4 things you shouldn’t go cheap on

I’m all for finding a great deal, and when it comes to finding them, nobody beats my wife and me. In the time we’ve been together, I can’t tell you how much money we’ve saved being savvy shoppers. For example, did you know you can save $1.25 per box of cereal just by buying the generic brand? Those savings add up over time.

With that said, we’ve had some duds—times we’ve tried to save a little bit of cash and ended up regretting it. Below are four things that we learned (the hard way) never to go cheap on.

1. Dental Floss

A few years back, my wife was looking in the dental floss aisle and was shocked to find the generic brand priced at almost a dollar less than the name brand. I’m a serial flosser, so this discovery looked like it would pay major dividends over time.


The first time using the generic brand floss, it snapped and got stuck between my teeth. Thinking this was a fluke, I tried again, with the same result. As a serial flosser, the feeling of having something stuck in my teeth was quite unsettling, so I went to the store and bought the name brand floss to get it out. In other words, because I went cheap on my floss, I ended up buying floss for my floss.

2. Diapers

If you have children, this one is self-explanatory. Diapers are expensive, so one day we decided to try a less expensive brand.

The result? Clean up, aisle baby.

Every. Single. Time. He. Went. We won’t be making that mistake again.

3. Running Shoes

When I’m not working at Progressive, I moonlight as a fitness junkie. I just like getting out and doing something physical—running, climbing, biking, lifting. I’ll try anything. Thus, a solid pair of running shoes is important. And, knowing this, friends and family tend to get me gift cards to sporting goods stores for special occasions, so I rarely pay for new running shoes.

Well, recently when buying a new pair, I had to foot the bill myself. Instead of buying the pair I wanted, I bought (what I thought was) a comparable pair for much less money. They lasted about half as long as my usual shoes, and left my feet with some great blisters. Thankfully, as my colleague Rick points out, you can go cheap on many of the products to heal the aforementioned blisters.

4. Insurance

Health insurance, in my mind, is one of the most important things a person can have. Having good health insurance can save you thousands of dollars in the event you need to use it. Also, think about it—what’s more important: your health or saving a few bucks?

Likewise, I strongly recommend against getting cheap car insurance. For many people, a car is the most expensive or second most expensive thing they own. By all means, find great value in your insurance policy and take advantage of discounts, but make sure you’re covered. The same goes for homeowners insurance. Ask plenty of questions about your policy, and I recommend making sure your home is insured to its full value or the value of the rebuild, in the event that something goes wrong.

So, that’s my list—what did I miss? What items have you gone cheap on that led to bad experiences? Or, what things do you go cheap on that are just as good as the expensive versions?