Over Pay

Have you ever inherited something that’s really old?  When you held it, did you notice that it’s different than what you can buy at the store today?  Chances are your grandparents saved up for quite some time to buy it, and that’s why it’s lasted until now.

Often something that costs twice as much doesn’t perform twice as long, it lasts ten times longer.

When you multiply this over a lifetime, when it becomes the default, rather than the exception, you get more for your money.

People buy the cheapest stuff so they can afford to buy more with their money.  But because more expensive stuff often provides more value in the long term, paying more means you can actually buy more.  When you buy a John Deer or a Snapper you don’t have to replace it every other year like that random wally world lawnmower.

Gear

High end gear lasts a lifetime.  Just like that old watch or tool that your grandfather passed down, the stuff made by real craftsmen and engineers will be working years from now.

Instead of rewarding copycats who make lower quality rip offs, you are rewarding the real engineer who developed or perfected a product.  In the long term, this means we’ll have more of those real engineers and fewer garbage products.

The best retailer, the best products, and the best service providers usually guarantee your happiness for life.  These products fail less, yet you can get them fixed forever.  I buy camping gear from REI and backcountry.com.  And 10 years from now if I decide I don’t like a tent, I can return it.

Overpaying means getting exactly what you need, often custom made to your specs, not some imaginary average person.

At the end of the day you end up with a very few items that you deeply love, rather than a house stuffed with junk that is worthless to you a year later.  Life is simpler.

Appreciation

Most of the things we buy now are disposable.  Your new phone will be garbage in 3 years.  What if we started buying things that weren’t disposable, that lasted for generations?  How would this impact us in the long term?

Expensive stuff appreciates in the long term.  The best guitars from 50 years ago are worth 50 times what they cost originally.  This means we can get paid to own stuff we like.

Services

When you overpay, you are first in line.  Your stuff gets made first, and the other guy’s stuff gets done when there’s time.  It gets rushed.  Many of the intangible pieces that make up the quality of a product or service go out the door when we’re getting a deal.  They’re doing a favor and sometimes when we bargain, people resent us.

What if we always sought out the best of the best?  Rather than hiring the guy down the street to do our marketing, we go out and find the best firm in the country?  Won’t the best firm end up paying for itself even if it costs way more?  At the same time, won’t our lives be easier?

Employees

Top pay attracts the best people.  Although freedom and recognition generally trump pure dollars for employee happiness, those that consistently pay their employees less, end up losing their best people.

Employees don’t ask for raises.  On the infrequent occasion that they do, they’re not really asking for a raise, their telling you about the new job some place else that they found, which comes with a raise.  It’s your job to make sure they never have a reason to look for that job.

Often companies that can’t afford to hire the best people end up this way because they don’t hire the best people (who will generate more money).  If your business is struggling, look at your payroll.  Do your employees resent you?  Are they making a sacrifice to work for you?  It is your job to find a way to keep them thrilled to work with you, and monthly pizza parties aren’t going to do it.

Services and tipping

No one cares about $5 unless it’s a tip or part of a meal.  This is so weird to me.  No one haggles over $5 on the price of a car, but it seems that everyone needs a tip calculator to determine if they should pay 21.50 or $22.00 for a meal.

I usually eat at the same few restaurants all the time.  They’re maybe 10% more expensive, usually locally owned, and the food doesn’t come out of a frozen pre-made bag before being tossed in the oven.  I never tip less than 20%, and I’m not an asshole….at restaurants.

I always get great service.  The staff who isn’t even waiting on me comes over to say hi.  They know what I’m going to order, and if I forget something, they know it.

This doesn’t happen at Applebee’s or McD’s.

Overpaying in small ways is often not financially significant to you, but it seems like a lot to someone else.  Over tipping makes $2 or $5 seem like a lot of money.  This multiplies the value of your money.

By the way, a McD’s cheeseburger has about 2.4 oz of beef.  If we assume that ¾ of the cost of the cheeseburger is in the beef.  For a 99 cent burger, that’s $6.60 a pound for the lowest quality beef you can buy.  You’re not saving any money by buying 99 cent cheeseburgers.

Changing our mindset

People who constantly try to always get that great deal end up spending all their time chasing those deals and never actually get things done.  I’ve seen people do this their entire lives, and it is debilitating.

When we change your mindset from getting the best deal to getting the best quality, it changes the emphasis from shopping to deciding what’s important.  Because we only buy quality, we are forced to wait until we can afford what we really want.  That wait time leads to better decisions, and it forces us to make do with what we have.  Often making due or improvising means we can avoid buying things we don’t need, thereby saving money.

This doesn’t always work.  Sometimes a cheaper product is actually better.  But consider removing price as the default decision criteria.

My favorite pair of jeans gets worn 10 times more often than my other jeans.  If I did away with the other jeans, I could afford to buy more of those things I really love.  What if all of our stuff was mind blowingly awesome, even if we had way less of it?

 

Lead image courtesy moneyblognewz

115 Responses to Pay Too Much

  1. Garrett says:

    Excellent article. Something I’ve heard my girlfriend mention very often. It’s good to see it expanded on further. Thank you.

  2. I used to buy S$20 cheap bags meant for school use (I was 17 then). I could easily spend S$100 for a few bags in a span of a few months (less than a year) just because they spoil easily.

    Today I spend about S$179 on a Calvin Klein bag, or a same amount for a Vibrams … both lasted me for 2 years and going. These gears are pretty worth the price and the aesthetics. Otherwise, I’ll buy something at the army market (we have that in Singapore) where the value is much higher for their durability than buying cheap goods.

    I’m now running a couple of businesses (co-owner and owner) while I sometimes get to do work on the side (ie: setup websites). My rates aren’t too aggressive, but I get things done at about S$900 a day. I won’t consider myself the best out of the best, however people are willing to pay because they know they are going to get the results that I will be doing so for myself too.

    Overall, it’s not entirely about paying too much, but its the mindset shift from wasting time price haggling to understanding the true value that one can get at a price that was set as is. Some do come at a premium, but it’s way worth it. :)

  3. John Wolf says:

    Really great stuff here Allen! I’ve bookmarked your site and hope to read more killer posts in the future ;)

  4. Brian Downes says:

    It’s about time someone said it!! I really enjoyed this post.

  5. @b says:

    Yes if you’re wealthy then you can redirect your funds to more expensive purchases to make yourself feel better.

    Meanwhile those more short on disposable income will surely get more of a lift from hunting down those bargains.

    • Mike says:

      Being rich isn’t the point. Buy fewer higher quality goods with whatever amount of money you have.

    • Josh says:

      You can also go to an antique shop and buy an old, but well made mixer (etc.) without paying much more for a new piece of crap from Target.

