In yesterday’s post about the rising popularity of Chinese knife brands, there were a few strong comments questioning why someone might spend $100+, $200+, or even more on a folding pocket knife.
As an aside, I forgot all about Kizer, another Chinese brand that’s making themselves known for their great quality.
A little over 4 years ago, I bought a Casio G-Shock Mudman watch for myself. The price has since come down a little, but it’s still a $100+ digital watch.
I liked the G-Shock Mudman’s extra features, and also the look of it. If I’m going to wear a watch, it should appeal to my tastes, and this one does.
Yes, a lesser watch would have kept the time just as good. So why did I spend more that I really needed to?
Why do people buy knives that cost over $50, when a $15 knife might be usable?
Why does anyone buy and use certain pens when a box of 12 BICs would provide all the functionality they need?
The same could be said about food. Why buy ribeye steaks instead of top round? It all ends up the same anyways.
I spend money more cautiously these days, but there are still certain things I’ll save up and spend a little more on.
Some people spend more money on clothes, others on electronics. Or maybe daily use accessories and tools, such as pens, pocket knives, or watches. Or maybe you collect coins or comic books. I know more than one person that collects guns.
You often DO get more for the money, whether in the form of greater functionality, features, quality, aesthetics, or simply in the user experience.
“More” is relative. Years ago, I couldn’t fathom spending $50 on a pocket knife, let alone $75 or $100+.
I know there are some folks who buy $500+ custom knives without blinking, and that’s okay for them. I’m a winning lottery ticket away from that.
So… what do you tend to spend more on? If anything?
I would have to say multi-tools. I enjoy a really well made leatherman that fits the purpose I want it for so I have a fair number of them that I switch out as my EDC depending on what Im up too. So I normally dont carry a leatherman signal unless im camping or hunting and prefer my OHT when working around the house and my skeletool for when its day to day to the office and back.
Having said that I will wait for sales to get them to help justify my extravagance. So your posts on leatherman sales have saved me alot of money.
IMO that’s one of the great things about the free world: the fact that we have personal choices dictated in part by our means (disposable income) but also by our own preferences. We would not be having this discussion if we were all struggling to put food on the table – but at least in my case – I’ve been blessed with a degree of success over the years to be able to have retired comfortably. Over the years I’ve eschewed the temptation to purchase flashy or high-end cars buying (I’ve never leased other than for business) Chevys and Hondas. I probably spent more on my house – and have way more square footage than really needed – but 40 years ago when I bought my current home it seemed a good idea. It also gave m the ability to spend way more than I needed to do on a large shop with more tools than I really need. I bought a 18k gold watch in Switzerland in the 1960’s – wore it for a while – and now it sits in the safe – needs an expensive servicing and honestly the Casio I wear – plus my I-Phone are much more practical reliable at telling time. I’ve offered it to my son – but he say he’ll probably sell it not wear it ) Most of my wife’s jewelry and her expensive watch are also mostly in the safe. What she does like to carry and switch off are handbags – so over many of the latter years of our marriage – I’ve tended to splurge on handbags from 3 well known Italian firms she likes – Hermes and Channel $30k bags being a bit out of my league. We also like to travel – and have decided over the years that we really like 2 tour companies – so we go with them 2 or 3 times per year rather than seeking out the bargain folks where we might be able to afford 6 or 7 trips at a lower standard of excellence. We have friends who think our choices are a bit crazy – but as the expression goes “one man’s meat is another’s poison”
I concur. The fact that we are having this discussion mean that we are fortunate enough not having to struggle to make ends meet.
For me money is useless if it’s not well spent or invest. Personally I always buy the best that I can afford and a little more when it come to buying stuff that I use the most. That including tools, household item, personal furniture (bed, chair, table). Even back when I were a pool college student, I didn’t have a problem spending more than 2k for a mattress. But again, I don’t drink nor smoke so that also help to cut down my expense greatly in compare to some of my friends.
I have found that the more that I spend on the thing that matter the less I will have to spend on the thing that doesn’t matter. So set your priority and spent away!
