Consumer, Finance, Home, House

Ask Chuck: Is Low Price Better Than High Quality?

By: Chuck Bentley, Crown Financial Ministries

Dear Chuck,

I like nice, quality things. My husband prefers lower prices. My perspective is that buying quality is better in the long run. Is there a right or wrong way to look at it? We are stuck on which refrigerator to buy to replace the old one we have now.

Needing A Compromise

Dear Compromise,

Let’s reframe the choices you have from just two to three. You could get a quality refrigerator, you could get a low priced refrigerator, or you could get the best value refrigerator. The final choice is the best one but getting to the compromise will be the challenge.

My wife and I both like nice things…at a good price. But it can take months to find a deal! My wife, Ann, will research an item to death, whereas I’m ready to buy when I know an item is right for us. The key is learning to work together by honoring each other’s personality and opinions. Both of you can be equally right, and wise decisions can be made through prayer and honest, respectful communication.

There is a time to spend more for quality and longevity. There’s also a time where the extra expense doesn’t matter. However, some people do not understand the difference. Rather than using common sense and trusting the Lord, some people are caught up in the need for luxury.

In The Psychology Behind Why People Buy Luxury Goods, Vanessa Page writes:

People buy luxury goods for a variety of reasons, all of which are related to the strong emotions that we attach to expensive material goods. Whether we are financially comfortable or not, we will often purchase luxury items to show off to or gain acceptance from others and to reward ourselves for an accomplishment.

A good steward has his/her identity in Christ and does not ‘need’ luxury. Quality is different. Here are a few basic things to remember when shopping for the best value: a quality product at a great price. 

Consider the length of ownership to determine what should be quality and what is non-essential. A refrigerator lasts a long time so quality is important. You need to know for certain that it will protect the food you buy for your family. A cat bed, however, is disposable and does not need to be the best on the market.

When to Spend More for Quality

  • Energy efficiency
  • Longer life of the product
  • Dependability
  • Maintenance free

When to Be Frugal

  • Disposable items
  • No difference in quality
  • Functionality is equal
  • Less expensive won’t affect safety or health

Tips on Getting the Best Value

Know what you need to best serve your family. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and talked into spending more money than is necessary because there are so many bells and whistles on appliances today that have little meaningful purpose.

If you shop Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, remember, not all sellers can be trusted. In addition to having no warranty or guarantee that the product will work, you may have to move it yourself. And, when replacing appliances, that means moving out the old ones as well.

Check out sales over holiday weekends and check for online sales. Avoid new models and take advantage of the old stock that retailers want to clear out. The end of the month is a great time to negotiate a purchase because employees working on commission are eager to make more sales. Always ask to see any ‘scratch and dent’ items. They are often significantly discounted for appearances only. 

Ask if there are delivery and installation charges and any fees with hauling away the old appliance. I ignore extended warranties and always research reviews and consumer reports.

Steward Time, Money, and Relationships

The time you put into researching the purchase of a higher costing item can be saved over the life of a product. Do your work upfront. Time is money. Read reviews. Talk to salesmen, people you know, anyone willing and trustworthy to educate you on the purchase.

Pray for discernment and for leading to the right item. Needs and wants should be vetted. God often grants us the desires of our heart when he knows our desire is to use His money wisely. Let your husband know that you are willing to work to find the best value refrigerator and ask for his support.

Seek harmony and peace in your marriage. Respect your spouse’s opinion. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. In humility, present your case with proven research while honoring your husband. If he believes his way is best, then submit in love. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our desires for the good of the marriage. Your relationship is more important than an appliance.

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:14-15 ESV)

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Activities, Kids & Money, Money Management, Saving

Six Fun Ways to Save as a Family

By: America Saves

Meeting financial goals as a family can be challenging. But inspiring your family to help and contribute to a financial goal doesn’t have to be a painful process, especially when the result is an exciting vacation, a car, or college savings. Here are some ideas on how to save as a family for all those items and bucket-list experiences:

1. Gamify It!

In my family, we often make a game of who contributes to a joint family pot for that month’s fun activity. A game of Monopoly can turn into a real contest, as anyone who loses is asked to contribute a small amount to that month or week’s activity of choice (such as a meal out, or movie). Of course, contributions should be proportional to earnings – teens might contribute $5 from their part-time job or allowance, while adults would be expected to contribute much more. Still, the spirit of the game is focused on sharing and enjoying together – and because everyone has a stake, we enjoy it all so much more.

2. Making Money Can Be Fun

Every year around the holidays, my entire extended family likes to take a vacation somewhere warm, so we start planning and saving a year in advance. By each contributing to the holiday vacation fund, our money goes much farther, and we’re often able to visit really cool places we might’ve not otherwise afford. Of course, if we can easily afford to contribute our share, we do so, but when money is tight, we find fun ways to raise cash for our share of the contributions. Last year, for example, some of my cousins hosted a bake sale. Others sold items they’d knitted, art piece they’d produced, and so forth. All of the proceeds went straight into the family vacation fund.

