Smart Shopping: Buying for Durability

Smart Shopping: Buying for Durability

Sarah Coffey
Feb 24, 2009

One of the best things you can do to make your home beautiful and functional (like Dave's kitchen above) is to fill it with durable goods. Durability, that elusive quality that ensures an item functions the way it's supposed to for many years, is usually worth the investment of a little research and thought. We've made the mistake of not buying for durability and it's cost us both time and money...

We once bought a coffee maker that used specialized pods to make individual cups of coffee. We loved it at first, until the pods were discontinued. We couldn't find them at any of our local stores, and online purchasing turned out to be a slow and ill-fated process. Although it seemed durable (it wasn't poorly made), our coffee maker ended up being unusable and therefore very wasteful. After about a year of sporadic use we replaced it with a more standard Cuisinart model, which we've now used for three years and counting.

Technically, durable goods are those items that function properly for 3 years or more before they have to be replaced, although depending on the item, lifespan expectations can be much longer. Buying durable goods reduces cost over time and decreases waste. When shopping for durability, there are a few things to look for:

• An item should be well made from strong materials.
• It should be functional and intuitive to use.
• It should be reasonably simple to repair using common materials and parts.
• It should be easy to clean at home.
• If it requires special care, services should be reasonably priced and easy to find.
• Strong, long-term warranties are a good indicator of a durable good.
• When durable goods eventually break, they're often recyclable.

Give us your tips for buying durable goods in the comments below.

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