I would add or amplify on your word “invest” to also say “invest in the future of the country/world” by being charitable. While few if any ToolGuyd readers are likely be rich enough to be tapped by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates for their Giving Pledge campaign, if you have enough disposable income to buy $10,000+ watches and $35k handbags then I would urge you to think about your legacy and the needs of the less fortunate and set up a charitable trust to share some of your wealth.
Hookers and blow
I mean you can get em for less, but you really appreciate a top shelf item when you get your hands on it….
mike aka Fazzman
LOL,This made me laugh,thanks.
That reminds me of the guy who said he spent 90% of his money on women and drugs, the other 10%, he just wasted.
Lulz i see what you did there
Most of the time, the amount I spend on an item is directly proportionate to the frequency upon which it is used.
I have tools in every price range and occasionally I pay a little more for a tool that is better quality, but a deal much closer to the cheaper option.
Part of the tool investment is also long term consideration. Some, I’ve never had to buy, because the ones my father passed down still work just as well as when they were new. I’m hoping that my son never has to buy a tool (beyond consumables) because anything he’ll ever need is available thanks to his grandfather and I.
Hands up, I was one of those suggesting spending big bucks on a knife was a little odd. I also think it’s strange referring to a knife collection.
But also hands up, my daily wear is Rolex GMT Master II which cost me £4300 about 8 years ago as a gift to myself when changing jobs. It’s currently worth more than the car I drive.
My ‘special’ watch is a Zenith El Primero which I picked up secondhand for £1500. Oh and I’ve got two Heuer Carrera Re-editions (around £1000 each) squirrelled away as 18th birthday gifts for my kids.
You guys who spend all that cash on knives. Pfft!
Exactly my point – we tend t spend on what we enjoy. My 1968 18k Oyster perpetual and 18k band is probably worth a few shekels too – maybe not as much as our new Honda. The Honda I use – the Rolex sits in the safe along with 2 other gold watches that I inherited and most of my wife’s jewelry. My wife has a similar ambivalence about watches – the Constantin Vacheron with diamond bezel that I bought her for our 25th anniversary – has hardly been worn – and she likes to drive an older Honda – so the watch may actually be worth more than her ride.
Sorry VC for inverting your Brand Name
I will always pay a premium to alleviate frustration or aggravation. Milwaukee might be 2x or 3x more than Ryobi, but the third time you have to take it back, even if it is warrantied isn’t worth my our your time. Same for shoes, and anywhere else you can buy back your own time by having a longer frame of reference.
Great tool reference as I did just that and started my tool collection (which has grown like wild fire these last few years) with Milwaukee M18 and fuel power tools. I’m just an avid diyer that would would rather show up to a project with far more power and durability than I’ll need rather than show up undergunned.
I tend to spend more on things that will last (in many cases longer than myself) such as nice firearms and tools for example.
There are things that I think are also a waste to spend lots of money on. Clothes are the first thing to come to mind (with very few exceptions). Things that wear out relatively quickly don’t deserve alot of my hard earned money.
I will on the other hand spend good amounts of money for nice cigars, scotch, and hi fi audio equipment.
Watches. I have around 120 of them ranging from cheap casio’s to +/- $1000 automatics. Before 2009 (before construction and the economy took a dump) spending $3000-$5000 on a watch was nothing. Sold all of them in 09-10, except for my Panerai. Never spending that much again ever.
I know it’s incredibly stupid, but its a hobby.
This may sound odd coming from someone my age (I’m only 20) but really I think its not an issue of what we want to spend more one but how often we want to spend money. I believe that its more important to by high quality products that will last forever than it is to by cheap “disposable” items. I believe that this goes in all aspect from tools to clothing. For example, this past summer I spent about $500 dollars on snap-on tool but in total if I had bought all these tools knew it would have cost me $2-3000. I know that some people claim that its overkill to spend that much on tool but on the other hand I am a house manager of a apartment building that houses 40 people and I repair and maintain all areas. I do anything from fixing toilets to cars for the people living here. I also drive a 1984 VW rabbit that I use these tools on regularly. Some may say that clothing is an area that you shouldn’t spend as much but then again I have a Filson jacket. While the jacket is a $350 jacket I spent $50 on it. Filson guarantees that jacket for longer than a lifetime, literally. The company claims that for there clothing they will repair or replace all damaged goods even if it is an article that has been passed down for generations. My point is that our society thinks about it in the wrong way. Today’s society that believes that everything needs to be extremely cheap and everyone should be able to afford everything. In actuality I think that people should have less items but higher quality and save and spend with in your means.
