Buying Quality

When you think about a quality item, inevitably you’ll think it will be more expensive and for the most part this is true. The reality is there are times when it makes sense to pay extra and buy the quality item. When it comes down to it; it’s about finding what the best balance is for you, between quality and price. Not paying excessively for quality you don’t need and not necessarily buying luxury for the expected quality.

Quality items and buying a quality item doesn’t have to mean that you’re buying a luxury item. Luxury items, while they might be associated with quality, doesn’t always mean that quality is there. Luxury items are often defined by the brand rather than the quality. I recently read a post (sorry can’t find the link) where the author was talking about someone buying a luxury purse, that luxury purse was probably well built but that wasn’t what drove the cost, it was the brand. You could probably buy a similar quality purse for 1/10th the cost. What we’re looking at here is paying extra for quality not necessarily buying a luxury item.

Finding the balance between quality and luxury can be a challenge; buying an item that is high quality can seem like a luxury. But at the same time it can also be a challenge if you’re trying to justify the cost of the extra quality. The perfect example in this would be when buying a car, you can get a good quality car for a reasonable price where the luxury equivalent is a lot more expensive. You might get something nicer when it comes to the luxury car but essentially most of those become nice to have items. Conversely this contrasts with the beater you can buy from the used car lot which might serve a purpose but come with its own headaches.

It comes down to finding the balance of quality for price. If you’re extremely frugal then the lowest cost is always the driver for any purchase but I would argue that there are times when you do want to spend a bit more money to get a quality item. So when does it make sense to buy quality?

  • if the item is used often and the quality difference is noticeable
  • when the added quality gives you added benefits
  • when the quality means less breakage and maintenance
  • When it saves you time (money and aggravation inevitably fall into this)

There are financial and psychological benefits that kick in when you start to increase the quality of an item. For example quality items are likely to not break down as often (thus reducing replacement costs) and won’t cause you aggravation in upkeep. Using our car example you might save a lot by buying the beater from the used car dealership versus a good low mileage used car. But one will break down on you a lot more often and probably at the wrong time. The headache you save yourself not to mention money to keep the beater running is really worth the quality used car even if its more expensive. For those curious I didn’t compare the beater to a new Lexus to keep them remotely close.

Now for me I try to price things out based on a balance of quality and price. I don’t need my day-to-day running shoes to be the best on the market. I’m not a runner and the main reason I like wearing running shoes is comfort so the ultra-high quality runners would be a complete waste. I buy them for the comfort so I balance the price for the quality I want.  On the flip side we renovated our kitchen when we got our new house. When we did this we needed to buy a dishwasher (I know this by itself is a luxury for many); our previous house had one and we had bought it as cheap as we could. When that dishwasher was running you would think a freight train was trying to come through the kitchen it was so loud. When buying a new dishwasher we went for the added quality of a very quiet dishwasher and paid for it. Now our kitchen doesn’t sound like a train station and while we spent more money for the quality the mental peace of not having to deal with the noise is worth it.  

It’s important to note that buying cheap, normal, quality or even luxury really comes down to what you can afford. We bought a dishwasher for our new house but if we couldn’t afford one then we simply wouldn’t have, or found a better deal if our budget was limited. It’s all about finding the balance; finding the best quality for your needs at a reasonable cost. We shopped around and found what was the best in our situation. It was a trade-off of quality and features for the price and my mental state has benefited.

Buying a quality item has a place even if you’re on a budget. The dishwasher that doesn’t rattle your teeth was really worth it for me even if we could have used the extra money elsewhere. Every person will have items where paying for the extra quality is worth it. Finding the balance between quality and price is the key and it’s totally different from buying a luxury item for the sake of the luxury.

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