Musings Episode 13: Being Practical vs. Being Cheap…

I’ve always wondered why some people look for the cheapest things, instead of just focusing on being practical.

The cheapest gas.

The cheapest iPhone.

The cheapest meat.

The cheapest (worst of all) shoes.

Many times when I ask about this most people equate practical and cheap as being one in the same. When they most certainly are not.


2013 Ford Taurus – starting MSRP $26k – new and “cheap.”

 Acura Integra - Fully modified asking price $14,500 - 57k actual miles. Which would you pick?

Pre-2000 Acura Integra – Fully modified asking price $14,500 – older and 57k actual miles, but quality engine and make. Which would you pick?

I really wanted to bring attention to this because many times a lot of people tend to lose more money than they’re under the impression they save.

Sometimes it’s not always about finding the lowest price.

Sometimes it’s not always about clipping coupons to shave off the most cents.

Often times it’s about seeing the bigger picture, and realizing that looks can be deceiving and math a bitch if you don’t pay attention to the overall numbers.

Think of it like this – you go to the gas station – you top up your tank – the next week, you find gas at a cheaper station, not exactly one that you’re all too sure about, a no name station but hey – what do you care? It’s 15 cents less on the gallon!

Which technically is only 9/10ths of a gallon there, buddy.

Which technically is only nine-tenths of a gallon there, buddy.

One thing may be accomplished here – but two things could also be setbacks.

“Setbacks…?” you ask, questioning my sense of logic and slowly wondering if I have any bit of common sense.

“It’s cheaper gas,” you think to yourself.

The two main setbacks? Well let’s think:

A) You just wasted the current gas in your vehicle’s tank driving around looking for cheaper gas. Good job.


B) Aside from the bullshit the media tells you about it “all being the same,” you’ve potentially put something very bad for your engine in your tank that possibly has cheaper “detergents” – if you don’t understand what I mean, this basically means the numeric grades you see at the pump, “87, 89, 93”. While every station may have these, some skimp on quality.

Or worse, selling bad gas (left).

Or worse, sell bad gas (left).

And yes – you’re partially correct, it’s been argued that to a degree it doesn’t matter what grade it is – BUT,  in my opinion that’s only when it comes to mid-grade. If you’ve ever pulled up to a pump you’ll notice the little ticker counters above the prices – and you’ll notice that while there are three nozzles, often there are only two tickers – often, mid-grade pulls off the same ticker as low grade.

So yeah, you’re partially being screwed…but honestly – I’d rather be screwed less and take my chances by buying high test.

I’m a fan of classics, ergo I drive one.

Gotta love Hondas.

Gotta love Hondas.

It’s probably the only thing I’ll consider my child, and probably the only kid I’ll ever have in my life, nephews being the exception. My vehicle only takes high test. Believe me I’ve tried – there was a time when I thought, “fuck it, gas is up to $4.35 a gallon, I’ll go cheap this time.”


Damn…did I screw myself over. One empty tank later and my girl (car), is choking like mad. Three fuel injector treatments later and she was back to normal…fortunately.

Now I’m not here to rant about gas, but this is just an example. Let’s shoot for another one —-

You hate your phone company? But you got that new iPhone 5/Samsung Galazy S III for only $100? Sounds good…sounds good….did you have to renew your contract for another two years?


Think on that for a minute.

Let it really sink in.

Close-Up Of Stop Watch

Now take what you pay per month on a contract plan (I can guarantee you it’s probably more than me).

With a company you hate.


Then multiply that figure by 24 months.

Take that figure and compare it to the cost of the phone…which you’re probably going to ditch when “Like, OMG the iPhone 6/Samsung S IV is out!”

Truth is…you’re eating more of the costs than you think.

…..did you crunch the numbers? Good? Still think you got that phone for a steal?

Didn’t think so.

What am I trying to explain here? Well…even though you may think you got the better end of the deal because it was a “cheaper” price for a phone everyone has, you’ve just locked in two years of your income (and your life….that you’ll never get back. Congratulations.) all for the hype of that enticing price you saw in the display window.

Now let’s say you want to leave the country within those two years.

