The buy-it-for-life movement has been gaining more and more steam over the years. You can check out the buy-it-for-life subreddit to really get an idea of how big this movement is these days.
What a great idea it is. Buy it once and you never have to buy it again!
It’s also an excuse to treat yourself to something nice because those are the items that generally last forever.
But does it really make sense?
That is the question. There are definitely plusses and minuses to buying it for life, but in general, if taken with an attitude of usefulness, I think it good.
In the pursuit of financial independence, many of us try to save, save, save. That means forgoing almost all purchases in the hopes that one day we will have enough money to leave the workforce and enjoy the atypical life of freedom.
But I am here to tell you, it is NOT ALL ABOUT SAVING.
Every item we buy has a purpose, or at least it should have a purpose. If we buy something with no purpose, then why did we buy it in the first place?
Without further ado, here are the top 8 reasons that you should “buy it for life”.
1. You will only have to buy the item once.
This should be obvious from the name, buy it for life. However, many of us on the path towards financial freedom are extremely frugal and are trying our best to find the cheapest way. The cheaper we can be the sooner we can leave the rat race, right?
Most of the time, this is true. But when you are buying it for life, it may be more expensive, but you will likely never have to buy it again. This far outweighs the downsides of paying more for the item upfront.
You have to make sure that when you are paying more for an item to last longer, that it will truly last a lifetime and compare it to others.
A great example is the Le Cruset Dutch Oven which weighs in at $300+ vs the Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven that weighs in at $40. Both of these great Dutch ovens will last a lifetime, however, you are probably wasting hard-earned money on the fancier Le Cruset.
The moral of the above example is don’t fool yourself into buying luxury items because they will last forever. The cheaper one may also last forever if used correctly.
2. Resale value stays high.
When we buy items for life, they are usually items of high value that retain their resale value. So if we want to liquidate them in the future you will have very little loss on your investment.
A good example of items that hold resale value and can be bought for life is camera lenses. Sometimes they cost $500+ each, which seems outrageous. However, camera lenses, as long as you take care of them never wear out. You can keep one for 10 years and then resell it for nearly the cost you paid for it.
Personally, I buy all of my lenses used because they work just as well as new.
You just have to inspect well because many people will try to sell one that was a dud or is broken. This is true of all buy-it-for-life items, so buyer beware. We can all do our part and not lie about the items when we go to sell them as well.
We are getting ready to sell our Nikon camera system because we switched to Olympus. Our favorite wide angle lens, a Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8, sells for around $400 new. We bought it for $330 used, and I expect to sell it for the same amount I bought it for after having it for an additional 4 years. This is the true power of forever items. Value lasts!
3. Quality is second to none.
When we buy it for life, we know we have done our research and have found the best item available for our needs. A buy-it-for-life item is expected to last forever, thus it requires the quality to be very good. A buy-it-for-life toolset, like a set of Snap-on wrenches for your workshop, have a lasting quality to them that can be used over and over again without ever wearing out.
However, if you use your tools only occasionally, then a set of Harbor Freight wrenches will also last a lifetime.
Buyers Beware: Lower durability does not necessarily mean lower lifetime. If you are only going to use it on occasion, then a cheap alternative may also be a buy-it-for-life item.
4. Forever items are in the eye of the beholder.
Not every buy-it-for-life item needs to be a top of the line purchase.
Does the hobbyist really need industrial grade tools to work on cars or are regular Harbor Freight tools sufficient?
Do you really need a Vitamix Blender when you make one smoothie per month or could the Ninja or Hamilton suffice?
Obviously, if you are not going to use your buy-it-for-life item on a regular basis, then the cheaper ones will last a lifetime and that makes them a forever item as well.
If I get only one point across in this article it is this: buying it for life is great, but don’t fool yourself about what you “need” vs what you “want”.
5. Most forever items come with spectacular warranties.
Back before I started my journey towards financial independence, I just wanted to buy things. And buy things I did.
I decided that this was the blender that I needed, and $400 later I had my very own Blendtec blender. Now, I have had it for over 5 years, and this past week, the blade’s seal wore out and we got rubber seal in our smoothies.
What the hell!
I paid $400 for that Blender! It should last a lifetime and more!!!
I remembered though, Blendtec has an 8-year warranty on their blenders, so I filled out the warranty information on their website, and the next thing I know, I have a confirmation of shipment for a new jar. No haggling, no complaining, just great customer service. This is what you can expect from top-end buy-it-for-life items.
6. You can save money.
Because a buy-it-for-life item lasts forever, you will save money in the long run. The upfront purchase price may be higher, but the fact that you will not buy another one in your lifetime means that the cost is averaged over your remaining lifetime.
My Blendtec blender, bought in 2013, now cost approximately $80 per year. By the time the warranty on it runs out in 4 more years, it will be at $50 per year. I was going through $30 and $40 blenders once or twice per year, so in the end, it is cheaper for me to have purchased the high quality forever item.
Another way to look at the cost of ownership is when/if you plan on reselling it.
If you buy a forever item for $500, own it for 4 years, and then resell it for $400, then your cost was only $100, or $25 per year. Because of the high resale value, your cost of ownership of forever items comes way down.
The caveat here is that you must be willing to resell it.
7. You can buy forever items used and still have a long life expectancy from it.
A buy-it-for-life item should last forever, right?
So why do we have to buy them used?
If we have done our research and have found that whatever it is that we want to buy is a buy-it-for-life item and truly will last forever, let’s save some money and buy it second hand.
This will allow someone else to take the first 10-50% of the value out of it and you can get it at a discount!
eBay and Craigslist are 2 of my favorite places to buy used items in the US. If you are patient, you can score great deals on these sites for buy-it-for-life items. If the original MSRP cost is $1,000, like our new camera the Olympus E-M1, but you get it used a couple years later for $500, then you can enjoy the item for life without the cost of buying it new.
8. You can pass on your forever items.
Everybody likes to get things for free. Your kids and later your grandkids will appreciate acquiring quality buy-it-for-life items.
One of the most common buy-it-for-life items to pass on is quality cookware, currently from the 1930s and 40s, however, the idea continues to apply. A buy-it-for-life item can be passed on and appreciated for generations to come.
No one wants to receive garbage hoarded for years, but will genuinely appreciate a quality item when it comes their way.
I hope to have presented the facts about buy-it-for-life items above.
Basically, they are a good deal so long as you are not fooling yourself about what you are buying.
If I can only get one point across, it is this:
Buying it for life is great, but don’t fool yourself about what you “need” vs what you “want”.
Spending money to save money is a concept that is normally passed over, but there are times when it can make sense. buy-it-for-life items is one of those times, and I encourage all of us to consider purchasing them when the option is available. Not everything we buy needs to last forever, just always keep in mindful of cost over its lifetime.
For an alternative view on buy-it-for-life items, check out this post by the Frugalwoods.
Thanks for reading, and let me know in the comments about your buy-it-for-life journey.
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