I agree. Also, fewer, better quality products means less waste in the landfills, and less fossil fuels burned to make and transport inferior goods.
I agree as well. I try to fit myself with the equipment needed to live my life that’s made with a similar outlook that I use in living my life – well made, well considered, elegantly designed (with a form-follows-function perspective), durable, and with a minimum of questionably useful frills.
In a lot of human effort, complicated designs indicate poorly considered priorities. In a lot of other things, cheapness is reflection of poorly considered priorities. Simplicity, reliability and elegance are higher goals and reflect the better part of what we’re capable of.
If you can afford it, get the right stuff you need – and then don’t get too much of it.
I don’t have to own the best in any category, or the most expensive, but I’ve been burned so many times on “value” products that I’ve learned to spend more up front in order to avoid wasted time and money down the road.
Hardline tools (wrenches, sockets and screwdrivers) that are Made in the USA (primarily), Europe (a little) or the better stuff from Taiwan. In other words, I spend more to avoid Made-in-China or India.
Cordless tools. The quality of the batteries and bearings on my DeWalt and Bosch make them worth the price difference from B&D/Porter-Cable/Ryobi. Back when I had a Milwaukee NiCad I heated the drill/driver up until it smoked multiple times and it never burned out.
Education. Again doesn’t have to be “the best” or most expensive, but every time one of my friends freak out about Common Core Math (if you can call it Math) on FB, I laugh because my children’s Christian school uses traditional methods… I can actually help them with their homework, they don’t get bad marks for getting the correct answer, and my kids are 1-2 grades ahead of the public schools.
WiFi Routers. The difference between a $40 WiFi and a $120 WiFi is amazing, in range, reliability, and compatibility. I literally never reboot my WiFi router any more.
Steaks. I’ll eat a Sirloin, I’m not a snob about it, but if I’m paying for it myself I’d rather order a small Ribeye, T-Bone or Porterhouse.
Jeans, underwear, shampoo and body wash. Certain tools now I’m becoming particular about. I don’t like receiving certain gifts from family because they will undoubtedly get me an inexpensive version of the tool or clothing I really wanted. We all have our quirks and preferences.
Over the past six months I just spent a bunch of dough changing all the lights in our home to LEDs – except for the two halogens and two fluorescents I still have to/want to be rid of. And the lone incandescent in the oven – anyone know of an option there?
It feels good to have learned what would get the job done well, what options are available, what the sources were to get it done, and it feels good to have put a slew of hot incandescents & ugly CFLs out of business. It’s also good to have the new awareness of just how many light sources there are in a home, wow.
Unnecessary & indulgent? There’s an argument there, but it feels good to be in front of the curve.
I am 65 and retired and haven’t bought a tool in about 5 years. I have always worked with wood and metal and have all the tools I need. I still have unused ones that I bought years ago just in case I need a special tool.
I guess food is my largest expense. I don’t have a smart phone, don’t care about the latest gadgets and rarely buy new clothes because I have plenty of them.
I saved for retirement my whole working life. Now I’m frugal just in case a big expense occurs.
Funny you should ask. Just upgraded my G-Shock DW5600E with a GD350-8 G. Also building a new machine right now. Parts are in and taking my time with the build but should be finished this Friday night. Intel i5 6600K water cooled with a AIO Corsair H55 on a MSI Z170A SLI Plus mobo, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3000 memory, 1TB Eluketronics SSD, 2TB WD Blue HDD and a GTX 980 Ti video card. When I can get a few extra buckaroos gonna grab a couple of 27″ 4K monitors to replace my current duel 27″ 1080p setup.
Maybe a decade ago, I remember reading on a computer forum about someone’s new build, with Intel Extreme Edition CPUs. How could someone justify spending $1,000 on just the CPU for a home gaming PC? That’s what I thought about when writing this post.
For my current PC, I started with an i5-2500K for $215, but something was wrong and I replaced it with an i7-2600K for $320.
