Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One Anti-Clutter Strategy: Buying Quality over Quantity

Flour sack dish towel that says Buy Things You'll Love Forever
Flour sack dish towel from The Heated

We opt for more instead of better. Better is better than more. — Seth Godin, via Minimal Mac by Patrick Rhone

This post was inspired by my wallet. It’s a basic black bifold wallet, with four slots for credit cards, a coin pouch, and a divided currency well — thus no photo, because there's no way to make it look interesting. But what does make my wallet interesting is that I bought it in 1997, and it’s still in good condition.

Now, I got it in Italy, at a reputable leather goods store. I don’t remember what I paid; it was probably on the expensive side, but not extravagant. And every time I pull out that wallet, I’m reminded of a wonderful trip (hurray for practical souvenirs) and how often it makes sense to buy less, but buy well.

Yes, we’re all working within budget constraints. But sometimes to have good stuff we just need to make purchasing trade-offs. Allen Tucker wrote a wonderful essay entitled Pay Too Much, which Nancy Friedman pointed me to; I recommend you go read the whole thing. It concludes with this:
My favorite pair of jeans gets worn 10 times more often than my other jeans. If I did away with the other jeans, I could afford to buy more of those things I really love. What if all of our stuff was mind blowingly awesome, even if we had way less of it?
And I see I’m not the only person writing about the joys of a good wallet. Here’s part of what Randy Murray wrote in his blog post called Just A Bit Of Luxury: Make Life Better Without Drowning In Stuff (found via Patrick Rhone):
I buy the cheapest printer paper, but I carefully select my notebooks and pens. Even when wearing my worn cargo shorts I carry a finely made leather wallet. And I’m replacing the stacks of disposable razors for single, finely made, double edge safety razor. Both the wallet and the razor are of such exceptional quality that they should last for generations (the wallet is guaranteed for 100 years!).

I’ve heard it said that you don’t own things, they own you. Owning fewer, better quality things makes my life easier and more enjoyable.

1 comment:

SueBK said...

I try to live by a quality not quantity principle. It seems that whenever I've compromised, I've regretted it. Our main family computer was on the way out and I couldn't afford to buy the quality brand I normally get. The new computer has caused us nothing but headaches.
I too have a wallet example. Every year I would buy the same $15 wallet - a simple coin purse with a side pocket for my licence and two cards. Every year the seam between the coin purse and the pocket would split and I'd replace the wallet. About 5 years ago I begged for a beautiful red, leather version I saw in an upmarket bag store. It was $50, which works out to $10 a year. Without even taking into account inflation (my original wallet is probably closer to $20 now), I'm ahead financially.
I also have a beautiful leather handbag from Seattle. It wasn't even expensive, compared to what I would pay in Oz. After six years it's still wonderful.