What Everybody Ought to Know About Splurging on Investment Pieces

published Feb 4, 2016
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

What’s an investment piece? It’s anything you want to buy that’s entirely out of your normal budget for such a thing, but that you’re trying to rationalize buying by allocating its value over its entire useful life. In short: An investment piece is something kind of expensive you expect to last a long, long time.

That makes me sound like I’m down on investment pieces in general. I’m not. For the record, I’m all for stretching your dollar to procure something of quality to improve your home or your wardrobe. A great handbag really does make an outfit. And when that same versatile handbag makes your outfit for you every single day? You can see how each wear only costs you pennies even though the bag costs hundreds or thousands. If it lasts a long time and gets used a lot, an expensive quality piece will actually cost less per use than buying a bunch of $29.99 handbags every other season. Same goes for a designer chair. Or an heirloom dining room table that will outlive it’s owners as it’s passed down through the family. But here’s something everyone ought to consider before they buy something they expect to last a long while:

Don’t buy an investment piece before you’re ready to take care of it.

“Investment piece” is an interesting term. When people talk about investments, as in real estate or stock portfolios, they expect to earn money. You don’t make money “investing” in objects (art may be the exception here, but I digress), but you do earn a sort of return on your investment piece by not having to buy many more cheaper, more inferior things to replace the one.

The point is: The key to investing in things is that you need and expect them to last a long time. So you should be ready to take care of them. Investing is a mature thing to do for any form of the word; caring for a pair of leather boots or a wooden table is no exception.

Here’s how to make an investment piece worth your while:

  • Do your research. Make sure what you’re buying is truly of good quality. Read reviews and do your due diligence to make sure that other customers have been impressed with the wear of whatever you’re buying.
  • Learn how to take care of it. Search the web. Ask friends. Learn all about the maintenance and upkeep that your new thing requires. Begin to concern yourself with things like the humidity level in your house and how to treat certain fabrics and materials. Localize your search, too. Weatherproofing boots for winters in Wisconsin is a much different beast than in Arizona.
  • Get to know your local professionals. You have “your” doctor and “your” Starbucks. Time to find your go-to cobbler, tailor and upholsterer.
  • Stay on top of it. If you read that a dining room table should be waxed twice a year, wax it twice a year. Set appointments for regular maintenance tasks you don’t want to forget.

If you’re prepared and inspired to make the most of your investment, you’ll feel a lot more confident about the splurge.