While I can’t justify squeezing a little more performance with an EE CPU for a lot more money, I sometimes have a hard time explaining my keyboard (Ducky Shine 3 with Cherry Blue switches) and 34″ widescreen keyboard to anyone who doesn’t have anywhere near the same needs or demands as I do.
Anyway, before you go dual 27″ again, consider a 34″, review here: https://toolguyd.com/dell-u3515w-curved-monitor-review/ . My 23″ monitor is in storage, and my 27″ is on an arm to the right of where it used to be, but I haven’t reconnected it yet.
Unless of course your 27″ers aren’t for productivity. I don’t have the time to play any games, but know that not many games know what to do with the 21:9 aspect ratio of a 34″ display.
I spend more in a few key areas. My flash light of choice: zebralight.com My laptop of choice is a Google Pixel Chromebook. I like Leatherman tools. I have a Wave but I still carry their original multitool. I like broadcast radio and for a small portable receiver when I travel I really like my Sangean DT-400W AM/FM Digital Weather Alert Pocket Radio. Reasonable price and good reception and sound and features make it perfect for hotel rooms or the beach. I use a cheap $10/month flip phone tracphone as I don’t care for big smart phone bills but I do have an iPod Touch for a few of the apps like 2FA and some games.
I try to get the most practicality for my money spent. If something costs 2X as much, but will last 2x as long, or more, I will likely get it, especially for tools that can cause a hazard if they were to fail (ever have a super cheap grinding wheel shatter? I have, but never had that problem with a name brand one). I also consider if it is USA made. All else equal, I will pay a little more for that. I do like to consider how much use it will get, as well. A clumsy tool youbuse a couple times a year is a minor annoyance as long as it does the job, but a something that causes aggravation every day makes me wish I got the better one.
I will pay more for better tools, balanced with how muchn in use it. I will pay more for a better knife, to a point, because a little extra can often buy a better blade, more secure lock, smoother action, etc. Where I save money is usually things like work clothes. I do maintanence on a farm and the cows don’t care if I’m wearing $70 military surplus boots, or $200 Justin’s, and my feet don’t either. Viechles are another place where I will save a little. I view a car or truck as a way to get myself and stuff from here to there, and would rather put my $$$ towards reliability and practicality than bells and whistles. One place I will spend a little more is on ice cream. An extra 50 cents a serving can really get your taste buds hopping. Oh, and a good mattress. Its worth a lot to wake up refreshed and not sore.
I spend money on things i could pass down to my son like guitars and guns. Lately i started eyeing Grandsford Bruks axes, just picked up a camping axe, moving to a splittling maul and felling axe next.
I actually make my living on the secondary watch market, While names have a huge amount to do with it, its more or less quality availability and workmanship. Most of the time the most expensive watches are ones that most have never even heard of, they will always be Automatic and sometimes mechanical, Hardly ever will they be quartz although its hard to beat the accuracy and ease of them, i.e not having to wind or buying a watch case with an automatic turning mechanism, usually costs more than a g-shock alone. Very few features (aka “complications” in the watch world). Not to mention the fact that these are very rarely used or better yet a simple dent could run you hundreds in repair costs or a broken crystal could be nearly impossible to find oem and will have to be specially made for a specific watch. With all that being said I have bought rolex’s for $500 and I have bought rolex’s for 4000 that came with appraisals of $25,000+ then there are creme de la creme such as Vacheron and Constantine that have no more than An hour and minute hand that I wouldn’t think twice about spending $2500 on. A good example of a company that offers a lot of watch is Patek Phillipe, They have several complications from alarms to navigational tools, moonphase and on and on but they would be in the range of 50000+. The point is people want what they want and the cost is secondary. While a g-shock can do everything I pointed out above they are not considered desirable in that market but like everything they do have a market. I have seen swatches sell for 500.
I do this for income and at the same time you tend to grow an affinity of the timepieces including history, providence, and past owners can all come into play.
My guilty pleasure is pens, Half the reason I got into wood working actually, However I have no problem spending $1000 on a mont blanc that simply writes while at the same time I often think twice about spending 200 on a circular saw…. these are unexplainable things that very few understand but as a said We all want what we want and I will end this with my very favorite quote
“Cost, Price and Worth are similar words but they all mean very different things”
Price is what the market asks for it.
