Liz Pullam Weston writes an article about 5 Things you should never rent and 5 you should:
Rims. You can blame it on MTV’s "Pimp My Ride" or simply a car culture gone crazy, but flashy chrome wheels are big. They’re also expensive, typically costing $1,000 and up for a set. So a bunch of "rent to own" stores hawking rims and tires have sprung up to cater to those with expensive tastes and bad credit.
For example: At Rent A Wheel in Van Nuys, Calif., you can pay the cash price of $1,612 for a set of VCT Grissini wheels, or you can pay $62 a week for a year — and pay for them exactly twice ($62 times 52 weeks is $3,224). But hey, there’s no credit check involved — or common sense, apparently.
Honestly, if you fall for this scheme, you deserve to stay broke. If you really must have the baddest wheels, you can save up for them in six months (or less, since you’re likely to find a better deal if you shop around).
Excuse me, $1600 for a set of wheels?
(Weston smartly suggests renting the car you wish to purchase to give it a test drive. That sounds sensible, except that lots of foreign brands never seem to appear at car rental places. By the way, over the last 4 months, I rented a car at three agencies for about 3 weeks; my car was stolen, and then after it was found, it was flooded by a flash storm in Houston. I was appalled at how crappy the American car rentals were).
The next question becomes: what kinds of items are you willing to pay top dollar for?
For me, I sometimes will buy specialty gadgets at almost-new prices (like my ebook reader or camera/audio equipment). But I will research it to death. I will soon be buying a top of the line kitchen knife called the Wusthof Classic . Also, over time I’ve been willing to pay top price for computer manuals, ties and shirts. Also certain kinds of work software (you almost can always justify the cost if you regularly use it).
Speaking of software, I have almost never paid for Adobe/Macromedia software, which I regard as ridiculously expensive. On the other hand, now that MS Office sells at a reasonable price, I have no more qualms about using it. I love the grammar/spelling checker of MS Office so much that I would be willing to be only for that. I type most of my documents in a simple text editor, but then at the last minute will transfer everything over to MS Word to see if I have extra words or bad verb tenses.
I would never think twice about hiring a lawyer or a highly paid artist or actor to do something important. Generally I’m willing to pay extra for item whose primary purpose is to make a statement about fashion or style, especially if I plan to use it heavily. I will almost always pay good prices for high quality cooking ingredients and meat –though I have resisted the temptation to buy organic food when it is significantly more expensive. Chocolate is one such item.