on cheap things | The Life of K: on cheap things

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

on cheap things

i've been thinking lately about cheap things: things that don't cost what they should, things that aren't constructed well or things that use crappy materials. why do we (and when i say "we" i mean "me") buy these things? i am, or was, the biggest culprit but here's my story.

growing up we never had a lot of money so i learned early on what it meant to save money and what it meant to eat grilled cheese sandwiches 5 nights out of 7. though this didn't much bother me since i love grilled cheese sandwiches, but you get my point. i knew what it meant to have to miss the class ski trip or not join a whole course in high school (outdoor ed) because of lack of money.

my parents are not to blame however. my brother and i turned out completely different. we both knew that money was tight yet i was more conscious of my choices while he went on all the ski trips and continues to ask my parents for money (he's 24). but i digress, my parents are not to blame. they put me in every organized sport/activity that i wanted to try including and in order: baseball, gymnastics, soccer, ballet, football, brownies and later beavers, and hockey. they let me play every sport in highschool knowing that i would incur extra costs due to travel and tournaments and uniforms and equipment. where the money came into play was the quality of my equipment which was always second-hand, and our accomodations, which were almost always second-class.

not having a lot of money growing up didn't affect me much. there was even one point where we didn't have cable tv because we couldn't afford it. did i mind? not so much. we still got enough channels to watch some tv. we weren't inside for long anyways.

back to cheap things. due to the lack of money growing up i am always searching for ways to save money. i cut coupons and buy things on sale or at the dollar store. i don't buy the fancy clothes or shoes that everyone else is wearing. i drove a beat up old car and ate kraft dinner through all of university. and then i met j. he was brought up much the same way i was, money was tight but it hardly affected his or his sister's lives. but he still has an eye for nice things. quality things.

let me give you an example: every year i would buy a backpack for school. why every year you ask? because the cheap one i bought for last year was already falling apart and could hardly carry my books. so slowly, with j's influence i have been buying not-so-cheap things. i bought a more expensive backpack a couple of years ago and have been using it ever since. i started getting my hair cut at a hairdresser. there are other things but i won't take up too much of your time.

slowly, my mindset has evolved. i now expect quality and will pay extra to get it. we drive a brand new car and expect it to start every time we turn the key. we are still compulsive savers and don't spend much. we stayed with another couple in the hotel at provincials to save costs and hardly turn on our air conditioning. we hardly buy stuff for ourselves and are even forced at some points (eh j? one shirt every month just to keep him in clothes without holes). i find myself less often in the dollar store and more often in regular-priced stores.

all of this to say that this past weekend i bought a new pair of shower sandals. they cost ~$16 more than my previous pair (old pair: $2 from the dollar store, new pair: $18 from bushtakah). i am SO happy with them. they aren't moldy (though i will have to give them some time to be fair to my old pair), the fit my feet and i don't trip when walking through the kitchen in front of 6 people i don't know, and they're green. thank you j for changing my ways and thanks for buying my new sandals.

do i still shop at the dollar store? you bet i do. the dollar store still has a place in my life. where else can you get super cheap candles? where else can you get two chocolate bars for a dollar? and for my shower sandals, i actually bought them because i wanted to try the thong-style sandals. the $2 spent was well worth it. the dollar store allows you to try new things without committing all of your hard-earned money to them, but the dollar store is not the place to buy all your things. i guess that phase of my life has finally passed. i work for a living and am no longer a poor poor student. however, i will still frequent the dollar store when the need arises.

1 comment:

  1. i hear ya. The scary thing is that it seems these days (maybe it was always this way?) that sometimes even the expensive stuff isn't any better quality than the cheap stuff. Clothing is a great example - in a lot of cases, brand name clothes fall apart just as quickly as discount clothes. I'm also disappointed by shoes.... my $30 everyday shoes have outlasted my $110 nice shoes. I know it's not exactly a fair comparison, but it still bugs me.

    In most cases, thankfully, buying quality still pays off.

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