Frugal or just cheap?

How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from being frugal and pennywise to just plain cheap? When you’re shopping, that is.

Having just ordered a box of business cards for myself, the logical thing to do would be to carry the cards with me. Most business cards in my wallet tend to shift around and rub against one another enough to leave that awful pencil or charcoal rubbed look on the face of the card, though, and that’s not something I want to hand out to a prospective client or employer.

In search of a business card carrying case, I want something that’s good quality. I’m looking for something that’s not flimsy or chintzy/faddish looking, but I’m not willing to pay the prices I’m seeing, for example, on Etsy. There are some excellent cases, sturdy looking and whatnot, but priced at $40 and $50 each. To my mind, that’s way too much. I would only be willing to pay around $10 or less for a card case because that’s the amount I personally value such an item.

That notion stopped me dead in my tracks for a minute, though. Is that the kind of mentality that gives rise to our disposable, consumerist society? We’re not actually willing to pay for quality so what we get are cheap, Made-in-probably-China items that will either fall apart in a year or less?

When are our pricing expectations artificially low? Or does that not matter so long as the market can provide the goods at a certain price? Or am I just making a mountain out of a molehill because people will buy what they want, eventually, so long as the price comes close to their expectations?

[You can find my everyday writing over at A Gai Shan Life.]

About Revanche

Revanche writes the personal finance blog A Gai Shan Life.