Reader Mailbag: Singing Bedtime Songs

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What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question.
1. Borrowing against life insurance
2. Splitting a property
3. Bankruptcy and loan modification
4. Tracking weight loss
5. How much down payment?
6. Helping someone drowning in debt
7. Spousal disharmony and debt repayment
8. Extra payments or not?
9. Is Dave Ramsey worth it?
10. Swimsuits and culture

One of the traditions we have at bedtime at our house is that I sit and sing a few songs to my children as they go to sleep. I usually let them each choose a song, then I choose a song or two.

In the past, they would each pick a child’s song – like “The ABC Song” or “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” then I would sing some song I knew, usually an old folk song or a song that was popular fifteen years ago.

Lately, it’s been fun to watch as my children’s tastes have grown. My son almost always requests one of the old folk songs. My daughter, interestingly, seems to be gravitating to a lot of what I would call the “alternative” hits of the mid-1990s (don’t worry, I’m pretty selective on what songs I choose to sing).

It’s quite fun. I can’t sing well, but I muddle through with light percussion, and if my children know the song well (as my son does with a few of the folk songs), they’ll sing along, too.

I recently graduated college and was fortunate enough to land myself a very well-paying job in a location that I like doing what I want (in the IT field). I have not been so lucky (smart) in the past, however, and during my college career accrued about $4500 in credit card debt that I’m working to pay off now. I’ve stuck to using cash and debit only for now and have been going strong at not accruing more debt for a few months, though I can’t admit I’ve been able to pay my cards off as quickly as I hope because I wasn’t earning income for over a month and before that I was still earning just enough to get by.

As part of my transition from college life to the ‘real world’, my parents have turned everything over to me – including a life insurance policy that they started when I was very young. I have no intention of getting rid of this policy despite the fact that I have free life insurance from my employer for an equal amount. I did however find out that I can take a loan of up to about $6000 from my policy at a 5.5% interest rate. Right now my weighted average of my debts is hovering just shy of 18%..to me, it seems to make sense to take out a loan against the policy and pay off my credit cards, then work on repaying the loan. I already have a plan in place to pay off my debts, but in the meantime it would save me money and would only require one (albeit automatic) payment each month. I also am planning on paying off my cards within four or five months as of right now, but if I can take out a loan at 5.5% it would help me sleep better to build up an emergency fund first and repay the loan at a slightly lower pace until I get a few months of living expenses saved up. What are your thoughts on what I should do with this? Would this have any impact on my credit??
- Dave

Really, all you’re talking about here is refinancing. Instead of carrying unsecured debt at 18%, you’re thinking of converting that to secured (by your life insurance policy) debt at 5.5%.

Reducing $6,000 from 18% to 5.5% would save you $750 over the course of a year. Given the “four or five month” timeframe you’re talking about for becoming debt free, your net savings would be about $200 to $250, depending on how you paid it down.

I would do this move, but not change a thing about my debt repayment plans once I had a small emergency fund – say, $1,000 or so – in place. Get that small emergency fund, get rid of the debt, and move on down the road. You’re in pretty good shape, after all.

I live in Brooklyn where what you get for $300k is almost nonexistent (or a shoebox and shoddily made) and have been talking to friends to see what we can get for $600k instead (sometimes small 2-family homes will still go for that but 3-family homes are going for $850-900k still). I’ve only found some stories that it’s been done and some of the agreements made between the homeowners, but not how to go about it (working with getting 2 mortgages finalized at one time, what to look for in a realtor that can handle both, what the timeline should look like). I recall meeting someone who did this with a 3-family house and then the split the property legally into 3 separate units after the sale.

Do you have any information on it? I know the risks re buying with friends but I do know we’ll both be interested in having a fair agreement contract and working through that stuff. We have about the same amount of money to put in as a down payment ($10k each).
- Jesse

It depends on the type of arrangement you’re considering, which isn’t clear from the question.

If you’re just wanting to buy the house, have everyone live there, and share the mortgage as one unit with the payments “split” among you, that’s a private contract between all involved parties. A lawyer could easily draw this up. However, I really, really would not recommend this because it’s going to be fraught with problems if one of the people involved decides to pull out.

