I’m all for saving a buck – who isn’t? A home accent on sale, a decorative art print, a trendy top, white pillar candles, bulk socks for my boys…. But when it comes to certain items, quality trumps all else. I recently polled women from across Canada via social media and asked them what items they thought, you should never, ever, cheap out on. Some of the answers were as hilarious as they were practical – after all, who would actually want to cheap-out on a nose job – yet clearly, given the popularity of Canadians flocking to Mexico or Columbia for “discount” cosmetic procedures, lots of people are willing to take the chance! In the end, the poll results were whittled down to a top ten list that every woman should memorize and ultimately, live by!
The main mantra I’m hoping to pass on to you is to fight the cheapskate urge and go for the splurge when it comes to:
1. Olive Oil
We all know that extra virgin olive oil is a kitchen staple and is tremendously good for you from a nutritional standpoint. But did you know that pure, unadulterated, organic EVOO is a rare and highly prized liquid gold with a smooth, peppery finish? Did you also know that a high quality olive oil should not cost less than $20-30 per bottle, have an expiration date of less than two years and be packaged in a dark bottle? In fact, there is so much fraud (yes fraud) in the world of olive oil production that an EU task force has been created to help root out the trafficking of inferior, blended oils being sold to consumers as Organic EVOO? My fav EVOO is Acropolis Organic Olive Oil from the island of Crete. The owner Panagiotis is passionate about his premium oil, made from olives harvested from the oldest olive tree in Crete – it’s incredible! But really, it’s all about quality and taste. Pick up a bottle of high quality olive oil and compare the taste to a cheapo bottle from the supermarket – only then will you realize the enormous difference in quality/taste. For more facts, history and how-to-choose olive oil, visit www.acropolisorganics.com(they also have the world’s best balsamic vinegars too!).
Bottom line: When you buy cheap olive oil you’re not only depriving yourself of the high nutrient content of high-quality oil, but you’re literally purchasing a blend of inferior oils, with poor taste and inadvertently supporting a network of large commercial producers who may be deceitfully selling you something that is in actual fact, not truly EVOO.
We spend up to 1/3 of our lives in bed. So why then do we constantly find ourselves riffling through a discount bin of sheets in a big box store, paying as little as $29.99 to outfit our mattresses? I don’t know about you, but I love feeling like I’m in a high-end hotel every time I slip under the covers and feel that incredible crispness of great sheets on my skin. Polyester is best keep out of the bedroom as far as I’m concerned. Good quality sheets will last you a decade or more, so consider them to be an investment and not a mere expense. I am still using and loving a sheet set that my aunt gave us for our wedding – 14 years ago! Go for high thread count (at least 400!) and look for words like Long Thread, Pima, Supima, 100% Egyptian Cotton (for cotton sheets), 100% linen (for linen) and of course, certain countries are well-known producers of quality bedding – Italy, France, Ireland, etc… Think European. Price is absolutely an indicator. Beware of sheet sets that cost less than $80 and claim to be high thread count – the count may be high, but the threads are crap! Short threads will pill, whereas long threads will keep that beautiful, crisp feel forever.
Bottom Line: Here’s a litmus test for you – if your toenail is snagging, your sheets need bagging – as in bag em’ up and toss em’ – they’re cheap!
I think this one needs very little explanation. As per the above stat (1/3 of your life is spent in bed), a mattress should NEVER be something you’re looking to scrimp on. If it takes you two years to save up for the one you want, then wait it out. Also, most stores offer great payment plans so that you can spread those payments out over many months. You deserves to feel like you’ve slept on a cloud!
Life’s too short to wear bad shoes. Yes, I know your feet will thank me for this little pep talk, but seriously, the gig is up after age 35 – no fashions in the world are worth a set of bunions bigger than Spanish onions. Just mosey on over to one of your local “comfort” shoe stores and I promise there will be at least some styles that you can wrap your head around. Yes, they will be pricey, but you only get two feet and when they quit on you, you’re pooched. Expect to pay $140+ for a great pair of supportive, comfortable shoes (you can still have a heel and some style, I promise).
Bottom Line: I love a discount shoe warehouse as much as the next red-blooded female, but discount shoes have a life cycle… of about 2 hours before you’re sneaking them off under the boardroom table and checking your pinky toes for signs of life.
5. Car repairs
I laughed out loud at this one – because I am guilty as charged! I am always trying to avoid car repairs because there’s nothing sexy about an oil and filter change. I like to spend my money on tangibles. But there’s also nothing sexy about your car stalling in the middle of the 401 during rush hour because you’ve put off or cheaped-out on important car maintenance. Stop trying to get your neighbours’ Uncle Vito’s cousin Tony’s sister Wanda’s boyfriend Doug to do your repairs on weeknights in his Mom’s garage to save a buck. Just get it done right, by professionals whom you trust. Safety first.
I will be the first to say that just because it cost a lot, doesn’t mean it looks great, as it pertains to hair. But, I will also say that never once have I complimented someone on their hairstyle and had them respond, “Thanks, I got it done for $8 at Mega Clips!” Here are the facts: In order to work at a “Mega Clips” type place, you need to be able to demonstrate some basics in hair cutting – mostly cutting men’s hair. If you have an 8-year old daughter that needs a blunt cut and blow-dry – go for it! In fact, it’s lunacy to go to a fine salon for such a basic cut, shelling out $55 for a kid. But we’re talking you right now – women. Our hair is so deeply rooted in our confidence. Bad hair, bad day. Great hair, great day. The equation is simple. So don’t mess with the equation. Increase the likelihood of great hair by seeking out a stylist that you trust, who has spent years training and clipping, and learning and studying and preparing just so that you end up with a professional, quality cut or colour. If you balk at the price of a ladies cut and colour, here are my personal tips to stretch your dollar.
» Get partial or t-zone highlights most of the time and only a full highlight once a year. Why do you need highlights under your head anyway? Unless you’re up in orbit working on the International Space Station and your hair is floating above you, nobody here on earth will see it.
» Try a more subtle colour technique like Balayage or Ombre – your roots will be less noticeable and you can go up to 3-4 months between colours!!
7. Cosmetic surgery/Dental
This one is also self-explanatory. Medical procedures of any kind can be researched online and costed-out in advance by calling around. Just like a good contractor, never pick the least expensive, or the most – a standard industry rate, in Canada, should be what you’re seeking. Any place that charges a lot more is only trying to recoup their costs on that 18′ crystal chandelier and espresso machine in the waiting room. Conversely, medical services provided in a home environment (i.e. basement), are a big red flag as well.
Two words – yeast infection. Two more words – 100% cotton.
One word – monoboob. PLEASE get fitted properly and invest in high quality, comfortable bras. Do it for yourself, do it for Oprah. All of the Oprah segments on bra fit from the 90’s, and still women are walking around feeling pinched, squeezed and stuffed.
Last but never least, do not ever cheap out on yourself! Never. We as women do so much, for so many and often become an afterthought in our own lives. If opportunity comes your way for a girl’s trip, or concert or spa day, or massage, take it! Don’t make excuses, just make it happen! I promise it will be so worth it. And if an opportunity doesn’t find its way to you, go out and make an opportunity happen. Sign up for that sewing or pottery course you always wanted to take. Go back to school part-time. Go for a hike or shopping day in a town you’ve never been to. Never cheap out on yourself. Do what you love and love what you do!