How Can You Save Money by Buying The Expensive?!

In Trent Hamm’s book 365 Ways to Live Cheap, he talks about a very interesting concept that I would like to share with you in this post.

The concept is called cost per use.

Here’s how Trent explains it: “How much do I have to pay for each use I’m going to get out of that item before it spoils or breaks? … The “sweet spot” of a purchase, then, is the one that has the most uses for the cost.”

Let me share with you a little experiment you can do to see how applying this concept can save you a lot of money.

Here’s how to do the experiment:

  1. In your next visit to a grocery store, pick one item to be your test subject.
  2. Buy both the small size and the big size of that item.
  3. Count the number of uses for each size.
  4. Divide the cost over the number of uses to figure out the cost per use.
  5. Try to answer this question: Is the big size usually cheaper?

That experiment is designed around consumable goods. How about other things like clothes that are measured by the length of use (i.e. how long could you use it before it looks old or goes out of shape?)?

In this case, will the expensive  high quality item be cheaper?

From my personal experience, expensive items are always cheaper, because they are more durable.

Interesting, right?

Doing this experiment and understanding the ‘cost per use’ concept will prove to you that midway simplicity is far better than radical frugality. You can enjoy buying expensive items without feeling guilty, because usually their ‘cost per use’ will make them cheaper!

Enjoy your next purchase :)


* Photo Credit: by david_shankbone

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7 Responses to How Can You Save Money by Buying The Expensive?!

  1. Mike | Homeless On Wheels August 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    You write “From my personal experience, expensive items are always cheaper, because they are more durable.”

    That makes an assumption that price is always proportional to quality. While that is often the case, it can be a dangerous assumption. Sometimes a sale might result in the better item being less expensive. Some manufacturers intentionally price their items higher than they are really worth so that people who assume “more expensive=better” will buy it. Sometimes a higher price buys you nothing more than a bit more style or a popular name on the label, but no higher actual quality.

    My point? WHen you shop, be aware of not only how much you are spending, but do your research to determine the actual quality of an item to predict its durability. Never assume that just because something is more expensive it must be better. While there was a time when that might have been true, when products were priced honestly and corresponded to their relative quality, that hasn’t been the case for a long time. It’s may be a reasonable generalization, but a dangerous assumption.

    Of course my own opinion may be biased by te fact that I take special delight in finding the bargain-priced no-name item that is actually superior to the high-priced popular brand version. I can do that because I am not hung up on brand names, and I try to evaluate each item’s value on its own merits.

    • Mohamed Tohami August 16, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

      I totally agree with you Mike. That’s why I suggested that you do an experiment first to decide. I reached the conclusion of “expensive is cheaper” based on my own personal experience, which might not be the same for other people in other countries.

      Your comment highlighted a very important point that I should have mentioned which is: evaluating each item’s value on its own merits.

      Thank you SO MUCH for this very valuable comment.

  2. Nanc' Hooyman August 18, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    As I try to simplify my life and declutter, I find the things I am saving are the very nicest things I own. The best clothing, which I usually paid more for (unless I got it on sale), the best of my art collection, the best linens, etc. As I move on, I intend to buy fewer clothing items, but they will be of better quality and of materials that will last. I intend to by only really wonderful one of a kind art. As a widow, I now buy smaller volumes of things, like detergent and paper towels. I waste less I find. And smaller containers fit better in my home. One exception is my shampoo and conditioner, which I buy once a year when it is on sale and I have a 20% off coupon during my birthday month. For about $34 I have a year’s worth of high quality products which I then dispense into smaller containers for daily use.

    • Mohamed Tohami August 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

      That’s a very solid financial management. I love when you said, “I intend to buy only really wonderful one of a kind art” … That’s very interesting, because when you do so, you can really enjoy MORE with less.

  3. Kimberley August 19, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    Seems like we are all moving into a very “selective” phase. More and more, people are evaluating their purchases like I have not witnessed in decades. It continues to be the need vs. want, quality over quantity. We really benefit when we score a quality item at a discounted price, or, when we are gifted or handed down an item of quality.

    • Mohamed Tohami August 20, 2012 at 11:16 am #

      Simplicity is taking the world by storm. Because it is really really gratifying.

  4. online gym November 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    I always buy the more expensive kitchen appliances. I find if I buy the cheaper products I’m always back at Bath Bed and Beyond 6 moths to a year later buying a new one. I also carry that idea over to my business and let it trickle down to my clients.

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