I think, though, what you’re looking for is a way to effectively turn this one house with one mortgage into three properties with three mortgages. That can be done, but it requires that each of the separate properties have certain elements – their own exit, for one. What exactly is required for this depends on the specific zoning rules in your area and you’d want to talk to a real estate lawyer about it.

If you can get the property treated as three distinct properties, then it’s likely that a bank would help you refinance the single mortgage into three separate mortgages. However, if this is your long term plan, I would make sure the agreement for all of this is in place before signing anything at all. In other words, the first step is to talk to a property lawyer – and getting the bank involved would be another part of the equation before you even start looking at the property.

My husband has been disabled for the past ten years. Due to numerous medical bills and loss of income, we were forced to apply for a loan modification with our mortgage lender. I am currently in negotiations with my mortgage lender to modify my mortgage. I was approved for a trial Home Affordable Modification. I have to make adjusted payments for 4 months and then hopefully they will permently adjust my mortgage. My question is: Can I claim bankruptcy during this trial period? Will it effect my loan modification?

We hired a bankruptcy attorney back in April, he advised us to wait for the loan modification. He also advised us to stop paying our credit cards at that time. I sent the credit card companies a letter advising them that we were filing for bankruptcy and gave them my lawyer’s information. My second question is: How long will credit card companies wait for you to file bankruptcy before they start with legal proceedings?

So we are in kind of a bind. We do not want to lose the loan modification, and we do not and cannot afford to be sued by the credit card companies. Should we proceed with the bankruptcy or wait for four months until the trial period on the loan modification is over.

Our attorney says that we should wait and see what happens with the credit card companies. Do you have any thoughts?
- Brianna

Borrowes in bankruptcy are not automatically eliminated from the Home Affordable Modification program, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

What I would worry about is filing bankruptcy proceedings in the middle of this would cause some significant additional effort on behalf of the bankruptcy court, which would increase your legal costs (perhaps significantly).

I wouldn’t worry too much about the unpaid credit card debt, either. If you’re up to date at the start of all of this, you’re probably just going to be 90-120 days late at the time your modification finishes up.

The place to look is the contract you agreed to with the credit card company when you opened the card. Most likely, your debt will just be turned over to a collection agency eventually if you don’t pay because, honestly, unless you have a huge amount of debt, it’s not worth it to them.

If you’re filing bankruptcy, you’re going to have severe credit problems in the short term anyway, so that’s not a concern.

In the end, I’d trust your lawyer on this one.

I recently saw a post on your progress for your 2010 goals and saw that one of your goals is to lose 40 pounds. I was wondering if you use any software or systems to track what you are eating, how much you weigh, etc. to keep you motivated and informed as you are improving your diet and losing weight?
- Jenelle

I keep track of my weight in Excel. Not only do I keep track of my daily weight, I also have columns that automatically calculate my average weight over the last 10 days and the last 30 days.

I do this because I’ve learned it’s a bad idea to panic if your daily weight fluctuates a bit, even if it goes up. Food digestion, water retention, and many other things can cause your weight to go up on a day-over-day basis even if you’re eating well and exercising.

So, my focus is generally on making sure that my longer-term average weight is going down.

I’m 24, single and currently employed with a salary in the mid $40k’s. I’m living at home and plan to until I buy a house/condo. I have $10,000 in a savings account and another $13,000 in a money market. Most of my income goes into the MM and I’m planning to use it as the downpayment for my house/condo and let the savings become my emergency fund when I am on my own. I’m wondering what you think is a good amount (%) to put down when I do buy something and if I should use a part of the emergency fund for the downpayment. The only other debt I have is $5k in student loans at 4.5% and currently, my fixed expenses (student loan included) are ~$150/month.
- Nate

You should be shooting to put 20% down and you shouldn’t deplete your emergency fund to do it because when you move in, there will be lots of things right off the bat that you’ll need to do to fix up the house. I would keep an emergency fund equal to two months’ of expenses after your move, so probably somewhere in the $4,000 range.

