When a Bargain is NOT a Bargain

Sometimes, spending a bit more money on something you use on a regular basis can be better than trying to get the absolute lowest price. For instance, if I had just bought a middle-of-the-line professional camera to start off with, instead of getting a really cheap compact point and shoot that I threw away, then a low-end compact point-and-shoot (which was a little shy on resolution, although it worked ok for my purposes at the time as long as I did not have to use flash), a slightly higher resolution point-and-shoot (that had a better flash placement & took better photos, but ate batteries really fast), then a more versatile (and expensive) fixed-lens (which had much better color depth, and took 4 batteries so that they didn’t die as quickly, but when we started doing video, it came up short), and finally my current camera (a Canon T4i, which is a better camera than I am a photographer), I would have spent less total.

It’s actually pretty easy to make the case for getting a better camera, especially if you are using it for business purposes (like I was), but sometimes you happen across what seems to be a really good deal on what you might consider a commodity item.

Like razors, for instance. Which brings me to the thing that motivated me to write this article. I’ve seen articles where the writer bragged about being able to get 40 or more shaves from a low-end razor by doing some trick like spending a minute thoroughly rinsing it, then wiping with a cloth, and then using a hair dryer to make sure that it’s thoroughly dry, just to get the cost of shaving down to ridiculously small amount. Well, that was counting only the retail cost of the razor — not the cost of heating the rinse water or running the hair dryer. There is a principle in accounting called de minimis, which basically says that there are just some things that cost so little it isn’t worth tracking the expense, and I think maybe the cost of razors falls into that category.

But, this week, I saw this 4-pack of razors at the Dollar Store, and figured I’d save some money. Well, yesterday, I pulled one of them out, and prepared my stubble with my favorite shaving oil (which really does work better than any shaving cream I’ve ever tried), and started shaving.

From the Dollar Store (bad buy!)


Hmmm… that didn’t feel very good, and didn’t do a very good job of cutting whiskers. So, I tried going the opposite direction.


Not really believing it could really be that bad, I repeated the motions trying to vary the angle of contact. (Hmmm… I may have just confessed to being a slow learner.) It didn’t get any better, so I went back to the old razor that I had intended to toss, and finished shaving with that one.

I still have a bit of razor-burn to show for yesterday’s efforts. But I’m cured of any urge to ever buy a Dollar Store razor again. Next trip to the grocery, I’m going to buy some good razors, and I’m not going to agonize over that particular de minimis cost again.

I guess I should mention that I didn’t take the photo of those razors you see in this article with my T4i. I used my G2x Android smartphone, which works well enough for this sort of thing, and it’s what I had with me :)

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