  6. karro says:

    agree.
    just a small comment: there are the best deals and the best deals.

    it is not wise to go for the cheapest item of whatever manufacturer, as long as it [remotely] suits its purpose. it is wise to select the best product you can afford – or will be able to afford within some foreseeable future, if you start to save up for it – and then shop around to see if there are places that offer exactly the same thing – but for less. Of course, the price is not the only variable here; service, know-how, possibility to try something out and being able to return/exchange it later – all of this adds a value; this added value sometimes is worth more than these extra $5 or $10 that one overpays when shopping at the “higher end” places.

    I have a theory (and possibly this theory has been around for ages, but I haven’t seen it – or searched for it), so I feel I can/shoud share it.

    Here’s a simple diagram on quality to price relationship. Buying below the red dot – you’ll essentially get a disposable item, spend [relatively] slightly more – and you’ll get the quality product. Green dot is the sweet spot for everyday items, going over the yellow dot (where a small increase in quality requires a whole lot more money) – is up to each on her own. Shop around the yellow dot and higher, these items will last longer, will serve their purpose better – and longer, and in the long term you’ll end up actually spending less – as the author of the blog post has already stated. Going way over the yellow dot – truth be told, there will be increase in quality of the item. Will it be worth the money? Will YOU notice the difference? Will it just serve as an ego booster? Those are the questions each has to answer for herself, as there’s no right answer.

  7. Holger says:

    Thanks for writing this down. You echo my thoughts. Had to nod in acknowledgment the whole time.

  8. Stuart Corbishley says:

    Great piece, completely justifies my expensive tastes. :D

    More awesome, less ‘stuff’.

  9. Great read!

    As for $5 tips: You buy a car once in five years but you might eat out 3 times a day. Over the course of five years that would come to $5,474, which isn’t insignificant to most people.

    But I think your point still stands. I used to be extremely frugal and exact when it came to splitting a bill and… it really ruins the experience to be so miserly. I’m much happier now that I care less. (I also make more money so maybe that’s why).

    • Rob Nelson says:

      Eat out 3 times a day? Who does that? I don’t even like eating out that much when traveling for work on a company expense account where I am not paying for it.
      Anyway, your math doesn’t add up right. You did $15/day for one year, not 5 years.
      Great point on letting go of small amounts. I am much happier since I did that.
      I also leave a couple of bucks a day for the maid at hotel rooms (don’t wait until you checkout, you could have a different maid each day). My room always seems to be cleaner than it was when I checked in because of doing that. Interestingly, if I don’t leave a note that says “tip for maid” on it, they won’t touch it.

    • Chris Bird says:

      I think you meant to use the word “cheap” instead of “frugal”. Cheap is paying the least amount possible, regardless of value whereas frugal is looking for the highest value relative to cost. So, in your example, if splitting the bill was a bad experience (ie low value) then it was more an act of being cheap, not frugal.

      Not busting your chops, it’s just something that I think a lot of people confuse. As someone that is very frugal but not cheap – I have to make this distinction often. Especially to my wife!

  10. Anna Stanton says:

    really really great post, making me rethink a lot of my “moneysaving” ideas. Just one criticism (sorry, I can’t help it), but the phrase is “make do”, not “make due”:
    http://grammarist.com/usage/make-do-make-due/

  11. tolvak says:

    While I mostly agree with your article, it isn’t really fair to pick out Applebee’s in your example. Mostly because I follow your same rule (minimal 20% tip, being nice to staff, etc), and used to frequent a local Applebee’s in a smaller southern town, and many of the staff their knew my favorite orders by heart, and employees would come over and chat at my table if it was slow, and we got to know each other well. It was like a second dinner table for me when I was going through some pretty lonely times in life.

    Of course, this definitely backs up your premise that paying a solid tip is worth it.

  12. Ravi says:

    Wow, I mean, wow! Neat article. I liked the line about Jeans, particularly!

  13. radable says:

    imo it goes even further – i worry people are generally loosing sense of money.

    Money is power, it’s *responsibility*. The more you have, the more you DO change the world around you.

    When you buy something, you pass your money down the chain (yes, that’s a whole new topic too).

    And it’s not just about food’s airmiles and fairtrade – it’s about where YOU CHOOSE to spend your money.

    “What’s money for anyway? To make things happen.” said Auntie Joyce in 1972, Richard Branson’s aunt, before she lent him money to get out of financial trouble. Mind you, she charged him interest, apparently :)

  14. lani says:

    Great perspective on beef and cost-twice-last-ten-times .That’s the kind of thinking that sets one financiall free.
    Some amount of mental friction is involved with paying, hence tipping at each meal is sub-consciously a painful idea. One CAN be trained to ignore or not thikn that though.

  15. Jono says:

    Nice sentiment. The problem nowadays is finding those that actually deliver on the promise. Lots of things can be expensive these days but it is often branding over substance. Price is not an indicator of quality in itself and you need to watch out.

  16. Donny D. says:

    Less is more! The longevity of quality products will blow your mind. So many people do not understand why I like to wait and save up for “the best”. It’s like investing your money- you need to think long term!

  17. sami says:

    A classic.
    (expect high traffic to this post! Tim Ferris FB status’ link)

  18. Neil Keleher says:

    Wow, that was awesome. Thanks for putting it so clearly.

  19. “I’m too poor to afford something cheap” has been a guiding principle for the better part of my life. Even after I stopped being poor.
    Especially after.

    Also, having less “stuff” gives me more time to appreciate the little “stuff” I do have — maximizing the return on investment if you want to see it like that.

    One thing that struck a chord: “I’m not an asshole….at restaurants.”
    Most of my friends know I am not a calm, polite, sweet-tongued person; I am always nice to the staff, I almost always leave a tip and so I’m almost always happy with service and quality of whatever I receive.

    Cheers!

  20. Hey Allen, really great post.

    It reminds me a bit of the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness from Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett:

    “The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

    Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

    But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.”

    • benboyer says:

      @harryguinness Nice elaboration on an already very good point.

      I see the same concept with many of my tenants who pay more than double the price for tv’s and furniture because they are financing these things. Lower incomes usually equate to higher interest rates on bigger ticket items as well , cars houses etc…

      This kind of thing has been going on forever. Robert Kiyosaki talks in great length about financial literacy and impact it has those who understand it versus those who don’t.

      Also I Love and embrace the ‘tipping point’ ( the ‘tipping point’ in this post not the book by Malcolm Gladwell although that is an awesome book )

      @Allen , very nice job with this

      Thanks

  21. High end gear lasts a lifetime.

    Unfortunately much of it does not. The whole category of “ultralight” products are often expensive because they are optimized for performance or weight, not durability: Think of carbon fiber road bikes, MacBook Airs for example.

