Author Topic: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI  (Read 5783 times)

Mike Key

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Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« on: March 14, 2012, 11:19:41 AM »
A few posts and debates about the good old PC VS Apple thing got me thinking about paying more for better products. Let's avoid the aforementioned debate in this post and narrow in on a few other examples.


I want to hammer in on another subject I debate often that I think people get the wrong impression of often. Especially when it comes to being mustachian.


CLOTHES!

When I make the suggestion that it isn't always bad to pay more for better quality clothes, people naturally assume this means paying for name brand labels. Maybe it's mostly marketing but people do tend to associate name brands with quality. However, I've read plenty of arguments that counter this, and seen examples of quality off the wall brands. I myself no longer buy NIKES or any of their products, because I've experienced bad quality numerous times. But don't get me wrong, some name brands have far superior quality to walmart brand.


The Paradox of Thrift as it where, is it better to pay more upfront for higher quality materials and manufacturing/fabrication for something that could last much longer.


I'll give an example, I have two pairs of men's shoes now that I paid a good $380 each, however I've been wearing them for 4 1/2 years now with almost no sign of wear. And these shoes show no signs of being replaced anytime soon.


The reason I stopped buying Nikes, I went 3 pairs that fell apart in 1 year. 3 PAIRS!!!


I've got a few pairs of jeans like this too that are still holding up far longer than any pair of Levis I ever bought.


When it comes to clothing, this is a difficult task to master. You're mostly going to pay for brand labels shopping in any department store with almost the same quality as shopping at Target.


If any of you wear suits, you may already know the difference and quality between that Macy's $800 name brand suit and a custom tailored $2000 suit, name unknown.


The reason I bring this up is I was thinking about the way our society acts today. Especially here in America we are so used to just replacing things almost all the time.


And it's not just clothing. You need a new couch, so you drop $100 on Craigslist for a used one that wears out in a year, and then you're back on Craigslist again. My grandparents had a sofa (not covered in plastic) that they had for 30 years in their house!! It was damn ugly, but the quality!!!


And I think it is a paradox of thrift as well.


Is it better to pay more upfront for quality for something that will last long term, and provide greater return on that investment or is it better to just keep buying cheap and replacing?


The ultimate win/win though is quality on the cheap. My Eames 670 Lounge was manufactured in 1968 and I got it on CL for 75$. The quality of the wood is amazing and all these years later this chair is still amazing to sit in. Original leather and all. Today these chairs sell for over $2000+.


Paying for quality is one thing, recognizing, understanding and making the determination of weather or not the cost justifies the particular level of quality is another subject....

Daley

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2012, 11:37:58 AM »
My father taught me at a young age one of my most valuable life lessons:
A poor man cannot afford to buy garbage.

I make a habit of trying to live by that motto despite my father's ardent preaching without practicing, and it's served me well. Frequently, the price premium of a quality product will more than pay for itself in the long run. Unfortunately, we're now living in a very disposable society, and quality of any stripe in most goods simply just doesn't exist anymore. It's one of the most frustrating points that sticks in my craw about consumer electronics that are built in a way that you cannot service them, and a major headache that I tried addressing in the communications superguide (and feel like I failed at).

Thanks to the cheap Chinese electrolyte capacitor and low quality silicon MOSFET, unless I know I'm getting something built with solid polymer Japanese caps, I've been resigned to expect most electronics to die in under three years best case scenario, and some devices are just built in such a way as I can't test out and replace components anymore to extend the life any, especially when there's compounded issues like built in software and standards obsolescence. In its stead due to this, I recommend not getting multitasker electronics, especially with networking/VoIP equipment, and opt for individual components instead. It's one of the reasons why we refuse to run CFL and LED lighting and opt instead for lower wattage incandescent bulbs with dimmers and dealing with a darker house at night. This is also why I'm typically regarded as a bit of a paradox: I'm a Neo Luddite SysAdmin. I literally loathe the very things I work on and with the most (frequently for these very reasons, as well as others), and when the day comes that it's not worth the cost associated with being wired up, the wife and I are off to join the Amish.

