Think back to the last significant item you owned which you had to replace, what was it? You know those things you own that you are always hoping won’t break. Maybe for you it’s your car, house, a piece of furniture, or a significant clothing item. Did you feel like it lasted as long as it should? Or did you feel it had a shorter lifespan than you expected? When it comes to how you make purchases, do you choose to focus on quality or affordability?

Think About the Lifetime Of A Product

We’ve set up this post as a intentional dichotomy, because our consumer culture often makes us choose between quality and affordability. Think about it for a little while, there are so few affordable products that we expect to hang onto for a long time. If you want something to last you often have to fork over the dough to get it. Most of what we buy is made with the intention of breaking or wearing out quickly, so that we will have to replace it. Don’t we all lament by saying “they just don’t make things like they used to!” The truth is that they don’t make things like they used to for a very simple reason, money. It’s not profitable to make quality items at an affordable price. 

It is far more lucrative for a manufacturer to make something that will wear down and thus get you to purchase the item over and over again. This is called planned obsolescence, and it is at the center of why many of the items on the shelves where you shop are poorly made. If you buy a pair of shoes for $80 and you have them for 6 years, that is better than buying 3 pairs of $30 shoes which you have to replace every 2 years. It has to do with estimating the lifetime of what you are looking to buy and choosing to pay more now in order to have a product that lasts longer.

Track How Long Your Things Last

We would encourage you to intentionally make more quality purchases, focus on buying products that will last longer when you have the choice. Read extensive consumer reviews and make sure that when you buy something, it is going to serve you well. Also consider keeping a “purchase journal.” In it keep track of the dates you purchased items so when you get rid of them you can calculate the true cost of the item. If you buy a new gaming system for $300 and it lasts you 5 years, you’ve paid $60 a year to own it. The lower you can get that yearly cost the better. 

The cost of a well made item over time usually outweighs the savings of buying something affordable right now. Practicing a little delayed gratification can help your wallet. There are the rare instances where something that is made to last can also be bought at a low price, but that seems like an exception rather than a rule. We’ve obviously tipped our hand and are leaning toward quality over affordability. More often than not a quality item will pay for itself through the years of enjoyment you get from it. 

We pose the question to our readers, when you choose to buy something are you primarily concerned with affordability or quality? Do you think you have to choose one or the other?