5 Things You Should Never Buy "Cheap"

5 min read
November 24, 2018

5 Things You Should Never Buy Cheap


Most people love a good bargain. It can be a serious rush to get something at a good price—and making your hard-earned dollars stretch further makes sense when many of us are living paycheck to paycheck. However, there are certain items that it really pays to…well, pay for. Here are five items you don’t want to get on the cheap.

#1. Sunglasses

If you’re like me and constantly lose your sunglasses, you may be inclined to snag a pair from the dollar store instead of repeatedly paying through your nose. Besides, they have nice dark lenses and look fashionable enough—why spend more than you need to? Well, ironically, those ultra-dark lenses are doing more harm than good when it comes to protecting your eyes from the sunlight. The darkness causes your pupils to dilate, and if the lenses aren’t properly coated, they’ll only end up letting in more UV light.

Because UV light can contribute to serious eye conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and ocular cancers, it’s important to wear polarized sunglasses that offer 100 percent UVA/UVB protection. When you’re browsing the racks, look for this information on stickers or tags. The good news is that you can find sunglasses with full UV protection at almost every price point—but probably not at the dollar store.

#2. Makeup

What’s wrong with buying inexpensive makeup? Nothing at all! There are plenty of drug-store makeup brands that are both affordable and safe, and they’ll forever be a staple in the cosmetics collections of enthusiasts everywhere. You see, when I say you shouldn’t buy cheap makeup, what I really mean is that you shouldn’t purchase any high-end brands offered at a “too good to be true” price.

Cosmetic rip-offs have flooded the market, and many unsuspecting consumers are unknowingly purchasing fake, out-of-date, or grey-market products from illegitimate sources on sites like eBay, Poshmark, Wish, and Amazon. These counterfeits often contain unsafe levels of lead, arsenic, copper, and abnormally high levels of bacteria. Some makeup has even been found to contain asbestos. People who’ve actually worn this knockoff makeup have reported swelling, allergic reactions, and chemical burns.

It’s best to always buy your cosmetics from a reputable seller—either the brand themselves, or an authorized retailer like Ulta or Sephora. Inspect any questionable previously purchased products for signs they may be fake, such as suspicious looking branding or fonts on the packaging, abnormally harsh odors, or strange textures. When in doubt, throw it out!

#3. Tattoos

The popularity of tattoos has soared in recent decades, and many people view getting one as no more out of the ordinary that dyeing their hair. Perhaps tattoos having made it to the mainstream is why so many people have started to bargain shop for tattoo artists. But like a good mattress, tattoos are an investment—and not taking them seriously will leave you with a lot worse than an aching back.

Licensed tattoo studios and their artists have a lot of important expenses to cover, and the cost is often reflected in the price of the tattoos. There are local city, county, and state operating requirements to meet; permits, insurance, and innoculations to obtain; blood-borne pathogen, first aid, and CPR trainings to take; sterilizing units to purchase; and medical waste disposal services to pay for. 

On top of that, most reputable tattoo parlors have minimum fees. These fees help to cover the cost of materials, gloves, barrier film, germicides, disposables, bandaging, and of course, the artist’s time, attention and service. The shop minimum is a guarantee that you will be kept safe and their staff will be paid.

Finally, there’s the quality of the tattoo. Good work comes from practice and repetition, and the best tattoo artists put years into mastering their craft. That’s why you’ll find that the tattoo studios that have the best artists and offer the highest quality of work will often charge the highest rates. 

If you try to pinch pennies in regards to your body art, the best-case scenario is that you’ll wind up with a low-quality tattoo you regret for the rest of your life. Worst case, you’ll find yourself dealing with infection, disease, scarring, and permanent mutilation.

#4. House Paint

As someone who has done a lot of interior painting, I can tell you that you really do get what you pay for when it comes to house paint. Expensive paints are manufactured to provide even coverage in the fewest number of coats, whereas economy grade paints cut corners by being scant with quality ingredients. The cheaper the paint, the thinner it is, which means you’ll need to apply more coats. And since this thinner paint requires more applications than the thicker, higher quality paint, you’ll have to purchase more. In the end, it will cost you just as much (if not more) money, and far more of your precious time.

#5. Tires

There’s not much about car ownership that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. From fuel, to maintenance, to insurance and registration fees, it can often feel like you’re hemorrhaging money just to get from place to place. Naturally, when it comes time to replace your tires, it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option available—discount tires manufactured in China. But in reality, tires are one of the major items you should never skimp on. 

A common complaint from customers after installing cheap tires is that their car rides differently. The car may wander on grooved pavement, jolt uncomfortably when hitting bumps or cracks in the road, and make excessive noise (even on smooth asphalt). The tires don't do too well in different weather conditions and wear out far more quickly than their domestically manufactured counterparts—a fact I can attest to from personal experience. Even Consumer Reports has issued warnings about these low-grade Chinese tires.

Here’s the thing: when it comes to stopping, swerving, and proper traction, the buck stops with your tires. Quality can mean the difference between safety and disaster—and it’s just not worth it to take that chance.


Dropping a lot of money on one item can sting a little, but it’s better than risking your health and safety over a bargain. When it comes to sunglasses, makeup, tattoos, house paint, and tires, do your research, read plenty of reviews, and shell out a few extra bucks to make sure you’re getting the highest quality. Trust me, it will be worth it in the end.


Liz-GreeneAbout the Author
Liz Greene is a makeup loving, dog hugging, anxiety-ridden realist from the gorgeous City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene or catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.