Tumultuous times don’t exactly portend a prosperous future. When I was in college and then into the early years of my career, it seemed that my income would continue to increase. The value of our house would always go up, year after year, and by the time I hit 65, I’d have more than enough money to retire and live the good life.
I’ve wised up, though, and the world has become more and more chaotic. Right now my retirement funds are looking good, but that wasn’t the case just 7 or 8 years ago. It’s been a wild ride, financially, and I don’t feel particularly secure about the future.
With this in mind, I made the decision some time back to always buy the best quality products I possibly can. In a way, it seems counter-intuitive. Since the Great Recession of 2009-2012, our income has had quite a few ups and downs, so shouldn’t we be switching to the cheapest off-brands on the market? Not at all. Going, “cheap” is often more expensive than buying quality in the first place, which is a smart prepping principle.
When our son was in his rough and tumble years, pretty much from age 3 up until just recently!, my wife switched to Levis jeans for him after his knees had poked their way through the eleventh pair in a row of off-brand jeans. I remember her buying the Levis on eBay in order to save money, and sure enough, that more expensive brand turned out to be tougher than he was, and that’s saying a lot!
When my daughter needed a pair of hiking boots, she found a pair she liked that was made of faux leather. We knew the cheap materials wouldn’t keep her feet warm and dry, nor would they stand up to much wear and tear, so, just before a family camping trip, we purchased a pair at REI for just shy of $100, and those boots have stood the test of time. A pair of $39 boots that are scuffed and ruined in a month are more expensive per wear than a $100 pair that ends up being worn for years and then sold at a garage sale for $10! That’s the real bargain and a much better way of being prepared.
A partner principle to buying quality is taking care of what you own. “Oh, well. I’ll just get another one!” was a common statement back in the day when something I owned was lost or broken. That was back in the days when my parents bought most of everything I needed — a childish point of view, to be sure.
That’s not how I think anymore. I can’t think like that anymore! There is no guarantee that I’ll have the extra dollars to buy a pair of replacement sunglasses, for example. Instead, the habit of always, always putting my sunglasses in the same place every time, insures they’ll be there when I need them and will be far less likely to disappear. When the lenses are scratched, I take them to an optical company to be buffed. I buy a good quality pair of sunglasses, and they typically last for years, so I get the benefit of better quality along with the longer lifespan since I take care of them.
Over the years, we’ve been teaching our kids to take care of what they own. After a game of Uno, we make sure that every Uno card makes its’ way back into the box and that school books are kept in a bookshelf. There are plenty of bookshelves in the house, and that’s where our books belong.
This mindset harkens back to the days of my grandparents and the Great Depression when the rhyme, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,” wasn’t just a quaint quote but a way of life.
As preppers, it’s important to have quality gear, clothing, tools, etc. so when we really, really need them, they are there to do the job. I’ve had nightmares of being in a dire, life and death scenario only to find out that all the “Made in China” gear in a storebought “survival kit” turned out to be nothing but cheap crap. You can bet, my own kit has high quality everything — I just can’t take the risk.