Christian Financial Advice and Biblical Stewardship

Will Buying Quality Over Quantity Save You Money?

  • Sound Mind Investing
  • 2011 23 Nov
Will Buying Quality Over Quantity Save You Money?

I have a love-hate relationship with IKEA. I'm grateful that they offer a clean, modern design aesthetic at unbelievably low prices. However, you have to be careful what you buy at IKEA. As much as it pains me to write this, it seems that more often than not, you can buy some poorly-constructed products.

The first time I went to IKEA was October 2003 (there are no IKEAs in Louisville, but we were in Chicago on a getaway). Being a big fan of modern furnishings, but having little money at the time, it was like going to Disneyland for my wife and I.

Two years later we went back and bought two nightstands, a wide 3-drawer dresser, a tall 5-drawer dresser, and a wardrobe for $350. What a deal, right? But when you start assembling the furniture with that little hex wrench they give you, you quickly realize that these are not heirlooms we will be passing off to our children. Particle board chips. Veneers peel. Cams get stripped.

Now in all fairness, these particular pieces have at least a few years left. No peeling to speak of and the drawers all open and shut fine. The doors are impossible to align though, and the wardrobe is buckling a bit from the clothes on the rod. But other pieces we've bought haven't fared nearly as well, like the end tables, the can opener, a few of the picture frames, and so on.

What's my point? That if you can afford it, buying quality, I believe, could save you money. For instance, we would have saved $4 on the can opener had we just bought a good one to begin with (like the one we bought to replace the IKEA one). Our end tables, while they weren't expensive, have some veneer peeling and bubble spots and they just need to be thrown away quite frankly.

Now I'm not saying you can't get good stuff there. In fact, we still really like going. We bought a huge mirror for $100 that would have cost $600+ in a similar style somewhere else. We like the lamps we've purchased, as well as some kid's furniture/decor items that seem to be holding up quite well. You just have to be careful.

But there's another way you can get in trouble: most everything is such a good deal that it's easy to buy more than you need. Because of the price, I find it tempting to buy things that I only kinda like, rather than holding out for something I love. In fact, I have the same issue with Old Navy that I do with IKEA. Clothes are insanely cheap, and usually, cheaply made. Rarely do I see something there that I just love, but often times I see stuff I like (actually, I more or less swore off Old Navy for this very reason... last week was the first time I'd been in an Old Navy in over a year). The clothes can be great for kids, it's just that often times they don't last.

So I've decided that I'd rather have one really nice shirt from J. Crew than 4-5 shirts that I only sort of like from Old Navy. It's likely to last me longer and I'll get more enjoyment out if it when I wear it. And the same goes for IKEA. I'd rather have one really nice living room coffee table from Room and Board, than a whole living room collection that I just sort of like from IKEA.

This commitment to quality over quantity got me to thinking, "I wonder what our Facebook Fans" think of this tactic. So, I decided to ask. Here's how a few of them responded:

Fred from Louisville wrote: Quality weathers the bounce of the market. Quantity doesn't matter if you are losing money.

Martha from Richmond wrote: It is far better to buy quality than to have to turn around and replace something that doesn't last. Quality shows.

Jason from Orlando wrote:Total cost of ownership (TCO) this is often forgotten about in the equation. Also there is the intangibles, the way I feel (and perhaps perform better/produce more) with quality in my hand versus something cheaper. Likewise, is it provable (objective) quality or is it inferred (subjective via suggestive adverts)?

And our friend and frugal guru Mary Hunt from Debt-Proof Living wrote: Match quality to need. If you'll use it very little (Halloween costume), get the cheapest one you can find. If you'll use it every day for as many years as you can possibly get out of it (car), buy the most quality you can afford.

So what do you think about what I've said. Do you agree or disagree? When is it best to buy quantity vs. buying quality?

So what do you think about what I've said. Do you agree or disagree? When is it best to buy quantity vs. buying quality?

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