It's difficult if not impossible feeling sometimes, but it's definitely worth it when you can.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2012, 11:42:58 AM by I.P. Daley »

sol

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2012, 12:33:00 PM »
Mike,

I'd love to hear more about your shoe buying experience. I'm  sick and tired of having to buy new $100 does every few months, and would happily pay more for something that would last.

IPD,

The Amish I've known have all been really great and happy people.  I'd sign up in a heartbeat if it weren't for that religion thing.

Mike Key

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2012, 01:01:24 PM »
My father taught me at a young age one of my most valuable life lessons:
A poor man cannot afford to buy garbage.

It's difficult if not impossible feeling sometimes, but it's definitely worth it when you can.

I love that quote! And I can relate. I have an affection for old electronics. I have an 1962 Zeinth console stereo that is a tube type and it still sounds great. Yet I doubt my iphone or any other electronic device will last as long as it has.

Mike,

I'd love to hear more about your shoe buying experience. I'm  sick and tired of having to buy new $100 does every few months, and would happily pay more for something that would last.

IPD,

The Amish I've known have all been really great and happy people.  I'd sign up in a heartbeat if it weren't for that religion thing.

Little known fact, the amish live in secs and different secs have different rules and religious observances, some in the mid west and south are more liberal than those in the north east. =)

As for the shoes, I have yet to find quality tennis shoes (sneakers if your a yankee). But in the dress, dress casual and relaxed casual, I have found you want to look for quality leather or thick canvas. Pay attention to stitching and the thread used for the stitching. Can you get your finger nail under it? Not a dood sign. Vinyl is cheap, put it back on the shelf. The inside of your shoes should only have foam on the sole.

Not only that, but there are shoes with replaceable soles. I've had the shoes replaced once on my dress shoes for 20 dollars. Amazing, but there happened to be a shoe repair place near my old him in Va Beach. I haven't found one here in FL yet, and I suspect it's becoming a harder profession to find. However, like taylor's there are still people who do this, you just have to look.

People used to get their shoes serviced, but today everything is disposable.

AJ

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2012, 01:09:25 PM »
As far as clothes go, that is one benefit to buying used. If an item looks good on a Goodwill rack, chances are it is good quality and will last through washings. If it looks good on Target's rack, its a gamble.

The best shoes I've ever owned have come from thrift stores. They're not the ones that cost $3.29, but the ones on the specialty price rack. I've bought 2 pairs of $100 Hush Pupppies for $10 each, among others. I once heard someone (Jacob?) say that quality items are the ones that cost $100+ at the pawn shop.

Somnambulist

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012, 12:09:16 AM »
My father taught me at a young age one of my most valuable life lessons:
A poor man cannot afford to buy garbage.

This is a KILLER quote / philosophy. It is incredibly hard to find quality stuff these days because our entire society is so ridiculously disposable, but I decided to buy quality if it made sense financially about 5 years ago and so far it has paid off.

6 years ago we bought a Tempur-Pedic mattress. I figure my wife and I will spend a significant portion of our lives sleeping, $1800 dollars for a mattress with a 90 day try out and a 20 year warranty would be well worth it for something we'll spend a quarter to a third of our lives in. It has ruled. I have not had any problems with it, I sleep so well now that even fancy hotel beds are uncomfortable. It is probably the best purchase I have ever made. In the time I have owned this mattress I have had friends who bought mattresses at the same time or just after us replace their mattress/box springs at least once and twice in a couple cases due to pokey springs, etc.

A year ago we bought some fancy mission style Amish built nightstands. They were about $1000 total but they are made out of solid oak, dovetail joint construction, weigh a friggin ton, and appear to be indestructible. We had a huge iron base Tiffany Lamp take a dive off of the top of one when one of our cats got a little wild but the edges barely scratched the top of the nightstand. I am confident these things will survive me and at least 2 more generations without breaking a sweat.

Last week my home office chair broke spectacularly. (Parts of it had been broken for about 3 years but a bolt stripped on the post portion and now it's like trying to sit on a see-saw or something...) I spent $250 on this thing about 6 years ago and while it was ok comfortable, it was cheap, and not good for my posture or spine. I spend a lot of time working at home and consequently sitting in front of the computer at home and decided I wanted to find a good office chair this time that would improve my posture, help eliminate back pain, and most importantly last a long time. I ended up buying a Steelcase Think Chair while they were running a %15 off sale last week. The chair was about $700 but I read many reviews from folks who had been using theirs for well over 6 years with no problems so I decided to take the plunge after driving to Crate & Barrel to test drive one.

