34 Comments

  1. kat

    Seriously! I got an L.L. Bean peacoat last year. By most standards, it was obscenely expensive, but that coat will last me until I’m old and grey. I very much grew up in the old New England Protestant motto of “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”, so you spend the money to have a quality thing because that’s the only one you’re getting for a long while. I can’t do that for everything, obviously, and this shows a very serious amount of privilege, but for the things that matter the most to me, I will pay the money for high quality rather than being frugal. I’ll be frugal in other places that don’t matter as much to me (like hang drying all of my laundry and stockpiling dry ingredients when they’re on sale).

  2. Bahahaha, good point. I’m trying so hard to adjust people’s mental image of frugality as being “cheap.” They’re such polar opposites. Being cheap really is about buying the cheapest thing you can find, even if it’s a piece of crap.

    But frugality IS about buying better items, even if they’re at a premium.

    Great example: I spent $5 at Ross once on a cute shirt. I was able to wear the shirt for two weeks before it shredded in my dryer. If I had bought a $30 t-shirt at REI, it would have lasted me years, making up for the fact that it’s 6 times more expensive than the crappy shirt. The REI shirt is the clear frugal win. 🙂

  3. I’m big on buying good shoes. Not a lot of shoes, just good ones (especially for running). I still wear the same brown flats I first acquired about 12 years ago!!! I think both the integrity of the shoes and the health benefits (not messing up your feet/knees/hips) have long-term savings!

    • Oh, yes! I stand for 8+ hours a day at work. It took me an amazingly long time to realize cheapy shoes aren’t worth what they do to my back.

    • Agree. Shoes really matter. You can resole the same Frye boots pretty much forever if the leather doesn’t crack vs. buying new cheap ones. Although sometimes you can get the cheap ones for the cost of resoling good ones… It is very wasteful.

      Crappy shoes barely last a season. Good shoes can last 15 years or more.

      • That’s an excellent point, Louise! I actually have one pair of shoes that I’ve taken to the cobbler (I love saying this!) twice. I will be heartbroken when they can’t be resoled or repaired.

    • Melissa

      Which type of shoe are good quality for running? My husband is wearing through his Nike shoes like they are paper. I am looking to buy better quality for his health and for endurance of the shoe.

      • That’s a great question for Mrs. AR! Do you have any local running shops nearby? We have one that is great about helping people choose a shoe based on gait and all of that.

  4. I paid a lot of money for a good pair of hiking shoes about 7 years ago, and I have worn them almost every day since, including through cold Canadian winters. They are getting close to the point of needing to be replaced, but I think they’ve definitely earned their retirement!

    Also, another aspect of spending more for quality is that it’s often better for the environment.

    • The environmental impact of fast fashion is astonishing. What I learned about really quality shoes (or other items) is that sometimes brands or retailers will repair or replace them, too. 7 years might be beyond that, though 😉

  5. This is kind of like me and paying for cards with annual fees. I know lots of people are against fees of any kind, but the return is so.much.bigger. Sometimes you have to overlook the costs of things and think about the longer-term rewards.

    I also tend to treat me lower-cost stuff like crap. H&M t-shirt shrunk in the wash? Whatever. But the things I spend more I tend to treat like they’re delicate little eggs, and so they last a lot longer.

  6. I’m in need of an expensive frugal win. I paid big bucks for a pair of Uggs at least eight years ago. I used the protective spray, and special brush, so they lasted for a while. But then, they fell apart and couldn’t be saved. The past few winters I’ve used cheap boots and it has not been pleasant. They fall apart and don’t keep my toes dry and warm in the snow.

    I’m dreading it, but really need to “invest” in some boots that will last – but maybe I can check out Goodwill or a consignment store?

    • That’s a great idea! I’m not a huge fan of secondhand shoes that have been worn but it’s amazing what you can find brand new that people get rid of. I only say that about shoes because I think the cushioning and support are really important, and sometimes it’s hard to tell when you’re buying something used how broken in they are. I can’t wait to hear about your frugal win!

