How do I get the best value for money when I buy something?

Shops have a box of tricks to make it feel like you’ve found a bargain: huge SALE labels in bright red, raising prices shortly before sales to make the discounts bigger, displaying countdown timers to make prices seem too good to last. So how do you identify the genuine bargains from the tricks? The key to finding the best deals is to assess each item’s ‘value for money’.

But what exactly is value for money? Well, it’s not just about finding the cheapest option. Value for money refers to getting the most benefit for the money you spend. You want to find that sweet spot where you’re not overpaying for something, but you’re also not sacrificing quality or satisfaction. In today’s world, where every penny counts, getting the most out of your hard-earned cash is crucial.

Factors to Consider Beyond Price

While price is a critical part of determining value for money, it’s not the only one. Here are some other factors to keep in mind:

  1. Quality and durability – often, spending a bit more on a higher-quality product can save you money in the long run. For instance, buying a durable, well-made pair of shoes might cost more initially, but they’ll last longer than a cheaper pair that need replacing more often.
  2. Functionality – consider how well a product or service meets your needs. A smartphone with advanced features may cost more, but if it enhances your productivity and enjoyment, it could be a better value-for-money option compared to a basic model.
  3. Brand reputation and reviews – research the reputation of a brand or product through online reviews and customer feedback. A well-regarded brand might indicate better quality, reliability or customer service, making it a better value-for-money choice despite a higher price tag.

Now that we’ve explored factors beyond price, here are three top tips for assessing an item’s value for money.

Three top tips

Assess your needs and prioritise them

Before making a purchase, consider what you really need. What features or qualities are essential for you? By identifying your priorities, you can narrow down your choices and select options that best meet your requirements.

Do the maths

Here’s where things get a bit tricky but super important. Calculate the total cost of owning something you've bought. This includes not only the purchase price but also any maintenance, repair, or replacement costs over the expected lifespan of the product. Sometimes, spending a little more upfront can save you money in the long run.

Research and compare

Be a savvy shopper, and don’t settle for the first option that pops up. Take the time to research and compare products or services. Use reviews and price comparison tools to make an informed decision. Remember that the cheapest option might not always be the best value.

Let’s apply these tips to a real-life scenario – choosing a laptop for university

Imagine you’re starting university and need a laptop for your studies. Your budget is limited, but you want a laptop that will last throughout your degree course. Here’s how you can assess the value for money:

  1. Assess Your Needs – consider your field of study and what software you’ll need. If you’re studying graphic design, a laptop with a powerful processor and good graphics might be most important – prioritise these features.
  2. Do the maths – calculate the total cost, including the laptop’s price, any necessary software, and potential repair or upgrade costs. A more expensive laptop with a solid warranty might be a better investment if it could save you unexpected repair costs.
  3. Research and compare – look at various laptop brands and models, both online and in physical stores. Take note of their prices, but also look for deals, discounts, and bundle packages. Don’t forget to read reviews and use comparison sites to judge your options side-by-side. Don’t just focus on the cheapest option or trendiest brand names, consider the overall value, including durability and performance.


To summarise, value for money is a crucial concept to grasp to find the best deals. Remember that it goes beyond just the price tag, it encompasses factors like quality, functionality, and brand reputation.

By assessing your needs, doing the maths, and researching thoroughly, you can make informed decisions that lead to better value for your hard-earned money.

So, the next time you’re faced with a purchasing decision, keep these tips in mind and be a savvy shopper.

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