I think the key to keeping it Mustachian is to buy quality if it makes financial sense when it is time to pull the trigger on a new purchase and don't look back. Obviously I am not going to go through my house and replace everything that's working find with brand new high quality stuff, but when it comes time to make a big purchase I want to do it once with something timeless that will outlive my wife and I so future Mustachians can score a great deal at our estate sale.

Parizade

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2012, 05:54:05 AM »
The best clothing investments I've made are for Smartwool pieces. I have several pairs of their socks and a long sleeve zip neck shirt.

Smartwool is 100% wool but it feels like cotton and you can throw it in the wash like cotton. They preshrink it for you so you don't have to worry about it changing size.

The shirt I bought feels like a light weight cotton tshirt, but it is both warmer and cooler than cotton.  Ive owned it for years now and have worn it hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. Amazing stuff, well worth the $75.

Mike Key

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2012, 08:47:04 AM »
Touching on what AJ said, that's probably the best WIN/WIN for quality purchases, is when you know how to identify good craftsmanship and quality materials and then find them via the thrift method. It makes your spoils all that more rewarding!

nolajo

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2012, 05:07:45 PM »
I'm a huge fan of the thrifting as well. Once you find a good shop in your area, it's almost easier than going to the mall. In my case it is, since the good Salvation Army is about 3 miles closer. My best recommendation is to go by touch once you're there - don't just eye-ball clothing, actually touch it as you go through. With a little bit of practice (which you may already have) you can readily distinguish the cotton, wool, cashmere, silk, leather, etc from the rest. Then it's a simple matter of checking those pieces over, since you've already found the things most likely to have been made well in the first place.

As a side note, whenever I hear questions like this, I immediately think of the Sam Vimes Boots Theory of Economic Injustice. Any other Discworld fans around these parts?

Mike Key

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2012, 11:10:44 AM »
Quote
At the time of Men at Arms, Samuel Vimes earned thirty-eight dollars a month as a Captain of the Watch, plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots, the sort that would last years and years, cost fifty dollars. This was beyond his pocket and the most he could hope for was an affordable pair of boots costing ten dollars, which might with luck last a year or so before he would need to resort to makeshift cardboard insoles so as to prolong the moment of shelling out another ten dollars.

Therefore over a period of ten years, he might have paid out a hundred dollars on boots, twice as much as the man who could afford fifty dollars up front ten years before. And he would still have wet feet.

Discworld is great.


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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2012, 11:53:18 AM »
Wish I could get behind this concept 100% but gonna have to be a complainypants here...
I plan to move around a lot with my career so it's difficult to justify buying good quality furniture for my rentals, especially as I am not planning to ship anything around the world with me. And in the small towns where I've lived the second hand stores sell ikea-type chipboard anyway. As for clothes, its easy enough to get hold of timeless pieces when you're a man but even the most simple basics for women have details that will be dated in a few years. So although I agree with everything you are all saying in theory I can't see how I can apply it to my current life. 

nolajo

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2012, 02:42:17 PM »
Wish I could get behind this concept 100% but gonna have to be a complainypants here...
I plan to move around a lot with my career so it's difficult to justify buying good quality furniture for my rentals, especially as I am not planning to ship anything around the world with me. And in the small towns where I've lived the second hand stores sell ikea-type chipboard anyway. As for clothes, its easy enough to get hold of timeless pieces when you're a man but even the most simple basics for women have details that will be dated in a few years. So although I agree with everything you are all saying in theory I can't see how I can apply it to my current life. 

I do sympathize about the furniture. It was unclear when I moved this past winter how long I'd be here and I definitely erred on the side of cheaper furniture (it was possible I'd be moving after only 8 months). Much as people sometimes knock Ikea, I'd definitely have loved to have that type of thing available - my experience with furniture is that you have to go up in price significantly to get decent quality - Rooms To Go doesn't count, despite the hike in price.

