have paid extra to get quality bathroom components from the get-go, which would have saved us money and time in the long run.

We got what we paid for.

But often times this axiom is far from the truth.

Almost all of the rest of the home improvement tasks we’ve taken on have vastlyincreased the value of our home. From removing the asbestos siding to landscaping the backyard, we got what we paid for, both as cash and in sweat equity.

On the flip side, Our belongings argue against getting what you pay for, as we almost always purchase high quality used items that can later be sold for far more than we paid. If we were the type to shop at TargetIkea and the like, our belongings would always be worth less than we paid.

So there you have it, you certainly get what you pay for when you buy low quality, but this is not necessarily tied to how much money you’re shelling out.

Have you been burned by purchasing low quality goods and then gotten what you paid for? Or do you search out those deals and pay less than things are worth? Please share your methods and thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land February 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm

The previous owners of our home got what they paid for. They replaced the nice wood windows in 1992 with vinyl, and I have to say I’m fairly certain the vinyl replacement windows are worse now than the wood windows would’ve been. Now we have to tear them out and start over. Ugh. Not only did the former owners strip our home of curb appeal by putting in ugly windows that don’t match the style of the house, but they leak horribly, have tons of unremovable mildew on the gaskets, and leak more than a window should. Don’t even get me started on how much I hate home “improvements.”


Gail February 19, 2012 at 4:06 am

In most cases I agree that you get what you pay for, but in clothing items such as t-shirts, polos, socks, I don’t see adifference between the Target items and the pricey ones. They look/feel the same and wash the same. When it rains or is too hot, our daily walk is inside the nearest mall. Our route takes us through a very fancy store. We occasionally glance ata price tag for chuckles: I saw a plain T-shirt for nealry $200 and it was no better than my Target ones. What is thepoint?


Linda February 19, 2012 at 4:51 am

When we built our home 21 years ago, we put in mostly quality products. All our appliances except our dishwasher are still working really well. Our dishwasher was replaced 5 years ago.

We needed to replace our roof 5 years ago because it was the only cheap thing we put into the house. We now have a 50 year roof.

It took us 2 years to build our home…a lot of sweat equity because we did most of it ourselves. We have pictures of us all through the 2 year process of building our house (my favorite is of me bundled up nailing up the 2nd story wall on a cold winter day).

When people comment on how beautiful our home is, my husband and I just smile and think it is all worth it! We have a very low mortgage that is almost done. We have a beautiful home and yard (the yard is thanks to my husband, he has a very green thumb).

I know after 21 years, there is a lot to keep up with but we put quality materials and work into the house. It is worth it!


Becky February 19, 2012 at 6:15 am

Seems to me that the issue with the bathroom wasn’t that the materials were cheap, but that you didn’t have the energy to choose thoughtfully.

Looks to me like “fast-cheap-good” triangle, where you can only ever have two.

I hope this is not too OT but I think it’s relevant – I need new bed pillows. Recommendations on best value? None of us have neck/back issues that require anything special.


Laura February 19, 2012 at 10:25 am

Laura Ashley pillow have held up extremely well for me. I am a bit picky and go with the extra firm, but I have preferred it to cheaper generic department store pillows that just go flat.


Ellie February 19, 2012 at 7:55 am

Oh goodness, this is one close to my heart!

When buying almost anything, my first choice is almost ALWAYS to try to find high-quality second hand stuff. Its almost always the best value. If I can’t find high-quality second hand then I will either 1) wait, if at all possible, to find said high-quality stuff at the right price; 2) pay what it takes to get new high-quality stuff (assuming I can afford it); or 3) find the cheapest temporary solution until such time as I CAN afford high-quality, either second hand or new. My one point of materialistic pride is that most of my “stuff” is good-quality and DURABLE.

To me the worst waste of money is buying shoddy stuff that you have to replace because it breaks. Planned obsolescence, and appliances and electronics that are designed to NOT be repaired just ENRAGE me! And I HATE particle board ANYTHING, because unlike real wood, it can’t be repaired or refinished! And don’t get me started on flimsy plastic “stuff”! Grrrrr!!!

This is not to say that I never use of have anything low-quality, but it is almost always my goal to eventually replace it with good stuff, when I find it at the “right price”. There are a few exceptions that aren’t worth buying high quality because they wear out quickly no matter what, of course – but not that much.

I will never understand people (COUGHin-lawsCOUGH) who chuck or turn down good second hand or older stuff (furniture, lamps, cookware, appliances) and replace it with shoddy, poorly made new things just because they “want new” for its own sake.


Practical Parsimony February 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm

The house in which I live was constructed in 1902. The remodels before I arrived in 1977 have not stood the test of time like the original portions of the house. I had to remove indoor/outdoor carpet from the bathroom and put down linoleum that looked like white stone. The sink stayed. It was attached to the wall by a wooden bracket that my friend managed to rip from the wall after he repaired something for me and refused to listen to my warning then my screeching the same warning! The clawfoot tub is deep and just right for a person who hates showers. Several years later I put in a new commode, expensive and not cheap quality. But, it still a basic, no frills, round commode.

I won’t continue the list of shoddy improvements the people before me employed. AND, they have a body shop in town. Let me tell you, I never use it after seeing the work here.

In 1968, when we bought our first house, I bought a dining set. The table top is some sort of pressed wood that has stood the test of time. The six chairs still are sturdy. Obviously, cheap things were made better then than now. The chairs are all wood with stretchers, something most cheap furniture now does not have. The table with two leaves and four chairs cost $100, and my husband made $55/week salary. Two extra chairs were $50, exorbitant in his opinion.

All other furniture and repairs were without pressed wood or even plywood. EXCEPT things installed in the remodel of 1977, and then I had my back turned or it would never have happened. The guy installed plywood when I said NO PLYWOOD. Most of it I did not discover until later. I fired him because he put pressed wood in the laundry room and glued linoleum to it. Guess who has a washer that has dug hole in linoleum and pressed board. Ex was a minister and refused to correct the guy and would not allow me to scream at him after the guy defied me.

Oh, I forgot the partially pressed wood French Provencial bedroom suite that blinded me and made me forget what I needed to look for in furniture. My three-year-old daughter helped by squealing with joy.

About quality and how prices rise or fall with time: My friend whose husband was manager of the Walmart Distribution Center was moving far away, so she was getting rid of furniture rather than moving it, saying it would be cheaper to buy new at the other end.

She sold me in 1982, an antique, solid oak, dresser with serpentine front, and the mirror that is suspended in/by upright arms at the back. She paid $50 for it 20 years before, but felt that since she had used it for 20 years that it was only worth $25. The drawers all have locks, but she had no key. The hardware is original. I gave her a check, sight unseen, and had someone pick it up within hours before someone told her the folly of the selling price.

I always try for quality, even if it is junky when I buy it or drag it from the curb. The windows with weights in them are still here because I cannot bear to think of having aluminum windows. Besides, who can afford 40 quality windows of any kind?


Katy February 19, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I am totally on board with your hatred of particle board. It’s unfixable and crap.



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