My partner and I love to read. Since moving in together, we’ve been unpacking and arranging all our books. We recommend books to each other and laugh over the number of duplicates lining our shelves.
One author I’ve not yet read is Terry Pratchett. My partner HIGHLY recommends his books (as do many, many others). I’ll get around to reading them one day — especially because one of his books, Arms at Play, has a particularly relevant quote. (I was first introduced to this quote on Reddit, where you see it pop up with alarming frequency.)
“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”
Y’all — it is expensive to be poor. And while I am far from poor now, I remember what it was like to have to pay more for crappy items. It’s cheaper to buy toilet paper in the big packs — but what if you can’t afford the big package? What if you have no room to store 30 rolls while you work through them? You go buy the smaller packs that cost less upfront, but are more expensive per unit. When I was a kid, we could only afford to get me a pair of off-brand sneakers from Payless which invariably fell apart faster, causing my Mom to fork over more money on another pair of shoes. Other kid’s parents could afford to get them well-constructed shoes that lasted until they grew out of them.
The current version of this dilemma I am facing is with small appliances. Blenders, specifically. In keeping with my roots and the Mustachian community, I try to buy as many things pre-owned as possible. New blenders are horrifically expensive. So, I buy used.
I scored a great deal on a blender last year at the “Midwest’s Largest Outdoor Garage Sale” in the parking lot of Six Flags in March, right before the world shut down from Covid. Great timing, right?! I bought a Wolfgang Puck Commercial blender for $40. What a steal! I enjoyed smoothies galore all year.
But then, I moved. And I didn’t use the blender a whole lot. When I went to use it for a smoothie the first time in the new house, it made a low growling noise and didn’t really blend much of anything. Kale chunks in smoothies are not optimal, btw. My diagnosis after searching on The Google was that the lubrication on the internal mechanisms was gone. But there’s no way to crack open the unit and add more, so it was effectively dead.
$40 for one year of blending.
I went online and searched the Marketplace on Facebook for a different smoothie. This time I found a KitchenAid blender (affiliate link) for $45. (It might’ve been stolen goods, but that’s another story for another time.) Now I have a cool purple blender to make my smoothies. Sorry, it’s “bosenberry”.
But how long is this one going to last? Am I going to be in need of another blender this time next year? At what point should I stop buying pre-loved blenders and fork over the money for a new, quality blender?
I’m like Vimes now. I’ve paid $85 for two blenders. Someone who pays $300 for a Vitamix will have a working blender for years to come, while I’ll be surrounded by a graveyard of broken small appliances. Is it actually less wasteful and cheaper to buy a high-quality blender upfront? Where is the line in blender buying?
(If you’re like me and have questions over when to buy quality items and when to cheap out, I highly recommend the Buy It For Life Subreddit. They have great responses for people like me with questions on optimal blender buying.)
Just for fun, here is my take on his theory:
“The reason that the rich were so rich, Gwen reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take blenders, for example. She had one hundred dollars leftover in her budget each month. A really good Vitamix blender cost three hundred dollars. But an affordable blender, which worked ok for a year or two before crapping out, cost about forty dollars. That was the kind of blender Gwen always bought, and used until her smoothies became increasingly full of chunks of kale.
But the thing was that a good Vitamix blender lasted for years and years. A person who could afford three hundred dollars had a blender that’d still be effortlessly churning out smoothies in ten years’ time, while the poor person who could only afford used blenders would have spent four hundred dollars on blenders in the same time and would still have smoothies with chunks of kale in them.
This was Gwen’s ‘Blender’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”
As always, thanks for reading! What is your “buy it for life” product recommendation! Sound off in the comments below!
I have an Oster blender that has worked just fine for me for the past 10 years. I like Oster because all of their blender bases and jars are universal, they all fit each other. If you get a glass jar it will last for life, or at least until you drop it… so don’t do that. So I would definitely consider looking into an Oster blender. I could just be lucky and have survivor bias, but my partner also had an Oster base and both of ours are 10+ years old and still blending away.
In non blender related buy it for life, I love my stainless steel pots and pans and kitchen utensils. If you take care of them they will outlive you. Stainless steel and cast iron are way better than the cheap teflon pans. They cook food more evenly, and dont give off toxic chemicals. And stainless steel cooking utensils are way better than plastic because they wont melt when you leave them on the stove… so those are definitely worth the investment too.
My mom grew up really poor. Like, add cardboard to your shoes so you don’t have to ask Mom for a new pair poor.
Which is why it’s so wild to me that probably the best piece of financial advice she gives is “don’t out-cheap yourself”. She means exactly this. And I am SO guilty of it. There’s tremendous pressure to pay less, get it for free, find it secondhand. And that can be really great. Or it can lead to a lot of smaller costs and more waste.
It’s a fine line, isn’t it?
David @ Filled With Money says
It’s truly awful that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Part of it has to do with the difference in mentality that the rich try to save as much money as they can and the poor try to spend as much money as they possibly can.
Another has to do with how the world is designed. People usually flock to the rich with opportunities and people rarely flock to the poor with opportunities. Even simple things like grocery stores are stationed around rich neighborhoods.
The rich will ALWAYS get richer and the poor will ALWAYS get poorer.
David @ Filled With Money recently posted…You Are Your Own Worst Critic: How to Stop
Sam Brickwood says
The Book is “Men at Arms”
Dividend Power says
This was a good article. I tend to agree with theory. You get what you pay for.
Dividend Power recently posted…Inequality of US Income Distribution is Rising – Week In Review
The problem with buying thing for life is that you have to not move. If you are still in your early career and move every year or two like me, then I have to add the cost of moving any thing I bought too.
Gwen [Fiery Millennials] says
Yeah that’s definitely an issue *squints at my very nice, very expensive and very heavy sewing machine I’ve moved cross country and back*
I think buying more expensive and more premium things are *correlated* to it lasting longer, but isn’t the cause of it.
For example, there’s tons of expensive / luxury things you can buy that’ll break down just as fast, if not faster, than the cheap version.
Likewise, $40 for a year of blending isn’t bad in my opinion. I’ve a Vitamix that’s stopped working after ~4 years. The $40 is only “bad” and “socioeconomically unfair” if you can empirically conclude/guarantee that the average Vitamix will last more than ~8 years. Likewise for many other items.
In reality, Vitamix’s breakeven point is probably more than 8+ years for you to reach a breakeven point (I don’t think this is the average Vitamix lifetime), because money now is worth more than money later. In my opinion, the most expensive thing in buying a cheap blender is the time invested to research and buy the cheap blender.
I think your theory is definitely true for some cases, but not all cases and in my case for Vitamix, untrue.
Though I will say, your theory is 100% correct for Hexclad though. Those are so good but so incredibly expensive lol.
But new Vitamix machines come with a warranty of 5–10 years that covers everything short of breaking your blender by trying to blend rocks. If your Vitamix dies after 4 years, you should call Vitamix and they’ll send you a free shipping label to return it, and then they’ll repair or replace it at no cost to you. (You don’t even need the original purchase receipt… they can look it up based on the serial number on the back or bottom of your machine.)
Gwen [Fiery Millennials] says
Ah! Thanks for the expert advice! That might be the thing that pushes me over the edge when this cheap one dies.