3. Sell, Sell, Sell!

A family garage sale can be an enjoyable and rewarding way to raise extra cash for shared activities or purchases. If your family wants a new flat-screen TV, game console, or other pieces of technology or furniture, why not start by selling what you already have and don’t need? A traditional garage sale is one good way to raise cash, as is selling unused items online (this tends to be the better option for selling electronics and gadgets).

4. Match It!

Often, children’s only way to save is to use their holiday or birthday gift money. It can be challenging for kids to save money they so badly want to spend and enjoy immediately, so it’s important to offer incentives for doing so. One idea is to match dollar for dollar every bit of money they save from their gifts. That ensures kids get the immediate gratification of knowing their saved gift money is being doubled, but also enables them to feel empowered by having chosen to save and contribute to family goals.

5. The Envelope Method

When saving for multiple goals, the envelope method is an excellent way of keeping all the monies separate for their intended uses. Simply mark each envelope with a stated goal, and contribute regularly to each until the goal amount is met. For small children, it can be rewarding to contribute to smaller family goals, such as ice cream or a movie rental. A $10 or $15 goal can mean a $1 or $2 monthly contribution from their allowance. This helps children learn the value of saving, and builds confidence in their ability to do so.

6. Your Credit Union Can Help

Your local credit union can be an excellent resource for helping your family save together. From traditional savings accounts or CDs to holiday savings accounts, your credit union can help you select a financial product that can help your family in reaching its shared goals faster. For larger goals, in particular, a shared family account can be an excellent resource for keeping your family on track to realizing your financial wishes.

Family can be great accountability partners when it comes to saving! Make a savings goal, and choose a reward to celebrate once you accomplish it. Create a fun tracker so everyone can see your progress! 

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Kids & Money, Money Management, Saving

Saving as a Family

By: America Saves

In most circumstances, we build our financial foundation from experiences that we go through as children and youth. Sometimes when children hear their parents or other adults in their lives talking about cutting spending or saving money, they assume that the family is going through a rough patch. As appropriate based on children’s ages, family conversations about money goals, including saving and spending plans, reassure children. It is also a great way to introduce (or remind) children about the reasons we save.

Talking about family saving goals helps children understand that putting money aside for the future – whether to be prepared for unexpected expenses, for short-term goals such as summer vacation, or for longer-term goals such as paying for college – is important to you. They will also likely be interested in knowing how they can help. They may even want to set their own savings goals and be motivated to work toward achieving them!

Make Saving a Family Affair

Get your family involved with your saving plan by brainstorming ways to cut expenses in order to free up money to put toward your saving goals. Explore low- and no-cost activities you can do together as a family. Consider selling rarely used books, toys, clothes, and other items in a garage sale or other marketplace.

Here are four easy ways to make saving a priority for everyone under your roof:

1. Have a conversation

Get the whole family together, make some popcorn or hot chocolate and make talking about money fun. Keep it positive by talking about ways the family can work together to lower expenses, increase income and save money.

2. Involve everyone

Take time to explain how things that everyone in your household uses comes with a cost, like the utilities, internet, and cable. Make it an activity for everyone to review your local grocery store circular/app and identify products that you can save on that week.

3. Set a goal

Decide as a family what your financial goals should be. These could be household goals and individual goals. Is it saving for college? Is it saving for a family vacation? A car? Having a financial cushion for unexpected emergencies? Whatever you decide, make a commitment to save. Jumpstart that commitment by taking the America Saves Pledge, and we’ll help keep you on track by sending goal-based emails and texts.

4. Make a plan

Setting a goal is a great start, but how will you reach it without a plan? Making a plan to reach a savings goal requires establishing a plan for how you will spend and save your money. Savers with a plan are twice as likely to accomplish their savings goals. Get some tips and tricks about making a plan with our Save with a Plan Toolkit.

Encouraging Children to Save

Everyone in your household can play a role in the financial success of your home. A lesson all kids can learn early: the pride that comes with saving for something they want! Encouraging your child to sell toys they no longer play with, or even having a bake sale or lemonade stand puts them on the path to smart money habits. Involve children by:

  1. Encouraging them to be aware of their energy and water use by turning off lights and electronics when not needed and by turning off the water when brushing teeth and taking showers.
  2. Thinking about things that the family regularly spends money on and talking about if the family stills want or need the items or if they can select cheaper alternatives or perhaps do without them.
  3. Teaching them to comparison shop and choose generics or use coupons when it makes sense.
  4. Challenging them to suggest ways to enjoy time together as a family for less. Not sure where to start? Check out these suggestions!
  5. Including children in trips to your financial institution (or an ATM) to deposit or transfer money into a saving account make the process real. Consider posting a running total of the dollar amount of deposits and the progress made toward a family saving goal on the refrigerator or bulletin board.

Saving money is a habit that is developed over time. In addition to letting children know that you save, help them begin to develop their own saving habit. Money as You Grow, a framework that links money-related activities to children’s developmental stages, is a great resource for conversation starters and activities for children of all ages at consumerfinance.gov.

America Saves can help you save money so you can feel confident about your finances. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. Take the first step today and take the America Saves pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. And it doesn’t stop there. America Saves will keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your goal. Think of them as your own personal support system.

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