My Granny always used to say, "Buy cheap - buy twice." She had a point. In our current world of quick fixes, low cost, and disposable goods, we don't have an expectation that things should last, let alone last a lifetime. (For further reading, see Expensive Purchases That Can Save You Money.)
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In a relatively short amount of time, we have seen our nation swap the practice of investing in quality, long-lasting items, for the consumption of large quantities of mass-produced, low quality merchandise. But perhaps there are some items where paying for quality really does pays off. Where, with careful choice and wise investment, they may even last you a lifetime.
Here we look at four useful things that you could expect to buy today and use for the rest of your life.
A Good Chef's Knife
Why spend money on a good knife? Well, a good quality knife is an investment piece. Your chef's knife is the single most used tool for every meal. It is the workhorse in the kitchen.
It is going to do the chopping, the splitting, the peeling of large fruits or vegetables, the cutting of meats and the list goes on, so make sure that you are able to hold the knife in your hand before you purchase it.
Don't shy away from spending money on a single chef knife. It will last you decades if you care for it. Avoid knives that have a serrated cutting edge and do not believe any fad-marketing claim that suggests that the knife will never need sharpening. A good knife will need regular sharpening.
A Cast Iron Pan
Today's technology has produced a dazzling array of non-stick pans, but when it comes to perfect cooking sometimes there is no match for trusty old cast iron. Cast iron has several advantages over newer cookware, including excellent heat distribution, the ability to cook on the stove, in the oven or even over a fire and, when properly cared for, cast iron will last hundreds of years.
In order to get the most out of your cast iron pan, and ensure that it lasts, you need to season it. A properly seasoned cast iron pan is every bit as non-stick as anything you can buy today, and it'll last much, much longer. Be sure to avoid pans with seams, cracks or uneven or sharp edges. And for absolute longevity, choose a cast iron pan that is all one piece - not one with a wooden handle.
You need to put some furniture together. Your wife asks you to install a ceiling fan. Your daughter needs her bike fixed. Of course you have the tools to take on these jobs, right?
For many people today, owning a well equipped toolbox is something that only their grandfathers would have done. But owning the right tools will allow you to tackle household problems and save you a fortune in handymen over the years. In order to ensure these are a "one-time" purchase, you will need to spend the money on quality tools. You can easily go to your local discount store and buy a 100 piece tool-kit for a small sum. But you should fight the temptation as these poorly made tools will probably last you only a few uses before they break. Invest your money in quality, durable tools that will last a lifetime.
Look for forged metal tools with plastic, fiberglass or metal handles. Choose pieces that are durable and tough. Many of the top brands come with a lifetime warranty; however, good quality tools should last not just one lifetime, but for a couple of generations. (To learn more, see 7 Cheap Purchases That Will Make You Pay.)
A Leather Handbag or Briefcase
Americans in their 20s and 30s are now at least one generation removed from the era of homemade clothing. In the 1950s, the majority of homes had sewing machines, and people knew something about how items were put together. They could look at something in the store and tell if was of good construction.
Nowadays, all too often, items are designed to last one season, but if you purchase a classic style and a high quality piece, it could last you a lifetime.
When buying a leather bag or briefcase, look for small tight stitches that are made with heavy thread. Ensure any detailing is nicely machined and properly finished. The most durable bags are made of top grain leather. Be sure to buy a classic style - not the latest trend - to ensure that you have piece that will endure for a lifetime.
If you use your handbag or briefcase even once or twice a week, it will actually be very inexpensive - if you consider your cost per use over its lifetime.
Ditch the Disposable
Before, as a nation, we utterly lose the value of quality things, seeing all items as disposable and forgetting the worth of an item with decades of use, we should consider spending our money more wisely. We should perhaps behave as our forefathers might have, buying things with the view to holding onto them as long as possible, and then passing them on to the next generation.