Most of us are well aware that it makes good sense to ‘buy once and buy well.’ However when it comes to prising the hard-earned cash from our hands, suddenly it’s a very different story. Logic goes straight out the window. We go straight back to the comforting embrace of budget high street stores.
The thing is, we’re only human. Parting with money is so often emotional rather than logical; we get seduced by low prices, swayed by passing trends, tempted into a spending spree after a crappy week at work or, my own personal downfall, convinced that owning a certain superfluous item will turn us into shiny new humans without any of the flaws or boring shoes that were holding us back before. (Surprise, surprise ‒ this doesn’t tend to work!)
There are worrying financial (not to mention environmental!) implications of repeatedly buying crap because the figures really do add up ‒ and who ends up paying the price? Certainly not brands churning out built-to-break products.
These six items are some of the worst offenders when it comes to shoddy cost-value you can find on the high street. We’ve (roughly) compared them with our favorite BuyMeOnce investment buys… and the results may surprise you.
Rain, Rain, Go Away
At one time or another, we’ve all made the fatal decision not to pack an umbrella. Worse is remembering to pack an umbrella, only it’s the one with all the spokes sticking out that suddenly turns itself inside out on every hint of a breeze, leaving you wrestling with it in the street getting increasingly wet and embarrassed.
Let’s say every year you buy a cheap £5 umbrella in a situation like this. Over the course of 30 years, you would have spent £150 on sad, spindly umbrellas that give you bouts of anxiety each time the wind picks up.
Suddenly, spending £89 on a Davek Traveller Umbrella, with its unconditional lifetime guarantee and loss protection service, doesn’t seem so ridiculous. For £61 less you can be snug and secure under its steel and fibreglass reinforced frame with its 190 thread count canopy ‒ and if anything at all goes wrong, get it repaired or replaced for free!
Anyone familiar with BuyMeOnce will know planned obsolescence makes us angry, but the general trend of built-to-break products doesn’t end with technology. There’s a reason we go through an astounding number of pairs of tights each year:
“Dupont came up with the nylon stocking scientists were told to play around with until the synthetic fibre was more fragile and would “run” more often. More runs meant that women would have to buy more nylons.”
– Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America, Slade 2016
Nowadays, a pair of tights lasting only one wear seems completely normal ‒ and that’s outrageous. Not only is it a better deal for you to invest £17 in a pair of exquisitely crafted and snag-resistant tights from Swedish Stockings, but by investing your cash in this beautiful, visionary and sustainable brand you’re actively voting for change.
Even if your Olivia Premium Black Stockings only last a year (which, if you care for them properly, they definitely should) compared with £3 pairs that last a month on average you will have saved £19. Over 20 years, that totes up to a whopping £380. That’s a lot of money wasted on tights that leave you navigating the world terrified of encountering a rogue sharp fingernail. Life is stressful enough without snagging tights.
Where’s My Wallet?
When you’re desperately in need of a new wallet and you can get one for the price of a ticket to the movies, it’s going to be tempting. However, buying a mass-produced £10 wallet every year creeps up to £100 over 10 years. That’s not even taking into consideration the price of your self-esteem when, after the seams start to split and the material starts to wear, you find yourself constantly chasing your loose change half-way across shop floors.
An Elvis & Kresse billfold wallet might be £77.50, but it’s also made from decommissioned fire hose which, aside from being super cool, makes it ridiculously tough. Whether in 10, 20 or even 30 years time, Elvis & Kresse will still repair it for you. They repair all their products for free, for life. You use your wallet every single day ‒ it might as well not be made from sad, tattered plastic.
Out of the Frying Pan
We all know it makes sense to invest in quality kitchenware, yet if you’re anything like me, you still find yourself sweeping an entire shelf of IKEA basics into your trolley. It’s so hard to resist the sense of well-being you get from buying nothing that costs over £20.
A Solidteknics pan is generally agreed to be of incredible culinary quality, but it also comes with a multi-centurywarranty. Even if your store-bought £15 pan manages to last five years, the cost of replacing it swells to £90 over 30 years, £120 over 40 years and so on.
Your grandkids will get use out this heirloom quality cookware. Plus, you and your family will have spent 40 years actually enjoying the art of cooking, not weeping with frustration as you scrape burnt-on food from the bottom of a sub-par product again and again.
Kitchen Bits and Bobs
While it’s important to invest in quality pans, buying rubbish versions of those smaller utensils makes even less sense when you can find real quality for so little money (if you know where to look).
This Stellar garlic crusher is a mere £5.99 and sturdy enough to last you a lifetime. Surely it’s worth an extra couple of pounds to never have to think about buying a garlic crusher ever again? (Take a look at our kitchen utensils section for more carefully selected items!)
The Everyday T-Shirt
There’s almost no lower limit to the price of a basic t-shirt, but let’s say you find one for £5. It might last around three months, just five or six wears, before you start to notice loose threads or unravelling seams. After six, you might start to notice those little holes that start small but eventually spread to form a horrifying web in the fabric. Not even considering the worrying ethical implications of making such clothing, it’s a terrible deal for customers too.
“The average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year.”
Hypothetically, if you keep buying a £5 t-shirt every six months, you’ll have spent £50 over the course of five years on thin, sad t-shirts dotted with holes and trailing threads. Surely you might as well spend £35 on a White T-Shirt Co. equivalent, which has been beautifully designed, produced ethically and exquisitely manufactured from organic cotton to last as long as a t-shirt can?
We should never beat ourselves up over the odd impulse purchase, and certainly, not everyone can afford to shell out more money up front no matter the benefits in the long run. However, it’s so important for us all to try and override that powerful instinct telling us to go for the cheapest option simply because it’s cheap. A good deal doesn’t always mean spending less. It means spending smart.