What Are You Willing To Consistently Pay More For?

No Sale!
Today’s article includes feedback from some of my friends on twitter!  If you’re on twitter these are some great people to communicating with.  Don’t forget to follow @ManVsDebt (that’s me)!

What things do we consistently pay more for? My wife and I recently had a discussion revolving around this question.  I blame Steve for starting us down this long and dense discussion.

Steve is an insurance agent who recently sold us term life insurance.  We’ve been needing life insurance for well over a year now. It’s one of those things we just had been putting off and putting off. Steve has known for that whole amount of time that we really needed the insurance.  In fact, Steve has called me once every two months or so for around the last year and a half. He was never pushy.  He just checked in, talked about my situation, listened to my excuses, and simply added my on his calender for another two months down the road.

As our overseas move crept closer, we added obtaining this insurance to the list of things we wanted to shore up before leaving the U.S.  I began to gather quotes from both online and local sources. To be honest, I didn’t even call Steve, quite yet.  I just wanted to test the numbers.  Guess what happened later that week?  My bi-monthly call from Steve.

I’d had Steve send me quotes before, but I had him do it again.  This time I compared them to some of the other quotes I had received.  Steve came in about 5-10% more than the cheapest option, but well within the average of the 2 or 3 best.  The choice at this point was easy for us.  We were more than willing to pay Steve a 5-10% markup.

Why? I’m not completely sure, but I have a feeling that it was because I respected the fact that he had diligently called me for for going on two years.  I actually never felt like I was being sold to. Although I had never done business with him before, we almost had a friendship going.  A single-serving friendship once every two months.

It got me thinking though.  If I’m more than willing to pay more because of these circumstances, what other ones might I not notice? After talking with my wife about our own purchasing habits, I decided to open up the floor to my twitter friends.  Here are some of the reoccurring themes and how they affect me personally:

Great Customer Service

I suspect this is true for almost anyone, especially in our culture.  More specifically, though, I can pinpoint at least 3 specific situations within “Customer Service” where I find myself consistently willing to pay more:

  1. When I Can Relate To Someone Personally – My wife and I have both waited tables for multiple restaurants.  In fact, we both waited tables at the same restaurant one summer, while I was studying to get my Real Estate license.  As such, we certainly relate to the industry and are generally more apt to tip more than we would have before.  In addition, it’s no secret that in sales it’s a great tactic to try to find common ground. I’m much more likely to buy from someone who grew up in my hometown, or who even loves the Green Bay Packers as much as I do.  It’s sounds frivolous, but I bet it’s true for you too!
  2. When I Respect The Character Or Dedication – Steve is a great example of this.  His character (not pushy) and his dedication (consistently staying in touch) are traits that I respect very much.  I’ve been in a contact-based business like insurance before and frankly wasn’t nearly as good at staying in touch as Steve is.  I admire that trait and am aware that is certainly one of the reasons we bought through him.
  3. When I Perceive There Is A Need – Let’s jump back to the restaurant example.  Let’s assume we have two different waitresses who provide equally service, but one of them is a younger college student and one is a middle-age single mother of two.  All things being equal, I’d find myself much more willing to consistently tip more to the single mother. It’s not that the college student doesn’t need the money.  They might need it as much, or even more!  It’s about how I perceive the need, if we are being honest.

Often times, it’s a combination of 2 or 3 of the above traits that lead me to pay more.  Here are some other examples, of people willing to pay more for great service from the twittersphere:

@mapgirlsfc – I will pay more for good service while dining out. Impeccable service deserves a good tip! Prime Rib in Philly gets high marks.

@ConvertSpndthft – Quality Service, I hate being treated like cattle standing in line or just a number

@moneymanagement – A good haircut and quality childcare.

@NealFrankle – I’d have paid someone a reasonable amount to guide us through college application process.

@JoeTaxpayerBlog – this movie theater: http://tinyurl.com/5fs2b


Traveling is a hard monster to tackle for us when it comes to “consistently willing to pay more”.  I will say this much…  we are definitely willing to pay more for the broad concept of traveling.  That’s obvious with our move to Australia coming in only 5 days now.  For example, if we were truly frugal there are a lot of places that are much cheaper and much closer to go than Australia.

