MONEY WISE: Buy Good Tools for the Task, Whatever the Task
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The BIG THOUGHT in this LITTLE POST:
Whatever you're going to do, buy the best tools you can for the job because it will make the task easier and more enjoyable.
We all use tools everyday; I don't necessarily mean a hammer and nails, I mean we all have things that help us do the things we need to do:
- Cooking: knives, a cutting board; pots and pans, etc.
- Sports: shoes, special clothes, certain equipment
- Work: a computer and IT equipment, or specific tools of the trade
We all use tools everyday.
Having the right, good quality tools for the thing you're trying to do is vital to your enjoyment of any task.
An example: I workout 3-5 times per week. I need to have comfortable and durable gear (workout clothes and shoes). If there's any discomfort, it makes a task which I usually enjoy unpleasant. But if my gear is good, the workout is even better.
Facilitating the task we're doing by having good tools makes it more likely that we'll do it again.
Now I'm smart about the gear I buy; buying the best doesn't mean paying the most. For shoes I wait for sales. For workout clothes, I go to consignment shops that sell high-end workout clothes at a fraction of the price.
I buy the best I can afford in order to make the task I enjoy even more enjoyable.
Now, it might be easy to justify purchasing good tools for tasks we like, but what about tasks we don't like? Why bother spending money on those?
It's even more important to buy good tools in this instance so that those tasks are as pleasant as possible.
An example: My mother never enjoyed cooking. In fact she hated it, and so never invested in good kitchen tools. This made a task she had to do on a daily basis even more difficult, and made cooking even more of a chore. Imagine trying to meal prep with dull knives, and no kitchen equipment that might make each task easier. (We never even had a potato peeler! She would peel potatoes with a small knife which made the task longer and more challenging.)
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Buy the best tools you can for the task you need to get done: it will either make an enjoyable task even better or an unpleasant task tolerable.
A small caveat: make sure you're buying tools that are truly for what you need, and not for more than what you need.
An example: I bought my coffee maker at Walmart for $15. What does it do? It makes coffee, but nothing else. I put the grinds in the little paper filter, put the filter in the basket, pour water into the receptacle, and then I push the only button the machine has: ON.
And then...it brews the coffee. That's it. It doesn't have a timer, it doesn't have a milk frother, it doesn't make espresso, it doesn't floss my teeth for me.
My coffee maker only makes coffee. (What a novel idea.) I don't need to buy a state of the art coffee maker because I won't use those features.
I don't want a timer because I don't make my coffee at the same time everyday. Plus, I grind my own beans, so the thought of leaving the fresh grinds in the filter basket overnight - LOSING THEIR DELICIOUS AROMA - as it waits to brew in the morning is just...sacrilege.
I also don't need a milk frother because I only use a splash of heavy cream in my coffee.
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What I'm saying is: buy the best you can afford but don't pay more for features you're never going to use. Always ask "Will I use this tool to its full capacity?"
If the answer is NO, then downgrade the type of tool you're going to buy. (Like buying a coffee maker that only has one button instead of one that comes with a NASA console.)
Now there will be some trial and error in this process, and you will inevitably waste money and buy less than useful tools at times.
An example: When I moved into my current home five years ago, I bought a salad spinner. I was a little too frugal and bought a less expensive model with a small knob on top - a knob too small to get a proper grip, so spinning salads is annoying. It's the part I like least about meal prep.
Why is this a problem?
Because I eat salad every day.
I have a task that I do daily, but the tool I have makes the task unpleasant. That means it's time to buy a new tool.
A lesson learned: don't be penny-wise but pound-foolish.
Meaning don't save a few dollars on something now, only to end up having to re-purchase a better item at a later date. The thing you saved pennies on in the first place is going to cost you more in the end since you're buying the item twice, and the second purchase will be more expensive than the first because the first cheaper purchase has already proven itself unworthy.
We learn as we go, it is what it is.