Cost is what you lose from obtaining it.
Worth is what you gain from obtaining it.
Interesting question. I use to spend a lot of money on tools of every type, but now that I’ve reached my tool nirvana, I hardly spend anymore, except for tool related consumables.
2 years ago, I spent about 6K$ on a semi-pro DSLR with a set of lenses. I’m now done on that end, so I won’t be in the market for a new camera for at least 10 to 15 years, and maybe more actually.
Right now, I don’t spend on anything as I have all I need to enjoy my few hobbies.
That being said, I’m sure something will catch my eye and drag me down again. Speaking of which… I’ve seen that Inspire DJ1 drone that looks pretty cool actually… 😉 I’m sure I could film myself from above when I rip a sheet of plywood… Hmmm. LOL
I have no problem spending more on –
Tools – If the quality of the tool actually results in a better job being done I buy the best I can afford. If it’s a tool that will get a lot of use I buy quality because it will last and I will enjoy using it more.
Pens/Pencils – a variety of Rotring’s. I used them for work in the 80’s. Didn’t improve my work at all but when you are using something a few hours a day, why not? These days I work on a computer but still enjoy using them for sketching projects.
Sunglasses – Maui Jim, Ray Bans
Cigars – Cohiba (once or twice a year)
Scotch Whiskey -Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin
Child seat – top end Evenflo
Wedding anniversary dinner – don’t even think about going cheap!
I see watches are a common thread so I’ll add my two cents. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to acquire several Patek Philippe watches and at one time expected to hand them down to my son. Sadly that won’t happen. So between that hard fact and the now daily reality that I literally no longer wear any watch due to this (my 8th or 9th?) iPhone. So in the darn safe they sit. Gathering depreciation. Dumb dumb and dumber.
Thank goodness I’ve long collected porcelain advertising signs and they do appreciate.
Enough blathering. Fini
There are 10 things I will never cheap out on…
1. Toilet paper (on this there can be no debate)
4. Chefs knife
5. Blue painters tape
6. Hose clamps
Going cheap on condoms would save me around $2 per year…….
I hope this is not in priority order. Beer would have to be in the top 2.
I spend more on everything because of one simple reason – I can’t afford cheap stuff. I always look at the long term use. I buy expensive boots and wear them daily for 8 years straight, I wear my G-Shock at work because I’d smash five cheaper watches in that time. I abuse my Benchmade Griptilian since 2006, during that time I’d break about 15 exacto-type knives. The list goes on, yes I do keep a list of these things.
There is obviously a point of diminishing returns but one has to find it himself. I used to have high end carry knives before I realized that they are maybe 5% better for twice the price of mid range blades. It’s all about that sweet spot, bang for a buck.
This applies to everything I do – can you believe that my PC is almost 9 years old and it still does the job and enables me to play most games in high quality? Normal people would have had two or three PCs during that time which would have a total cost of at least 50% more of what I spent.
Yes, this requires a lot of discipline with my savings, a lot of thinking and researching before every purchase but this method never failed me. A long time ago I used to buy cheap stuff because I thought that this was what I could afford but guess what – cheap stuff has collapsed a long time ago or became useless in other ways and I have had to purchase better items in effect.
Cheap + expensive is always more money than expensive alone.
Bear in mind that this rule does not fully apply to things that quickly become obsolete like smartphones and such. But whenever something is made to last and provide functionality that will still be of use years to come then I go for the expensive option.
So to answer your question – I spend more on things that I plan to use for many years.
No need for watches around here! When the roosters start crowing it’s time to get up and when the sun goes down it’s time to finish work, eat and sleep!
What spare cash I have I spend most of it on the wife. She is very special to me and I do what I can to make her life easier.
I am a happy happy man!
looking back apparently I spend a lot of money on my offspring and I guess the wifey. or probably more accurately the wifey spends more of my money than I do.
Those 2 aside.
