There's a big difference between being cheap and being thrifty. There are times when it's appropriate to save a buck and purchase the least expensive product, though there are occasions when it's in your best interest to spend the money and get the very best you can afford. Quality should play a huge role in what you purchase, because sometimes buying the cheapest item will cost you more money in the long run. (For additional reading, see Expensive Purchases That Can Save You Money.)

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1. Footwear
Your feet are what keep you mobile, so you have to take care of them by wearing proper shoes. Though the health benefits of wearing good shoes may be obvious, wearing cheap shoes can also hurt your pocketbook. Inexpensive athletic shoes will require more frequent replacement, and could lead to costly trips to the podiatrist if you develop foot injuries. You can also save money when buying dress shoes by focusing on quality over quantity. A good pair of shoes with a timeless design can last you a lifetime. Good-quality shoes that have been properly constructed are typically worth repairing if they're damaged or if the soles wear out, and they're probably a lot more comfortable to wear. Cheap shoes that are uncomfortable will likely end up in the trash, and that's just a waste of your money. The exception? It's probably more money-wise to buy inexpensive footwear when buying shoes that you only expect to wear once or twice for a specific occasion.

2. Mattress
You sleep on your mattress every night. And what's a good night's sleep worth to you? It is suggested that mattresses are replaced every 10 years, so if you'd like to get the full lifespan of your purchase, you should avoid cheap mattresses that won't hold up as well as the more expensive models. Springs can start to creak and the mattress can sag in the middle, only requiring a premature replacement.

3. Electronics
Even though the world of electronics may seem like it's ever-evolving, there is something to be said for buying higher-quality electronic products. There's no sense in buying the cheap knock-offs that can't be serviced. Even if you can't afford to keep up with the cutting-edge technology all the time, ensuring that you're buying from reputable companies that produce products which can be easily serviced will save you money in the long run. Try to make a couple of years commitment to your electronic purchases. You don't want to buy products that will be obsolete a year after you buy them.

4. Food
There's nothing wrong with saving a buck when it comes to food - but do it wisely. Buying items that you regularly purchase when they're on sale is wise. Buying items just because they're on sale isn't wise, especially if you aren't likely to use them. Throwing food away results in an unnecessary expense. Also, purchasing cheap food that's unhealthy can add a new dimension of expense. Health issues can come from eating poorly, which can increase costs for health care, prescription and non-prescription medicines.

5. Furniture
Though it may be tempting to save the cash when making large furniture purchases, there are times when it is money-wise to purchase the more expensive, durable products. There are some types of furniture where it makes sense to purchase less expensive items, like cosmetic furniture in low-traffic areas. However, when it comes to a kitchen table or the sofas in your TV room, you'll probably want to buy the durable furniture that your family will get years of use from. Though it is more expensive, leather upholstery tends to wear out more slowly than fabric, and with particularly high-quality furniture that's been made well, it's almost always worth repairing it rather than replacing it.

6. Vehicle
When it comes to vehicles, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Buying a used vehicle can be a bit of a gamble, but you can minimize risk by buying from trusted dealerships that may offer a warranty. Undependable cars can cost you loads of money in repairs and maintenance, especially as they age and parts need frequent replacement. Even new cars can have their issues; however, they generally have a warranty to fall back on. Make sure you do the necessary maintenance so that you're not prematurely wearing out your car, and always research before you buy. Know what the potential issues are so that you're not overwhelmed by car repair bills, or paying loads of money toward fuel costs to keep your gas-guzzler on the road.

7. Cookware
Not all cookware is created equally. Some inexpensive cookware won't last you long at all, and some of it may even have coatings that become unsafe or unhealthy as they wear down. If you're an avid chef, you'll definitely want to invest a bit of money. Some of the top cookware brands offer lifetime warranties, and some of the classic cookware, like cast-iron frying pans, are so sturdy that they can be passed on to future generations. Keep in mind that some of the very best cookware will cost a pretty penny, so don't feel too surprised by the prices. Just keep in mind that the best cookware is often very durable and will provide many years of service.

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The Bottom Line
Every consumer's needs are different. When it comes to items you know you'll use frequently, it's probably worth spending the extra money to know that you'll have a product that you can use for a long time. Sometimes spending a large amount of money up front might seem overwhelming, but if it's an item you're only likely to have to buy once in a lifetime if you invest in purchasing the very best, then it could easily be worth the money. No one wants to waste money buying the same thing over and over again, so shop wisely, make informed decisions, and remember that sometimes it's OK to be thrifty. But keep in mind that being frugal might mean spending more money initially in order to have a product that'll provide you with years of dependable service. (Follow a few of these simple tips to become more "green" - and keep more green in your wallet. Check out Go Green, Save Money.)