A close up of a carriage

The Best Inexpensive Stroller

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.

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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.

A close up of a carriage

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?

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14 replies
  1. Kiera Collins says:

    There are many good quality strollers in cheap price. You just have to get a review of the perfect one. The stroller which is included in the blog could be the one which you are looking for. The details are very helpful. Thank You! Get some more ideas here: http://twinstrollers.webs.com/

    Reply
  2. Kiera Collins says:

    There are many good quality strollers in cheap price. You just have to get a review of the perfect one. The stroller which is included in the blog could be the one which you are looking for. The details are very helpful. Thank You!

    Reply
  3. KathyW says:

    Mary, why in the world would you wrestle with a cheap stroller for FOUR YEARS? The hassle factor alone just isn’t worth it.

    Reply
  4. Rhonda Coleman says:

    A comment about stroller decisions… When our first son was born, my husband was in medical school and money was almost non-existant. We begged for a double stroller as a gift because we anticipated having more than one baby. It provided extra space for shopping bags, picnic baskets, etc. and when our daughter came along two years later, we didn’t have to get another one.

    Reply
  5. Beth says:

    We are reminded of our worst cheap mistake every day. Our refrigerator went out without warning (don’t they always?) and I bought the cheapest Sears had. It is too small even at 18 cft for the two of us, I constantly fight for freezer space and the plastic door shelves began breaking within months. I can’t wait to buy a better fridge, but I wait because we don’t have to spend the money this month!

    Reply
  6. Renee Shilling Jones says:

    My husband talked me into buying a stripped down Model Nissan SUV in 2005. After a week and many tears, we took it back and got the one I wanted with all the bells and whistles. It has been the best purchase of our marriage. We passed it down to our son last year, when he graduated from college. He drove it to Canada from Louisiana this summer without any problems.

    Reply
    • Guest says:

      Ditto! But … how about the top of the line mattress when it’s on sale? Now THAT’s the kind of bargain that’s good to find.

      Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      That would certainly come up my rule to match quality with need, wouldln’t you agree? Of course you would buy the most quality you can afford when it comes to a mattress you need to last for many years!

      Reply
  7. Betty says:

    My husband said the worse cheap things he has purchased is tools. He has over time made a few CHEAP purchases to get by. He learned fairly quickly that a quality tool will stand the test of time and serve him well.

    Reply
  8. kaetra says:

    Our biggest “cheapest item” purchase regret is a mattress. My in-laws bought us the cheapest pillow top mattress they could find (thinking all pillow tops would be about the same) when we needed to add a second bedroom after the birth of our daughter. We put the new mattress in our room and moved my then 10 year old Sealy Posturepedic mattress to my young daughter’s room. After a couple weeks of uncomfortable sleep on the brand new bargain mattress, we went back to my old Sealy. I’ve been sleeping on that Sealy now since 1995 and it’s still extremely comfortable! I’m now a firm believer that when buying a mattress you should get the BEST quality you can afford!

    Reply
  9. Deb R. says:

    When to BUY the most inexpensive stroller: Friends were making a week long trip to Disney and looked into renting a stroller. They finally decided that buying a cheap one and leaving it behind at the end of the trip was the wisest choice. They paid less for the stroller for the entire week than they would have paid for just ONE day of the rented stroller. (And actually, someone else took their stroller at the end of the week, so it didn’t even get thrown away!)

    Reply
    • Guest says:

      GREAT idea! And you are so right. A one-day rental at Knott’s is $12. I believe Disneyland is a bit more. On the last day, it would be fun to hand it off as a gift to a family just arriving.

      Reply

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