I am going to go on a bit of rant here: The world’s resources are becoming scarcer, pollution is increasingly getting heavier, and our beautiful planet and many of its less fortunate citizens continue to suffer only to supply society with a never ending stream of new products, and still to many of us fall victim to ever shorter product cycles. Do we really need a new cell phone every year? Does the old one indeed work less well? Do we need 30 pairs of shoes of which half we never wear. Is it necessary that computers are replaced every few years for most of us never use their full capacity as is anyway? What is the real price of those a couple of bucks t-shirts you get at any of the major outlets? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to get one good shirt of better quality but pay a bit more?
Do you really need a new Iphone, a new luxury sedan, the newest Apple watch? Product cycles of smartphones, clothes, and other luxuries of life are becoming increasingly shorter. Although they fill our wardrobes and clunk up our houses, they empty our pockets.
The list goes on, but you get the point. Maybe you share my frustration with the marketing instilled urge to always own the newest product when the old one would be just fine; if not even better. Ever wondered why you still have shirts from 20 years ago looking splendid, but those you bought last year are already showing signs of wear?
Valuing quality at a good price
If you think that buying less is for those who can simply not afford more, you are mistaken. Some of the richest people on earth value nothing more than buying only a few items of high quality and getting the best use from their purchase. One of them: Warren Buffet. Apparently he wears his clothes longer than one season.
But so many consumers adhere to a product life span that would have our grandparents cringe in disbelief over the lavishness. But why does Buffet or your grandparents take a different approach to consumerism? What are you really buying? Are you buying a product or a marketing dream?
Take, for instance, those who falling victim to million dollar corporate marketing strategies: Buy this or that and become more beautiful, have better sex, become more successful and richer … hold on, that’s a bit of a conundrum. How can you become richer by splashing your money on ever so many new items that burden your life and suck your financial employee pool dry? Hey, if it works, and I can indeed become a better, richer, and more successful, let me know and I will gladly spend the extra buck.
The truth of the matter, all of these, wealth, success, personal improvement do not come from material items, they originate within ourselves.
So what it is we actually need? We need things that are of use to us, not things that we were told possess a magic potion and make our lives incredible when in reality it only makes those marketing strategies richer. I admit, I love beautiful objects, high quality items, but I refuse to part with my money simply because a marketing department has decided it is time to roll out a new campaign and sell me the latest piece of clothing, car, or smartphone.
Let’s look at what a selected few items actually do:
Saving money on gadgets
Shoes: they keep your feet warm and protect them from sharp objects while walking
Pair of pants: they keep your legs warm and protect the Homo sapiens for we lack any natural protection.
Watch: it tells you the time
Phone: the one year old smart phone will likely work just as well
Shirts: you’d look silly not to wear them in a public, but do you need to have another 80 lying in your wardrobe clogging up precious breathing space in your home
Car: it takes you from A to B and transports your possessions
None of these items need to be replaced after a few months. They will still do their job even years after you added them to your long list of possessions. Good care will make them last for much longer than today’s brief product cycles. By not falling for marketing schemes, you save bucket loads of money and as a side product protect the environment.
Manage your money like your grandparents
In fact, do what our grandparents did: Spend a bit extra on quality items and enjoy them for years to come. The reason for why we often end up wearing the same shirts and pants ever so often and forget about those items in the back of our wardrobe is because those are likely your favorites. Wouldn’t you much rather keep them for longer instead of massive quantities of items you never wear? Go for quality not marketing. Spending money on quality items improves our lives in so many ways: the feeling when wearing it, knowing the functions of your cell phone inside out, the memories of the adventures and trips you have been on with your car. Pay for the quality of a product to allow you all these positive experiences; don’t pay the marketing department. It is so easy to become rich by simply adhering to some of the principles to spending and saving that have already served our grandparents well.
Not only will it last longer and keep its colors and shape for more than a few washes; its impact on the environment and people is undoubtedly much lesser. And in the long run you are actually saving money, because you need to buy less.
I don’t know if Mr. Buffet always adheres to the above in all areas of life, but it appears that he values quality over quantity. Don’t fall victim to external voices telling you where to put your hard earned cash; be a little bit like Buffet, be a savvy financial sailor.
What is your take on it? Do you think product cycles should dictate our consumer behavior?