    There are also items that are “luxury products” that are positioned as “the best that money can buy”, but their price tags are far steeper than the value that they add over other options. Think of exotic cars and some top-of-the-line headphones.

    High-end gear designed for durability could be a good investment, if it’s light and fast enough for you. :) The Thinkpad T-series laptops or a Workcycles brand bicycle.

    But overall, I agree with the sentiment. We would do well to have fewer, higher quality products that we enjoyed more, than so much cheap, disposable stuff.

    • ydmadi says:

      This.

      Quality items are not a guarantee they’ll last longer, although it may be more likely that they will. That vintage piece of equipment still going at grandma’s place might have been built to last, or it might just have been the best of the lot.

      Most items with a fashionable brand name will be overpriced. I cringed when I noticed a comment with somebody claiming the ‘buy nice or buy twice’ effect on a Calvin Klein bag…

  22. Steve says:

    GREAT post. Think of the impact on our environment. Buying crap that doesn’t last has a huge impact on our earth in terms of materials, shipping and disposing in landfills.

    What gets me going is that 30 years ago a new appliance lasted 30 years, 20 years ago it would last 20, 10 years ago it would last 10. All in the name of creating a cheaper product. Now even when you WANT to pay more for something that lasts, the option often isn’t available!

  23. Peter says:

    This would make complete sense if price correlated strongly with quality. In my experience, if the cheapest item is $10, then 90% of the $100 items will be of the exact same level of quality. As a seller, the odds of the buyer knowing the quality of your product are pretty low. If you sell a $10 product for $100 with fancy packaging, rather than a $90 product for $100, you make 10x more per sale. That more than makes up for lost future sales (indeed, if the product lasts forever, there often are no lost future sales).

    Given that, I can spend a few hours researching on the Internet, at a few hundreds dollars of my time — a clear lose — or I can buy what’s cheapest. Heck, in some cases, the $10 product does turn out to be incredibly good quality.

  24. Matt says:

    Your math is a bit off. With 16 oz per pound at $6.6 per pound and 2.4 oz that is 0.99 for beef alone in a mcdonalds burger, so assuming it is 3/4 of the cost you actually are saving money. The real question is at what cost?

  25. Rob S says:

    Yes. A thousand times, yes. There’s a great book called The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz that talks about this, too. It was written in 1959 and is just as true today as it was then. Here’s an excerpt I always share with people I know:

    From The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

    Go first class: that is an excellent rule to follow in everything you do, including the goods and services you buy. Once, to prove the unconditional truth of the go-first-class thinking, I asked a group of trainees to give one example of how they had been penny-wise and pound-foolish. Here are some sample replies:

    “I bought a low-priced suit from an offbeat retailer. Thought I got a bargain, but the suit was simply no good.”

    “My car needed a new automatic transmission. Took it to an alley garage that agreed to do the job for $25 less than an authorized dealer. The ‘new’ transmission lasted 1,800 miles. And the garage wouldn’t make it right.”

    “For months I ate at a real greasy spoon trying to save money. The place wasn’t clean, the food wasn’t good, the service — well, you couldn’t call it that – and the clientele was a bunch of down-at-heel-ers. One day a fiend persuaded me to join him for lunch at one of the best restaurants in town. He ordered the businessman’s lunch, so I did too. I was amazed at what I got: good food, good service, good atmosphere, and for just a little more than I had been paying at the greasy spoon. I learned a big lesson.”

    There were many other replies. One fellow reported that he got in trouble with the Bureau of Internal Revenue because he used a “bargain” accountant; another went to a cut-rate doctor and later learned he had received a completely wrong diagnosis. Others related the costs of going second class in home repairs, hotels, and other goods and services.

    Of course, I’ve heard the argument many times “but I can’t afford to go first class.” The simplest answer is: you cannot afford to go any other way. Certainly in the long run, going first class actually costs you less than going second class. Then, too, it’s better to have fewer things and have quality than to have many things and have junk. It’s better, for example, to have one really good pair of shoes than to have three pairs of second-class shoes.

    People rate you for quality, often subconsciously perhaps. Develop an instinct for quality. It pays. And it costs no more, often costs less, than second class.

    …………

    When I stress “Respect your appearance” in training programs, almost always I am asked the question “I’m sold. Appearance is important. But how do you expect me to afford the kind of clothing that really makes me feel right and that causes others to look up to me?”

    That question puzzles many people. It plagued me for a long time. But the answer is a really simple one: Pay twice as much and buy half as many. Commit this answer to memory. Then practice it. Apply it to hats, suits, shoes, socks, coats — everything you wear. Insofar as appearance is concerned, quality is far more important than quantity. When you practice this principle, you’ll find that both your respect for yourself and the respect of others for you will zoom upward. And you’ll find you’re actually ahead money-wise when you pay twice as much and buy half as many because:

    1. Your garments will last more than twice as long because they are more than twice as good, and as a rule they will show “quality” as long as they last.

    2. What you buy will stay in style longer. Better clothing always does.

    3. You’ll get better advice. Merchants selling $200 suits are usually much more interested in helping you find the garment that is “just right” for you than are merchants selling $100 suits.

  26. Brad says:

    Well said. Good ain’t cheap and cheap ain’t good.

  27. Steven says:

    In general I agree with this. However you might be taking a bit of a leap in assuming that all of these decisions are strictly money related. For example, with the McDonald’s cheeseburger, sure, you can make your own cheeseburger for less money, but that takes time and effort and knowledge. Part of the perk of McDonalds, and fast food in general, is convenience. There’s also the opportunity cost to take into consideration. With the time I would have to spend going to the grocery store to buy ground beef, going home, shaping patties, and then cooking burgers, I could theoretically be making more money or even just doing something more useful with my time if I just stopped in a McDs for 5 minutes instead.

  28. Great post! Really thought provoking and so true.
    The trouble with living in this “on-demand” time of life is we all want stuff right away and often this stuff is of less quality.
    I love the idea of aspiring to always buy the best.
    I think it’s time for me to open a new savings account for my Rolex GMT-Master II :-)

  29. Ryan says:

    Completely agree. I do still buy cheap stuff, but usually out of necessity. Cheap is not necessarily price, because I appreciate the engineering that can go into making something that is high quality and inexpensive, but cheap as in poor quality. Even then, I only buy what I feel will last me until I can afford to buy something nice.

    Buying something nice is cheaper in the long run. Unfortunately that upfront cost can be a barrier. However, I’d buy something quality used before something cheap new. Thank you ebay and craigslist.

  30. Dan Scharch says:

    Excellent article! I think in the back of my mind we all know we can spend a bit more for quality, it’s just that the pain of losing that money hurts more (some say, twice as much) than the imagined gain of something that would last longer and accrue value.

