Quality over quantity?

One minimalist maxim is idea of buying “quality over quantity.” The idea of saving up for one really good thing rather than lots of cheapie versions of that same thing, totally rang true to me when I started curbing my consumerist habits.

Now after nearly five years of being a more conscientious shopper, I still agree with the idea, but I’ve changed my expectations a bit. Let me explain:

When I first heard the idea of buying less, but buying better, I had visions of myself wisely shaking my head “no” to every overpriced but cheaply made Urban Outfitters or F21 purse. Instead, I would magically save my money and be blessed with the ability to purchase a Celine bag — or at least a classic, well-made and hand-made leather carry-all that would last me for years, maybe even be passed on to future generations.

But just because I love the idea of buying better (and knowing the origin of a purchase) doesn’t mean I now can afford an expensive bag of my dreams.

A large part of this is due to my own priorities: I much prefer to save up to travel or spend more time with my far flung family than use thousands on a bag. But it’s also partly to do with coming to terms with what kind of consumer I was and am.

Even if in the future I have much more disposable income, I think I will still have a problem with spending thousands of dollars on one item (even if it’s “timeless” and will “last forever”). Apart from indulging in really expensive smells (see soap photo at top of post or my bottle of Le Labo perfume tucked in my drawer), buying things isn’t my favorite way of spending my hard-earned cash.

I know some people love bags and love shoes, and to them, spending money on those things is the best idea. I’m just saying I’m surprised I’m not doing the same! In my 20s I really enjoyed shopping things and getting them at a discount. So I assumed in my 30s I would be doing the same, just buying less, but better versions of the same things. Apparently, I’m not just changing how much I buy but also what I consider important enough to spend it on.

This realization is so freeing! It made me realize that not only do I not really need or want those cheaper purses, I also don’t really want the uber expensive one either. Just because you can afford the cheap version of something isn’t an indication of actually valuing the more expensive thing.

Maybe that seems obvious, but it really didn’t to me. And again, this is no judgement on people who love to use their “quality vs quantity” money on bags or shoes or fancy kitchens. Things are great too (again, see expensive soap above)! But knowing that it’s not always about the thing in the first place helps me make better purchasing decisions now.

4 thoughts on “Quality over quantity?”

  1. Lar, I relate to this so, so much. I still adore the investment bagsI bought in my younger years (no regrets over Chanel), but as I’ve gotten older my spending priorities have changed. I think part of it too is that the opportunity cost of spending thousands on a new handbag I don’t exactly need has increased exponentially. When I was younger and living at home with fewer expenses, I wasn’t sacrificing much in lieu for the bag—at least not so much that a few more paycheques couldn’t fix. Now that we have a mortgage and lots of everyday grown-up expenses, spending money on that bag equals a vacation I can’t take with my fiance, a home improvement project I can’t take on, funds I can’t put toward our mortgage or retirement savings. Adulting is hard!

    I got my tax refund last week and it was a good one; 10 years ago I would’ve been looking for my next splurge bag, but instead I’m spending a couple hundred at IKEA to give our patio a long overdue overhaul and banking the rest.

  2. Hi Lar! I can totally relate to finding so many other things I’d rather spend my money on than saving up for an expensive investment bag. In fact, even if I wanted to save up money for a fancy bag, so many little things come up that it’s basically impossible. (Also, having a baby girl now means I’d rather buy cute little things for her!!) BUT I am going to take a leap and do the KonMari thing, and I can already say with confidence of the 7 bags I have, only two spark joy and neither are practical for everyday use. I will really need a new bag, but I know I don’t have to spend thousands to get a bag that will last/spark joy/be passed on to my daughter. Have you heard of Sseko Designs? I am not sure it’s really your style, but I sell their stuff now, and oh my, I have an eye on a bag that cost $250. That’s doable. It’s not cheap like F21, but it also won’t cost thousands. Plus, I know about the factories and workers and that they are treated with dignity, so that’s a PLUS!

  3. Maybe you are missing the point a bit here. I mean, I get (and share) the concept of quality over quantity, and spending more in few, better things, but that doesn’t mean they have to be hugely expensive designer items.
    I mean, you can get a really good leather bag -that will last for years- for maybe a couple hundred dollars! it just won’t be Celine, or Chanel, but if it’s nice, who cares?
    The same with clothes and shoes.

    1. Hi Carolina, you are so right! It does not have to be designer at all. I think it’s sort of a misconception, or even trap, I have that better quality is hard to find unless you go to the big names. And I know logically that that is bogus, but it’s ingrained in my head after seeing them on instagram or the pages of the latest glossy mag.
      I do actually have a two non-designer bags that have stood the test of time (or at least 10 years) — and one of them is from Goodwill. And I tend to forget about them. A good reminder for me and our readers

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