Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Splurge or Steal?

So back when I had time to read magazines, and back when the magazines I wanted to read were more about me and less about kids and houses, I used to read one particular magazine that had a monthly feature called Splurge or Steal. They'd list a few products - shoes, bags, accessories, coats, etc - and put a really high end one right next to one more "reasonably" priced item. The theory being that, sure, you could tell the difference side by side (although it wasn't always obvious to me which was which). But you can get a high end look for a much lower price.

Sometimes it's worth it to indulge, sometimes it's not.

I feel like I have a pretty good handle on this in my own life (not close to the designer fashionistas in the magazine, but for my own life). Generally speaking, I'm a "steal" girl. I'm happy to buy my clothes at Target instead of Nordstrom. But I do own a few "splurges". Recently, I bit the bullet and tried Tieks. I love ballet flats, and they're a staple for me in the fall and spring. I usually get them at Target for $15, so the $175 tag on Tieks was a big splurge, and totally worth it. I use my 31 tote bags for daily use, but I'm a huge fan of Kate Spade too.

Yoga pants? Steal.

Big competition bag? Splurge.

Recently I got into an online conversation about car seats. A friend of mine in an online group was flying cross country and renting a car. She didn't want to bring her giant car seat for her three year old (there are horror stories of checked car seat disasters and it wouldn't fit on the plane), but she didn't trust a rental seat either. Another friend in the group suggested she purchase a cheap car seat online, bring it on the plane, and use that during the trip. The original girl panicked. A cheap CAR SEAT? Who does that???

This started a HUGE debate about car seats in the splurge versus steal fashion. One seat is $40. One seat is $400. Obviously you splurge, right? You can't put a price on safety, right?


I was shocked at how the groups split into two camps. The reasonable, budget conscious, every car seat on the market has to go through the same testing group and the I'd go without groceries if it meant I could buy the "best" seat on the market camp. People got really passionate about what seat was currently latched into their backseat.

When you think about it, it makes sense. The group that spends a ton of money HAS to rationalize that they did it for safety. And the group who buys the no frills seat on sale HAS to rationalize that other group is suckers.

The truth?

Well, if you dive into the research, every seat on the market is safe. No matter what you spent, if you bought a new, unexpired seat from a store, and it's appropriate for your child's age and size, it's safe. It will pass a crash test.

The more pricey you get, the more "extras" you get. Some of the extras don't add a thing to the safety of the seat (cupholders?). Some add TIME to the seat (bigger limits). Some add comfort (extra padding).

Would I splurge or steal?

With two girls firmly in middle of the road boosters, I'm in the middle here too - we didn't get the cheapest and we didn't get the craziest. Their boosters position their seat belts, doing their job. But spending a little more got me those cupholders, and a little trinket tray, and latches so I don't have to remember to buckle the seats in when the girls aren't with me. And the colors are pretty.

Ultimately, my online buddy took a giant leap of faith (for her, anyway), and trusted the cheap seat on her vacation. Turns out that, although the seat was never put through a crash test, it was clean, easy to install and use, and held a squirmy toddler with no issues.

But it can be so much more fun to talk about shoes.
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