[Mornin’ y’all! Got an awesome (and funny!) guest post today from personal finance legend Pete over at Do You Even Blog. Pete talks about the “Buy It for Life” Movement and why spending just a little more money on higher quality stuff ends up saving you more in the long run. Enjoy!]
“Excuse me, sir, is this your child?” she asked.
I’m kneeling down in the middle of Wal-Mart, shopping for chapstick, when a lady taps me on the shoulder.
“Oh my, yes! Thank you! I was just…um…sorry.”
It was my child.
He had wandered off at some point in the previous TWENTY MINUTES when I had been comparing prices of chapstick.
Yes, 20+ minutes.
I, Pete McPherson, am a cheapskate.
My father’s a cheapskate, and his father before him. It’s in my blood.
But the good news? Being cheap saves me money…
WAIT, does it?
Does being cheap actually save me money?
Answer 👉 Sometimes being cheap costs me money.
Introducing the “BIFL” movement (Buy It for Life)
When I married my wife, I couldn’t wrap my head around how she could spend $300+ for a ski jacket.
“This $300 jacket will last me for DECADES, if not the rest of my life. I won’t have to buy a new one every few years LIKE YOU.”
It was true.
I was notorious for buying cheap stuff (especially clothes) that would only last a few years before I would slog miserably to the store to buy a (cheap) replacement.
Luckily, like all good marriages, my wife began to wear off on me. 😉
For the past 5 years, I’ve been working hard to change my shopping habits from one of “save some money now” to “save MORE money over the long run and also own better things.”
“Buy It for Life” is now my obsession.
But before I share some fun BIFL items, here are 4 concepts behind the BIFL philosophy.
BIFL Concept 1 – Look for Lifetime Guarantees
If your Darn Tough socks wear out 20 years from now, you can return those bad boys and they’ll replace ‘em.
If the JanSport backpack you wore in MIDDLE SCHOOL is coming apart at the seams, they’ll fix it for you for free.
Did you buy brake pads for your vehicle? You should be able to return to the store you bought them from and get free brake pads forever. Most people don’t realize they can exchange brake pads for life.
- L.L. Bean
- Eddie Bauer
- Duluth Trading Company
Every company’s “lifetime” warranty is a bit different, but it’s worth getting to know which companies offer real lifetime warranties!
A quick Google search yields 15-20 more brands that’ll help you save money in the long run.
BIFL Concept 2 – Look for Modular Items
“Modular” in this case means buying items with parts you can replace separately.
Yes, I own a $330 drip coffee maker (more on this below).
But if anything ever breaks or wears out, the system is modular. I don’t need to buy a whole new coffee maker, I can replace the one part.
I build my own computers and keyboards (#nerdalert), which are modular. It makes it easy (and cheaper) to update and upgrade them, as I can simply upgrade one part.
BIFL Concept 3 – Obsess Over Quality
Warranties aside, quality products generally just last longer.
Yes, quality is expensive, but remember what we’re going for here: long-term savings!
I swear – I will NEVER buy another kitchen appliance from Wal-Mart. It’s like they’re engineered to fail after a year.
Find quality goods. More bang for your buck.
BIFL Concept 4 – “Buy It for Life” Items Will Also Make You Happier
And I don’t just mean “Oh I bought a really expensive jacket and now I’m happy!”
I mean long-term satisfaction.
That feeling that you are spending your money wisely (and probably helping the environment, too, though that’s a topic for another day).
Owning nicer things is fun too. ;)
Here Are Some “Buy It for Life” Items for Inspiration 👇
The Technivorm MoccaMaster Coffee Brewer
At $350, even my savvy wife complained about my new drip coffee machine.
She has since caved and admitted it was totally worth it (and also admitted I am a bonafide genius husband).
The Moccamaster is THE. BEST. HOME. COFFEE. DRIP. MACHINE. In the world. (Just trust me, I’m obsessed with home coffee).
It’s also modular and backed by a 5-YEAR warranty.
Darn Tough Socks ($20-25ish a Pair)
I hate wearing socks, mainly because I’m usually too cheap to replace the ones I have (with holes in them). >_<
But a while back I fired off a tweet asking for sock recommendations, and the results were clear: Darn Tough Socks.
(Sam from Government Worker Fi replaced his after 11 years??).
- High quality (though they run small in my experience. I buy one size larger than normal)
- Excellent selection
- Lifetime warranty
I’m now a loud-n-proud owner of 2 pair.
Queue the Office Space quotes!
It’s silly, yes, but it’s also one of those “This stapler is a BEAST that my grandmother gave me, and now I’m giving it to you, grandson…” items.
