Contributed by Joe W.

What is more important to you when you are shopping, the quality of the item or how many items you can buy?  For me, it has always been quality.  I would rather pay more for a well-made shirt than five poorly made ones that won’t stand the test of time.

A recent book Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell discusses how our need for cheap products has created a culture where quality means nothing.   We have dollar menus, furniture for twenty bucks and tank tops for $5.  When things are so inexpensive, we are saving money, right?  Not really.  As it turns out, the important needs in life—rent, utilities, education, healthcare—are not getting cheaper but the cost of these basics is rising while our wages have become stagnant.

Here are a few areas where our desire for cheap has had a negative impact.

Employment.  We have outsourced much of our manufacturing jobs and menial labor to other countries without creating jobs to replace them or re-educating ourselves so we are equipped for alternate types of employment.

Service.  When you go shopping, instead of the well-trained salesperson of the past, it is more likely that we end up dealing with people who cannot answer your basic questions about the products.

Product Quality.  The $20 furniture you are purchasing costs less because of the material used – for example, compressed sawdust stuck together with toxic glues.  Not only that but you have to carry it to your car, spend money on gas to get it home, assemble it yourself and it’s likely to need replacement before too long.

Value. The concept of everyday low prices is also a lie.   In a price comparison, one-third of Wal-Mart inventory was priced higher than average.  Another one-third of the inventory has a price savings of only 2 cents per item.  Not a real bargain considering how many stores close down and jobs are lost when Wal-Mart moves in.

Next time you buy something think about who made the product, the materials that were used and how long it will last before you have to buy a replacement.

When has putting quality first paid off for you in the long run?  We invite you to comment in the box below.