- Spend the extra money to buy something that lasts.
Of course I have to illustrate this rule with an example close to every woman's heart: shoes. This week, I have a brand new pair-- beautiful soft Italian leather (like buddah!), great style and fit, and they were only $25! Ok, the truth is that they are not technically new. I bought these shoes on sale about 2 or 3 years ago, marked down to $79 from about $300. But even if I had paid full price, I think I'd have gotten my money's worth. I wear them to work quite frequently, and though I shine them every once in a while, they were starting to get scuffed and the heel was wearing down. But for $25 my local shoe guy put on a new heel and sole protector, and made them look brand new. I'll be wearing these shoes for many more years.
Shoes are an area where I don't like to cut corners. Good quality shoes are worth it-- they break in better, they last longer and they are easier for a cobbler to repair. With a little maintenance, a decent pair of shoes will last for decades.
Of course, there is the issue of fashion-- some styles might not last for decades. So if you're going for quality and paying a little extra for it, you should probably look for a more classic style rather than a trendy item. And if you want to jazz up your wardrobe a little with something trendy, that's the time to look for a lower price and not worry as much about quality. The other day I was wearing a pair of pink sandals that I bought last summer. All my other shoes are pretty much black or brown so buying a pink pair of shoes seemed like quite a wacky indulgence. But they were cheap, so I figured what the hell. I can only wear them with one or two outfits in my closet, but they look great with those outfits. The only problem is that they hurt! Any time I have skimped on quality with shoes, they have turned out to be shoes I can't walk far in without getting blisters. And it seems a bit silly to buy fun shoes that you can only wear while sitting at your desk, where no one can even see them!
This rule doesn't just apply to clothes, of course. If you're going to buy something major, check out the ratings at Consumer Reports to see what has the best record for lasting long and not needing repairs. And aside from the issue of function and maintenance, again, make sure you are buying something that you will be happy with for a long time. I remember when I moved into my first apartment of my own-- I bought the cheapest furniture and kitchen supplies I could find. A few years later, most of that stuff was broken, worn out, or just driving me crazy because it worked so poorly. So a lot of it ended up being replaced, whereas if I'd bought better stuff to begin with, I would probably still be using it, and would have spent less money in the long run.