I’ve spent part of the week shopping around for new tires for one of our cars. I’m not looking for anything extravagant, just something simple and reliable.
I was thumbing through the price tags and getting ready to settle for a mid-quality, mid-rated tire, when it hit me.
“It” was something J.D. Roth said in a recent Consumerism Commentary podcast when being interviewed about frugality. Rather than being frugal, J.D. says, he’s been looking for quality in everything he buys lately.
Based on the type of tire I wanted and the ratings I had checked, I felt I basically had the choice between two tires for the car:
- Tire set 1, at a total cost of about $450, had average tread life and water performance (based on Consumer Reports) and would come with a 60K mile warranty. It’s a good quality tire from a respectable company.
- Tire set 2, at a total cost of about $570, has excellent tread life (one of the only tires with that distinction), excellent hydroplaning and water performance, and boasts a 90K mile warranty.
Neither is a high-performance, $1,000-a-piece tire, but I wasn’t looking for that. My criteria were pretty basic:
- Safety in wet weather/downpours (which are all too common in our part of the country).
- Long tire life, preferably with a warranty to back it up, so I can guarantee I’m getting my money’s worth.
- Ride comfort, because there’s nothing worse than noisy, rattly tires.
My first thought was to go with Tire 1 for the initial expense and call it a day. But clearly, Tire 2 was the better choice for us. At a premium of $120, we were getting an additional 50% in tire life, and the peace of mind I wanted for driving in bad weather.
Having said that, better quality doesn’t always mean a higher price. One of the best feelings in the world is finding a product that’s a real value gem: awesome quality at a more than reasonable price.
We just did it with a car purchase, and it feels like you’re stealing, honestly. I’ll be sharing with you exactly how we made that decision in a few weeks!
With all of this in mind, how do we go about defining what constitutes the best value? For me, it’s a balance of price and performance. It’s probably why I love Consumer Reports so much–the work is done for you most of the time with their “best value” recommendations. These aren’t always the highest performers–but they have all the basics and more, at a price that’s surprisingly low.
Many people will shy away from more expensive products simply because of the price. But it really is okay to pay more for a good value product! Frugality is not about being cheap–it’s about finding the best use of your money for the long-term.
In the case of my tires, if we keep the car for a very long time (which we definitely plan to do), we are probably looking at replacing the tires one more time, rather than 3 or more times with lower quality products!
With the added safety and comfort benefits, that’s definitely worth the price!
Photo by ericcastro