Food and Drink – life’s too short to eat bad food or drink cheap whisky. words to live by there. Not saying I swill Johnie Walker blue every night, but I easily spend money on liquor most people wouldn’t look at past the price. Same with food products – I won’t say I buy name brands all the time but I pay attention to ingredients or I buy fresh products as much as I can.
clothes – I don’t dress fancy and I don’t buy into alot of fads but I try to buy quality made stuff as I can. Applies to all. Example my work shoes are red wings – have been for a while now. They cost more than stuff at the department store – and I do mostly office work now – but they last, are comfortable and when I have to get in the hangar they are suitable there too.
Cars – ALWAYS. Now I don’t buy foreign makes although I currently daily drive a foreign car. It’s a holden, from Australia (pontiac G8 GXP if curious) – but still a GM family. My thought is I spend a good deal of time in the device so I should like it – I don’t buy for looks so much though. I buy for performance in multiple facets – not just power. But I also buy safety since you know it is hurling you down the road at 90 mph, in mexico. OH and their are less considerate, morons trying to take the road from you.
Tools – I used to be a poor college student so I had cheap tools and got by on some things. but I saw quickly where that sucked quite often. Hand or other. so I’ll spend more for a quality tool that I am going to use more than once. Which is pretty much all of them.
Appliances – same as the tools above. I think someone else mentioned it – there quality you can buy once a decade is worth more than your time but it is also creates less waste in general.
Shoes, socks and underwear.
I spend most of my money on tools. When I want to use a tool I want to use it and have it do what it is meant to do. I won’t accept frustrations from my tools, work, at times, is frustrating enough. I’ve bought some great tools at estate sales that will beat nearly anything at home center stores. I have a few select cordless tools after ToolGuyd talked me into them being good enough finally, I have to agree with him. Most of my tools are still corded. Second, I spend good money on work boots. I’ll spend $200 on a good pair of work boots and not think twice. I do own a Casio G-Shock but only for the plastic strap. I sweat so much when I work that any fabric or leather strap really starts to stink after wearing it working two or three times. Washing the strap doesn’t help much. So plastic and G-Shock it is. As for pocket knife, I really like my GEC Bullnose, Think Case Sod Buster Jr. which I also like. It is about $50. The most I ever spent on a knife was about $140 and that was for a GEC burnt stag handled Moose knife. It sits on my shelf as it is too nice to use. Although it would be strong and do anything that I would want it to.
I’m just pragmatic.
It so depends on the item. I buy absolutely the best when it’s something that matters, like a running watch (Suunto), running shorts (Northface BTN), and something I need and use all the time (like my kitchen knives AND a super awesome knife sharpener).
Also food. Great food. Fresh, fresh vegetables and fruits of wide varieties. Basically, all this stuff (running gear, great healthy food) is actually less expensive in the end as it costs a lot less than pills and medical bills.
However I totally skimp on things where I don’t use it that much or have a high propensity to lose it. Sunglasses: last I was in Morocco, I bought about 10 pairs of “Fauxklies” (Oakley knockoffs) for like $2 each. Still have three pairs left. Most I just lose. Same for leathermans: I have a GREAT Victorinox I keep for backpacking, but then I have a bunch of cheapo ones scattered around the house, garage, work, all our cars. If I lose it, who cares? If a blade breaks, I don’t care.
should have mentioned tools applies to alot of things.
stuff in the garage
all tools in my mind.
I’ve enjoyed the musings above and it’s made me realize what I spend my extra income on is quite selfish. I say to everyone that I’m trying to reduce my children’s inheritance on my indulgences. I spend a lot on Scotch (at least $100/bottle) and it only lasts 2-3 weeks, and I do enjoy those $10 cigars along with it. unfortunately, my 30 yr. old son is traveling the same course. My daughter also enjoys the more expensive liquor and I’ve thought to myself how I’ve saved them both from a lot of years drinking cheap and negative rewards. I’ve never been hung over or nauseous so there’s something said for saving them that experience. They will always get the house and cars/jewelry in the end anyway.
Way off-topic. What’s next – what’s your favorite salad dressing?
That’s silly. I’d sooner ask about readers’ favorite barbecue sauces.
Jesse, I disagree wholeheartedly. This is a great topic for discussion. Most people aren’t consciously aware of their spending patterns this way, but nearly everyone trades off in different areas of their purchasing.
