When is it Worthwhile to Spend More on a High-Quality Item?

Melanie Dabb, Extension Assistant Professor

January 5, 2021

5 stars

The first thing to keep in mind when answering this question is that price is not always directly related to quality. Just because an item has a higher price doesn’t always mean it will be higher quality. The reverse is also true. Just because an item has a lower price doesn’t necessarily mean its quality is bad. It’s important to research the products you are looking at purchasing. You want to get the best quality that you are able to afford. Avoid going over budget to pay for a high-priced item.  Take time to shop for the best price for the best quality that is affordable. Here are some tips to help with this:

    • Shop around and check prices on items. Finding one location with a bargain price drastically different from other locations could be a red flag.
    • Just because you have a coupon or an item is on sale, it is not a bargain unless it’s something you were planning on buying already.
    • Check customer reviews, if you can, from multiple sources. Choose brands and retailers that are known for quality and good customer service.
    • Consider the amount of use you will get out of a product and weigh that against the cost of having to replace an item more frequently. For example: compare a $50 pair of jeans that you can reasonably expect to wear for 2 years with a pair of $15 jeans you would have to replace twice a year. Over the two years you would spend $60 replacing the less-expensive jeans. In this instance, if you have the $50 to spend you would spend less money overall going with the more expensive pair of jeans.
    • When thinking of purchasing more expensive clothing, make sure it is well-made and choose colors and styles that you can mix and match. When paying more for quality clothing choose styles that are timeless and won’t go out of style quickly. It’s also a good idea to learn how to do basic clothing repairs such as replacing a button. This will help your clothes last longer.
    • Choosing healthy food is a way to invest in your health. Whether or not healthy food is more expensive is a matter of perspective. A banana is more nutrient dense than a candy bar and often bananas cost less than $1 per pound which is less than the average candy bar. Also, maintaining your health is less expensive in the long run. A person with three to four chronic diseases may spend as much as $25,000 annually on health care expenses while individuals without any chronic diseases are more likely to spend only $6,000 annually on average.
    • Your safety is another important investment. Make sure your transportation is as safe as you can afford. Especially, if you need a stable vehicle to maintain your employment.
    • Look for bargains and sales. Take advantage of two for one sales and buy two of an expensive item, but, be aware that two for one is not always the best price. Many stores mark up prices to put it on a “good” sale or make it look like it is a good deal.  Pay attention to the price per unit and buy in bulk when you are able.


Remember, the goal on any shopping trip is to get the best quality that you can afford. Taking the time to do the homework: comparing prices, looking at customer reviews and weighing the cost of having to replace items more frequently will help you achieve this goal.


Savoie-Roskos, Mateja R.; Jorgensen, Mary Ann; and Durward, Carrie, "Does Healthy Eating Cost More?" (2018). All Current Publications. Paper 1837.

Federal Trade Commission. Saving Money When You Shop. Retrieved from: https://www.consumer.gov/articles/1006-saving-money-when-you-shop#!what-to-do

University of Illinois Extension. Spend Smart, Save Smart Tips Ten Tips for Buying Clothes. Retrieved from: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/toughtimes/smart_tips.cfm?tipstype=buyclothes