Does Buying Quality Save Money or Not?

Many years ago, I learned a valuable lesson from an elderly African gentleman regarding quality that I have never forgotten.  Alfred was an incredibly nice man who worked as a cleaner in the carpentry workshop of a Gold mine where my grandfather was employed.

During a particular school holiday that I spent working at the workshop, I learned that Alfred had one of the lowest paying jobs in the country at that time and that on his meagre salary he supported his 2 unemployed daughters and 3 grandchildren.  The fathers of these children were either unknown or not around to support their families.

They lived together in a single roomed shack on the outskirts of the city, which required Alfred to travel by bus and to walk for over 2 hours every day in each direction.  I discovered that he would rise at 4 am every morning to make breakfast for the family and would leave home by 5 in order to start work at 7.30 am.  After finishing his shift at 5 pm, he would begin the long journey back home.  Despite these challenges, Alfred was always clean and smartly dressed.

Alfred was a hard working man in his late 50′s who, despite doing an extremely dirty and dusty job, was very particular with his clothes and shoes.  When the hooter sounded at the end of the shift, Alfred’s colleagues would change from their overalls into the civilian clothes as quickly as possible, without much care for their appearance.  Alfred would always carefully wash after removing his overall, brush his shirt and trousers free of any dust and then dress.  He would then meticulously polish his shoes, before putting them on, all of which meant that he would generally leave 15 to 20 minutes after the other staff.

In the mornings when he arrived at work, he would carefully and neatly fold his clothes and put them into a paper packet to keep as much dirt and dust off them as possible.  His shoes went into another packet to protect them.

Despite at the time it not being the done thing, I asked Alfred why he was so meticulous with his clothes and appearance.  As a young boy I was truly fascinated.

“Every penny I earn is very valuable to me and I can’t afford to waste anything.” He said.  “So I have to make sure that what I buy lasts a long time.  I buy the best I can afford and make sure that I take excellent care of it.  This allows me to save money to feed my family and buy a few small things that make my grand children happy.  I have learned that if I carefully look after things today, tomorrow will take care of itself.”

Wow!  I was blown away.

I learned that day, that buying quality in the short term will save you money in the long term, which allows you to invest in a brighter future.  Don’t become caught in a cheap buying spiral.  It may be cheap today, but will cost more money in the long term.

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