Smart Money Tips

Buy Nice or Buy Twice

For the longest time, I’ve had this sneaking suspicion that buying high-quality stuff, which perhaps initially is more expensive, actually saves me money in the long run.

Turns out, I’m right.

At least, according to Terry Pratchett.

The other day, I came across this quote from Pratchett’s “Men At Arms,” part of the Discworld series. In the book, Sam Vimes, a police officer from the fictional city-state of Ankh-Morpork, gives us a very compelling financial reason for buying higher-quality, rather than cheaper, things:

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned $38 a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost $50. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of O.K. for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about $10. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford $50 had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in 10 years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes “Boots” theory of socioeconomic unfairness.

Awesome. You can actually spend less by spending more.

At least in Ankh-Morpork…

But if you think about it, I’m sure you’ve experienced the same phenomenon here in the real world. I sure have. Whether it’s ski pants, or tools, or boots, or that really nice briefcase that costs so much.

You can buy it once and use it for ten or twenty years… or you can buy cheap ones and deal with all the cognitive, emotional, and logistical drain of perpetually having to replace them.

So save up until you can buy the nice thing once. I know it hurts at first… but trust me, in the long run, it’s worth it.

What’s your “buy it once” story?