And it only happens every few months, but MAN is it annoying when a stapler doesn’t work. Why is that? I think maybe because it’s such a simple task. ;)
Patagonia Winter Wear
For these, you can thank my wife and her vast experience with cold weather.
It used to be The North Face, but their quality seems to be going downhill in recent years.
Now, it’s Patagonia.
Aside from being generally high quality, they also have a nice repair policy (you can bring in any Patagonia item into any Patagonia store and they can do small repairs, or you can ship it to them for larger repairs or a patch kit!)
A Mechanical Keyboard
Ok ok ok…this one is less of a long-term cash savings (how often have you been replacing your keyboard?), but more of a quality-of-life improvement that’ll last a really long time.
I got my first mechanical keyboard when my Apple keyboard got several sticky keys, and it’s fair to say I’m OBSESSED with them at this point.
- Are modular!
- Way way way more durable and reliable than normal keyboards
- Customizable, fun and pleasurable to type on (FYI, they don’t have to be loud and annoying. Grab one with linear switches!)
They WILL last longer than normal keyboards.
Wanna learn more? I wrote a blog post on this 👉 What is a mechanical keyboard? A simple guide to differences and benefits.
Just TRY to break ‘em.
I inherited some ancient Corelle dishware from my grandmother (they were uber-old and uber-ugly), and at first I hated them.
But they were lightweight and insanely durable.
We’ve since upgraded to newer Corelle (that were designed in this century) and couldn’t be happier.
NOTE: Pottery Barn dishes are a “never again” purchase in our household. These are the opposite of BIFL. Ours started chipping in year 2 at the slightest touch, and they’re expensive to boot!
Pyrex stuff (same company as Corelle!)
If you’ve had Pyrex bakeware, you already know.
That stuff lasts!
Yeti Coolers (or Stanley stainless steel thermos)
Two years ago I spent $60-ish on an off-brand cooler from (you guessed it) Wal-Mart.
I then proceeded to purchase multiple bags of ice EVERY DAY of a 3-week camping trip.
Then the handle got stuck.
Enter the BIFL cooler: Yeti.
Y’all have NO IDEA how hard it was for me to throw down $350 for a cooler–but now that I’m using it, I’m constantly reminded that it’s a long-term investment!
I spend far less on ice (speaking of me being cheap, it’s silly how much bagged ice runs), and I’m hoping to get decades out of the Yeti.
In the market for a thermos?
Grab a stainless steel Stanley brand (they’re apparently affordable, though I wouldn’t know. I’ve been using my father’s Stanley from the 1980s).
NO FURNITURE from Ikea
Look, I love me some Ikea.
Where else can you grab a couch, rug, and coasters-you-didn’t-really-need for under $400?
But in my experience, Ikea furniture is cheap for a reason: It simply doesn’t last.
EXCEPT: glassware from Ikea. My wife has had the same drinking glasses for more than 15 years at this point, so maybe the glass stuff from Ikea is officially BIFL.
I personally don’t own a Miele, and they are definitely expensive, but I’m constantly seeing them mentioned as BIFL vacuums.
But aside from Miele, I CAN speak to the fact cheap, off-brand vacuums are the WORST when it comes to wear and tear.
We bought a “Dyson-alternative” off-brand a few years ago. We saved $100ish, but the thing sucks (and not in the vacuum way. It’s falling apart and now we need to buy another one).
Fiskars Tools and Lawn Equipment
Want tools to pass down to your grandkids one day? Buy Fiskars.
Wusthof Kitchen Knives
Every time I visit my parents, I’m appalled by the dullness of their kitchen knives, and my father generally comes at me with “I don’t want to buy a new one!”
If you do any cooking at home (and I’d argue you should), having a reliable, sharp chef’s knife is everything.
There are lots of great brands, but Wusthof strikes a good balance of affordability and durability.
PRO TIP: Invest in a knife-sharpening kit! They’re cheap and literally make knives like Wusthof BIFL.
Red Wing Boots
Yet another company with a reputation for quality clothes, or in this case, work boots.
They also offer “a la carte” repairs from their website where they can replace or repair specific parts of the boot (which is cheaper than a “standard” repair), and they have a lifetime warranty.
Why on Earth would you spend $70 on a belt?
Well, so you can avoid spending $20 every 7 years for the rest of your life. ;)
Hanks leather is the way to go.
But What About You? What Are Your “Buy It for Life” Purchases?
What brands do you willingly pay more for?
Drop us a comment below with a recommendation or two!
Pete McPherson is the founder of Do You Even Blog, an award-winning blog, podcast, and YouTube channel dedicated to helping creators build impactful (and profitable) businesses on the Internet.
He has interviewed some of the top entrepreneurs and creators in the world, (including Jamila Souffrant, J.D. Roth, Tanja Hester, and many other awesome personal finance folks!)