However, we do go to various lengths to ensure that our travels remain as frugal as possible to enable us to be able to stay longer and do more. For example, or flight goes from Indy –> Chicago –> L.A. –> Sydney –> Cairns.  Even though, we are traveling with a 13 month old, we elected normal fare coach tickets.  It would have been easy to splurge on upgraded tickets or a direct flight to L.A. and then to Cairns.

I know people who work in the reverse, though.  They take shorter, more concentrated trips, but when they are traveling they are on vacation. They don’t worry about trying to cut corners or coupons.  They know how much they are going to spend and then they spend it.  Their vacation is a time to relax, a time to be able to spend without worry, and a time to recharge the batteries.

@MyLifeROI – I’ll pay more for warmth and quality products. Especially traveling… quality > price.

@flexo – comfortable travel (flights, not first class though, and rental cars), good live music/theater perform., restaurants occasionally

@DebtHater – Legroom on an airplane (I am 6’1 so it helps).

Quality Food/Drink

This is one area where I can really say we aren’t consistently willing to pay more.  For example:

  1. We don’t buy organic – While we buy a decent amount of produce (I’m vegetarian), we certainly don’t buy organic products.  It’s not that we don’t like organic products.  It’s actually just the price that keeps us from buying more.
  2. We don’t “appreciate” fine foods – We were both born and raised in the Midwest to meat and potatoes type of families.  If I’m being honest…  I’d much rather eat basic mashed potatoes, noodles, and broccoli than I would like to go out for a $50 a plate dinner.  It has nothing to do with price, I just like the food better.  If and when we do “go out” it is usually for the “experience” and almost never for the “food”.
  3. We don’t drink much at all – My wife and I drink alcohol about once every 6 months.  Neither of us have ever been a fan of beer.  Comically, we both like girlie-drinks.  Amaretto sour, anyone?  And once again, we’ve avoided getting into wines.  I like the idea of drinking wine, I just don’t like the taste.  Someday, I’ll watch enough Gary Vaynerchuk to convert me, I’m sure.

Here are some of my friends who appreciate food/drink a little more than us:

@SpendingIt – My wife and I are willing to pay more for great food at restaurants. We love trying new food.

@MikeLeone – I pay more for good beer. Life is too short to waste it on cheep beer …. 🙂

@JorgeIMI’ll consistently pay more for Organic food when there is a choice…

@FourPillarsBeer – I like good stuff!

Staying Connected (Technology)

Alright, now we are back into my prime zone.  I need internet.  Not only is it crucial to staying connected with you guys on this blog, but there’s just something that draws me to it.  My precious.

Joking aside, I really am willing to pay more to maintain a level of connectedness.  I’m not full on psycho, yet.  I don’t have an Iphone, GPS, Satellite Phones, or even an Ipod.  However, I do have a dependable laptop and a burning desire not to go multiple days without being plugged in somewhere.  I’m not sure there is anything on this earth that makes me more frustrated than intermittent connectivity. I’d rather be stranded on a  desert island than trying to do something online when the internet is kicking on and off!  Does anyone have my back on this?

Here are some people that may have my back:

@FiscalFizzle – I’m willing to pay more for quality in electronics. There’s nothing as frustrating as buying a new computer or TV every 2 yrs.

@MoneyEnergy – I’ll pay more for a cab ride to my hotel in a foreign city, travel insurance, internet connectivity abroad, more phone time.

@richerbytheday – I pay more for faster service from my ISP. The 1.5 Mbps they offer is much cheaper, but I’ll gladly pay more for my 20 Mbps+


Quality is sometimes one of those words we use when we really should say “I paid too much”, so we have to be careful.  With that being said, there is no doubt that some things are just worth the upgrade.  Not only can it be more comfortable, but often times is the wisest financial choice.

Personally, at this point in my life, I’ve mostly been choosing quantity of quality. I’m more likely to buy something cheap, run it into the ground, and buy something else cheap.  This isn’t because I think this is the best long-term solution, but rather because our life is very transient right now.  We’re cutting our possessions down to almost nothing and are constantly on the move and changing.  Quality products often times (not always) not only require an additional investment of money, but also don’t lend themselves to a transient lifestyle.

