One of my core philosophies is to maximize the quality of things I spend a lot of time with/in/on and minimize the quantity of things I do not spend a lot of time with/in/on.

This way the reduction in quantity pays for the more expensive quality. This works well because in our society, quality is often underpriced and quantity is overvalued. What I mean by this is that it is easy to earn enough to afford high quality because wages are so set so as to be allow one to afford enormous quantities. Quality is also cheap because people do not put value on it.

One example: Six pairs of shoes at $20 that last 2 years each vs one pair of $120 shoes that last 12 years. Which is better?

Obviously the latter. The cost is the same, but you are wearing something that is better constructed for a good many years. In this case it is even quite likely that the lifetime can be extended. Other high quality items may command a substantial used price. For instance, a watch acquired for $200 new will have a used price of very little five years later. A watch acquired for $800 will probably sell for close to the same five years later. Which is less expensive?

I think the best strategy towards keeping and using nice things is to approach every purchase with two objectives in mind

  1. Plan to keep everything you own forever(*)
  2. Consider everything you own for sale at all times.
  3. Minimize the use of resources.

(*) Here forever is some combination of the lifetime of the object and a reasonable estimate of what that lifetime could be. To stay with the shoes, they can last 10 years. Appliances can also last 10 years. You can also get shoddy workmanship that last far less time, but that is no excuse.

This will force you not to buy anything needlessly and at all times know its value (to you) while minimizing planetary impact. Okay, the last is just one of my values. If you want to pollute I guess you can. Your grandchildren won’t stop you. Anyway …

This does not mean that you should go out and start replacing everything you own. You already own something that does the job adequately. You probably have several spares ready too. However, once you really run out of something essential, put down the money and get something, preferably used, that will last you a long time and provide superior qualitative use value. Over time, consequently, your stuff will increase in quality and decrease in quantity.

Jacob comments:

In terms of buying new and used, you must consider the difference between purchase and selling prices and then divide this by the utility or happiness it brings you. It is this number which must be minimized.