The real cost of low quality stuff

you-buy-cheap-you-buy-twice-1Most of us have been conditioned to automatically scan for the lowest price whenever we are out shopping. Ironically, this is one of the most expensive habits you can ever develop.

Indeed, buying cheap, low quality stuff comes with a rather daunting price-tag. Let’s quickly run through the following:

  • Lifetime
  • Upkeep
  • Running costs
  • Time
  • Satisfaction 
  • Environment

Often a cheap low quality item works out to be more costly than an expensive high quality item purely because of lifetime. When it comes to whitegoods, Miele offers a good example of costs savings from an item that might seem very expensive at first glance. The additional upkeep costs of service and repairs will often add further expenses over the lifetime of a low quality item.

On top of that, quality items almost always run much more economically, using less electricity, gasoline, water or whatever. Use this very nice energy costs calculator to check out the implications of varying levels of energy efficiency.

When it comes to time, a low quality item can cost you many hours of frustration when it starts malfunctioning or when bargain-hunting for an equally cheap replacement. Larger items especially can be a lot of effort to get rid of once they break. Take a few seconds to find out what one hour of your time is worth. It can give you some nice perspective.

User satisfaction (or the opposite – user frustration) is harder to quantify, but it cannot be denied that top quality headphones bring a lot more joy out of music or that discovering a leak from your two-year-old low quality fridge and having to deal with shoddy customer service can drive you up the wall.

REUTERS NEWS PICTURES - IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2012When it comes to environment, the first thing that comes to mind is the massive heaps of trash piling up in the developing world. Buying low quality items that break after only a few years of service life is certainly a very effective way grow these toxic dumps.

But then there is also the environment in which you live your day-to-day life. This whole blog is about designing this environment in such a way that happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable living happen automatically. Trust me, you do not want to end up with an entire house full of low quality stuff that continually breaks down, drives your utility and gas bills through the roof, takes up far too much of your precious time, has a negative effect on your psyche and, just as an added bonus, kills our planet.

Luckily, avoiding such a self-sustaining negative environment is pretty simple: show some patience, save up some cash, and buy high quality. It is also important to not be so inspired that you immediately throw out all your low quality stuff and bankrupt yourself on high quality stuff. See this as a gradual transition where every breakdown of a low quality item is an opportunity to make a longer term investment in high quality.

Filed under: Consumption patterns – Better instead of more

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