Of course, this isn’t a hard fast rule. You show me something that fits into my transient lifestyle well and will save me time/money in the long run and I’ll gladly pay more up front for it now.  I’m simply being honest that a lot of things in our life don’t work like that right now.

Here are some great examples of people willing to pay more for a nice, quality product:

@ToughMoneyLove – I will pay a premium for quality hand tools. I have (and would again) pay for private primary school educ for our children.

@extremejacob – Willing to pay more for: (DIY) repairability, quality, durability, low depreciation, and low fixed costs

@debtkid – I’ll pay more for a product that I know will last longer than the cheaper version

Household Tools

This is basically a sub category of “Quality”, but is so common for people that it can stand on its own weight.  One of the areas where people are most willing to spend more is in the stocking/upkeep of their homes.

Even though we’ve only lived in apartments, personally, we’ve owned several units of real estate as investments, so we can definitely relate.  Like @sernejourney below, we often splurged for kitchen items on our own dwelling. For example, our kitchen contained a great blender, a rice cooker, and a quality set of knifes.  Frankly, I’m not really sure we got enough use out of these items to justify them, however they were bought before our plans to relocate.

Here are some great examples from my tweeps:

@fiscalgeek – I’ll pay more for lawn mower, weed trimmer, generator, tools in general so much money and time lost with garbage, I Luv Honda

@serenejourney – I love cooking so I’ll spend $ on good quality knives. I’ll also spend a bit more on brand name peanut butter & toilet paper! 🙂

@frugalforlife – I would pay more for: Antinques that last, Good quality shoes – but most everything else I would look for a deal and be thrifty.

Socially Responsible Products

Once again, we have a category that is sometimes “quality” and sometimes “household”, but that I thought was important to separate.  I’m not a card carrying hippie quite yet, nor do I do yoga or buy sweaters for my dog.  However, I am slowly becoming more and more aware about how the products I buy affect the world around me.

Don’t get me wrong, my frugal nature is still winning the battle.  Most of the time I’m still not prepared to pay a decent mark-up, but I do eyeball the different options from time to time.  It’s a start.

@syzou – i pay more for businesses with good customer service, expert product advice, socially responsible business practices.

Personal Hobbies/Vices

Ah, the junk drawer.  Everyone has their own personal hobbies and vices they are willing to spend more on.  Here are a couple of my own:

  1. Experiences – Scuba diving, traveling, watching unique (rare) events, sky diving (never been), eating at one-of-a-kind places.  My wife and I really prioritize experience over things at this point in our lives.  At some point we will want to settle down into a home and this equation might start to balance back out.  But right now we’ve got our foot to the foot on the experiences side.
  2. Genuine Artists – I love watching people who are talented perform their art or skill.  You’ll almost never find me willing to dish out $20 for a C.D., however I’m much more likely to leave $20 for a street performer we’ve stopped to listen to.  By the same chord, I would pay for a Broadway play, an opera, or an orchestra.  Unlike food, I do appreciate when someone has spent years of their life perfecting a specific skill.
  3. Simplicity – Like “quality” this can often get me in trouble.  On average though, I’m more than willing to pay for things that make me feel simple.  I’m not sure I can explain this well in a short paragraph.  I like clean spaces and simple designs.  I like the word Zen even though I’m not sure what it means.  It just makes me feel good.  Again, anyone got my back on this one?

Here is some more hodgepodge from around twitter-land:

@mymoneyshrugged – Willing to pay most for fav hobbies-ex.-I like surfing, I will buy the best wetsuit so I can be comfortable, warm, good boardtoo

@marriedwluggage – shoes, cheese, organic produce, socks. I’m all about food & feet, apparently.

@yukai_chou – Your happiness!

@nickfro – Quality veterinary care/services.

@josh_moore – Quality books and knowledge

@GetOutOfDebtGuy – Things I love specifically. A certain camera, motorcycle, a comfortable bed, value added services by pro

It’s your turn!  What specific things are you willing to consistently pay more for?  Can you relate to any of my personal experience?  What about the other twitterers?  Add your perspective by commenting below!

