Friday Financial Foul Ups: Not Paying For Value

This week’s Friday Financial Foul Up will feature a guest post from Daniel Packer of Sweating The Big Stuff.  I met Daniel last month at our monthly blogger happy hours and was really impressed by his enthusiasm for his site.  Daniel writes about maintaining a high quality of life while working to improve his finances.  For more from this fellow DC Personal Finance Blogger, follow him on twitter (@danielpacker).  Enjoy his story about buying a crap TV off of Craigslist.


I used to hate confrontation. Like really hate confrontation. I would do anything to avoid it. I chalked it up to not caring enough but really I just didn’t want to have to deal with it and for a few dollars, it wasn’t worth the risk of embarrassment.

The Situation

When trying to buy a tv in college, I went on Craigslist with a very small goal: Get the largest tv for the lowest price. I figured there wasn’t much else to it. I wasn’t interested in spending a lot of money, and I wanted to do it as quickly as possible. It was baseball season, and every day that passed meant another day without watching baseball, and that was simply unacceptable.

Without a car, I was limited to a very small proximity. I could probably get a ride anywhere in town from a friend, but I didn’t want to ask for any large favors, so my options were very limited. Still, there were a few options, most above my price range. But there was one tv that peaked my interest: a 32 inch that was within a 4 minute drive. It was perfect, I called up and quickly got over there.

Where I Fouled Up

I checked out the tv, which was a little fuzzy and for $100, didn’t seem worth it. But I was already there, I had never bargained before, and I wanted a tv but didn’t know what my other options were.

Needless to say, I had the tv for 3 years and hated every minute of it because I couldn’t tell the difference between a 6, and 8, or a 9, and clear as HD is with my direct tv hd receivers, this was blurry. I probably hurt my eyes squinting, and with no place for a dvd place or xbox 360, it was basically worthless.

What I Learned

I learned two important lessons that day. The first was to always bargain. No matter what, it’s worth the potential embarassment to save money. I now bargain constantly and never let a purchase go by without haggling and at the very least asking for a better price.

The other, more important lesson that I learned is that I should pay for quality. $100 may have seemed like a bit of money as sophomore in college especially when you are broke and often needing cash advance, but there’s nothing worse than being out $100 with little to show for it. For another $50, I could have gotten a significant upgrade and been able to watch while relaxing on the couch. I could have been proud of my entertainment system instead of having to stand inches from the screen. Since then, I’ve made a conscious effort to avoid possibly horrendous purchases and spend money on the things I feel are worth it.


Do you like this series? Check Out The Previous Foul Ups:

Foul Up #23 – Kristin (Instigationology) – Giant Elves and the $86 Movie I Never Finished
Foul Up #22 – Kyle (Suburban Dollar) – Being Down on High Interest Checking Accounts
Foul Up #21 – Brian (My Next Buck) – Pale Dude’s Shouldn’t Go Tanning
Foul Up #20 – Shawanda (You Have More Than You Think) – How Financial Knowledge Can Hurt
Foul Up #19 – Christine (Money Funk) – Love Can Hurt Your Financial Situation
Foul Up #18 – Clayton (Just Good Financial Advice) – Trying to Get Rich Quick
Foul Up #17 – Craig (Budget Pulse) – Black Friday Purchase Becomes a Dust Collector
Foul Up #16 – Jesse (PF Firewall) – The Fine Print of Rental Properties
Foul Up #15 – Paul (Fiscal Geek) – Unsuccessfully Restoring American Muscle
Foul Up #14 – Mrs. Micah (Mrs. Micah – Finance For a Freelance Life) – How Getting Married Wrecked My Finances
Foul Up #13 – Evan (My Journey To Millions) – Speeding Up Payments on Loan Interest, Not Principal
Foul Up #12 – Elle (Couple Money) – Stretching Yourself to have a Comparable Car to Your Friends
Foul Up #11 – Revanche (A Gai Shan Life) – Sibling Bailouts Cost More than Just Money
Foul Up #10 – Brad (Enemy Of Debt) – There’s Nothing Interesting About Interest-Only Loans
Foul Up #9 – Jason (Redeeming Riches) – Buying a Car with a Balloon Payment at the End
Foul Up #8 – David (Money Under 30) – Being Too Eager to “Move Out” and “Move Up”
Foul Up #7 – Matt (Debt Free Adventure) – Upside Down and Paying The Price
Foul Up #6 – Brian (MyNextBuck) – Overdue Books Prevent Me From Renting an Apt
Foul Up #5 – Kelly Whalen (The Centsible Life) – Poorly Planned Vehicle Purchase Costs $24,000
Foul Up #4 – Stephanie (Poorer Than You) – Signed My Life Away at Age 17
Foul Up #3 – Deliver Away Debt – How I Wasted Over $10K and 11 Months
Foul Up #2 – Brian (MyNextBuck) – Quick Fixes to Weight Loss
Foul Up #1 – Brian (MyNextBuck) – How I Didn’t Earn $3000 in Free Money

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6 Responses to Friday Financial Foul Ups: Not Paying For Value
  1. Abigail
    March 19, 2010 | 6:19 am

    It’s easy for those of us trying to be frugal to not pay enough for quality. Which ends in our spending even more money to remedy it/replace it.

    When we shop for anything over $40, I try to do a little research beforehand to find out what are good products. (Things like a humidifier or vacuum or some other appliance like that.) That way I have a basic idea of good, better, best. Then we try to find a good compromise between quality and price. Usually we end up going with “better” unless there’s a killer sale on the best.

    Then again, I spent extra on our vacuum cleaner after reading up on Consumer Reports. I never in my life wanted to pay $100 for a vacuum — even though that’s not bad overall — but I have to admit the investment was worth it. Plus I plan to keep this thing for years so I’ll get my money’s worth.

  2. Forest
    March 19, 2010 | 7:37 am

    I made a very similar mistake. I wanted a TV pretty much only for my xbox and I ended up with an old beater of a TV, it was big but you had to stand 100ft away for the picture to look clear… My games were pretty appaling. I have a small LCD now that was not expensive really at all and does the trick.

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    April 7, 2016 | 2:22 pm

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