Canadian Money Forum banner

1 - 20 of 32 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
377 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I was up north on the weekend, and stopped into the local Wal Mart to pick up some items. I have not been to a Wal Mart in a number of years, but was shocked at the price tag on a lot of items. T-shirts or shorts for $6 (not the latest trends). A two pack of my contract solution for $13 ($15 at Costco, and I thought that was cheap). Two glass baby bottles for $4 (My wife said she paid $10 each). Everytime I checked out the price of something I was floored.

This place was built to sell us stuff we don't need. It's like a drug. It was hard to control myself. You don't need the actual item, but cannot resist because it's so cheap. I saw a portable bbq for $30. The propane tank was $10. I had no need for it, but thought to myself, "If I had to go on a picnic, I would buy this and trash it afterwards." Like Costco, if you don't stick to your list, you could end up buying twice what you came for.

It got me thinking, a lot of the stuff in there is crap. It is cheaply made and made in China for the most part. It won't last long, but we don't care. Look how cheap it was. If I have to buy another one in a few years time, no problem.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a co-worker last fall. We were discussing out weekend, and I said I was tuning up the lawn mower and storing it for the winter. He laughed at me and said "Why bother? When the thing breaks down in a few years, just buy another. They don't cost that much." And he had a point. It took me a few hours to change the oil and air filter and clean out the build up of grass. Would my time be better spent with my family each fall and just buying another mower in five years? My dad's lawn mower lasted for what seemed forever. He did the annual maintenance on it and when it finally broke down he was disappointed. He expected to give it to me one day (probably to cut his grass though;)). At one time, things were made to last. Now, things are made to sell.

Is this why we are running out of land fill? We keep throwing out the crap we buy. Squawkfox had a great post about crap a year ago. One part I would like to highlight:

Something weird happened to the value of stuff from my grandparents era to today. Back then, stuff was honored, maintained, shared, and passed down from generation to generation. My grandparent’s stuff lasted and was expected to be useful year after year. Today, stuff doesn’t endure the test of time. It becomes obsolete, discontinued, deprecated, and abandoned. We garbage and consume crap quickly and fiercely. Crap is a disposable and insatiable addiction.
I look at some of the items in my parent's household, and I remember them from childhood. It's not that they are too cheap to replace them, but they still function to this day. Can we expect the things we buy today to work for our children?

My parents' television set broke down after 20 years and the salesman told them not to expect their new one to last even 10 years. "They don't make them like that anymore."

It's easy to buy crap. And sometimes we have no choice. What are you doing to buy less crap?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,455 Posts
I was up north on the weekend, and stopped into the local Wal Mart to pick up some items. I have not been to a Wal Mart in a number of years, but was shocked at the price tag on a lot of items. T-shirts or shorts for $6 (not the latest trends). A two pack of my contract solution for $13 ($15 at Costco, and I thought that was cheap). Two glass baby bottles for $4 (My wife said she paid $10 each). Everytime I checked out the price of something I was floored.

This place was built to sell us stuff we don't need. It's like a drug. It was hard to control myself. You don't need the actual item, but cannot resist because it's so cheap. I saw a portable bbq for $30. The propane tank was $10. I had no need for it, but thought to myself, "If I had to go on a picnic, I would buy this and trash it afterwards." Like Costco, if you don't stick to your list, you could end up buying twice what you came for.

It got me thinking, a lot of the stuff in there is crap. It is cheaply made and made in China for the most part. It won't last long, but we don't care. Look how cheap it was. If I have to buy another one in a few years time, no problem.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a co-worker last fall. We were discussing out weekend, and I said I was tuning up the lawn mower and storing it for the winter. He laughed at me and said "Why bother? When the thing breaks down in a few years, just buy another. They don't cost that much." And he had a point. It took me a few hours to change the oil and air filter and clean out the build up of grass. Would my time be better spent with my family each fall and just buying another mower in five years? My dad's lawn mower lasted for what seemed forever. He did the annual maintenance on it and when it finally broke down he was disappointed. He expected to give it to me one day (probably to cut his grass though;)). At one time, things were made to last. Now, things are made to sell.

Is this why we are running out of land fill? We keep throwing out the crap we buy. Squawkfox had a great post about crap a year ago. One part I would like to highlight:



I look at some of the items in my parent's household, and I remember them from childhood. It's not that they are too cheap to replace them, but they still function to this day. Can we expect the things we buy today to work for our children?

My parents' television set broke down after 20 years and the salesman told them not to expect their new one to last even 10 years. "They don't make them like that anymore."

It's easy to buy crap. And sometimes we have no choice. What are you doing to buy less crap?
Great topic. It's true, most things are made today so that they can be replaced in a short period of time to make the companies more money. For us though, we "try" to buy higher quality items (after comparison shopping feverishly) and maintain them. We usually hold onto "crap" for years. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
204 Posts
I believe the phrase "planned obsolescence" was originally used to describe how the auto makers got people to replace their cars every few years, sometimes with exotic new "features" like fins that had no function.