42 thoughts on “What Are You Willing To Consistently Pay More For?”

  1. Toilet paper … Charmin could probably triple their price and we’d still buy it.

    I’m also willing to pay for comfort, from a temperature perspective. Unfortunately, my wife and I have very different comfortable temperatures, so that doesn’t work so well any more.

    I’m not a big drinker, either. I don’t like beer at all. I like whiskey, but I’ll have a drink and then completely forget about it for a year, and then have another.

    Overall, I don’t spend money on a lot of things. One of our cars in a 1998 Contour, our 27s are 27″ models from the 90s, etc. I do like my high speed internet, though, and my wife like whatever cable plan we get (something with movies and DVR – I really don’t watch much TV, and when I do, I watch one that has the basic connection without the goodies)

    Kosmo @ The Casual Observer’s last blog post..Last member of the 300 win club?

  2. There are several things that I am willing to pay more for –
    Cat Food – they are my responsibility so I give them the good stuff to keep them healthy.
    Travel – my beloved has given me a list of which airlines he refuses to fly after a bad experience with a budget airline.
    Vices – decent wine but I shop around so I buy it on sale 90% of the time.

  3. Agree with you on customer service and tipping, although we don’t typically eat at sit-down restaurants more than a few times a year. I’m willing to pay for quality for 2 reasons – I hate shopping to replace things and I’d like to keep as much out of the landfills as possible. This applies to household items & tools as well.

    We pay more for organic foods, but usually try to stock up on sales to mitigate the increased prices. Mostly for our son, but I’m not a big fan of eating/drinking pesticides and other chemicals either.

    Travel – we try to find good deals of course, but we’re willing to spend enough to make it worthwhile. Nothing worse than a crappy hotel wrecking your entire vacation when you could have spent $25 more a night and got something much nicer.

    I’m also willing to pay more upfront for reusable products than their disposable counterparts. Think cloth diapers over Huggies, cloth napkins/towels over paper towels. I’d even like to install a bidet in our next house to cut down TP use.

    Also there are some things I just have to buy the name brand – Heinz ketchup & Hidden Valley Ranch dressing are 2 that come to mind.

  4. I am willing to pay more for quality and excellent service! One thing I hate is when I buy something with the thought that I am saving money but later find out why it was so cheap. Some things I am not willing to spend more on even if the quality is excellent! I do not buy expensive clothes ever. I am okay with Walmart and thrift store clothes, and of course my New Enemy of Debt T-shirts! LOL

    Even when buying quality electronics I will search around for used name brand electronics with great product history, instead of just buy new.

  5. I also buy quality to keep things out of the landfills.

    But, if I could give you one tip: FREECYCLE. You can find a lot of quality products being given away for free. They have just simply outlasted the owner and they want to get rid of it. Man I love that site.

    But good post, and this exact point is often lost on people that are faking being frugal. They sometimes don’t look at short-term versus long-term costs.


    MLR’s last blog post..Tax Records You Should Save & For How Long

  6. Awesome article! Didn’t know you were also vegetarian… “good on ya!” I will pay a bit more for organic foods, though, and I love leaving the house to eat at nice restaurants – for gourmet vegetarian foods of all kinds – Thai, Greek, Indian, Mexican, Chinese… potatoes and plain noodles alone definitely too boring for me:), although I do those sometimes, too:)

    MoneyEnergy’s last blog post..“No-Spend Days:” How Many of Them Can You Fit In A Month?

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  8. I’ll pay more when I upgrade technology. I will set a generous budget and buy the best I can afford for that budget. Computers, media players, phones, appliances, whatever. I do this because the newer the technology the longer it’ll be before it has to be replaced.
    I’ll nurse along an older model until it begins to be an annoyance to maintain it. Then I’ll replace it with the newest fastest, best that I can get.
    It has served me well over the years.

    C David Dent’s last blog post..Western Culture as a whole, is deeply, deeply contradictory!

  9. Regardless of the industry, I agree that I would pay more for quality customer service. I would have likely chosen Steve’s company as well, as I know I’ll get consistency and patience, whereas I’m not sure what I’m in for with the other companies.

