Bargain? Or Value?

Lately it seems like the concept of bargain versus value keeps popping up in my life.  A bargain is something that you purchase for a really amazing low price.  A value, however, is something that you may pay a pretty penny for, but over time that item pays for itself many times over because of how much it is used.

For example, I have two pairs of brown cowboy boots.  One pair I bought about ten years ago for a bargain price of about $15.  I’ve probably only worn them three times.  They’re not that comfortable, they’re hot because they’re not real leather, and the soles are pretty slippery.  The other pair I bought this past July when I was at a conference in Nashville.  It caused me a little pain to fork over $130 for them because I almost never make splurges like that.  But since July, I’ve easily worn them at least twenty-five times (many times during the summer months that are not exactly boots weather), and I’m always looking forward to the next time I can put them on my feet.  They’re really comfortable, and I adore them.  And if you figure out the cost per wear, right now they’re only a little more per wear than the bargain boots.  Within a month I’ll have worn them enough times that the cost per wear is less than the bargain boots.  That makes them a value.  My beloved boots have already given me lots of use.  And I’ll be wearing them for years to come.  The expensive boots are clearly the better value.


Similarly, last week I went shopping for a new suit (after somehow getting away with just not having one for several years).  I had to choose between an all-black skirt and jacket and a suit made up of a black skirt and jade jacket.  The jade suit was 40% less expensive than the black suit.  And I bought the black suit anyway.  The versatility of being able to mix and match the skirt and jacket with other items in my already existing wardrobe made it the better value.  I can see myself wearing either the skirt or the jacket to work at least once a week.  That simply wouldn’t have happened with the other option.

For a bargain lover like myself, it’s hard to admit that sometimes it makes sense to spend more money for something that will provide better value.  But time and again, when I invest more money than I want to in a purchase that I know will provide great value, I do not regret that decision.

When faced with a purchase decision it’s always a good idea to think about the value you will receive from the item you are purchasing.  It’s hard not to love a bargain.  But a value is your better bet.

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  1. Pingback: Is It Ever Too Late to Return a Purchase? | Penn State Law Financial Aid Moneywise Tips

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