    Did you just start this blog? I’m already a fan. Very clean layout, simple words. I’m all about breakthroughs and reflective thinking. Thanks for the words!

  31. Mr. Lee says:

    You sir, have style.

  32. You bring up some really excellent points!

    What really grabbed my attention was the section on eating out at restaurants, not because of the comparison to fast food places, but on how there wasn’t a discussion about food shopping in general. Many people will eat unhealthy fast foods on a daily basis because it’s more convenient and cheaper. However, if people spent a little extra time and money on weekly grocery shopping runs and put in a little extra effort to buying slightly higher quality foods, that spending will become an investment towards their health. If someone ate fast food every day at around $5 per meal, 3 meals a day, they would be spending $105 per week at a minimum. Simply converting that $105 into shopping for fruits, vegetables, and other healthier alternatives can go a long way.

    If people stopped thinking about “cost” and instead thought about “worth,” we’d see some dramatic changes.

    Great post!

  33. Stephanie George says:

    Great post!

  34. Zach says:

    This is very true. About 10 years ago, it started with a decent pair of shoes. They lasted 6 years. Since then I’ve slowly been expanding where I buy quality. It can be a bit intimidating to pay 300$ for a watch or a pair of shoes for the first time. It gets easier when you see the quality difference and instead of getting worn out, it gets a nice patina.

    Also with higher quality stuff, you can get it repaired instead of throwing it away. For example, Alden shoes has a 90$ re-manufacturing program. Every few years send in your shoes and get them cleaned up and resoled.

  35. Gillian B says:

    Egg-beaters. You can’t buy a decent egg beater these days – I had to find this old, rusted beast at a junk shop in a country town then spend an hour cleaning it up. It beats egg whites to meringue-level in less than 5 minutes.

    And I used to buy whisks for $1, but I got sick of them rusting after 3 months and leaving streaks in the cream. So 25 years ago I went to a proper kitchen-professional-cook store and spent $12 on a decent one.

    I still have it. It works like a dream. Not a spot of rust on it.

    I hear what you say, and support it totally.

  36. David says:

    I would add Mobile Apps to your list of things people obsess spending $5 on. I am amazed by how some people criticize and nitpick the features of a $1 app…

    Great post and a good reminder that you get what you pay for.

  37. Excellent article Allen! I love the idea to pay more and that seriously just aligned my perspective big time. Pay more. Love it. Live the best life possible. It doesn’t get better than that!

    Patrick

  38. Thank you for your insightful knowledge !
    The whole article rings true with me and how I view things. It’s encouraged me alot ! Amazing advice to follow for success!

  39. Tom Watkins says:

    Great advice! A work around I’ve found for paying a lot is to use Craigslist, Goodwill and other thrift stores. It’s amazing the super high-quality stuff people discard, like solid wood furniture or a Steelcase desk from the 1960s that has a classic look (think Mad Men). At Goodwill I’ve gotten space heaters built like tanks, for $5. Affluent areas seem to be the best places to find cheap used stuff.

  40. Rochelle Treister says:

    My favorite clothes are not the high quality, high-priced brands. Who wants the extra time and dollar expense of cleaners/hand-washing and the need to avoid the use of the dryer, followed by ironing? Give me poly/cotton wash and wear any day.
    If we bought cellphones that lasted for generations, we would not be able to use the functionality of new devices with greater functionality. Should I really carry around a cellphone that is 10 times heavier than the one I can buy today, one that has no wi-fi, no GPS, no camera? Why be wedded to old technology because you paid so much to buy the best you could find at the time?
    Why would I want to pay more for a cellphone that lasts 10 years when I know that it will be obsolete in three? The same is true for an item of fashion. Where is the logic in this? When you buy something that will outlast its usefulness, you are wasting money, not being frugal or wise.

  41. Laura says:

    My only quibble with this post is that I wouldn’t call it “overpaying” if something is worth it! This concept is right on the mark, though.

  42. Tom Watkins says:

    Good point, Rochelle. My method of savings with technology is to stay away from the bleeding edge, and often the leading edge too. Prices will be a lot cheaper then, for a small drop in quality. For example, Fry’s (big electronics store) recently had a sale on Dell computers for $377. I observed that most people were passing up the deal. But if you looked up the specs, you could see that it was ~95% as good as a typical $800 “latest & greatest” computer.

  43. Matt Parker says:

    Now that are in the final endgame for the currency system, I find myself overpaying for everything. Food and onward.
    The US dollar has lost almost 88% of its buying power since the Federal reserve was created.
    It’s not a question of paying more, because since 2008 we are also in a deflationary depression. People have less money overall, except the 1%.
    So, real things cost more money but labor’s value has plummeted. No one has all this money to “overpay” for anything. They are overpaying already for housing and automobiles- and then paying more with interest.
    That’s right, people have overpaid already for their homes and they are overpaying with tax money for nothing but a fancy pension plan for bad government services.
    So, if people want to overpay for a cup of coffee they really can’t because the government and banks have heisted all the money they should be overpaying with.
    Silly.

  44. foobaz says:

    Hi,

    I like your way of thinking, but taka a new trend into account: Things are designed to break at some time, or become in another sense obsolete. This is intentional to make you buy more stuff. Google for `planned obsolescence’ to get to know more.

    Ciao,

    foozi

  45. Eric says:

    I agree with everything in here except the tipping is a bit off. Any service that should be tipped for should be provided before the tip is given (i.e. not coffee shops, McDonalds, etc). Therefore, since you already know how good the service was, there is no harm in following long-time tipping etiquette which dictates a minimum of 15-18% pre-tax. Sure I have no problem with rounding and accidentally tipping more, but setting the floor at 20% just takes the burden off of the restaurant owner to properly pay his employees. It’s not a competition. Why all the tip creep? It’s about making sure people are making an appropriate amount of money to live and being compensated properly for their efforts, the same reasons we all expect to get paid at our jobs. Inflation means that the same 15-18% rule from 40 years ago is still appropriate, unless we are now frequenting places that don’t pay their employees properly. If that’s the case, we should think about finding an ethical business instead.

    That all said, I religiously do everything else in this article and I definitely have a “nothing but the best” policy.

  46. Gary Hackney says:

    I produce TV commercials and other videos, so a big part of my work is invading a hotel with my team. Within minutes of pulling up, I find the sharpest valet and bellman and give each of them $50 before they lift a finger. I continually tip appropriately throughout my stay. But that first $50 set the stage for top service. When I call down for my car, or pull in after a long day of shooting, or ask for local recommendations, I get better service than anyone. The whole team knows from the first guys that “You’ll want to take care of that guy.”