Move to a place where there’s no service provided by that company.

Just plain change companies because you’re finally fed up and bring yourself to accept the service sucks.

Or like many do….change service providers because one company has a newer phone that you’ve suddenly fallen in love with like a girl who changes her mind as often as she does shoes.


What do you get slammed with?

Huge fees because you’re breaking a contract.

That iPhone 5 doesn’t seem as cheap as it was when you first bought it now, does it?

Me? I pay roughly $40 a month for my phone.

Unlimited everything.

Smartphone everything.

No contract.

Ultimate freedom.


Did I pay a little more for my phone than you? Maybe….but the freedom I gained from practicality feels way better than the metaphorical ball and chain so many people acquire to get that “cheaper priced phone.”

I could leave the country tomorrow for two, three months and come back to the same number, same phone, like nothing even happened.

You get the general idea here. These are just a few examples and I’m not saying they’re for every scenario, but it reaches a wide scope of people.

The list goes on – you buy shoes cheap because of the price, you either get uncomfortable feet or shoes that wouldn’t last 3 miles if you decided to walk it.


It doesn’t have to be a crazy amount in order to be quality. $350 for a mass cut Chukka?

Fuck you Red Wing. I like you guys but with enough connections I could find a shoe maker who does a better job and creates a custom shoe.




That’s what you’ve gotta aim for.

Aiming for cheap is short term – short term is instant gratification – instant highs are often instant lows. The age old adage of “you get what you pay for” is still as relevant as the day “adages” were spawned. Aiming for stupidly expensive is impractical.

What I’m trying to say is cheapest isn’t always the best – nor is overpriced. Sometimes if you spend a little more and shop around a bit differently while not always going after the mainstream stuff, you can really find yourself living a comfortable, enjoyable lifestyle with things that last.


I’ll buy a $300 Seiko diver’s watch any day over an $8000 Rolex or a $10 Timex – both of which I’d be terrified to get shoved into a pool with while wearing.

This doesn’t just include consumable items either. This type of thinking spreads to all aspects of spending – especially travel – a coach ticket on off-season to South Korea while picking a decent hotel that’s just an extra 5 minutes out from Gangnam, works out to be better than the peak-season ticket while wanting to stay in the city center and skimping on accommodation, winding up at a shared dorm dump.

The extra $15 you spend on cotton shirts, instead of that polyester shirt you found on sale for $5 at a closeout store, ends up lasting longer than the plastic crap that causes you to catch fire if you get to close to a hot engine hood on a Dodge Ram…and really with a little (and I do mean little) research you could get tailor made shirts for less than $20, cotton, without having to trek over to Hong Kong.


You could look like a million bucks and only spend a thousand.

Instead of trying to look like a million bucks while spending $900 and looking like $9 (we’ve all seen it at some point).

Remember, it’s not always in the numbers but in the quality as well.

Anyone like LG TVs? I do – I have one. They’re great, I love them.

My ex was looking for a quality flat screen TV last year but didn’t wanna break the bank. She thought either a cheap off brand TV, or Black Friday was the only option.

 (HA....yeah no.)

(HA….yeah no.)

The result? 32″ LCD TV $149 with tax. Brand – Dynex.

“Dynex? Who the fuck is that,” you’re probably thinking.

Well, they’re a subsidiary of LG…and you know what, the quality is practically the same. Is it as sleek and sexy as the LGs? If you’re an electronics snob like I sometimes am, probably not.

Asian chick not included.

Asian chick not included.

….but she didn’t care. Because the quality was the same if not similar…for half the price…and she didn’t have to go buy some extreme ass-backwards off brand.

This is what I mean when I say practicality…and it doesn’t always have to involve coupon hunting like a mad house wife holed up in a condo while her husband works a 70 hour work week.


Next time you’re out and about think, before you buy…be it plane tickets, gas, shoes, clothing, heck, even food.

Quality over quantity.

Stay savvy.

– Rego

Musings Episode 13: Being Practical vs. Being Cheap… is a post from and appeared first on Rego’s Life


5 thoughts on “Musings Episode 13: Being Practical vs. Being Cheap…

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