Why My $600 Shoes Were The Best Purchase I’ve Ever Made
What is the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy? The thing you have to buy twice. At least, that’s what my old roommate told me.
I used to hate needing to buy things that were expensive. I remember needing a new backpack in high school, and I didn’t want to spend the $60 it costed for a nice JanSport. My old JanSport was entering its third year of service, and it needed replacing. Instead of coughing up the $60 for a nice backpack, I opted for frugality and spent $20 on a generic backpack at Walmart.
It was the most expensive $20 backpack I’ve ever purchased.
You see, it only lasted a month. Then, I spent another $20 for another new backpack – which fell apart soon after…
Rinse and repeat, until finally, after my sixth or seventh backpack in twelve months, my high school girlfriend got tired of seeing me making the same stupid mistakes and bought me a $60 backpack.
How long did my new “expensive” backpack last me? Through college!
Fast forward three years.
Living in California, working as a music teacher and earning about $14k/year, I walked into a Nordstrom rack and saw something I could not live without: a pair of dark brown Italian leather Canali shoes, MSRP – $600. Who needs to be rich when you can simply look rich? (The young Californian’s creed). Lucky for me, Nordstrom rack was selling them for only $200.
I had just started working at a new school district which paid a little more than my last gig, and I could afford to splurge a little (this was the story I was telling myself). What began as an irresponsible purchase ended up reaffirming the expensive-backpack lesson I had completely forgotten about. Quality matters.
Quality matters, and quality has a cost. But at the end of the day, it probably costs less than an inexpensive item because you only have to buy it once.
How long did those leather shoes last? I still wear them three times a week. I’ve had to have them re-soled a couple times, but the shoes have lasted, and they still look fresh.
Thinking that maybe this was a fluke, I went to DSW a few years ago and got a “nice” pair of inexpensive black leather dress shoes. They cost me $100 – the first time. Then another $100 nine months later, then another $100 eight months later. I gave up on black shoes, and DSW.
This is simple math. I could buy a $600 pair of shoes, on sale for $200, and they’ll last me ten years. Or, I could buy a “cheap” $100 pair of shoes that will last only one year, if I’m lucky. That means over ten years I will have spent $1,000 on crappy shoes! I could have paid full price ($600) for the Canalis and still ended up saving more money than if I had gone with a less expensive option.
Here is the rule:
If it will cost you more to keep replacing a lesser-quality item
than it will to buy a more expensive item
go with the more expensive item.
For you equation nerds, it looks like this:
If (Pe/Le) ÷ (Pc/Lc) ≤ 1, buy the expensive item. Else, purchase the cheap item.
- Pe is the price of the expensive item
- Le is the lifespan in years of the expensive item
- Pc is the price of the cheap item
- Lc is the lifespan in years of the cheap item
Here we’re simply calculating the $ cost of the item per year. Whichever item has a lower cost-per-year, buy that one!
Now, this shouldn’t be used as a justification to buy some expensive item that you don’t need, especially at full price. That’s just called “being bad with money.” Part of #Adulting is knowing when to spend money, and when not to. Looking back, I should not have purchased those beautiful shoes! But I wasn’t #Adulting back then, I was #BeingAnIdiot. Still, I learned a valuable lesson. Money well spent, on quality items that you need, can actually save you in the long term. Remaining frugal with each and every purchase, at the cost of quality, often leads to a more costly outcome.
Do you have a question, or would like me to cover a particular topic, feel free to leave a comment below!