  47. Elizabeth says:

    I kept finding myself being extremely dissatisfied buying cheaper things just go “have more.” Buying higher quality at less quantity has really been a more fulfilling way to go!
    Thanks for the post!

  48. Florian says:

    Buy cheap, buy twice.

  49. Reddit has a great subreddit for this /buyitforlife, i highly recommend it

  50. Chris Harris | Between the Temples says:

    Amen, amen, and amen…

    This is the article I wish i had written. It echoes my thoughts exactly about issues surrounding cost, quality and true value. Every day I notice the effects of people going for bottom dollar and it isn’t pretty. The market goes where the people go.

    Your thoughts are brilliant and well-stated.

    Thanks for putting this out there.

  51. Adam says:

    Great article! Great perspective :)

  52. Ian says:

    Agree with the sentiment totally Allan, and have lived that way all my life. I saved and bought a simple stainless Rolex 20 years ago which replaces the $100 watches I used to buy every couple of years (my job in construction used to kill them in that time).

    I would also rather drive our 16 year old Saab and the 35 year old Daimler two door at the weekends than run a modern tin box, although the better fuel consumption would be welcome :-0

    I still get a kick out of parking my old Daimler next to a car that’s probably worth as much as a house but because it is totally anonymous, my car gets the stares (for next to no bucks). Sweet.
    Cheers
    Ian

  53. Ian says:

    p.s.

    Agree with a couple of the previous comments that you do have to exercise a certain caution these days when buying high priced items. In the ‘old days’, high prices reflected the actual costs of manufacture etc.

    Nowadays high prices can reflect the amount spent on advertising and paying sports stars to ‘promote’ the said item!
    Caveat emptor!

  54. Mostly good info. THe theory is sound. I agree 100% with generous tipping. OTOH, just as folks maybe shouldn’t shop for the cheapest price alone, the also shouldn’t shop for the highest price, either. While something more expensive is often better made, or comes with better service, sometimes it’s just more expensive. THe extra money goes — guess where? — somebody’s pocket as profit, and they’re laughing all the way to the bank while they make you believe you’re getting value.

    Bottom line is you should IGNORE the price while making purchasing decisions, and learn how (aside from price) to recognize quality, because, unlike “the old days” price isn’t always proportional to quality.

  55. junk science says:

    range rover SUVs continually rank at the low end of any quality score despite costing much more than a similar toyota. dozens of more examples trivially spring to mind. paying more does not assure quality. you are often simply paying a social cost of a brand.

  56. Saad says:

    I actually disagree with most of what is written in this article. While i do agree with the concept that cheaper doesn’t mean you are getting more bang for your buck, but same thing with the expensive stuff. I think the “goodness” of product should be measuered by the total value divided by its price. I think we agree on that.

    what we don’t agree on, that expensive stuff doesn’t always mean better stuff. Especially with big names companies. Think about medicines, the kroger brand and claritin have the same effective compounds (since they are forced to write that down on the box, it is the hardest to fake) yet the kroger brand is significantly cheaper, why is that? is it because it is less effective? no it is not. but claritin name is more famous and people THINK it works better thus paying triple just to get the same result.

    I do agree sometime more expensive is better for value, but it is not always the case. While you were criticizing people who look for cheaper, you over done it by going to the slightly other extreme.

    Thank you for the article

  57. james says:

    While I agree with this, I think there is a hidden danger in a world that operates like this – especially a place like the United States, where the gap is increasingly widening between rich and poor.

    I feel that there will come a time where one MUST pay the premium price, even to get what was once considered a basic level of service. I am seeing this happen in concerts, for example. Just this past week I was at a festival where the $$$ pass get you early access.

    While I do believe in buying quality good, and paying the fair price for them, I fear a world where $ buys you extra rights and access.

  58. Seth says:

    Wow. Talk about nailing it straight on with this article. I’ve been saying the same thing for years. Quality over quantity is the best policy. I think the microwave culture we live in helps to keep the walmart mentality going. People want things now. We’re such an instant gratification society that we’re only looking at the short term cost and not the long term. Thanks for the great wake up call.

  59. Joel says:

    Great article and some good responses. There is a sweet spot for purchases and it is dependent upon your disposable income and your own budgeting. I bought a $450 masticating juicer that is in the top of its class. My wife’s next big purchase is to buy a high end industrial blender that will last for years. We’re tired of our worn out half dead $50 blender. We just bought a luxury-style 600sqft condo for $189k despite the fact we could have had a regular one for $30k less — but would have been a lot less happy.

    However, I stay away from Olive Garden and Coza because I don’t have the money to eat there regularly. I bought my digital coax, HDMI, and optical cables online or from Walmart because the markup is ridiculous and I don’t feel like getting ripped off.

    And why should I pay $10-20/lb for sockeye salmon in a grocery store when I can go to the meat shop and pay $5/lb filleted that has a gorgeous deep red, nearly purple color? Why should I pay $5-10/lb for chicken in Canada when I can pay $10 for an entire chicken by just crossing the border into Washington State? (BC apples are still cheaper). The same bottle of wine that sells for $20-40 in BC costs only $3-10 from Trader Joes in Washington, and the $80 bottle of rum in BC is maybe $20 in Washington.

    There is a time and place to spend the extra money. Sometimes though, it’s just a ripoff of 1,000% markup for no good reason other than to put money into the pockets of investors.

  60. Earl Grey says:

    I agree completely with everything you say.
    Whenever i have tried to save money it always ended up costing me in the long run.

  61. Brooks H says:

    Just a tip: when you retun a ten year old item to REI, the staff person will know you are an utter and total jerk. Their generous return policy is no reason to rip them off. And yes, I saw this more than once when I worked there. I had one woman return a pair of shoes because of a broken shoelace. Another woman retuned a seven year old rain shell that “does not fit anymore!”. Which was no surprise, she was way fat and the jacket must have fit her before she gained 60 lbs. another got a full refund for her used Bob stroller, the kid she bought it for was standing there…8 years old and finally able to walk for himself. Stroller had a “bad tire”.

    When we fill out return authorization, I put the real reason, not customer reason for return: “Customer too stupid to change broken shoelace”. “jacket now too small for woman who got fat”. Best part of that job. Co workers were great. Customers sometimes great, often awful. A real learning experience.