20% seems like a lot, but if you’re earning $40K a year and you have only $150 a month in fixed expenses, you should be able to save a lot each month toward that goal.

My estimate is that you should be socking away about $1,500 to $2,000 a month, depending on how much you’re spending on other stuff. That will get you to your number surprisingly quickly.

What would your suggestion be for a good friend who’s going through a divorce, is having a hard time with money, but does everything frugally already? My friend cooks his own meals, even builds his own furniture, drives a small car, doesn’t drink/eat out, etc. I hate seeing credit cards and banks eat up 10-30% interest on his debt and late fees, and his credit situation doesn’t warrant him being approved for better credit card or bank offers. I’m torn with what to do, other than help him pay off his debt to improve his credit history and get him back on track.
- Matt

Help him, but not by loaning him money. Instead, do what you can to help him with his burdens as a friend.

Invite him over for meals. Listen to him when he’s frustrated. Offer solutions if you can find them. Offer him some short term living space if he needs it.

There are countless small things a friend can do to slightly relieve someone’s financial or emotional burden in their time of need without just lending them money.

I am working very hard to pay off an auto loan so my husband and I can be 100% debt free. We have money leftover every month, but I always worry about commiting so much money to debt repayment so soon before our next paycheck. What usually happens is that I wait until our next paycheck to pay off any extra toward our loan, and my husband winds up spending our leftover money.

I hate this. I want to be out from under this. My husband and I have $1,000 in an emergency fund and contribute to this fund monthly. What should I do, bite the bullet and pay it off immediately, or put half in our emergency fund and half toward debt repayment? Any advice would be appreciated!
- Rachel

If you’re just looking for a quick fix, the best solution would be to zip off an extra payment as soon as there’s money in the account to spend. In other words, spend it first.

However, doing that just hides the fact that there’s a real problem crouching underneath the surface here. There are some trust and responsibility issues going on with money in your marriage, and if you don’t nip it in the bud right now, you’re going to end up with much deeper problems.

Sit down together and have a serious conversation about what your goals are and what your specific tactics will be for reaching those goals. Quite often, things like this happen because people don’t have goals – or they have goals that are out of alignment with one another.

My husband and I are probably going to buy a house. It’s small, and there’s a chance we’ll only be there 3-4 years, and at most we’ll probably only be there 6-7 years (it’s 2 bedrooms, which if we start a family we’ll likely outgrow). We’re willing to take the buying chance because we’ll be paying much less for the mortgage than equivalent rentals in the area (mortgage plus property taxes will be about $1200 per month, whereas equivalent rentals are around $1500-$1600 per month, and the rent is not a tax write-off), and after a string of bad landlords (including on foreclosed on) we just would really like to own instead of rent.

My question is this: does it make sense to make extra mortgage payments if we aren’t staying there long term? We have good jobs and save a lot, and after funding our retirement accounts we have about $3,000 a month extra to save. Should we put part of that toward paying off more mortgage? It seems to me the real boon of extra mortgage payments is that you save on interest and reduce the length of the loan, but we won’t be there for the length of the loan, so I don’t really see how we’d benefit from extra payments. Your thoughts?
- Valerie

If you get a 5% mortgage, then every drop of extra payment you make is essentially netting you a 5% return on your money for as long as the mortgage exists.

Here’s what I mean. If you owe $100,000 on your 5% mortgage, you are paying $5,000 a year in interest. If you pay off $10,000 of that 5% mortgage, you now owe $90,000 on that mortgage and will only pay $4,500 a year in interest – a $500 savings per year for your $10,000 investment.

Now, you’ll probably put your money to better use by ensuring that your retirement plans are taken care of. After that, though, putting your money into something that returns 5% to you like clockwork until you sell the house is a pretty good choice.

what’s your opinion on Dave Ramsey’s programs? I saw the book review (I read it – borrowed from library) and have seen your arguments/opinions about his ideas toward debt (Snowball, 15%) and some of my friends are doing FPU and/or thinking about it. It got me thinking about it too, but I’m not sure I agree with spending $100 to learn how to manage money when there are a lot of free resources available on the web. Basically — is the program worth it? Have you heard really good or really bad comments about it?