These days, computer makers and consumer electronics firms do the same thing simply by adding real technological improvements. Everything from HDTV to Blu-ray DVDs means junking the earlier generation of gadget even if it still works. And yes, I do remember a great little Hitachi 14-inch color TV I bought in 1981 that finally gave up the ghost (picture tube) just last year. No extended warranty, no repair ever.

www.wealthyboomer.ca
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
131 Posts
It's easy to buy crap. And sometimes we have no choice. What are you doing to buy less crap?
I have moved four times in the last seven years. That fact alone has helped to to think very carefully about buying "things" to have in the house. I often ask myself the question "Do I really want to have to move that?" before I buy something.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,516 Posts
It's amazing what some of my neighbours leave on the side of the road. Its like they just feel they have to replace things every couple of years regardless if its worn out or not.

Although frugal people are not immune. Our problem is that we hold onto things in case it may one day have a use. The trouble is, the extra storage, stress from clutter, etc. outweighs the potential cost of rebuying an item (which will probably never happen). Its something I'm still learning. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
What would the economy look like if the majority of people didn't consume the crap?

It's a double edged sword... we need those consumers to continue buying crap to keep the machine rolling. If everyone suddenly went frugal, imagine the impact on the economy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
236 Posts
How do we define 'crap'?

Isn't one man's crap another man's treasure?
especially those that leverage, day traders, trade only options and/or short stocks

Could it be the 'buy & hold' folks are the ones who are unable to define or differentiate between crap & treasure :confused:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
377 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
What would the economy look like if the majority of people didn't consume the crap?

It's a double edged sword... we need those consumers to continue buying crap to keep the machine rolling. If everyone suddenly went frugal, imagine the impact on the economy.
Interesting question. However, most of the crap we are buying is being manufacturered in China. If instead of purchasing crap, we bought things we needed and made well and made to last, that manufacturing base could shift back to domestic production. China is competing on low quality, low cost. Their advantage could disappear if consumers became more finicky.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
377 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Although frugal people are not immune. Our problem is that we hold onto things in case it may one day have a use. The trouble is, the extra storage, stress from clutter, etc. outweighs the potential cost of rebuying an item (which will probably never happen). Its something I'm still learning. ;)
That reminds me of a recent Toronto Life article on the growth of storage facilities. Ever notice that these places are popping up all over the place? Well, apparently, we just aren't buying more crap, but we can't part with it either, so we are paying to have it stored too. :eek:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
263 Posts
It's a double edged sword... we need those consumers to continue buying crap to keep the machine rolling. If everyone suddenly went frugal, imagine the impact on the economy.
Hmmm, let's ignore national differences and think about that. Let's say the crap is 30% of overall economic spending, with the rest either frequent purchases (groceries, fuel, etc) or big items bought infrequently (houses, cars, furniture). So we cut out that 30%... the companies that made the crap stop buying supplies, so commodity prices go down, which might lower some other prices (ie, if less crap is made with metal steel might be cheaper which means cars might be cheaper). Then 30% of the workforce loses their job, which slows down the purchases of infrequent big items, and causes a small reduction in the small items (less gas used for commuting to work) and a bigger reduction in the buying frequency of big items.

This reduction takes a while to work through it's systems, but companies retool and resize their production lines to be efficient with the new volumes, and the new increase in available labor means that salaries can decrease, lowering the costs of the finished goods.

Ultimately, a new equilibrium is found and things stabilize. If we could somehow arrange it that each two income couple would only lose 60% of the second income's hours (for a total reduction of 30%), we as a society would probably be better off. We now have a couple who collectively works less hours, can still afford to live since prices have gone down, and people aren't buying crap (which by definition is no good stuff, useful needed items are still being bought).

The biggest problem, and the biggest scare, is that our society has moved away from the close community bonds we had, and of course, it doesn't work out that one worker loses 60% of their hours... what winds up happening is that some couples are fine, and other unlucky ones lose both their jobs, and so does their brother, father, and uncle. Unfortunately, only a planned economy could help spread the pain of a downsizing of that magnitude, and they have their own problems.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Interesting question. However, most of the crap we are buying is being manufacturered in China. If instead of purchasing crap, we bought things we needed and made well and made to last, that manufacturing base could shift back to domestic production. China is competing on low quality, low cost. Their advantage could disappear if consumers became more finicky.
I am not so sure if people are prepared to pay a markup just because certain items are *made in Canada* or *made in North America*.

I asked that very same question in another thread and the general consensus among posters indicate prices are the primary concern, the rest is just details.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
I'm afraid I won't be adding much substance to the thread, but I just wanted to say "Yes, (we buy too much crap.") I try to be moderate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
I asked that very same question in another thread and the general consensus among posters indicate prices are the primary concern, the rest is just details.
This is a conversation I was having with my wife the other day (while shopping for a new BBQ to replace our aging clunker). We've become such a disposable society where price seems to be trump quality so much so that environmental impact takes a back seat.