  62. Excellent article (sorry I can’t find your name, but I will).
    I recently wrote a post along similar lines http://tinyurl.com/7djom2a, to explain how in my life generosity has really paid big dividends in many strange and unexpected ways. I was once, and only once, reprimanded by my boss in PHARMA (yep, the billion dollar earnings guys) FOR OVER TIPPING! This was the deal -> I went to a great little diner for breakfast, at $6, and left a $4 tip (66%). Later that day I had a very fancy but average meal for $50, and tipped $10. Which tip was reprimanded? The $4 diner tip, because I exceeded the company recommended percentage. No wonder PHARMA is in trouble. From then on, until I left the company to set up my own businesses, I paid all my own tips, fancy or not, because I didn’t want company policy determining my appreciation level. That is all in the past, but still interesting. We create our lives by how we live them, as Dumbledore said to Harry Potter, in so many words.
    Blog on my friend. Time for me to subscribe.
    Thanks.
    -k (FitOldDog)

  63. Ryan Detzel says:

    Don’t forget services like http://www.custommade.com. Custom/Quality is the new Cheap/Ikea…

  64. Tim says:

    I have said this for years (when asked for reccomendations. Buy quality, it will usually cost more (than the cheapest item on the shelf). Tools, quality means a lifetime of use, price means lost time/income. Example: walmart (not originally a bad company, their original idea was best price on value products, now best price on lower value items) came to town 25 years ago. People shopped for lower prices, (the co. strategy was show local items and say their price/ our price. The hidden price was custom packaging: 500 sheet ream of paper their/ 300 sheet pack our). I saw this in a friends business when customers would ask, he always said please buy from them (walmart). However, I noticed as a service (even to customers that would buy (large orders for less than 5% difference from out of state vendors). They would call for a product they needed NOW example: take out food boxes, (they would deliver and if a truck wasn’t available, He would get in his vehicle and deliver it (comercial customers). Carry this farther, on the search for the lowest price regardless. Think about it this way: People originally shop at walmart because they could, then they shopped at walmart beacause they had to. ( The local merchants went out of business (the ones that paid good wages/had several employees/carryed local high value products.)Remember the flow of money: when you buy something, the people that made it buy something, the people that make that buy something. OR when you buy a quality product, the mfr. pays a quality wage, the employee buys a service. OR The plant employee loses their job (outsourced), didn’t buy a new car (lost car dealership) dealership didn’t buy the new house (realtor lost commission) Builder laid off construction workers, constructionworkers sdidn’t go to movies(theater closes).

    Long way of saying: Quality is worth the price.
    Thank You for listening.

  65. Sean says:

    I disagree with much of what you say. Paying more doesn’t mean better, you just need to find better. For things you don’t care about, pay less. For things that are a real investment, don’t just pay more, do research. Know what you’re buying. Sure, if you I’ve a very large disposable income pay more for everything and hope you’re paying for quality.. but in our society, where name seems to matter, paying more is rarely buying quality.
    There is no lazy answer like “pay more”.. how about care more, take more time to figure things out, prioritize more.. price doesn’t mean shit.

  66. Daniel says:

    “Because we only buy quality, we are forced to wait until we can afford what we really want”, so you’d rather walk until you can afford a Ferrari?

  67. Brian says:

    I read your article and instantly thought of Groupon’s struggles. It seems that their business model is the antithesis of your theme. Forging these relationships are way more worthwhile than saving an extra buck or two.

  68. Georgina says:

    I don’t completely agree with the concept, especially in regard to the material goods.

    First, I do not believe that just because you pay more for something that it means it is better made. My retail experiences have taught me that.

    Also, it depends on your care for it. If you trash it, which, frankly, I will admit, I am hard on my stuff. That being the case, I don’t think the more expensive outlast the cheap stuff THAT much longer. Also, what about the person that pays $300 for a pair of sunglasses, and habitually looses them?

    Lastly, sometimes I don’t WANT things to last forever. Styles change, preferences and tastes grow and develop. I can’t imagine wanting the same bedspread in 20 years that I have now. I buy shoes at Payless. Yes, I know they will only last for 20 wearings. But I can pay the same price for 20 pairs of shoes that I can now wear with anything, or have one pair of shoes.

    There is something to be said about the “disposable” product.

    • Natalie says:

      You are completely missing the point here. lol. What are you saying about a product that only lasts 20 wearings? Wouldn’t it be far better to have a decent pair of shoes that will last you longer? If you buy a classic pair, they will always be in vogue and they can be worn with anything! You will be saving the earth at the same time.

  69. Howard says:

    This was an excellent read. We have been pushing quality for YEARS and it has always felt like an uphill battle, what with all the bad, cheaply made products out there. With the huge popularity of deal sites and overseas manufacturing to get the lowest price point, people tend to lose sight of quality and value. I hope the pendulum starts to swing back the other way.

    I am going to share this article with all our showroom associates and colleagues. Thanks, Allen.

  70. Ben says:

    I 100% agree with everything in this post except for one point. I think it is very unethical to take advantage of companies like REI with generous return policies. If you used a product for 10 years you shouldn’t return it. You should buy a new one.

    If everyone just returned things because they no longer liked them after years of use, then these companies would not be able to afford their awesome return policy.

    Great blog post though!!

  71. Steven Ray says:

    Great post, really good stuff to think about.

  72. Kate says:

    It seems like everything is so disposable these days.
    I prefer to find treasures in second hand shops like the Salvation Army or St. Vincent du Pauls. I have spruced up old quality-made furniture that will last infinatley longer than anything from IKEA and has style! This, in my opinion, is an even better way to spend money.

  73. Ahmed says:

    I don’t agree to your analysis. I buy both cheap and expensive stuff. Everything you buy shouldn’t fall into the category of expensive, it might not be worth the money. This is where opportunity cost comes into play.

    I’d graph the worth vs price in an exponential manner. So if it’s a commodity that’s worth more money, say a television, yes I might spend the extra dollar to get a better product. But if it’s lower on the worth scale (based on my usage, requirements and money), I’d rather go for something cheaper. It’s sort of a balancing act that makes it possible to spend money on expensive stuff that is worth more to you.

  74. Brandon says:

    Totally agree! I like the phrase, “Buy nice or buy twice.” However, I don’t think this is synonymous with “overpaying” or “paying too much.” To me, paying too much is buying something for more than it’s worth. I’m happy to spend $30 for a nice meal with my family. But it’s hard for me to justify spending $300 on a meal. Because I know I can get high quality food for less. You may pay $2000 for a nice Macbook, but would you pay $10,000? That’s overpaying. Also, sometimes even low quality items are priced much higher than good quality items. It’s not all about the price. You have to know what you’re getting and if it’s worth it to you.

  75. Kyle says:

    I’m so glad you put in words what I’ve been thinking over the last year! It doesn’t matter what industry, it holds true.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I either need to invest in quality and what I really want, or I need to wait until I can afford it. I’m done with buyer’s remorse and buying cheaper, lower quality products and services that I didn’t want in the first place.

  76. I can’t agree more – great article.
    Buying cheaply means buying many times the same stuff due quality or reliability issues. Also a cheap service is not only a terrible experience but also causes a lot of stress and cost you a lot of time – and time is money. Having a few good quality things instead of a house full of crap feels better, makes you happier, more efficient and just looks better. And the best of all saves you money over time.