In general, my spending/financial situation is mediocre. I have a 401k, IRA, and E-fund. I’m not bouncing checks but I’m not paying down debts (CC, school loans, car) with the speed that Dave wants me to. Who really benefits from the course? Dave or the attendee?
- Meg

I think Dave Ramsey’s material is just fine. What he provides for people is cheerleading and motivation built on top of a set of very simple but financially sound principles.

Those principles, as you said, are freely available on the web. What you’re paying for is the cheerleading and motivation, in other words.

For some people, that cheerleading and motivation is worth it. For other people, particularly people who are good self-starters, that money is better off being channeled into debt repayment.

Another department where men are able to cheap out over women and then preach like they know something – swimsuits! [...] [I]t’s easy for a man to get cheap decent swimsuits— not so much for women. Once a woman has a good suit that wears well, it will be kept until it either no longer fits (for many reasons) or is falling apart.
- Jean

Here’s the thing, though, with items like swimsuits. I go to the beach or the pool in a pair of swim trunks and a t-shirt and I toss of the t-shirt when I want to swim. A pair of swim trunks costs about $2-3 and lasts me for years.

When someone – male or female – pays more than a few bucks for a swimsuit, they’re not paying for clothing to cover their bodies while swimming. They’re paying for a fashion accessory – a completely nonessential item. $70 spent on a swimsuit that shows off a woman’s figure might be a fun expense, but it’s certainly not required to swimm.

If you think you must spend that kind of money to have the perfect swimsuit to keep up appearances, you’re spending too much time (read: more than zero) and too much money (read: more than zero) worrying about what other people think of you. Think of it this way: if you were going to a completely private beach to swim, would you need that $70 swimsuit?

Update Several readers were upset by this response. My point was that if you’re spending more than $3 on a swimsuit because of vanity, it’s wasted money. What came across is that spending more than $3 on a swimsuit is vanity, which is not what I was trying to say at all. Spending more than $3 for a comfortable suit if you value swimming is a very worthwhile expense. I apologize for my ineloquence and my thick head.

Got any questions? Email them to me or leave them in the comments and I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag. However, I do receive hundreds of questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.

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336 thoughts on “Reader Mailbag: Singing Bedtime Songs

  1. On the swimsuit thing, I have never in my life encountered a woman’s swimsuit that only costs $2-3, and I am a bargain shopper to the core. And if you did, it would be one that stretched out to the point of not performing the basic necessity of covering the body properly in less that a full season, let alone the important aspect of proper support. Trunks and swimsuits are VERY different things, just as the bodies of men and women are different. $70 is a little much, but $2-3 is nearly impossible.

  2. “Think of it this way: if you were going to a completely private beach to swim, would you need that $70 swimsuit?”

    Yes. Definitely yes!!! A cheaply made swimsuit will do things such as ride up in places it shouldn’t, or ride down and then you end up showing off more chest area than my be legal. Women’s swimsuits stretch over the body, they aren’t just waterproof shorts like men’s are, so riding up or drooping down happens with the cheap ones. Also, this stretching from leg area to neck area can wear out a cheap swimsuit in literally one swimming session. Also, because not all women have the same endowments in the chest area, support is a big issue for some. It is uncomfortable to be bouncing that area while swimming, and cheap swimsuits tend to have no support at all there.

  3. I just had to comment on the swimsuit issue. I think your reply is typically male and pretty much affirms the asker’s perception of swimsuits and culture. Unless a woman is petite and made to the proportions of the industry, most bathing suits- be they cheap or not just don’t cover the essentials (if you catch my drift). This doesn’t only apply to bath suits, but other ladies intimates as well.
    As a busty woman myself, I can assure you that I’ve tried all sorts of suits and the ones with appropriate coverage and support are typically higher priced. It’s probably not so much because of the quality of the suit materials but just because they can! If I had the benefit of a completely private beach I might forgo the suit altogether, but since we live in public, I’d prefer a suit that doesn’t leave me bare when I emerge from the water!

