Save. Spend. Splurge.

Should we really be pleased about cheap stuff?

When I met my partner, I found it very strange and European that he would actually be happy to pay bank fees.

I mean, why would anyone EVER pay bank fees and not want to get the cheapest deal possible?

He explained that things that are free, aren’t really free to him, and he can’t shake the idea that points and rewards, and all that “nonsense” was just ways to get us to spend more for the sake of collecting points, which he is not into.

(I saw his viewpoint, but still, I can’t get over paying for bank fees and I like getting cash back & points.)


Then I thought about it some more; on the one hand, he is right.

All the points we collect for reward programs to get free stuff, and all the  credit card rewards all have the payouts baked into the price of everything we pay.

Nothing is free. We are already paying for those “free” rewards every time we shop at the store and pay slightly inflated prices.


Yet on the other hand, for anyone like my partner who pays in cash (a dying breed), he is subsidizing the rest of us who use credit cards and reward cards to get free stuff after spending a certain amount on the card or at the store.

Even so, I find this culture of loving free or cheap things is something I grew up with and find hard to shake.

Should we really be pleased about getting stuff for free or for cheap?


If something is cheap, it generally isn’t of any good quality.

If it was worth anything, it would cost money, and wouldn’t be given away for free or for a low unbelievable price.

Caveat emptor, indeed.

Cheap stuff generally breaks long before you get any true value out of it. They really don’t make things like they used to.


The cheaper it is, the more you buy.

Have you ever noticed that at a buffet, when you’ve paid a certain amount of money, you go overboard and gorge like it’s your last meal to get the most value out of your dollar?

I would almost feel better paying the same price for half of the meal as long as it was of slightly higher quality.

More isn’t always necessarily better.

To amass a large quantity of stuff unless you’re one of the uber rich, it usually means you’re collecting and hoarding a whole bunch of cheap crap.

The cheaper it is, the more you collect and hoard. Why not?

$2 for each colour of nail polish? Don’t mind if we stock up on all 20 colours!


The most abstract concept of all, is that all this cheap stuff we’re buying from dollar stores means that the overhead that goes into producing it, was also cheap. Dirt cheap.

I once heard or read something about how food is harvested (can’t recall exactly what but I want to say chicken) in North America but then shipped to China for processing and then shipped back because it is cheaper.

Can you believe it? Even with shipping costs there & back, baked into the price it is CHEAPER to send food to be processed in China than it is to process it where it was grown & harvested.

I still love free things, and love it when I get things on sale or for cheap, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m just a playing right into their hands.


It’s easier said than done, but the simple matter of it all is to not participate and vote with your dollars, particularly with supporting local businesses you care about.

They’re your neighbours after all.

Want better quality, properly made and/or harvested products? Then buy that expensive peanut butter that is made locally even though it’s 3X the price, and eat less of it.

It is really hard for me to try and force myself back into the mindset of buying less, eating less and basically limiting my spending and collecting, but it is how we are going to get better-tasting, higher quality items in the stores.

Or at least, I hope so.


  • SarahN

    Yes… but. There’s a lot in Australia that’s arbitrarily priced and does not reflect the cost to produce. Today I was looking at pillow protectors. You can get 4 for $5 and plasticy and not my choice. Same store, I can get Australian made, cotton and bamboo at $16. Elsewhere, more ‘fancy’ bedding stores had them up to $25.95. Hard to fathom the price variance.

    I no longer bother with our grocery duopoly points – the auto check outs and human ALWAYS ask. I did sign up to a hardware chain today for 5%, but mainly cause they are the underdog to a MAJOR player in Australia, and I intentionally went there when I was in the area, to support the underdog.

  • Sarah @ Smile & Conquer

    In the past, I’ve been bad for buying something just because the price was so low, even though I didn’t need it. I’ve tried to be more mindful about shopping and am much more willing to spend more on a quality item that I know will last and get many more uses than a cheaper alternative. Plus, quality products (I especially find this with clothes and shoes) just feel so much nicer to wear!
    I like your point about getting rewards points, as I’m bad for that too. I’ll often throw something extra in the grocery store because it has a good points offer attached to it. Usually, I’ll end up eating it but it’s rarely a necessity.

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