Monday, August 21, 2006

Rule #14: Buy Good Things

  • 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.

12 comments:

finance girl said...

Couldn't agree more; my rule is shoes, bags, belts, and jackets. Those 4 things really make an outfit IMO.

And with other things too quality trumps price e.g. your example of kitchen ware and home furnishings.

yosh said...

madame x. i know how much you love free stuff, especially in new york. american express is giving away free tickets to kayne west, the us open, broadway, nyc movie theaters and nyc restraunts. there are about 1000 tickets to each event. the only "catch" is that the tickets are only available to amex card holders. http://www.membershipchangeseverything.com/

Anonymous said...

3 things I always buy top quality in - shoes, bras and mattresses.... to me being comfortable is worth a lot!

linda neal said...

I live in Oklahoma, and we are making a new design of wallet. This wallet holds your cell phone, and you carry it on your waist. Heaviest black nylon. There is no stronger or more durable way to manufacture a wallet. It will out-live us both. So.... you hang this wallet over your waistband and the magic begins. It is close at hand, and you don't miss your phone calls. Everything stays organized when you take it off at night. And you can put this wallet into your pocket ... but you won't generally, because it is SO easy to use from the waistband. I am making a better video. But probably you got the idea already.
Maybe you will try our new wallet from my website www.NuPocket.com,
Take a look, these are selling to all our friends... and our sales are growing fast.

Caroline said...

I use the $ per wear theory to work out how expensive a pair of shoes or article of clothing really is.

E.g. if I buy a pair of shoes for $200 and I wear them to work on average three days a week for two years, then they only cost me $0.64c per wear.

I aim to make all my clothes and shoes cost less than a dollar per wear.

It does get you thinking about how many warm days there are in the year and how many cold days and how much more/less you should spend on winter clothes than summer clothes.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Buying quality items is your insurance they'll last. I have some leather boots that I bought 10 years ago. I spent more than I'd like but I just shine them up and I've worn them every winter without fail. I also check if ebay's selling things that are a good deal for what I need. You can find great, quality items for a lot less.

Jerry
www.leads4insurance.com

Anonymous said...

There are, of course, exceptions. For example, I can buy a set of 6 generic handtools for one Craftsman(tm) or SnapOn(tm) tool. The brand-name tools are great and will serve faithfully FOREVER, but really, why bother spending that much more??? Bottom line: give thought to the quality/price ratio to find the "true" best value.

Jeanne said...

My hubby does well in this regard - he always buys quality. I have tended to buy the cheapest I could find in the past, but I'm starting to see that he's right - you get what you pay for!!

Ishtar said...

I agree with this posting, but sometimes one can be lucky with cheap items: I bought my pair of (cheap) red polka dot shoes more than a year ago and they're still doing good.

But this doesn't always happen, of course.

Taking care of your stuff make them last longer.

Kathrin said...

Completely agree in regards to shoes. I bought a pair of shoes in 2005 for $260AUD - most expensive shoes I have ever bought. It's now 2009 and I'm still wearing them! (And these aren't shoes that I wear once a year, I wear them at least once a week - sometimes almost every day!) Yes, I've had them re-heeled a couple of times, but seriously, best pair of shoes ever!

Windy Citizen said...

As a New Yorker, you probably walk on city sidewalks a lot. I don't know much about you (I'm new to this blog), but if you work in an office, make sure you wear comfy sneakers on the street and save your nice leather shoes for when you get to work. I once wore a pair of leather shoes in a surprise downpour; they were never the same afterwards. I now have a desk drawer full of shoes at work and commute in sneakers. (I live in Chicago and walk a lot.)

Bankruptcy Ben said...

I still think the best investment I ever made was good saucepans and good knives. The expensive teflon frypans not so good, but teflon has a life span and I'll replace them with cast iron.