  4. I totally agree with Angie and Kat in posts 1 and 2. My husband just wears gym shorts to the beach or pool, but there is no way I could get away with that. I need a bathing suit that will stay in place and not show parts of me that need to remain covered! I would love to find a supportive, fully lined, and, yes, pretty swimsuit for 10 bucks, but I have NEVER been able to find one like that after years of searching. Well constructed items tend to be more costly that cheaply-made items — it is no different with bathing suits.

  5. To “Matt”:

    One thing you can suggest is an appointment with a non-profit credit counselor with the NFCC. Fees are generally income based and a certified credit counselor will generally do a complete budgeting session to see if a debt repayment plan is possible. If it is, the credit cards are not going to be “refinanced”, but interest rates and late fees may be lowered and/or waived. If a payment plan is not feasible, counselors can discuss other options.

    Definitely check any counseling agency out with the Better Business Bureau and make sure they are certified through the NFCC (certified non-profit counseling agencies only). Make sure to remind him not to respond to any TV advertisements/e-mails/internet ads/ or flyers. Most of these companies are making enough of a profit to invest in advertising and may be debt settlement agencies (almost all have an F rating with the BB) or bankruptcy attorneys. A credit counselor can let him know if settlement is the best option (if balances and income are low, it’s best to do on your own anyway) or if he may need to seek legal advice.

  6. It’s not about keeping up appearances, I think I must spend that kind of money (closer to $70 than to $2, at least) to have a swimsuit that keeps everything family friendly while swimming! Especially for beach trips, when the tide can be rough, a cheap swimsuit just won’t keep me comfortably covered.

    If all I was concerned about was how I looked out of the water, though, and I didn’t plan on doing much actual swimming in the suit, I could maybe go cheaper.

  7. I also think maybe Trent is discounting how much tougher it is for a woman to find a swimsuit that fits than it is for a guy to find swim trunks or board shorts. Finding something that fits your unique proportions well enough isn’t an easy feat. Often the cheapest swimsuits require a specific body may not match yours.

  8. If there is one thing I have learned as a guy, it is how much differently men’s clothes are made than womens (not to mention their bodies). Men don’t need support and extra fabric,padding,designs (not fashion), etc. for their clothing. Of course a guy can throw on a $3 pair of trunks and go swimming. I feel sorry for your wife if you make her do the same. Everything about women’s clothing is different, and you definitely have to pay a bit more in order to get any kind of decent quality. Sure a woman could buy a suit for under $5, but she would be buying that same $5 suit many times over. Much faster than a guy would need to buy $5 trunks.
    And if you knew anything about women, you would know that the vast majority look forward to putting on that ‘perfect’ swimsuit. They work hard for it. It makes them feel sexy and happy even if they are just alone on a private beach.

  9. oh trent my friend, there are some things you dont mess with. makeup, shoes, and swimsuits are several.

    there will never be a woman who finds a flattering swimsuit that meets their needs for as cheaply as a men’s counterpart.

    the cornucopia of shapes women come in sometimes necessitate a seperate sized top and bottom, and sometimes that kind of setup is impossible to find in the bargain bins.

    a properly fitting swimsuit isnt a non essential item. it is something that women value, so they should have every right to spend money on it. (though i do feel that having to constantly purchase new ones is overboard)

  10. I’m with Abby #6 et al on the women’s swimsuits. They of necessity are much more fitted & tailored, even if you’re willing to go with the boardshort+ bra look. Most women’s suits don’t allow you to fix any issues with gaping with a simple tug of a drawstring. If I were at a totally private location, a good likelihood of going without, but that certainly doesn’t extrapolate to a public place!

  11. I have yet to find a tutorial online, but I remember reading about someone who used to buy vintage bathing suits and re-line the crotch area to make them more sanitary. For someone who knows how to do a little bit of sewing, this could be an easy fix.

    Also, I agree about buying a nice swimsuit. As with anything that requires money, it’s about values. I personally value looking good as often as possible. This is cheap to do with used every day clothes–not so much with swimming suits. I spent a good $70 on my swimsuit this year, but it is high quality, will last my quite a while, and makes me feel really good. It flatters my body, stays in place and makes me WANT to go swimming. Although it’s possible, i’s rare that I’d be able to find a $3-$15 one that does that.