  77. Userul Lui Pește says:

    “Instead of rewarding copycats who make lower quality rip offs, you are rewarding the real engineer who developed or perfected a product. In the long term, this means we’ll have more of those real engineers and fewer garbage products.”
    Simplistic thinking, confirmed by the multitude of positive comments. The real engineer deserve credit indeed, but with what price? From economic prospective, an agent on the market can (and should, by classic MBA teachings) set the highest price that market will bear. That alone should be a good reason to regulate such situation through buying stuff from competition in order to maintain a sane reality. You seem to take a lot for granted and think of ways to bring “improvements”, but think also that there might be as well an equilibrium at stake.

  78. Bonnie Jean says:

    You should only eat out the amount of times you can afford to, INCLUDING the tip. Same as buying a car you can afford. I’m still with the poster. people can be very cheap when determining a discretionary amount given to someone else, such as a tip or donation, but extravagant and even wasteful when purchasing for themselves, a modern personality disorder.

  79. Julie says:

    I absolutely love this post. I would like to respond to the folks stating that this is only for the wealthy and the others need the bargains. This article is not about not buying a bargain, it is about not by poorly manufactored items, and a lot of them. For example, you can buy a nice Columbia brand fleece 70% ($20) in July. That is a bargain! Bargains are great. The message here is to not buy 2 $12 fleece in October that are flimsy and fall apart. Instead of going to the drive through, make your own burgers. Buy 2nd hand, shop Ebay…still buy quality, not quantity. Whether you shop “off the rack” (not me) or are a bargain hunter (ding!ding!) — aim for what is well made and will last. That is the message!

  80. Annika says:

    Yup most people are penny wise. Dollar foolish. Your post is exactly how I think now. I’m actually going through this major purge in my life downsizing to what I really truly will use, wear and want. I’ve even gotten disgusted with myself during this process at my consumerism just wasting away my money on just stuff. All the while having to work more to have the money to buy that stuff. Now I ask myself do I really need it? If yes after really considering it then I search for the best quality out there. I now think about how can I do more with less? That includes finances, getting slim and staying fit, etc… Get more work done with less time. Get more life out every second? What can I do to live the lifestyle of my dreams but make it a reality by taking action steps everyday. Although I do falter sometimes on my quest I still find the way back to the road of more for less. Good post.

  81. John Kelly says:

    I visited Switzerland two years ago to interview with Google. Everything there was horrendously expensive. 16 ounce coffee? $5. Haircut? $70. It got to the point where I’d try to predict how much something would cost by asking myself the question: What is the price at which you would say “Are you out of your mind?” and that’s what it would be.

    But you know–it didn;t take long to see the value in it. I don’t need three cups of coffee a day. A book I’d buy and never look at for $8 becomes something I consider and reject at $24. I was more discriminating, and less garbage came into my life.

  82. Marc says:

    I love this article, thank you :)

    Unfortunately there will always be more people looking for deals than ‘paying too much’.

  83. Karin says:

    My father always used to say that the poor cannot afford to buy cheap. That has always stuck with me. Buying cheap can become very expensive as you have to replace more often!

  84. John Gaston says:

    Great philosophy!

  85. Benjy says:

    How timely that I came across this post, via kottke.org, today… I spent the weekend returning products that couldn’t carry out their most basic functions properly.

    About a year ago, I purchased a multi-shelf metal shower caddy at a big chain store selling housewares, etc. And it began rusting really badly after less than a year. Curious what the online reviews for the product were, I went to the company’s website and saw 33 of 38 reviews were 1-star, and most commented on the item rusting in a matter of a couple months. Who designs a product designed to go in the shower that cannot handle water?!? And why do stores carry such patently inferior products? Had I shopped online instead of at the store, perhaps I would have seen these reviews and comments and bought something else. Because we’re a bit tight financially now due to my wife being back in school, we ended up returning the rusted one for a new version of the same product (so no new money out of pocket)… because we needed something to hold out shampoo bottles, etc. But we were already planning for purchasing a stainless steel one (twice the price) when this one invariably fails us sometime in about a year, when we’ll have more income. It shouldn’t be this way…

    If brick-and-mortar stores want to continue to exist and thrive, they need to become the curators of the good products and stop filling their shelves with crap. Even if you carry 10 shower caddies, Amazon can carry 100. Your advantage would be to carry the 3 that are worth buying.

  86. Jane Fox says:

    I could’ve bought Outlook 2010 on the Microsoft online store for $149.95 but I looked a little further and found the same product on Ebay for $60.00. Sorry looking for deals to save you over 50% is worth the time for me.

  87. Joe says:

    “Just like that old watch or tool that your grandfather passed down, the stuff made by real craftsmen and engineers will be working years from now.”

    Often this is simply Survivor bias. My father-in-law has an old refrigerator in the garage that’s probably 40 years old. For every one of that model that’s left, there were no doubt dozens of lemons that failed within a year.

  88. Ian says:

    You’ve summed up my buying habits very nicely. Also applies to cars – my MIL was buying crappy $3000 cars and spending thousands to keep them on the road, not to mention all the lost time for breakdowns, etc. Convinced her to spend more once and the same car is still going strong eight years later.

    Babysitting is another area where this really works. Overpay and they’ll drop the cheap parents if you have a last-minute sitting job. The last ones we had would even do little housecleaning around the house since we paid them so well (or was it the other way ’round?).

  89. Mat says:

    Actually, while this post is of great merit, I take one issue.

    The point of paying for something is to make an assessment for how long you want something. Thus, if you want something temporary, it’s ok to pay for the cheap version. But if it’s something you want to keep for a while, it makes sense to pay well for well made.

    Buy for the appropriate lifespan.

  90. Paul says:

    Your example of Snapper vs the wally world lawnmower reminded me of this – http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/102/open_snapper.html

    The entitlement of ever cheaper consumer goods – summed up as Lower Prices. Always. – isn’t compatible with decent jobs at living wages and with the expectations of the customer. Sure, you can always find a more expensive option for just about any product. Is a Kia or Hyundai good enough or do you need a Honda? Or a BMW? Levi’s or store brand? Timed or Rolex? Not everyone has the same expectations or requirements: everyone should decide for themselves what offers the best value, what brings the most satisfaction without regret or buyers remorse.

  91. Andy Tovar says:

    People buy a car on average once every 5 years; people eat at restaurants at a higher frequency than that. Therefore, you can’t compare the $5 dollar analogy to this. $5 doesn’t matter when it’s once every 5 years, but matters if you’re eating out every single day like me. Just keeping it real.

