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Oakley sunglasses and related life lessons

Oakley sunglasses and related life lessons

I once paid a lot of money for Oakley sunglasses.  At the time, it seemed like a foolish purchase. However, those sunglasses have proven to be perhaps the best investment I have made. There are important life lessons related to my Oakley sunglasses.

I never told my wife how much I spent on those sunglasses, so I’m not going to give such details now (she has a long memory…:). But the year was 2006 and the price was about 10 times more than I had ever paid for another pair of sunglasses.  Now you know why I didn’t tell my wife.  By the way, these were not just ordinary Oakleys, but were special edition Tour de France sunglasses (take regular Oakley prices and double).  Fast forward 11 years and I still wear those Oakley sunglasses several times a week as I bike, run, work in the yard, attend sporting events or otherwise.  Those sunglasses have been through countless runs (2 marathons and several half-marathons) a 205 mile bike race and thousands of training miles on the bike.  I have punished those sunglasses and although they look “worn” at this stage, there are few scratches on the lenses and no sign of any damage to the frame.  In short, I likely never made a better investment.

If I amortize the cost of my Oakley sunglasses over 11 years, its only a few bucks per year.  In other words, people I know who buy cheap sunglasses, wear them for a while until the cheap stuff breaks and then go buy another cheap pair end up spending more on sunglasses over a period of years than what I spent over the past 11 years.  I paid a significant amount of money one time–but what I got in exchange for my money has lasted all of these years and is showing no sign that it will stop providing value any time soon.  Ok, great story, who cares?  Maybe nobody (except me).  But perhaps there are larger life lessons to be gleaned from this example:

  • You usually get what you pay for.  Not always, but usually.  I paid a premium price for a premium product–premium not only because of the brand, but premium in function and longevity.
  • If you want the best product (or service), you need to find a specialist. Oakley makes great sunglasses.  That is how Oakley began and although they now make lots of other stuff, the core business of Oakley remains that of a sunglasses designer and manufacturer.   I could also share the story about my Mavic Ksyrium wheelset regarding the same point.  Mavic makes wheels, that’s about it.  But not just any wheels, the best wheels in the world.  Mavic is the Oakley of the bike wheel world.
  • If you invest in the right thing, you should get a good return on investment.  On the other hand, if you only look for the lowest price (with no other consideration), you may just be wasting your money and unless you change your mindset, you may repeat that process of wasted money several times.
  • Wal-Mart does not sell a lot of premium stuff.  That’s not a problem if you recognize this reality.  In other words, if you need bananas and cold medicine (and/or any number of other groceries and commodity products), Wal-Mart is not a bad option.  But when you need premium products or services, you should look somewhere other than Wal-Mart or the dollar store. Again, there is nothing wrong with bargain shopping and seeking to be frugal, but take care about what things you try to get for “cheap”.  I would submit that protecting my eyes (Oakley sunglasses) and my body (Mavic wheels) while biking are pretty important considerations.  I have a wife and kids, after-all.  Likewise, when it comes to things like my investments and retirement savings, getting the right help and ensuring that my money is in the right place is very important (again, wife and children reference) now and for the long-term.  This principle can be applied in many other aspects of life where the item or service being sought is to address something of vital importance (whether it is safety or financial security).  If something falls within the category of “very important” and “vital”, we would do well to look carefully for a wise use of our money.  Remember the first point about getting what you pay for.

 

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