Cheap people pay twice.
A student loan lawyer told me that. He was trying to convince me that it’s wiser to pay higher attorney fees if it gets you one-and-done service.
Then it dawned on me.
I’ve paid twice on all sorts of occasions. I’d meant well trying to save money, but I only ended up paying more in replacement costs.
4 times being cheap cost me $100 or more
When you take frugality too far, it comes back to bite you.
The upside is that with each costly mistake, you’re less likely to repeat it. That’s because the regret sticks with you. These four mistakes are stuck in my memory.
1. Smartphone cases
To protect my shiny new iPhone 7, I bought a soft, plastic case for the back and tempered glass for the front. The purchase cost less than $20 at an AT&T retail shop.
A couple of months later, I was moving an IKEA bed into my apartment when a piece of wood whacked the center of the phone’s screen, shattering it.
Trusting my handiness, I bought a $25 screen repair kit on Amazon. Unfortunately, the poor quality of the kit (and, OK, my overconfidence) only damaged the phone further. I nearly disconnected the home button for good.
Finally ready to eat the cost (and swallow my pride), I took the phone to a repair shop in my neighborhood. The technician quoted a flat fee of $160.
All told, I spent $205 protecting a phone screen that would have gone unscratched if I had originally sprung for a better case — like the $46 waterproof and drop-proof case I eventually bought.
Lesson learned: iPhone repairs, let alone those for other smartphones, represent a multibillion-dollar industry, according to a study by SquareTrade. After all, 49 percent of users have cracked their screens. You can prepare for the high probability of cracking your screen by buying a better case.
2. New and used tires
Not long after I assumed shared responsibility for my girlfriend’s decade-old Toyota Corolla and its literally squeaky wheels, I had my first flat tire. I slowly rolled the car to a walk-in mechanic and was quoted a cash-only price of $100 to fix it.
A month later, we were readying to drive back to New York from Montreal when another tire lost its air.
By this point, every tire on the car had been replaced at least once since my girlfriend owned it. Yet, at no point did we think to spring for four new tires to stop the bleeding.
At Costco, where we’re members, we could have bought four new identical tires for less than $400, receiving a warranty on the entire set. If Costco installs your tires, the warranty covers inflation pressure checks, tire rotations, and flat repairs. My girlfriend and I estimate we have paid at least $700 with no end in sight.
Lesson learned: If you can’t live without a car, paying more up front for maintenance might not just save you money later. It can also give you peace of mind, or at least a better chance at avoiding roadside mishaps.
3. Lower-quality furniture
My girlfriend and I rationalized our way into this poor decision. We might move again in a year, we reasoned, so let’s just go to IKEA. This way, we could take our bed frame apart if we want to keep it for our next home.
One thing I know for sure: If I ever take that bed frame apart, I’m doing it with nothing but a pair of safety glasses and a sledgehammer.
Pretty quickly, we regretted spending $379 on an IKEA bed instead of, say, $500-plus on a comparable style elsewhere. Unfortunately, it was already constructed.
Within three months, the bed started to show wear and tear. Paint has chipped, and one drawer doesn’t close properly (and not because of our carpentry skills).
Lesson learned: Finding good furniture can be tricky, but pick something out that will last. Take its longevity into account if the price tag puts you off.
4. Bargain laptops
The downside of leaving my job in California is that I had to return the MacBook my employer gave me for work and personal use.
To replace it, I went browsing at Staples. Immediately, a $150 red tag caught my eye. The smallish Google Chromebooks were on sale. They stood out in a crowd of PCs approaching $1,000 and Macs surpassing $1,000.
It seemed like the best option based on the price. I was between jobs, looking for a low-cost option to hold me over.
But I was motivated by the wrong factor; I should have focused on storage. Despite my best efforts at using very little space and keeping the Chromebook secure from digital and physical harm, its 32 gigabytes of storage has not aged well.
I know because I compared it with a new MacBook that I recently purchased for a new job. Using my identical home internet hookup, the higher-quality laptop loads webpages in half the time. I counted.
Lesson learned: You get what you pay for. I got a cheaper laptop and a lower-quality user experience. Yes, it was only $150, but it was $150 I should have spent elsewhere — like toward a higher-quality laptop.
Avoid paying twice by investing once
My mom used to say that when you buy something, you invest in it. But we’re all bound to make unwise investments from time to time.
And it’s easier to say, “Don’t be cheap,” than it is to live it, especially when you have a student loan to repay or credit card debt to erase. Just remember that spending wisely now will help you achieve those more important goals later.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.49% effective March 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.50% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.53% – 8.79%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.55% – 7.12%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.00% – 9.74%6||Undergrad & Graduate|