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Investing in things that last

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Matt Rourke/AP/File

(Read caption) Pedestrians with shopping bags cross a street in Philadelphia.

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As I’ve mentioned before on The Simple Dollar, Sarah and I have a “buy it for life” approach (the post is really worth reading if you’re interested in the details) when we replace items around the house. We vastly prefer items that will simply do their job over and over and over and over without needing to be replaced or fixed with any sort of regularity.

The drawback of this approach is that it requires an investment up front. Products that last are not cheap.

You can buy cheap pots and pans at the store and they warp in a year or two. If you invest in cast iron, particularly enameled cast iron, and spend the time to season non-enameled cast iron, it will last practically forever.

You can buy cheap umbrellas that break after a few dozen uses. On the other hand, if you buy an umbrella with a lasting guarantee and good mechanisms, like a Davek, it will be around for many years, even if it costs as much as five times your normal umbrella. 

I can go on and on with these kinds of things – clothing, kitchen items, etc. – but the idea is clear. We want to invest our money on things that won’t break again any time soon. That way, the things we have are reliable and reusable and we’re not dealing with another replacement cycle in a year or two.

While that may be a great philosophy for buying products, it’s also a powerful philosophy in other aspects of life.

Relationships, for example, are things that can either be very quick and transient or they can last and last. A friend of mine once said that “relationships can last a moment, a season, or a lifetime.” The longer a friendship lasts, the more work it takes up front.

Professional standing is something that can be built into something impressive over time or it can just be the result of doing your nine to five job and not asking questions. The greater and longer-lasting your professional standing, the greater the investment of time and effort.


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