The Power Of Making Things Last

by David Bakke

My parents, who are both in their mid-eighties, have had a great impact on my financial perspective as a whole. Although it took me many years to realize that they were in fact speaking the truth, now that I have my “financial head” on straight, all of what they said in the past is now making sense to me. One of my biggest remembrances is them stating how much “life” they had gotten out of a certain item. It could have been a color television; it could have been a microwave. Regardless, at a fairly early age, it was instilled in me that getting the most “life” out of a purchase was a major step towards  saving money in the long run.

Some Examples

After a recent conversation with my father, I was able to gather the following information. I will list the item, and how much life my parents had gotten out of said item:

  • Microwave: 15 years.
  • Automobile:  Average of 10-12 years.
  • Color TV:  15 years.
  • Table Saw:  40 years.
  • Band Saw:  25 years.

And the list goes on. As you can see, my parents maximized their purchases. So, what does this message mean for me?


First off, let me explain something to you, although it may be little off point. A “deal” is only a deal if it is for something that you need. I have a side business where I buy and re-sell things on the Internet, so I see great prices on a variety of things on a daily basis. Therefore, the temptation is to just buy everything I see because it is at a great price. This philosophy is flawed. As I said, unless you can get good use out of an item and truly need it, then no matter what the price, it is just wasted money.

Quality Rules

If you can get a 32” Westinghouse flat screen TV at a price of $200, is that a good deal? I would say no. Westinghouse has a horrible reputation in the area of televisions so no matter what the price; I would say that this is a bad deal. Now, if you can get a Sony 32” TV at a great price, then that is a different story. This goes back to my point that every “deal” you find is not necessarily a good deal.

My Printer

Now let me get to the nuts and bolts of my story. I bought my first personal computer 11 years ago. Along with it, I bought a comparable printer. Over the years, I have had to upgrade my personal computer, but there was never any need to upgrade my printer. Sure, it printed slow, sure it didn’t have fax capabilities. But I never needed any of these functions on a regular basis. Suffice it that the original printer that I purchased 11 years ago lasted until just last month. And as a matter of fact, I even waited to connect and install my new printer until my old one ran out of ink. If you haven’t noticed, many times, the cost of replacement ink for a printer is more expensive than the printer itself.


My next point that I would like to mention is regarding the accessories that go along with any new electronic purchase. I’ll give you a simple example. The eleven-year old printer that I just replaced accept re-filled printer cartridges at a cost of $12. Although I only paid $40 for my new printer, the replacement ink cartridges will now cost me $25 apiece. Extended out over the life of this printer, this means that the price of the ink is more important than the price of the printer. This is definitely something that you should keep in mind before upgrading anything in your household. The newer the elecctronics in your household, the more expensive the accessories are that go with them.


In this day and age, where everything is based on “keeping up with the Joneses” don’t fall prey to this social myth!  Purchase your items (no matter what they might be) based on a combination of quality and price, and plan on maximizing their usability. There is no need to upgrade any item in your home just for the sake of upgrading,

I hope you found this article to be helpful and informative and please include any thoughts in the comments section below.


{ 1 comment }

1 Donna Bakke June 23, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Ma’s gonna kick your a$$. She’s only 78!!!!! ;)))

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