Now that I older and wiser, I don’t buy much only the things that I need. I lead a simple life. I don’t even have ac in my house. Don’t want it either. My truck is 25 years old and still runs fine when I use it. Tools I have all kinds decent quality to harbor freight. My favorite, Is a great screwdriver set from sears bought over 40 years ago. Looking back I could have got by with a lot less. But now I’m very happy and in great financial shape. Now I can splurge if I want. I sure have enjoyed The diy lifestyle. And love this website………..
This is a phenomenon best explained in the book Trading Up (The New American Luxury). It goes into great depth about how some people drive very old cars and live in cheaper homes or apartments, but buy luxury wine or golf clubs or food or electronics or whatever else. Why at any given time you can find multiple late model Mercedes, Cadillacs, and other luxury vehicles (belonging to people who live in quasi-luxury homes) in any given Walmart parking lot. Why people complain about outrageous prices in one area while spending outrageous amounts in others. A frequent example in society, and in the book, is Starbucks. People say things like, “Why do people pay $6 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks?!” But a cup of coffee at Starbucks is actually about the same price as it is anywhere else. It’s their upgraded drinks that cost more.
It’s also a marketing text, to understand how to get people to spend on your product or service (“trading up”) and pay for it by saving (“trading down”) elsewhere.
Finally it also explains why brands like Mercedes offer six-figure vehicles and also have models under $30,000 (at least at the time the book was published; I haven’t checked for myself).
Personally I spend more on tools that I will use frequently, and save on tools that I will use infrequently. I have a fair amount of Harbor Freight stuff that comes out of the shed a couple times per year, for instance, and I’m going to be purchasing a Festool Domino XL this week. I have Incra router accessories and fixtures, but a Ryobi belt sander. Virtually everyone does this, as we all have expensive taste somewhere, but limited budgets.
Oh, I also use cheap camera bodies and expensive lenses. The bodies have what were high-end sensors from a year or three earlier, and at this point they are excellent quality. But the lens is what really matters. (I do plan to get a higher grade body again in the next year, but only because there are a few limitations of the compact bodies for the way I shoot. But I’ll still keep the entry-level bodies because there are things they do, such as articulating screens, that the pro bodies don’t.)
I do understand very clearly the importance of quality engineering, workmanship and materials.
However, as a student of marketing and advertising techniques, I can assure you that higher price or flashy name branding is not a consistently reliable indicator of quality. Ask any poor soul who has owned a BMW 7-series past the warranty period, or heavens forbid, a Jaguar produced during the British Leyland years.
There are plenty of products out there which are priced in excess of their quality or value, especially in the world of tools. The trick to finding the gems in any product category is to research and examine what actually goes into the available options – materials, design, support, service, workmanship, etc. The catch, though, is that this research takes time and effort.
With this in mind, the key is to:
1. Expend your critical thinking skills, rather than your money.
2. Use that time effort on the things that are more important.
I try to focus my research efforts on the products I intend to most thoroughly use and rely upon. If research shows the higher priced options to be worthwhile, I will make an investment in them. If the research shows the “top-of-the line” model to be of equal or lower quality to lower priced options, I will avoid it.
As for the particular item categories I focus on, they include:
-tools (particularly automotive tools)
I love your BMW 7 series thought. In truth many years ago a had a new 733i and just out of warranty the starter motor quit. The MB/BMW dealer said they were back ordered. A mechanic friend there told me to order a certain Ford part number. The part was stocked locally, labeled Ford and half the price and the direct replacement for the alleged BMW part… And it worked great as I was later told through the next owner or two of that car.
That’s the nature of 3rd party-sourced parts.
My brother has been an automotive repair technician for about 25 years. He says the absolute “worst” customers (frustrating ones) are those who buy luxury European models that are out of warranty. They want the badge, but aren’t willing to pay for the associated repairs. There are always 2-4 major repairs at any inspection, and they only want to do the most urgent, life-or-death repair. Obviously that’s a blanket statement, but I’ve seen it as well. Just get a decent, reliable vehicle and skip the brand name if you can’t afford it with a warranty!