8 Products & Services You Shouldn’t Skimp On
There are plenty of articles out there detailing tips and tricks for paying as little as possible, from the getting the best price on appliances to finding the lowest price on airfare. But there are many items and services for which it’s better not to try to maximize your savings.
Sometimes, paying the absolute minimum costs more in the long run. It may even have disastrous consequences. Here are eight things you shouldn’t skimp on.
There’s a difference between getting a great deal on a product and buying the cheapest option out there to save money. The former is a smart way to save on a necessary expense, while the latter is a great way to waste money on a crappy product you’ll have to replace soon when it breaks or stops working.
When it comes to buying products, in some categories, it can be ill-advised or downright dangerous to pick the lowest-cost product or buy something used rather than new. For example, picking the cheapest paint can have you shelling out extra for primer, doing multiple coats to get good coverage, and feeling lightheaded or sick due to paints that aren’t low- or no-fumes.
Here are some other products that you shouldn’t skimp on, for their quality and your safety.
1. Child Safety Seats
If you have a child, you probably have a child safety seat or two sitting in your car or garage. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in car accidents, safety seats reduce the instance of a fatal injury by 71% for children under 1 year old. It goes without saying that child safety seats are a must for anyone with a kid and a car.
However, as with most baby gear, these seats can get expensive, and if you have more than one child, the costs can really add up. While it may be tempting to reuse a car seat for a younger child, if the hand-me-down seat is past its expiration date, recycle its components and buy a new one instead. Most car seats have an expiration date stamped on them; if yours doesn’t, you can contact the manufacturer or check their website.
The plastic in car seats becomes brittle over time. That means that in a car accident, the seat designed to protect your child can shatter rather than absorb the impact like it was initially intended to do. Most cars, and the car seats within them, are exposed to extreme high and low temperatures that are especially hard on molded plastic, causing it to degrade over time. Also, if a car seat has been involved in an accident, even if it was just a fender bender, it’s better to replace the seat rather than risk it not working properly in the future.
2. Running Shoes
Running can be one of the most inexpensive forms of exercise out there, provided you don’t spend all your money on costly gadgets and unnecessary running gear. One thing you do need to run happy and injury-free, however, is a pair of good, well-fitting running shoes.
Finding the best shoes for your feet and gait can cost you over $100, and running shoes should be replaced every 500 miles or so. But if you try to save money by running in old, worn-down shoes, you’re practically asking to get hurt, which is a much bigger and more painful ordeal than shelling out for the right shoes every six to 12 months.
If you run five miles at a time three times a week, it will take you approximately six months to hit the 500-mile mark, provided you don’t take any time off. Keep track of when you buy your shoes — I do this by noting the date in permanent marker on the tongue flap — and as you approach that six-month mark, pay attention to how your joints and feet feel after a run. If you’re a heavier runner or have a gait that has you landing hard on your heels, you may wear out your shoes faster. If you’re lighter or don’t run as often, you could get up to eight to 10 months out of your shoes.
Whatever you do, don’t try to run in old shoes to save money. I learned this the hard way a few years ago when I failed to replace my running shoes when I should have. One painful case of plantar fasciitis later, I had learned my lesson. The X-rays alone cost far more than a new pair of running shoes would have, and I was sidelined from running for over a month while I recovered. I spent this time wishing I had just paid attention to my shoes and replaced them as soon as I needed to rather than running in old shoes because I didn’t feel like shelling out the money for a new pair just yet.
3. Sun Protection
It can be easy to neglect proper sun protection when we’re outdoors for just a little while, such as walking to the corner store or taking the dog for a walk. Even if you’re usually pretty good about slathering on some sunscreen before you head to the pool for the day, it can be tempting to skip reapplying it to your entire body every two hours.
When you take into account the cost of a good bottle of sunscreen, plus a hat and rash guard for everyone in the family, adequate sun protection can seem like a hassle that’s not worth it. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should apply one ounce of sunscreen — about enough to fill a shot glass — to your body every two hours. By following this rule, you could easily blow through an entire bottle of sunscreen for one day-long outing with your family.
If no one’s getting burned, then what’s the harm? A lot, it turns out. Even if you never burn, or have naturally darker skin, you’re still at risk for developing skin cancer from prolonged exposure.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans develop some type of skin cancer by the time they reach 70 years old, and every single hour, someone dies from melanoma, which is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Luckily, skin cancer is also one of the most easily avoidable cancers as long as you protect yourself from the sun every time you go outside. When you consider how easy it is to prevent unnecessary sun exposure, suddenly it doesn’t seem like too much to shell out for the right sun protection for you and your family.
4. Safety Gear
Often filed under the “hope you never need to use it” category is safety gear such as the helmets, shin guards, and other protective pads that come with playing sports, biking, or skiing. While it can be tempting to pick the least expensive option, especially if you’re always careful and haven’t had an accident, the repercussions of skimping on these items can be catastrophic.
For example, if you bike to work and don’t have a properly fitted helmet, it won’t do you much good if you take a tumble or are hit by a car. Even if you have a helmet that fits well, but it has protected your head in a fall before, it’s time to replace it. Helmets are only good for one impact; after that, the foam that protects your head isn’t strong enough to withstand another impact.
A relative of mine was hit by a car while riding his bike about a decade ago, and the trauma surgeon said his helmet probably saved his life and definitely protected him from brain damage. The helmet in question still looked fine on the outside, but he thanked it for its service, tossed it, and replaced it with a newer model by the same manufacturer. When it comes to protecting your noggin, it’s worth it to pay for a good-fitting and well-reviewed helmet.
If you or your kids play sports that require padding, it’s important to pick gear that fits well. It doesn’t matter if it’s top-of-the-line; if it doesn’t protect the areas of the body it’s designed for because it doesn’t fit properly, the padding won’t do anybody any good. Buy quality, well-fitting equipment for whatever the sport is. Invest in the right padding, mouth guards, and other protective gear, and it could save you — physically and monetarily — in the long run…..Read More>>>