Why it makes sense to sometimes pay a little more for quality.
I love do it yourself projects. I love creating new things in the physical world. It feels like a primal hardwiring into my DNA. They say your passion finds you as much as you find it, and for as long as I can remember I’ve been excited about crafting new projects, creating, modifying, or otherwise building things. One inevitable necessity of this type of work is tools.
At some point you’re going to need tools to work on projects, whether they be woodworking, ceramics, glass, concrete, roofing or just crafts and clean up items. Being that I don’t have bottomless financial pockets, I have to be selective about which tools I choose and how much I pay for them. In the past, I would just buy the cheapest tools available, usually used, because I couldn’t afford much more, and this worked fabulous most of the time, but with a few big ticket items, I noticed that I just kept wearing them out or they kept failing pre-maturely. My attempts to keep my costs down were ironically costing me more than if I had bought a more expensive model. Specifically, drills, whether they be harbor freight, or the bottom of the line Walmart brand.
While they worked fine for light duty work, I couldn’t seem to get much long term use out of them. Furthermore, they couldn’t handle tougher jobs. I’m not talking industrial level, just a notch up from casual home use. The batteries would fail, the housings would crack, the reverse switches would fail, the clutches would begin to slip, and the generic Philips head bits I was buying would wear out. I estimated that with my moderate amount of DIY projects, I was going through roughly 2 $30 drills a year (Some stuff you shouldn’t buy at Harbor Freight).
Just about the time I was wondering what was so great about those more expensive drills, my neighbor showed up to help me with a project and brought his Dewalt with him. Without even intending to be a salesman, he was unintentionally convincing me of how much better a drill could be. For example, over the course of a few weekends, I saw him mix concrete with it, bore holes for electrical lines, sink hundreds of sheetrock screws using only the clutch to throttle down the appropriate about of power, drop it a time or two, and all this with huge intervals between charging the batteries. I was sold.
From that day, I began saving my dollars, and searching for ways to find a Dewalt 20v cordless drill at a discount. I checked ebay, amazon, craigslist, and offerup.com. It took me a good 3 months of stalking discounts and sales but finally I found one for just under the $150 mark. I told myself that I could easily use this for 5 years if not 10, and 5 years of buying crappy drills at $30 each comes out to $300. This was 4 years ago meaning I’ve actually been saving some money by paying a little extra for quality.
Here she is in all her glory
The hardest part of executing this concept is knowing what tools you can cheap out on and which ones make sense to pay more for. One resource I like to leverage for this is amazon. I can go there, and read the reviews for an item I’m thinking of buying or just scan an item using the amazon app in the store to see how many stars it has. I want every tool I buy to last almost my whole life. Reading the reviews and star ratings of a product is like having a 100 friends test it for you and tell you if they like it. So if you’re sure you need a higher quality piece of equipment, feel free to employ this strategy to save a good amount of money over the long haul. Just be careful not to convince yourself to buy something you truly don’t need just because you really want it.