Today’s Reader Q&A comes from my wonderful friend Aliza. Thanks so much for reading KOAB – and for asking the tough questions!
I really want to get a bread machine but I am torn as to the caliber. My general MO is to buy something top of the line – why bother with a lesser brand when it will just break, but this time I am really torn. Do I buy a $50 bread machine and test the waters of whether I use it? Or do I just splurge, get a decent one for double that (at least) even though I could decide 6 weeks from now that I should stick to baking cakes and cookies – and therefore don’t need a bread machine at all?
By the same token, what happens if I LOVE baking bread and I bought myself a $50 piece of junk that lasts only a few months – and then have to pay for a better model on TOP of the original? Basically, what I’m asking is: Do you skimp in case the item falls quickly into disuse or splurge because if you do love it, a better quality item will stand the test of time?
This is such a good question! And I’m not sure that there is any right or wrong answer.
I’ve been trying to come up with a succinct “soundbite” answer, and I just can’t! So, instead, I’m going to give you a list of questions I try to ask myself when making “big” purchases – that’s almost as good, right?!
- I’m always mindful of the fact that keeping kosher doubles – or quadruples, if we’re talking Pesach – the “equation”. Aside from the multiplying costs, I also have limited space issues. So whether it’s a bread machine or any other kitchen appliance, I always ask myself: Is this really something I need? How often will I use it? Do I have the space to store it? Can I keep it pareve or will I ultimately need two?
- What is the difference between a $50, $100 and $250 machine? Is this a perceived difference, or have I done the research to back up my assumption that the $250 will serve me better? (For example: reading Consumer Reports or online reviews, asking my friends, etc?)
- Do I have the money – not put-in-on-my-credit-card money but planned-for-and-funded-in-my-budget money — to pay for the more expensive item?
- Is the extra money “no big deal” to me? Or will it mean I can’t do other things that I was planning to do this month? I.e. what’s the opportunity cost of getting the more expensive item?
- Can I borrow this item from a friend for a few days to give it a test drive? I think I would have totally convinced myself that I “needed” an iPad had I not borrowed my dad’s. Turns out I didn’t fall in love with this admittedly super cool gadget. Phew, way to dodge that $500 bullet.
- Is this something I will use daily or weekly, or just once in a while? If it’s the latter, maybe I really can get the cheaper one. I have a very nice Cuisinart food processor for year-round use, but for Pesach, I bought a $20 machine at Walmart. It is LOUD. It has a smaller bowl. And it has fewer slicing/dicing attachments. All in all, it’s a much lower quality machine, but you know what? I only use it 8 days a year (and not even really, when you consider yom tov). I can deal with loud and small for eight days.
- When all is said and done, if the difference is $25 or less, I’m probably going to go with the higher end appliance. If it’s more than that, I probably will either get the cheaper item – as long as it has decent reviews – or look for mid-price options. OR if I am really convinced that the more expensive item is that much better and that I will actually get a lot of use out of it, then I will squirrel away money until I can pay cash.
I‘d love to hear how you guys make these decisions: Do you go for quality first, cost second? Or does the price point make the decision for you. Do you have a pantry filled with used-three-times-and-forgotten-about-them appliances? How do you avoid appliance graveyard syndrome?