Life is a menu and I don't have the time, money or energy to sample every item.
So I have established priorities. Basically in some areas I'm not willing to compromise on quality (trading up), but in other consumer categories, I care less about quality and more about price. In those areas, I have traded down.
Those concepts are featured in the books Trading up and Treasure Hunt by Michael Silverstein (with John Butman).
After reading Treasure Hunt for a book review assignment, (not related or linked to this post), I made my own list of where I trade up and down in my buying decisions:
I Trade down for basic products and household items. (I use private labels and loss leaders and coupons.)
I Trade up for organic produce. (I pay more for organic fruits and veggies, but I have cut costs by joining an organic food coop.)
Trade down with DIY haircuts & braiding
Trade down for hair care products: We use mostly Suave brands ($1 on sale) or some other discount promotion.
Trade up for some "green" and healthier products
Trade down for most cosmetics and creams: I've dropped makeup products with unhealthy ingredients and I've tried to find safe and frugal drug store choices.
Luxury for less. I look for off-season deals at upscale resorts.
We have also gone on a cruise with my parents and relied on family assistance for other posh vacations.
In Orlando, we saved money by staying with family.
Luxury for less: I love finding expensive clothes at steep off-season prices. It's my red-tag only strategy. Best deal: $60 skirt for $6 at Ann Taylor
Trading down: My husband drives a used minivan and we save thousands by using just one car. I use public transportation, car pools and I walk a lot.
Trading up: Nixing the DIY tax-route. I'm hiring a professional.
I'm re-evaluating my trading up/down approach to banking, entertainment, utilities, and other areas.
The Frugal Duchess Booktique
The Frugal Duchess of Beauty Store
Book Shop of Fear
The Poetry & Drama Queen
Frugal Jazz & Blues