Quality & Frugality

I like nice things.

I also for as long as I can remember have always wanted the ‘real’ version of something. I don’t know when this started, but I never wanted to settle for an imitation version of a product. This is where my aversion to fake plants comes from (but the handmade paper flowers? Those are neat). Even as a little kid I would rather wait years for the ‘real’ version of a toy then get the knock-off product. My mother was very long suffering.

But my path to adulthood was also paved with periods of time that I wasn’t making much money. That and a Grammy who would constantly be reminding me to be careful of money has led me to be a frugal person. I don’t enjoy spending money, but when I get something I want it to last.

I’ve been spending alot of time recently thinking about buying quality items, versus going and buying the Target version. The argument goes that you spend more on a nice item, and then you don’t need to replace it and you save more money in the long run. In the high end products side of it, ideally the item you are purchasing can be passed down to a future generation.

When it comes to cars, my family goes by this thinking. Which is why I was able to be driving a ’82 Celica until recently (and that my dad can fix anything….). It’s a bit more difficult with electronics because even if your betamax player still works…it’s irrelevant. Technology changes, and five years, or even two years later, the item will be obsolete or nearing obsolete.

In my sloshing through every area of my life and trying to take into account why I do what I do, I’ve been trying to figure out where is the line between buying a quality item that will serve your needs and being a good steward of your resources.

Hypothetical Example: Lets say I have $100. I need a purse that presents the level of professionalism I want to portray. Target has one for $25, that I know from experience will probably last me a good 10 years before being too worn out to be used in a business atmosphere. Etsy has one for $95 that will, assuming I don’t run over it with the car, last me twice as long, or even the rest of my life. How is my money best spent? How am I best using the resources that God has given me?

I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer. I also don’t think that the ‘buy for life’ mentality is always right. There are two main reasons why, 1) it doesn’t account for changes in style, losing an item, or theft. and 2) I’m not convinced that it is always being the best steward of the resources God has given us. I want to tread lightly here, and make it clear that I am speaking from where I am right now and not attempting to pass judgment on anyone else.

Most people I know right now are struggling financially. Some more seriously than others, but for the most part, everyone I know has to watch their finances carefully. Myself included. While some items will last me longer than others, I think that even if in nearer future you may need to rebuy an item than if you got the higher end version to start with, for some this is being the best steward of your resources. Also, the future is not promised. Jobs are hard to come by, and sometimes hard to keep.

It’s a crazy balance. One which I think I will always be figuring out. Being the best steward with what I have, and making wise purchases.


One thought on “Quality & Frugality”

  1. I get bored with sameness (wearing the same thing, carrying the same purse, doing the same activities) so it’s easier for me to go the cheaper route in the knowledge that I’ll just want to buy new stuff down the line. But for the big stuff, I go for quality — cars, furniture, that sort of thing. I’m kind of a cheapskate actually. 😛

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