One of the best money management tools I know is this Rule of Thumb: Match quality with need. In other words, don’t buy quality beyond the need.
Sometimes the cheapest option is the best choice. Other times, you’ll regret having gone cheap when you have to replace that item well before your need for it goes away. In that case, you’d be better off going for a higher-priced option that promises to last longer than the cheaper alternative and its replacement.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? You’d think so, but I must admit that when it comes to this quality vs. need issue, I am not perfect. It can be a real challenge.
Case in point: When my grandson was born, I bought the cheapest umbrella stroller Target had to offer. My reasoning was that I would use it only occasionally. I didn’t need a big fancy model.
Photo credit: Stopthegears Flickr Photostream
A mere four years later I discovered that was a big mistake. What a piece of junk! I kicked myself for fighting with that horrible excuse of a stroller for way too long. Completely disgusted, I tossed it in the trash and set out to find the best inexpensive stroller.
Every Friday for six years, Eli and I were off for the day to explore and play. We needed a reliable stroller. So he and I came up with our list of must-haves: Storage under the seat, a 5-point harness, cup holder, big wheels, folds easily, is relatively lightweight and has a retractable canopy.
Strollers run the gamut from $15 to $650. I can promise you that we did not need $650 of quality in a stroller. My goal was to buy the best inexpensive stroller that would match our list of needs.
I began my research online. Armed with the list, I started with the cheapest options and rejected them one by one when a particular cheap model couldn’t deliver on the must-haves. As I moved up in price, it didn’t take long to find strollers that had all of the things we need. I easily narrowed down the field of thousands to the three strollers that appeared to match—not exceed—our needs.
We visited stores so we could actually meet our top three candidates. I talked to parents, read tons of reviews. In the end, I made the decision to buy the cheapest of the three, based on reviews and personal recommendations. Quality wise, all three were so close, I couldn’t see much difference.
The stroller that won the first ever official “Everyday Cheapskate Best Inexpensive” seal of approval is this Summer 3Dlite Convenience Stroller.
We took our stroller for its maiden voyage to Knott’s Berry Farm and right off the bat we noticed five others just like ours in the stroller parking area at Knott’s “Camp Snoopy.” That sealed the deal and prompted a simple comment from the front seat. “That’s cool.”
Everything about this stroller is perfect. It maneuvers well on its 8 big wheels and it is lightweight enough that I can easily open it, close it and lift it into the truck bed in a matter of seconds. The seatback is sturdy and, according to my passenger, “Really comfortable!”
The handles are taller than most and the 5-point harness hooks up easily. There is plenty of room to stow stuff under the seat and I have a cup holder and storage pocket. This stroller is solid with a seat that is 2-inches wider than its nearest competitor.
And that’s all the quality we needed.
Question: Have you ever regretted buying the cheapest option? What happened and what did that decision end up costing you?