Frugality might seem like a race for the cheapest price, and for many things, the cheap version works just fine. However, there are some items for which the cheapest version comes with some huge flaws that can potentially have a negative impact on your life. Here are five items on which you should never pinch pennies when buying.
Eye protection. If you work in any sort of factory or workshop environment, do not go cheap on eye protection. Cheap safety glasses can easily shatter with a sharp or blunt impact, which can introduce more harm to your eyes than wearing no eye cover at all.
Do not buy safety glasses that are not compliant with ANSI Z87.1 standards. This is the international standard for safety glasses, and glasses that do not meet that benchmark are generally not made well and have a much higher risk of cracking or shattering if struck. Simply check whether or not your safety glasses are compliant on the packaging. If you’re not sure, it’s worth it to replace your current safety eyewear with compliant ones.
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Tires. Driving on cheap out-of-season tires, especially worn ones, runs a number of risks. Bad tires make it easy to hydroplane, even at low speeds, which means that you’re out of control of your car in wet conditions. Bad tires are especially dangerous in icy or snowy conditions. In addition, worn tires are more prone to lose air pressure, which hurts the gas mileage of your car. They are also more likely to have a blowout, which can leave you stranded along the side of the road with bigger problems than a tire replacement, even if it didn’t cause an accident.
The easiest way to check your tires is to take a penny and insert it into the tread of your tire where it seems thinnest, with Abraham Lincoln’s head facing downward. If the tire covers up any part of his head, you’re OK. If it doesn’t, you need new tires as soon as possible, as you’re running a risk of blowouts, hydroplaning and crashing during dangerous winter driving conditions.
Kitchen tools. While bad kitchen equipment generally won’t cause personal safety problems, it’s often the key between making meals at home quickly and successfully versus creating lots of frustrating messes. Cheap knives, for example, can make chopping vegetables or cutting meat into a frustrating experience rather than a simple task. Plus, they can increase the odds of cutting yourself. Cheap pots and pans can easily burn food and can result in pieces of the no-stick coating come off in the food, rendering your meal unsafe to eat. These events can cause people to simply give up on or avoid home cooking, which adds significantly to a family’s food budget each month.
The solution, however, isn’t to spend thousands of dollars on knives and pots and pans. There are some well-regarded and inexpensive kitchen tools out there, and you don’t need many items in the kitchen. Victorinox makes highly regarded but still inexpensive kitchen knives. All you really need is a chef’s knife and a paring knife for almost all kitchen tasks. Lodge makes inexpensive quality cast iron materials. A cast iron skillet and a good-sized enameled cast iron pot can be used on the stovetop and in the oven with no problems and are practically indestructible. Just pay attention to how to care for these items and follow the instructions.
Regular car maintenance. This one’s simple: Find a trusted mechanic and follow the maintenance schedule in your car manual. Not following that schedule almost always results in extra unnecessary wear and tear on the under-the-hood components of your car, ensuring that repairs come up more frequently and that you’re more likely to find yourself along the side of the road with a nonfunctional automobile.
Most maintenance steps aren’t expensive. Paying less than $100 every three months or so to drastically extend the life of your car and avoid expensive repairs while also minimizing your chances of being stuck along the side of the road is an incredible bargain that you’ll never regret. It’s one of those instances in which you spend a few dollars now to save tons of money and frustration later.
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Shoes. Getting cheap shoes that aren’t properly sized for your feet and aren’t designed for the type of lifestyle you lead is likely to lead to sore feet and potentially long-term foot damage, neither of which you want in your life. Simply going to a shoe store, having your feet properly sized and finding options that match what you’re actually doing on your feet might result in spending a little more on a pair of shoes right now, but you’ll be in less discomfort and have a lower chance of having foot problems.
Not only that, good shoes don’t even have to be expensive. Many reliable shoes that provide quite a bit of comfort are found at reasonable prices. New Balance, for example, makes highly regarded shoes for walking, and they’re almost all found at reasonable prices. They might cost a little more than the bargain basement special, but your feet will thank you in the months and years to come.
You can “go cheap” with many things in life, but with these items, the drawbacks will significantly outweigh the benefits. You don’t even have to spend a lot more money to purchase these items. You just need to be more thoughtful about what you buy.
[See: 10 Big Ways to Boost Your Budget — Without Skimping on Your Daily Latte.]
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Don’t Be Cheap When Buying These 5 Products originally appeared on usnews.com