    Developing relationships is the most essential part of business- whether it’s with potential partners or customers, the better you are able to serve your clients, the more likely they are to come back. Thanks for the post!

  10. Not sure if books qualify as paying more, but I will usually spend the money to buy a book and keep it in my personal library over borrowing a book from the public library. I love owning a copy of it to keep, refer back to, and as a visual reminder of the things I’ve learned.

    I’m also terrible when it comes to electronics. I don’t play video games or do anything all that high-end on my computers but I am constantly upgrading the components to the latest and greatest. I do use it sometimes to beta test cool software, but realistically it’s not a need or even a rational want, but an emotional one.

    Great post, after growing up in a number of odd locations and living a highly transient lifestyle I can absolutely relate to buying functional items over lasting ones (except for clothing.)


    1. Ditto on the books. Even when someone (or the library) lends me a book, if it is one that I really enjoyed reading I will sometimes go and buy a copy just so I have it in my personal library.

      1. Double ditto on books. While it’s possible to borrow books from the library, there’s just not the same appeal I feel when I own a book and can call it my own. Books are probably my biggest ‘spend more than I have to spend’ purchases.

        Roger’s last blog post..Leverage Basics

  11. I definitely will pay more for “simplicity” too. It is hard to explain and I can’t think of a good example of *paying* more but take for instance this scenario which has the same result (i.e. me with less money in my pocket).

    I recently cleaned out my wardrobe (I love fashion and have a lot of clothes). I decided I was going to get rid of anything cheap and ‘trend’ based and also simplify my wardrobe to classic pieces in a smaller range of colours and then just a few ‘fashionable’ accessories that I can update each season. I ended up with almost 3/4 of my stuff on my bed ready to be sold/given to charity/given to family/thrown away. In the past I have made a lot of money selling clothes I no longer want on ebay. However, with my current job I have a lot less time on my hands for ebay selling. I couldn’t stand the thought of keeping all those clothes that were saleworthy hanging around until I had time to sell them. I wanted the space clear – now. So I just bagged it all up (including some designer labels) and took them to the charity shop. I could have made some money but in the end I valued simplicity more than money (and I guess I also valued my time more too).

    I have done the same thing when cleaning out my kitchen with cookware and my living room (books/cds/dvds/etc). I have also spent more money on a special folder for ‘dream house’ magazine clippings and one for bills etc. I could have just bought regular folders and made my own dividers for less but I bought the special, and more costly, house and bills folders as they seemed more orderly.

    Silly maybe, but they make me feel good and that is what money is all about.

  12. I just found your site, good info here!

    In regards to consistently paying more or less, I think everyone has their own idea of what that means. For me I like to stick with certain businesses who have earned my loyalty or trust over the years. My cell phone company comes to mind and the place where I buy Bath supplies at their semi annual sale twice a year lol. Otherwise when I travel, I don’t need to sit in first or business class. The plane gets there all at the same time. If I can I fly Southwest because they have earned my trust and loyalty. I reserve the right to change my mind at any time though. I have noticed with this downturn in the economy certain businesses have turned to being a little more friendly and asking if I need help in their stores. Smart business too. I shop Target over Wal-Mart because it is much closer to where I live. I also prefer Target since the employees aren’t so surly. I shop Half Price Books if I need a book and I don’t want to pay full price and I want to keep a copy of the book for reference. Otherwise my library system does quite well for my needs. I am vegan so the Farmer’s Market is a welcome site from June-October. My local grocery carries a fairly good supply of organics and vegan products but Trader Joe and a few other markets help me as well.

    In regard to electronics I would pay for a new laptop when this one wears out but other than that I don’t use disposable items or try not to. I have very little brand loyalty when it comes to food but there are a few brands I have learned to stick with. I shop my local Farmer’s Market and in my neighborhood as much as possible as well. I have thrift stores nearby and so I rarely shop for clothing at the mall but if I am at the mall I check a few stores who can be fairly close to thrift store prices and they receive my business if the situation warrants. Old Navy is about the only store I would say I have loyalty to for clothes but I don’t buy anything that says Old Navy on it and Sketchers for shoes is a must. So I suppose I have more brand loyalty than I thought.