Case in point, deciding which BBQ to buy - with so many "Made in China" options available at such ridiculously low prices, how does one justify paying double or triple for a brand with known sustainability (ie: Weber, Napoleon etc.) We've come to expect most consumer goods to only last a handful of years before we have to throw out and buy new - a friend even made the argument that maybe he doesn't want to have a BBQ last more than 5 years, hey, I get a fresh shiny new one that much faster.

Counter this with the European mentality - they seem to consume higher end, or have an expectation of higher end material goods. They spend more to acquire their merchandise, buy less of it, but expect them to last that much longer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,516 Posts
Counter this with the European mentality - they seem to consume higher end, or have an expectation of higher end material goods. They spend more to acquire their merchandise, buy less of it, but expect them to last that much longer.
I'm not sure that this is necessarily true about Europeans anymore, but I think you've hit the nail on the head as to one of the main causes of the problem.

In the long run it usually pays to spend more and buy a quality product that will last (perhaps even for several generations), than to buy junk that will have to be replaced over and over again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
I would tend to agree that the majority of us especially in North America, consume way more than we need to. The quality just isn't there any more. It is unfortunate, but it is what our society has transformed into. Having a high quality product beats out cheaply produced products most of the time. You will pay a premium for that product, but at least you will get what you pay for.

What I find ironic is this. My parents generation; baby boomers etc...say back in the 1940s-1980s. The average family had how many kids? At least 3 or 4 no? So you have a household of 5 or 6 people. Typically living in a 800-1000 square foot home. The family usually had ONE automobile. The dad was typically the bread winner, while the wife could work part time or full time if she had to or wanted to. And, amazingly enough...those families turned out just fine. Now today we have an average family size of what is it 1.6 children per family? So 3-4 people in a family. Both parents work, not because they want to, but because they have to! Out of necessity to pay for the new car(s), DREAM HOMES, that are easily double and sometimes triple the size of post World War II homes.

This is the part I love though. You would think most people would have more than enough room for storage in their 1500 or 2500 square foot home. With only 2 children...sometimes three. Is it just me, or does everyone seem to use their garage as a storage locker? Most people can't even fit their damn cars inside the garage. I don't get it. Half the family size, double the living space, but way less room. HMMMM


Yes I think we consume way too much crap!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,061 Posts
We have a rule in our house that for every item we buy, we have to get rid of something of equivalent size or value. That rule doesn't work for everything, but for most purchases we are able to stick to it. The problem is that it is far, far easier to buy something than to get rid of it responsibly. Selling things, taking them to the recycling center, or giving them away to someone who can use them takes more time and effort than purchasing them.

Knowing that I have to deal with the hassle of getting rid of something tends to act as a pretty effective brake on my desire to acquire. As I've grown older, I've also come to value experiences more than possessions, so while I'm considering a purchase I often do a mental comparison of the alternative things I could do with that money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,483 Posts
This is a conversation I was having with my wife the other day (while shopping for a new BBQ to replace our aging clunker). We've become such a disposable society where price seems to be trump quality so much so that environmental impact takes a back seat.

Case in point, deciding which BBQ to buy - with so many "Made in China" options available at such ridiculously low prices, how does one justify paying double or triple for a brand with known sustainability (ie: Weber, Napoleon etc.) We've come to expect most consumer goods to only last a handful of years before we have to throw out and buy new - a friend even made the argument that maybe he doesn't want to have a BBQ last more than 5 years, hey, I get a fresh shiny new one that much faster.

Counter this with the European mentality - they seem to consume higher end, or have an expectation of higher end material goods. They spend more to acquire their merchandise, buy less of it, but expect them to last that much longer.
Very interesting. My fiance and I are heading out today in search of new BBQ. She is greatly bothered by the fact that for a BBQ of quality we probably will spend $1000+. I not a fan of spending money frivolously, but our old BBQ bit the dust, I enjoy outdoor cooking, and I generally believe that you get what you pay for if you do careful research on a subject. My research suggest that I will push hard to buy a Napoleon or Weber grill today. Oh boy, this will be a hard sell.

She is all in favour of buying the Walmart or Canadian Tire generic brand. Found some horror stories online about those - definitely get what you pay for with those it seems.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Very interesting. My fiance and I are heading out today in search of new BBQ. She is greatly bothered by the fact that for a BBQ of quality we probably will spend $1000+. I not a fan of spending money frivolously, but our old BBQ bit the dust, I enjoy outdoor cooking, and I generally believe that you get what you pay for if you do careful research on a subject. My research suggest that I will push hard to buy a Napoleon or Weber grill today. Oh boy, this will be a hard sell.

She is all in favour of buying the Walmart or Canadian Tire generic brand. Found some horror stories online about those - definitely get what you pay for with those it seems.
Jon, just as an FYI, Broil King and/or Broil Mate BBQ is made in Canada and also have very favorable reputation. They are a notch below Weber/Napoleon but they will last you a while and they are much less expensive. I believe there are deals to be had at Rona/Home Depot, especially with Father's Day just around the corner.
 
1 - 20 of 32 Posts
Top