Quality vs. Quantity

I love tea. Few things bring me as much pleasure as sitting down with my journal and a steaming mug of tea. The problem is that I love loose teas, which can be expensive. I recently bought tea from a new online retailer to save money. My logic: I can get twice as much tea for less money. Why not order?

It sounded like a good thing. I ordered three teas. Two of those teas are good. The third I hate and will probably throw away. Yes, I have twice as much tea, but is it better?

Not in this case. Though the new teas were pretty good, they weren’t nearly as good as my favorite teas. I eventually broke down and bought my favorite tea, which I feel is higher quality anyway. Wouldn’t it have been simpler, and ultimately cheaper, to just buy the higher quality tea to begin with? It would have, but in this case I was sucked in by the idea of getting more.

We live in a world that tells us that more is better. We are told to get as much as we can. Too often we are tricked by the idea that we need more. I wrote about that here.

We are often encouraged to seek quantity over quality. However, I have found that quality is so much more important. I found this to be true about just about everything, including tea. I believe in buying for quality. As a minimalist, I believe that everyone should.

It discourages stockpiling. When you spend a bit more for a quality item you will most likely not buy as many. You are also more likely to take better care of what you already have.

It ensures that you make better use of things. When I only have one of an item it gets used a lot. Fewer pairs of socks means that each pair gets used more often. I don’t have a drawer full of socks that don’t get worn. I get the full use out of my things to make sure that I get my money’s worth. I use them until they need to be thrown out or replaced.

It ultimately saves money. Buying cheap and replacing often can often cost more in the long run. As with my teas, sometimes we end up buying the higher quality items anyway when the lower quality items don’t work out.

It uses fewer resources. I have been carrying the same handbags for many years. Because I am not replacing my handbag every year I use fewer materials and fewer resources. There is less waste.

Does this mean that we shouldn’t try to get the best deal? Absolutely not. There is a difference between getting a high quality product at a lower price and buying a product of inferior quality just so that you can get more. If there is a product you like that happens to be on sale it’s fine to take advantage of the sale. That is being smart with your money. You may even buy an extra to save yourself money later. That’s great as long as you don’t get carried away and start stockpiling.

An important note: higher quality things are not necessarily expensive, and expensive things are not always high quality. Quality is determined by what serves you well and, to some extent, what you like. For example, I really like MAC cosmetics. It isn’t the most expensive, but I feel that their products are of good quality. I am pleased with them so that’s what I buy.

Don’t sacrifice quality  for quantity. It may cost a little more, but it’s worth it in the long run. If everyone focused on quality we would use fewer resources and create less waste. Purchasing high quality items benefits everyone — except retailers that specialize in low quality merchandise. I’m talking about you, Walmart.







6 thoughts on “Quality vs. Quantity

  1. Very good points. We’ve been forced to apply quantity over quality so supermarkets (especially) can bring down prices and wage price wars on one another (in the UK), but I for one am slowly realising that the lower the price the poorer the quality and I refuse to (literally) buy into it any more.

  2. I go for quality over quantity – off course it depends what it is.

    Yes I’ll by a good quality pair of furniture/clothing/shoes – I learned this early, my first par of good dress shoes was expensive, but would you believe I got 25 years out of them 😉

    But paper towels to clean up my tools? well then I might go for quantity over quality.

    I’ve found over the years that quality will definitely save me money in the long run.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly on quality vs. quantity.

    I love applying the principle anywhere I can find a place to do so. Relationships, things, entertainment, whatever.

    I’d rather have a few quality necessities that are well built and will last a lifetime than purchasing disposable crap over a lifetime.

  4. I found your blog via Becoming Minimalist. Quality over quantity tends to be my thing. I hate my grocery bill, but I love the delicious, local, usually organic and healthy foods I bring home from my family. Could I use the money to pay down debt faster? Yes. Would I potentially have more health related medical costs or feel sluggish daily while trying to play with my kiddos? Potentially, which makes slashing my grocery bill for the sake of more money (in my pocket) not worth it. So I agree with you, the “good” stuff tastes far better and crafts us into people who appreciate small amounts of high quality.

    1. Hi Kate, thanks for stopping by. I love how you described your approach to grocery shopping. It’s so true that paying a bit more now will benefit us later. And higher quality yields so much more enjoyment. Glad you liked the post 🙂

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