Shop for quality goods
Twenty years ago, I bought a bike.
It was a Specialised, an American brand, and quite frankly, I don’t think I ever got as much value out of any single thing I have owned as that bike.
It still serves me as an exercise bike on a frame in the garage.
So when it came to buying a new bike several weeks ago, the first bikes I looked at were Specialised bikes. I bought one again. In case you think this is shameless brand sponsorship, I have not received a cent from the bike company.
All the money has so far flowed the other way, though my years of bike-commuting in my 20s and 30s did save me a packet.
And I did bargain a bit when I bought my new mode of commuting, as all of us should to keep our consumer muscles exercised and shops on their toes, though I think the salesman could see in my eyes how much I wanted it and the discount he gave me was more generous than my half-hearted efforts deserved.
My brand loyalties are based on my own peculiar take on ‘‘value’’.
One of the awful things about stuff is that so much of it is made to fail pretty quickly.
Experience shows that there are companies producing stuff that costs more but wears so well that the value you get from every dollar exceeds that of cheaper equivalents.
A jeweller once showed me the markups there are on different price points for jewellery.
The more expensive the item, the lower the gap between the price of the raw materials and the price.
It’s grossly unfair and fits into that perpetual theme of how expensive it is to be poor.
Even when you are ‘‘saving’’ money buying low-cost items, you are often effectively being charged more. So what can you do? This isn’t going to be much help to those on low incomes, but the answer is buy less and focus on value.
I’m not big on takeaways, despise trips to the mall, and don’t have expensive tastes in electronics or a fashion addiction but I will splash out on a pair of McKinlays boots, for example.
The upfront ‘‘investment’’ is more, which is a problem for the cash-strapped, but I’ve only had to own two pairs in the last 10 years.
Similarly, I have an Icebreaker fleece from nigh on 13 years back.
It still looks good and now I own a couple more items from them.
They cost me a bit, but I don’t expect to have to replace them until I’m in my late 50s. Money to buy better can only be found by spending less on other things.
All of us know what we fritter cash on, be it takeaways, take-out lunches, coffees, parking tickets or heaps of poor quality stuff for the kids.
If you want better value stuff, and to save money in the longrun, you have to take a knife to that.
The long-lasting McKinlays boots now cost the equivalent of $5 for each working week in a year.
Fritter $5 less each working week for a year and you have boots that will be the only pair you’ll need for the next five to seven years. And you’ll be able to say you bought New Zealand made.
The other thing to beware of is falling foul of our pervasive sales culture and that national obsession with random trips to the mall. Neither are conducive to buying well.