Cheap is false economy

Cheap is false economy

Avoid cheapness in your life. Cheap is false economy.

Some time ago, my family relocated to a new part of the country. I had the task of finding a new apartment, which as anyone who has had to do this will know – is kind of stressful. After looking at several different properties, I finally found somewhere that roughly matched our requirements. The only problem was that it was completely unfurnished.

Furnished and Unfurnished apartments in the UK

This may be an usual concept for people in other countries to understand, but in England and especially London, a lot of apartments will come with the option to be furnished or unfurnished. If it is furnished, it means it will come with furniture like beds, wardrobes, a washing machine, dryer, tables and chairs.

Obviously a lot of people would like to bring their own furniture to match their personalities, but other people, may be fine with not having to get their own. I fall into that latter category partly due to the fact, I’ve moved many many times. As a result, I have adopted a bit of a minimalist mindset and prefer to be as light as possible and not carry to much. It is quite a hassle buying and installing a new washing machine and other bits of large furniture, particular if you move every year or two.

So with the exception of the time, I lived in Japan, where you usually have to buy your own furniture – this was the first time, I have rented a place in England that was completely unfurnished. It also meant that I had to add the task of finding furniture to the list of ‘to do’ things. And it was not particular welcome. I already had enough things to deal with and the move was enough of an expense already.

And so began the episode of buying cheap furniture – never again.

The place we lived in was a small town with a large ageing population. There were lots of second-hand furniture shops. In fact, it seemed to be a large part of the local economy. Some of the furniture sold in these shops was truly classic – old Victorian and Edwardian furniture (some over a hundred years old). They were well-maintained, polished and preserved and full of character – but consequently a little pricey. There was also a lot of furniture made in the 1970s and 80’s, which again was of good quality and had its own character reflecting the age it was made it.

Picking Furniture

In my opinion, Victorian furniture and all the furniture made during the 70s and 80s are actually well made and sturdy compared to the flatpack stuff you get from Ikea these days. They were made to last and indeed they have. They also have more character. Some of my Ikea furniture has lasted about a year or so before they started to fall apart.

I quite liked some of the furniture I came across – particularly the stuff from the 1970s. It reminded me of old movies or episodes of Columbo. Perhaps I let this nostalgia cloud my perception when I chose it.  It was also relatively cheap and so we bought a lot of it.

My budget was already stretched enough at the time, and it was starting to give me a heartache, every time I pulled out my cards to pay for one more thing. So, rather than buy quality new furniture, we went to all these second-hand shops and bought one thing after another – a bed, another bed, a dining table, chairs, a sofa, small tables, bookshelves, wardrobes, side cabinets.

And it was pretty much crap.

Not crap in a bad way. Crap as in – it just did not suit us. It didn’t suit our energy. We were picking this stuff up because it was cheap, because we didn’t want to have stuff in boxes. But actually, things still remained in boxes. There was little motivation to truly own this stuff. We didn’t really appreciate it or even on a deep level like it. It was from this experience that I came to appreciate that cheap is false economy.

Waste of money

One piece of furniture really taught me how cheap furniture is not worth buying. There was one small white bookshelf. It looked ok in the shop and it was very cheap. But when it was delivered to my home and I had a closer look at it, there was something truly disgusting about it.

It had a unpleasant smell, which seemed to penetrate the area of the room it was in. I looked closer and saw it was filthy and had been repaired quite badly with strong glue. I wondered why I had not noticed this in the shop. But there was more to it. It had a kind of unpleasant energy or aura around it.

Furniture picks up the energy of its previous owners or home

It may seem a bit weird to say, but I stopped and had to imagine what kind of house this came from and the first thing that came to mind was a kind of doss house – a place, where the previous occupants might have been drinkers or drug users or had a low-energy about them.

The furniture actually disgusted me and I knew I had to remove it from the apartment as soon as possible. The problem is that I couldn’t return it immediately, as the furniture shop had a waiting list for them to pick it up. I didn’t want to have it in the room for even one night, so I did the best thing I could think of – I exorcised it.

Not with a prayer, holy water and a bible.  No, I used a hammer. I took that bookshelf outside and broke it up into little bits. My neighbours probably thought me mad. Mafioso quotes of “it’s nothing personal, just business” came to mind as I assassinated it in our carpark. It fell to pieces easily, as basically it was cheap and a piece of crap – yet more proof that cheap is false economy.

Then I put it in black bin bags and took it straight to the skip. Rest in peace. Hasta la vista. And yet, even when it was in my car, that sickly smell penetrated and left an imprint for a little while afterwards. Where’s the Wolf when you need him?

Cheap is False economy

So anyway, eventually we got rid of all the furniture and moved out. The place didn’t suit us, nor did the furniture. We realised, that whilst we thought we had saved money, actually we had lost it.

Cheap is false economy. If you buy cheap things, you actually invite cheapness into you life. If you buy good quality items, you are more likely to appreciate it and look after it. It will last you longer and will raise your energy levels. This episode taught me to go for what I want and not to compromise by choosing something because it is cheap.

