Here’s my philosophy of buying stuff (which relates to how I review things, too):
Overall, anything you purchase and use should support you in achieving your goals. It should enhance your life. It becomes part of your self-expression, so consider whether it expresses who you are (as opposed to imitating someone else’s values). Ideally, it will add a sense of fun and enjoyment to your life. So…
Buy the best
If you want or need a thing, you may as well get a sense of gratification and pleasure from owning it. Don’t settle for “pretty good.” Who wants to just to get by? Reward yourself. Find out what the best is and acquire it. Buy one really high-quality version of something. It will last for years and consistently outperform mediocre models. You’ll save money in the long run, too. People will notice that you’re the kind of guy who goes for and enjoys the best. (Not that you really care what other people think.)
The best is not necessarily the most expensive
Sometimes the best is the most expensive, but not always. The prices of certain products have a “fashion factor” built in. Sometimes the more expensive item is a piece of junk. (Certain designer clothes come to mind. For example, if you were heli-skiing in Alaska, would you want the D&G Colorblock ski jacket for $1,215 or the Spyder Rocket Down Jacket for $450? Hint: take the Spyder.)
When it comes to a product, you want the features that matter.
Be aware that for product categories where there’s plenty of competition and diversity (e.g. knives and cars), there are grades of the “best.” Get the best thing that will meet your needs while allowing you to stay within your budget. For example, if you like two cars equally well, you don’t have to get an Audi R8 when a Subaru WRX will do the trick. Then you’ll still have cash left over to acquire other stuff.
If you want it, buy it
Life is short. It is not for the acquisition of things but for the accumulation of great experiences. Stuff can facilitate or enhance those great experiences, however, so life is also about having things that support your expansion and joy. Don’t worry about justifying your wants. Just be aware of what they are, and satisfy them. If you did not have desire, you would not be alive. The journey to fulfill a desire is engrossing, but ownership is nice, too.
The right tool for the job is more rewarding and efficient to use
This is in keeping with the tongue-in-cheek saying that “I know which end of the screwdriver to pound a nail with.” You’d rather use a screwdriver than a butter knife to screw in a screw. If it’s a big job, you’d prefer an electric screwdriver. Thus, get the right tool for the job. On the other hand, don’t whine if you can’t get it this moment. Imitating MacGyver has its compensations.
With regard to another exemplar of practicality, one distinctive thing about James Bond is that he always uses the right tool for the job. (Is he dressing for the tropics? Then it’s sea island cotton.) That’s one way you can be like 007.
To accomplish certain complex or creative tasks, you must sometimes research what the right tool is. That’s where this site comes in. Sometimes style is also an important factor. (Have you determined your own style?) But don’t be a slave to marketing. If you clearly define the job, you can identify the right tool.
Newer is not necessarily better, but it often is
When you can afford a newer, better item, get it (unless the one you currently have is exceeding your expectations). Newer is usually better when it comes to electronics, cruise ships, running shoes, condoms, and blogs about best stuff for men. Newer is not necessarily better when it comes to Toyota FJ40 Cruisers, cognac, hats, and books.
Pay cash if at all possible…
…and it almost always is. That is, pay as you go. Don’t hock your future. No one likes to be in debt. Even if it enables you to have something you want, if you bought the item with a loan and you’re paying interest, your satisfaction will be diluted. Sometimes you might have to wait awhile to get something (see point one above), but that’s better than handing your money to the credit card companies in unnecessary interest and fees month after month. Learn the benefits of delayed gratification. Save for the expensive item. (Of course, when you buy online, which is what this site helps you do, you can use a credit card, but you’ll pay off the balance each month.)
This point does not necessarily apply to buying things like cars, Gulfstream G650’s, and houses. In that case, research your best financing options. But in general, being debt-free is itself a reward.
If you have something you no longer like or use, jettison it
Sell it on eBay or Craigslist. Give it to Goodwill. Make room for something new. For guys especially, clutter can be limiting. We keep things beyond all need or usefulness, often sentimentally. (You know you do.) Back in 14,000 B.C., Ugg probably kept the first rock he used to killed a baby mammoth when he was a kid, even though he now owns bigger and better rocks. You know, technology keeps evolving. Go with the evolution. Especially when it comes to T-shirts and underwear. (For example, I still keep a thread-bare pair of Joe Boxer boxers with happy faces on them given to me by a girlfriend long ago. They are too tattered to wear and the girlfriend broke up with me years back, but I still keep them tucked away somewhere in the back of a drawer.)
Loyalty to a brand is fine as long as the brand is loyal to you
Just as you wouldn’t slavishly buy something just because it’s fashionable (unless you’re shallow and unsure of yourself), why would you stick with a particular brand if it starts to degrade, or the company treats you disrespectfully? Quality is paramount. The best-quality stuff will inspire acquisition, and if a business, artisan, or organization has integrity, it will carefully cater to its loyal patrons. Think Ferrari.
Do you regard a particular item as a luxury? Then it’s probably more important to acquire it than something you regard as a necessity
Why? Because it will improve your attitude more.
There’s never a shortage
There will always be cool things to want and get. Always. Humanity has never run out of better stuff and never will.
When buying a gift, prioritize your observations, followed by your intuition, followed by your personal preferences
Observe the person for whom you’re shopping over time to see what they like — they’ll mention stuff or somehow give clues. Notice what makes them smile, what interests them. Remember what they like to do on vacation or for entertainment. Then give them a gift related to those things. Also pay attention to your intuition. If you have a feeling they’ll like a certain thing, they probably will. On the other hand, if you’re shopping for a gift in a half-assed way, their response to it will also be half-assed (though they will probably thank you politely). Don’t give them something just because you like it. Perceive their uniqueness as a person, cherish it, and they’ll appreciate you. Give the gift of a great experience. If you’re getting something for a woman, that means jewelry. 😉