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Paying less can sometimes cost you more

In 1959, a Barbie doll cost $3. I got one on clearance last Christmas for $2.99.

It amazes me that, even without adjusting for inflation, some things are actually cheaper now than they were decades ago.

Cheaper is the operative word.

Our new push broom broke before we got even a quarter of the driveway swept. We bought a new scraper to use as we were pulling up carpets. We got an hour out of that before it broke. My sister took her temperature only once before her new thermometer stopped working.

I know I sound like your grandpa, but they just don't make things like they used to.

Believe me, I'm glad dollar stores exist. I'm thrilled when I can find tissue paper for 99 cents. But there are times I would rather pay a little more for a superior product.

Just because I love a bargain doesn't mean I'll pay the lowest price at any cost. A good snow shovel, for example, is worth its weight in gold.

Sometimes you're just not doing yourself any favors saving yourself a penny. I don't care if I can buy a fire extinguisher for a nickel -- if it doesn't work when it's time to use it, it's not worth even that.

Sure, things are cheaper nowadays. We can buy more junk than ever. If something breaks, we can usually afford to go out and buy a replacement. But wouldn't you rather be able to rely on the one you already paid for?

If you were jumping out of an airplane, would you want to use the best quality parachute or the least expensive one?

That's not to say that the most expensive item is always the best. Lots of companies use the same cheap, outsourced labor, and lowest common denominator in materials, yet still charge more for their name brand.

And I think some companies bank on the fact that you will just accept products' poor quality and buy a new one rather than ask for a refund.

Even shopping at garage sales and thrift stores is getting trickier. In the days when things were made well and lasted forever, there were always lots of great, solid treasures to choose from at a nice price. Now that things are made to be disposable, even the Goodwill is crowded with cheap, plastic junk. Even more of it ends up in landfills than at yard sales.

Mark Andol started the Made in America store on Maple Road in Elma (www.saveourcountryfirst.com). He tells of the fishing pole his father passed down to him, which he in turn took care of and cherished. He is trying to keep that kind of quality alive with 100 percent American-made products at his store.

Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

e-mail: schristmann@buffnews.com or call MoneySmart at 849-4612. Follow the Diva at www.Facebook.com/DiscountDiva

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