I disagree however, about the women's clothes issue. You can get a lot of mileage out of some basics and the silhouettes available right now aren't crazy exaggerated one way or another; these aren't 1980s power suits. Though they may not be spot-on the trends in five years, that's not usually the point of business wear, and they probably won't be so far off that you're embarrassed. (That being said, I'm sure they said the same thing in the 80s. I still choose to believe it. And it's not as though men's fashions don't go through changes too, though I'd estimate them as being only about half as frequent.)

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2012, 05:33:26 PM »
I plan to move around a lot with my career so it's difficult to justify buying good quality furniture for my rentals, especially as I am not planning to ship anything around the world with me.

I have much the same problem (much moving, town with crap) here, and so far I'm dealing with it by having less furniture. And I've picked up a couple of good pieces through curb shopping and waiting for workmates to move.

sol

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2012, 06:07:24 PM »
I waited to buy good furniture until I reached the point where I had no intention of ever moving again.  Even then it was a slow process.

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2012, 12:18:55 AM »
Moving is horrible and I 100% agree. My wife and I realized we'd likely be where we are for anywhere from 10-15 more years and decided we'd go ahead and buy good furniture as we need things and worry about moving it if/when we need to.

velocistar237

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2012, 06:10:23 AM »
We bought a house, and we still haven't bought good furniture. Maybe when we're done potty training the kids...

Mike Key

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2012, 05:33:34 AM »
Expensive doesn't always equal better FYI.

Mr Mark

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2012, 11:43:29 AM »

When we got flooded a few years ago, all our solid hardwood furniture just needed a clean and hose down. But, a desk that was particle board/veneer was destroyed - the wood was like popcorn. Well made solid hardwood furniture will last for ever. Used furnitiure shops can sometimes have real quality pieces that just need a bit of TLC and are a much better deal than Ikea.

On a different topic, I know many of the products sold by Walmart are specially manufactured items just for them that may look like the 'real' version, but are actually lower spec to lower the cost. (I hate Walmart)...

Mike Key

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2012, 11:52:33 AM »

When we got flooded a few years ago, all our solid hardwood furniture just needed a clean and hose down. But, a desk that was particle board/veneer was destroyed - the wood was like popcorn. Well made solid hardwood furniture will last for ever. Used furnitiure shops can sometimes have real quality pieces that just need a bit of TLC and are a much better deal than Ikea.


That's why my house is littered with real quality furniture found on CL. It's also how I ended up with an Eames lounge chair for 75$ that I could resale for well over $1000.00 if I wanted.

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Re: Paying More for higher Quality and greater ROI
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2012, 01:30:42 AM »
   I try to take a middle approach to this.  Sometimes I go for quality, sometimes not.  Almost all of my furniture is real wood antiques.  Otherwise known as used.  My couches are $300 and from Big Lots.  With 3 dogs and 2 teenagers, what is the point?  This was a decision made after my Lazyboy furniture started to fall apart and had to be slipcovered after only 5 years.  I do like the advice from the Tightwad Gazette to buy solid wood couches and chairs (remember the "This End Up" brand?) and just replace the cushions and cushion covers every few years, but my wife didn't like the look.
  I wear scrubs at work, and most of my home clothes are from thrift stores or Family Dollar or gasp... Walmart.  I do have to say though, the best socks I have ever had are the Army issue black wool ones I got when I was a reservist.  So 15 or so years later I still have a couple pair.  I remember reading that Ralph Nader bought something like 20 pairs of dress shoes when he left the Army in the 50's, and was still wearing them in the 1990's (when I read the article.)
  I buy $90+ tennis shoes - Brooks.  I work 12 hour shifts walking most of the time (nurse.)  I rarely have foot pain.  Pain and exhaustion make it very hard to be compassionate and loving, and I take that very seriously.  I buy 2 pairs every year for my birthday gift to myself.  (1 for work, 1 for the rest of my life.)  I also have a leather Coach purse I bought for $20 on craigslist.  I would never buy one retail, but you can see and feel the difference in quality of the leather.  I actually really enjoy looking for purses at thrift stores.  I found a Coach wallet (very dirty fabric) for $2.  I cleaned it up and am planning on giving it to my niece for her birthday.
  I also believe in expensive backpacks.  After replacing my son's $15 backpacks twice a year, every year, we bought him one at LL Bean.  It now belongs to me, and is in perfect condition after 5 years of heavy use.
Heidi