  7. Zena

    I scored an awesome down coat on Landsend.com for only $20.00 on clearance. I live in the South, but have relatives in Wisconsin. The coat literally saved my life when we visited during the winter as I cannot stand temperatures below freezing. Another great spend was getting my $70.00 Teva sandals on sale for $24.99 at belk.com. I avoided paying shipping by ordering them at the store and picking them up there as well.

  8. I’m moving more and more to the “quality over quantity, fair cost over cheap cost” with most things. Not kid clothes, though. My kid will outgrow them so quick it won’t matter anyway, and she’ll get paint and red clay mud stains on them.

    But while I’ve become more cost-conscience and want to take advantage of sales when I can, I know that there are deals that it’s better to just walk away from because the deal is for something we don’t need. Of course, sometimes it can take a little willpower to walk away, but I rarely regret not buying something.

  9. Frugality can mean many things to different people. It’s actually the wrong measuring stick anyway. Happiness is the only measure that matters. If being “Frugal” makes you happy, then that is what you should do. If working at a job you love makes you happier than early retirement would, then that is what you should do. What your life needs and what my life needs don’t have to be the same. We just need to support each other along the road so we can all be the happiest version of ourselves possible.

  10. Lol oh gosh this would be hard for me to decide. I tend to stay away from designer stuff because I can’t afford it…well I can but I guess I’m not the type of person that’s into name brand stuff. If I find a good deal at Ross then I go for it lol.

  11. Joan Young-Santiago

    Stop beating yourself up about the shoes hun!!

    My viewpoint is I am frugal on many things but that gives me permission that once in awhile ( and I’m in a very very big long while)
    it’s okay to let go and enjoy the small things in life! It’s fine to keep & to save for the future but you have to balance that out with living a little bit for today too° So enjoy the shoes!

  12. Julia

    Has anyone filled you in on the fact that Target brand diapers are both cheap and good at their job??

    I swear I got more out of your post than that, but as a fellow mom I had to comment on that ?

    • I’m so relieved to hear you say that, Julia! They’re actually cheaper than Aldi (which I learned is the same as Walgreens and Jewel Osco brand)…and I just ordered four cases. Ha!

  13. The year that PiC insisted we spend real money on the best mattress we could get, I thought that was the end of my frugal life. This was before Tuft and Needle was around I think so we must have spent nearly $2000. It was staggering. But it nearly single…foamedly? cured my pain related insomnia. It’s so comfortable that even when I’m wracked with pain and can’t fall asleep for hours, eventually I can because it’s so forgiving and supportive at the same time. Back when, if I was in that kind of pain I didn’t even bother to try to sleep, I’d just get up and work. Which just made the pain worse of course because sleep deprivation. It’s easy to cheap out on a mattress – we did for JuggerBaby since ze is just a kid who can sleep on anything, I did my whole life up until five or so years ago. But spending that money and getting inadvertent pain relief was probably the point of conversion where I started believing it is worth paying more for quality goods. It was life changing!

    • That’s a fantastic example. I’m so glad PiC talked you into a good mattress. We went middle of the road (stupid) with ours four years ago, but bought a top of the line (smart) memory foam topper when all of my bones felt like they were breaking when I was pregnant. Hooray for more comfortable sleeping!

  14. When I was in college I wanted to get sandals in September because my old pair had worn out. The only store in walking distance (I didn’t have a car) was selling *nice* ones for over $100 – the leather strap kind you can practically hike in.

    I was looking for something simpler, but went outside my normal self and decided to go for it.

    They lasted me 13 years and were worth every penny 🙂

    • I’m confused, Chris. Are you implying that my $7 pairs from Target that get all stretched out after trying them on once aren’t the key to frugal living? 😉

      In all seriousness, that sounds like an A+ college decision!

  15. My favorite shoes cost $200 and I pay $60 to get them re-soled about once a year. Absolutely worth every penny. I can walk forever in them without foot pain, which is incredible in dress shoes on a woman; this also means I’m not damaging my body in a way that future me will have to navigate. They also look fantastic and I like being very well put-together.

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