  92. Matt says:

    “… And 10 years from now if I decide I don’t like a tent, I can return it.”

    That means you didn’t buy it. If you got your money back, you never spent any money on it and got 10 years of use out of it. How is that “paying too much”?

  93. Eric says:

    Good spin on the concept of buying in bulk. In this case bulk means time or, rather, the amount of time an item lasts. I must say, the mis-titled “Pay Too Much” did get me to read the article but’s it anything but paying too much. It’s about paying less by paying more. The hard part is knowing how long a higher quality item will last. So there’s a little more voodoo than science…. or just experience. Good article on what should be common sense in us.

  94. Jessica says:

    Thanks for this great and timely post. I’ve worked in the fashion industry for 12 years, many of them with small designers who have partnered with mass retailers on co-branded, less expensive lines that never exactly lived up to the look or quality of their high-end counterparts. After those experiences, I rededicated myself to creating a new business of my own that’s focused on quality, durability, fit and classic style for women. We certainly believe in buying less but better, yet I agree with some replies that argue that higher prices don’t always correlate with higher quality. Look for products from companies, like mine (dobbinclothing.com), that are made to last, have usability and function in mind, rather than luxury. We use the highest end Italian fabrics and produce here in the USA, yet we’re able to charge under $200 for our garments because we skip the wholesale middleman and constantly try to be fair to the consumer with our profit margins. Less and better is possible, but our shopping habits as a nation will have to change over time. We’ve all become accustomed to deals and time-limited offers, as well as to expecting low prices for basic items. I’d urge shoppers to remember that there are labor costs, material costs and environmental costs affiliated with every manufactured good. Try to find companies that pay their employees decently, use great materials and are not destructive to the world at large.

  95. freebird says:

    The stuff you describe also happens to be made by American workers in American factories. The stores that carry Made in USA are being driven out of business by big box retailers who simply won’t sell this kind of stuff, so every year the pool shrinks, even in food. Most people don’t think through the consequences of their purchase decisions. As consumers they are just as guilty as the corporations who are chasing lower wages, lower taxes, and “flexibility” on environmental issues.

  96. Norman says:

    When you buy something really nice and expensive you are only sorry once.

  97. Barry says:

    I have several issues with this “pay too much” theme. Now days most marketing is about brand name recognition. A company may have previously produced a high quality product to establish a brand name presence. And then sold the brand name to a conglomerate that cheapens the quality and milks the brand name. Numerous examples including The North Face, Kodak, Polaroid, Stanley Tools.

    Second is related to first. Most merchandise is marketed to the masses has a life style necessity or something to solve a problem that isn’t there. And most consumer fall for it. My best example is cookware. There are a number of mass market expensive cookware. However if you really want exceptional cookware you need to look for the brands that are not in the mass market. All Clad cookware is perfect example; exceptional cookware, not heavily advertised.

    When the consumer leaves the mentality of expecting a highly marketed and expensive brand name product must be the best and really start to think about purpose and functionality then are paying for the quality they need.

    My example of this is an ex-girlfriend that insisted I buy red onions instead of white onions for a recipe. When asked why the reply was ‘they are more expensive so they have to be better’. Not something about red onion flavor is better for the recipe. High price instead of intended purpose was the only input to the decision.

  98. Gary says:

    This makes me think of something my father likes to say. “The quality is remembered, the price forgotten”. While I still remember the price I think it more means the price is insignificant if the quality is really there.

    • That reminds me of another clever (even if it isn’t always true) saying:

      Quality is like buying oats. If you want nice, clean, fresh oats, you must pay a fair price. If you can be satisfied with oats that have already been through the horse , that comes a little cheaper.

  99. Mitch says:

    In general, I agree with the ideas, but it is possible to go too far. Sometimes, if you buy the really expensive stuff, you are then stuck with something that is hard to maintain because parts, supplies, and service are rare, expensive, or difficult to obtain. This particularly applies to tools and automobiles. One rule of thumb is to buy the best quality product that is readily available in your area, steering clear of exotic items.

  100. LostHayden says:

    Great read.
    My Brother was giving me hell for spending 200 bucks on a pair of quality boots. I looked in his closet and he has five pairs of $100 Nikes.

    Buy once, cry once.

    Now I have to get my wife to read this. We have two blenders, four sets of dishware, and a crock pot still in the box, thank you QVC.

  101. Brad says:

    I get what the author is saying, don’t always be cheap, but the reasoning is all faulty. I’d bet the author is young. All the cheap crap your grandparents bought didn’t get passed down because it broke. The only stuff left is the good stuff. Even still, most old stuff is simply old as opposed to “classic”. Shops are filled with antiques nobody wants.

    I don’t buy a new TV thinking it will last for generations. In a few years there will be a new model that blows away the best one available today. The people who bought the first HD TV’s have these huge cabinet sets that weight a ton and use lots of energy.

    The biggest “problem” with nice things is you have to take really good care of them. Sometimes it’s worth it and sometimes you are stuck with something that you’d like to replace, but can’t because it cost too much to begin with. I’d love to eat off Waterford Crystal every day and I could afford to buy it, but then I could not afford to accidently break it or replace it if my tastes changed! Constantly worrying about damaging your nice stuff is stressful. I have a general rule that I do not buy anything I cannot afford to insure or replace if it gets damaged or lost.

  102. sparky says:

    “This means we can get paid to own stuff we like.”

    You can either get paid (sell it) or enjoy it (keep it). Unless you’re renting it, you can’t do both at the same time.

  103. Ray Gompf says:

    Buying cheap to save money is like stopping the clock to save time.

  104. Derrick says:

    I don’t know that the issue with today’s consumer is actually about the merits of quality over quantity as much as switching their mindset from constant, seasonal consumption to a slower, thoughtful consumption. We remain conditioned with the mentality of refreshing ourselves to keep up with the Jones’s; we can lose the visual thrill of seeing the same quality-produced jacket worn time after time.

  105. Mike Asbury says:

    Excellent post, Allen! I have happily shared it.

  106. Will Macadam says:

    For years I have subscribed to a consumer magazine. They independently test goods. Far too often, the cheaper goods trump the ‘Big Brands’ in quality and obviously, price. Also, I regularly notice how even “junk” candy bars are shrinking as the price goes up! Mr. Allen, you are clearly a man of integrity; the same cannot be said of many household/corporate/status brands, and that includes ‘celebrity’ endorsements. Bottom line? Make sure you are buying true quality, people, and not merely paying for someone’s gazillion dollar marketing bill.
    And finally… *don’t ever* pay to market for someone else, garments with a brand emblazoned all over it -should, at the very least, be free!

  107. John Locke says:

    You speak the truth, sir. you get what you pay for. Not only that, you value things so much more when you pay the premium for them.

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