    It’s nice to live in a neighborhood that has just about everything I need in a 3-5 block radius and everything else is a fairly short bus ride away. I don’t have a car so that is important to me.

    Merci and Peace


  13. I’ll pay more to do my business at a locally owned shop rather than any national chain, if at all possible, and good fair trade coffee beans.

  14. Two things come readily to mind: books, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier response, and my blog, which I’ve already spent more to get help setting up and maintaining than I’ve spent on just about any other hobby. While I hope my blog will return some of that money eventually, but for right now, it’s just a big expense.

    Roger’s last blog post..Leverage Basics

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  19. What a nice essay! Thoughtful and it really covers a lot of bases.

    Where insurance is concerned, I really used to appreciate Farmer’s, because they have agents right here in town who pick up the phone when you call (!!), who are nice to you (!!!), and who respond quickly when you have an issue. Alas, they jacked up their rates so high I no longer could afford to continue my homeowner’s and car coverage with Farmer’s. AARP’s membership rate with the Hartford is SO much lower, and the Hartford is highly rated and well respected, that I finally gave up and changed providers.

    Personally, I like to cook and I love to eat. That being my main source of entertainment (to say nothing of sustenance), I don’t spare the horses when it comes to food and cooking equipment. I will buy generic brands, though, since I’ve found them to be about the same as national brand-names.

    In other aspects, though, I can be kinda chintzy. I highly resent having to upgrade software and electronic products for no other reason than that some company has decided to extort some more money from me. And when the analog stations go off the air, the TV in my kitchen is going away–I’m not paying another forty bucks for yet another dust-catching digital box, and I’m certainly not going to replace a set that originally cost $60 with a digital TV that I can’t touch for under $450.

    Funny about Money’s last blog post..Purchases!

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  22. It’s called “emotional satisfaction”. there was a study done on retaining customers. They found that “rational satisfied” customers (who were completely satisfied with the service, but had no emotional ties) were just as willing to ditch a company as the dissatisfied companies. The key is tying an experience to emotions. That’s what makes you willing to pay more.

  23. Well I’d have to agree with laura here. I had an emotional experience today while shopping. It was a smaller company (with an online presence but their headquarters are here where I live) and they make luggage, backpacks, computer bags etc…It was excellent quality in all levels of service. The owner himself was the one checking us out when we made our selections. He advised us and also went to get different colours for items as well if needed. 🙂

    Anyhow, the prices are a little higher, which is often the case when it comes to quality, but to have hands on service and interaction is important. I want to know I can contact/connect with the owner if there is an issue with my items and it will be taken care of in a caring and proper manner.

    I supported a local business and helped stimulate the economy here as well! Win…

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  25. i pay more on bike accesories- my bike is my most precious thing i’ve got and i use it quite a lot
    other than that, i will buy fresh fruits and vegetables even in winter as i feel dehydrated without them
    i don’t feel the need of a car now but if i’d buy one, i’d surely buy an electric one

  26. I have a mildly disabled son; he can barely talk. In my attempt to encourage social interaction while he is out of school, he goes to summer camp every summer. He hates group activities (for obvious reasons), but loves to go to summer camp. Plainly said, they adore him and treat him like the rest of the group. I am more than willing to pay extra for this summer camp, versus cheaper ones, because of the comfort my son feels all summer.
    .-= Kasy´s last blog ..Why Budget? =-.

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  28. Coffee, coffee, and coffee. I’d rather go without than buy the god-awful cheap instant, and I’ll pay an extra buck or two at a different cafe if they burnt the beans at the last one.

    That said, I go for the best instant I can find, because I’m too lazy/incompetent to operate a machine. I probably wouldn’t buy one anyway- that way, good, ‘real’ coffee stays as a treat, not something I take for granted.

    I’ll also pay more to know that something will last me. This goes both ways. My first set of cookware was the expensive, high quality type, not dodgy “non stick” stuff from the dollar stores. But likewise, neither my phone nor laptop are especially pretty, but they’ll survive me, and they work really well. They were the much, much less expensive ones.
    Doesn’t really matter which is better value, dollar for projected-lifespan day, I just want to have thing reliable.

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  33. Lotion, soap, and hair products. The generics of those products simply don’t work as well as I like.

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