by Taylor Kovar (KovarCapital.com)
Hey Taylor: Have you heard of the Buy It for Life movement? My friends keep talking about it, and it seems like it’s just about buying expensive things. Can you explain? - Liza
Hey Liza: I’m happy to explain this “movement,” though it seems like you’ve pretty much got it figured out. The idea is to buy expensive things that will last as a means of avoiding constant replacements and repairs that really add up. Great in theory, but does it actually work in practice?
For some products, this is a no brainer, especially with bigger purchases. Always pay more for good home renovations, a decent vehicle, maybe a computer if you need it for work. Now, when I say “always pay more,” I’m not suggesting you have to pay for the most expensive brand on the market. However, anytime you go with the cheapest option for something like a new roof or a new laptop, you can expect to be shopping for a replacement sooner than you’d like.
My issue with the Buy It for Life idea is that it doesn’t stop at big-ticket items. There’s an expensive option for every type of purchase, and that isn’t always necessary. I bought a cheap sleeping bag in a pinch 15 years ago and it’s still holding up just fine; I own a few second-hand tools that cost very little and still work great; I’ve had friends pick up roadside couches that have then stayed with them for years.
The point is, if you see yourself as part of a movement and get too enamored with buying expensive things, I guarantee you’ll spend unnecessarily. You’ll start paying more for accessories you don’t actually need, like coffee makers that also toast your bread and salt shakers made of crystal. Sure, you’ll have a durable salt shaker, but you might not be able to afford the salt that goes in it.
Are some smaller items worth the extra money? Absolutely. Durable jackets, sturdy mattresses, quality knives and dozens of other household items can make great one-time buys that will save you money in the long run. If you know you’re going to use something forever, go ahead and spend a little extra. That said, I would encourage you to think long and hard before handing over your cash. Don’t make big purchases if you’re about to move, and don’t buy something you don’t actually need. A good, expensive cooler might last forever, but what’s the point if it’s never going to leave your garage?
Those are my thoughts on the Buy It for Life concept. It’s important to buy quality products, but it’s just as important to avoid overspending. Keep shopping smart and thanks for writing in!