Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Christa, Day 57: Great Idea, Not Always Simple in Practice

Go for quality, not quantity. Try not to have a ton of stuff in your life … instead, have just a few possessions, but ones that you really love, and that will last for a long time.
Right now, I am wearing rain boots. The price of these rain boots made my friend gasp. The thing is, though, that prior to buying these rain boots, I spent at least $75 for three pairs of cheap rain boots that all cracked after a year of light use. That's $75 total, over the course of three years. I figure if I get six years out of the boots that are on my feet as I type this, I've come out on top. More years? Even better, and the brand is known for lasting a good long time. Knock on wood.

Truth be told, I don't have a lot of money to my name, but it would only have taken a few more pairs of cheap rain boots to equal the price of the ones I'm wearing now. It made sense to go for something a little nicer. It's my birthday present, I'd just finished up a side job that paid for the boots in full, and I was sick of getting soaked feet every time my daughter wanted to wear her rain boots in the wet.

The thing about embracing quality over quantity is that you have to be able to afford quality in the first place. My guess is that most people who appear to be embracing quantity on paper are actually opting for a lower degree of quality because that's what they can afford, and having to buy more often because they are replacing broken, worn out stuff. Getting to quality assumes that you don't actually need quality X right now and that the price of quality X is even within your reach via long-term scrimping and saving. Sometimes it isn't.

Which is too bad. The equation doesn't work for everything, of course, but it works for a lot. The third-hand handbag from a Parisian leather company I carry every day has taken a beating and stayed (mostly) beautiful, whereas plastic purses from the Target would have long since disintegrated. Nice clothing fits better. Nice sheets feel softer and last longer. Great shoes can hold up to years and years of wear. Amazing cookware will last a lifetime. And so on. If I could - and I suppose when I can - afford to, I'd gladly choose quality over quantity. Fewer shoes, but better ones. A couple of great pairs of jeans that fit like they were made just for me. Dresses for work that will last more than a few years.

If you happen to follow me on Facebook, you know that right now we're embarking on a little debt busting experiment, so it may be that in the coming months I'm choosing neither quantity nor quality. Instead, we'll make do or do without, as the old saying goes. Where doing so won't utterly UNsimplify our lives, that is. I'm no masochist when it comes to frugality.

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