Investing in quality increases productivity

For example, I spent a lot of money on my laptop, which I am using to write this article. It has also helped me write three books and tens of thousands of words. It cost a lot, but it has been one of the greatest investments I have ever made.

Before that, I went through a few different second-hand laptops. They was fine, but all relatively slow. For my last laptop, it would take 5 minutes to start-up. That delay was just too long, because in five minutes, I could write 250-500 words at least. The battery also kept running down quickly, which is another example of why cheapness is bad value.

Second-hand carries the energy of its previous owner

Cheap and second-hand stuff also carries the energy of the previous owner. Whilst this may be fine, if the previous owner is Sean Connery or Clint Eastwood (- who wouldn’t want to have a bit of their energy?) What if it belonged to a lazy person who’s energy level and motivation was very low? Would you take in some of that energy into your home? It is far better to imprint your own energy onto your own products, clothes or furniture.

Making the best of what you can get

Sometimes we can’t always buy the best, so we have to make do with second-hand or cheaper options. That is fine. There are ways to bring out the best of these products and imprint our energy field onto them. We do this by showing appreciation of our new objects and giving them a clean-up. For example, clothes can be dry-cleaned. Or a second-hand laptop can be cleaned, memory can be added to make it function better and new software added to make it run efficiently. It can be given a new lease of life.

Tools for your job

Perhaps one of the areas you do not want to compromise in quality are the tools you use in your work. To give a personal example – I tend to buy the best quality acupuncture supplies because I recognise they make my job a lot easier and can enhance the effects of my treatment.


For example, I buy high-grade Japanese loose moxa. Moxa is a herb you burn on acupuncture points in order to enhance the effects of treatment. Japanese moxa is of higher quality (like their cars) but also more expensive than the lower grade Chinese moxa.  It also smells a lot better than the Chinese moxa, which has the unfortunate side effects of penetrating into your clothes.

Years ago, I had a young client come in wearing expensive brand clothing. At the time, I had just purchased a large quantity of Chinese grade moxa, quite cheaply, which I wanted to try. Unfortunately, when I used it, it made the whole room stink of smoke and the strong smoke smell penetrated into my clothes and no doubt his brand-wear too. I never saw him again after that.

It also took me a long time to clear the smoke-smell from the room. I had the windows wide open and the fans blowing and this was in autumn. I was sure the clinic owner would probably complain as other therapists were also renting out those rooms. Thankfully they didn’t, yet that room still had a smokey smell days later. After that, I just ended up chucking the whole bag of moxa away and switched to Japanese moxa. Cheap is false economy.

Ondan Smokeless Moxa Cones

I also have some Japanese needles (some I had to buy in Japan as they don’t sell here) and Japanese smokeless Ondan moxa, which is very pricey, but I find much safer to use than the cheaper Chinese versions.

Ondan is a type of smokeless moxa cone which you light and stick on the end of needles to make heat penetrate more deeply into the body. You don’t want to compromise on quality, because if one of these cones falls off the needle, it can burn the patient.

Once I bought a large box of the Chinese version of ondan, which was much cheaper  and contained more cones than the Japanese version. However, when I opened the box and looked at them, I could never bring myself to use them. The quality was just too poor.

They were badly packaged and each cone seemed to be covered in a layer of charcoal, which may spark up when lit. I also felt they were far heavier than the Japanese version, which meant there was a risk they could drop off the needle (and burn a patient).

I ended up binning the whole box and buying the Japanese version. Cheap is false economy

Tools for the Trade

My father is the same. He doesn’t care at all for fashion and will wear hand-me-downs or the same items of clothes for decades, even when they are falling to pieces. But when it comes to tools for his gardening business, he makes sure to buy good quality tools, especially power tools and he looks after them well.

He has had some of his tools for over 20 years, without needing to repair or replace them. That is good value for money. He tells me that when he sometimes buys new tools from hardwear stores these days, they don’t last so long and easily bend when put under some pressure. Basically they don’t make tools like they used to. Some of these tools are manufactured in China.

Cheap is false economy – Invest

There are some exceptions to buying new. For example, a second-hand car can be better value than a brand new car. New cars straight off the forecourt sometimes need some mileage in order to iron out any kinks they may have. New cars also immediately depreciate the moment you buy them, but if you buy second-hand the depreciation margin is less. Also kids toys and clothes may be better as second-hand or as hand-me-downs because you won’t be using them for too long. Kids will soon outgrow them. However, I would avoid second-hand pushchairs as they undergo a lot of wear and tear. There are other examples of where second-hand or cheap is good.

However, if something is important to you and especially your work, then you should aim to buy a higher quality version even though it may be more expensive. Cheap is false economy and you can end up spending more by having to replace the second-hand or cheap item that you bought in order to save money. Getting good quality items can turn out to be better value and is worth it in the long term.

If you enjoyed this read, you may find this article on money interesting.

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