  12. Wow are you in a fighting mood today or what Trent? If I wanted a swimsuit that showed off my body I’d buy a cheap target suit that lets everything hang out. Since I’m a fairly modest person and am chasing after 4 kids at the lake I’d prefer to keep my post baby belly and all of my other parts actually inside a suit so I shopped long and hard to find one that would actually cover my body. I’d happily buy a used well constructed suit if I could find one. My $70 land’s end suit ( that I purchased 9 years ago and still fits) has nothing to do with keeping up appearances, it’s certainly no fashion statement. It does however keep me from mooning the rest of the beach when I’m playing with the kids and allows me to comfortably play in the great lakes.

  13. sorry trent, the other women are right on this one. I often can snag a swimsuit for more like $30 or $40 that doesn’t fall off or pull too tight, and it will last a few years. But I’m also lucky in that I have a relatively easy-to-fit figure. This is where “what others think of you” and “basic standards of social appearance” are easily confused. If it was a private beach I might just swim nude, but I don’t think I can get away with that elsewhere ;)

  14. for Dave re life insurance – I’d check that policy out & figure out how payments already made into it (I’m betting it’s a whole life policy) compared to the available/current cash value. And then look at what you’ll be continuing to pay in vs. the accrual rate of additional value. You might be better off just cashing it out now, getting a higher-benefit term policy & using the cash value to pay off the cc debt & saving the difference.Suze Orman, among others, has a good discussion on whole life insurance & whether it’s a good option at a given point in life.

  15. Wow, you really need to rethink your attitude on the swimsuit thing. I mean, how egregious to want a suit that (a) covers and supports the chest, (b) covers the rear, and (c) is not see through! Trust me, if that was easy to find at a sub-$20 price, I would have stocked up years ago.

    I almost never go swimming–even though I enjoy it– because I haven’t found a sub-$100 suit that fits those simple criteria in years and years.

  16. One thing I’m noticing in the swimsuit debate is the idea that women need to be covered up more than men. I realize that unless you’re at a topless beach there is a need for a bit more coverage, but couldn’t this be accomplished with a pair of trunks and a bikini top? I guess my point is that there seems to be a double standard when it comes to swimsuits. No one thinks a man is immodest when he goes onto a beach wearing just a pair of shorts, so why would a woman be considered immodest for wearing a pair of shorts and a bikini top?

  17. “If you think you must spend that kind of money to have the perfect swimsuit to keep up appearances, you’re spending too much time (read: more than zero) and too much money (read: more than zero) worrying about what other people think of you. Think of it this way: if you were going to a completely private beach to swim, would you need that $70 swimsuit?”

    Much the same could be said about purchasing a brand new Toyota Prius. But then again, if it is something Trents wants to buy, it is a necessity. If it is something he doesn’t want to spend much money on, others are dumb for spending money on it.

    That’s pretty much the theme of the blog – do as Trent says, not as Trent does.

  18. I came to comment on the bathing suit issue, which has been well done above. I just wanted to add that the $5 bikini tops and bottoms at Wal-Mart are good for the teeny-boppers, but as others have said, full grown (especially full figured) women have to ensure their bits are adequately covered for social decency purposes. As some wise man above stated, men shouldn’t mess with make-up, shoes, swimsuits etc. They just don’t get it!

  19. Oh, Trent, I hope you’ve learned to leave the swimsuits alone. I also came to comment but everyone else said it much better than me. Until you have to try to find a suit that covers all the pieces that were moved by bearing children, you’d better keep quiet.

  20. @Johnathan:

    I don’t think that a woman would be considered immodest for wearing a pair of shorts and a bikini top, but not all bikini tops are the same and not all womens’ “tops” are the same. Sometimes the top part is what’s causing the problems in finding a suit.

    Trent, a bit harsh on this one. I get the point, but maybe tone it down a touch. Loved the bedtime songs, though. That’s really sweet.

  21. On the swimsuit question–would you please refrain from giving fashion advice to women, because obviously you have no idea how difficult it can be to find clothes–in general, never mind swimsuits–that look nice and fit you well.

  22. One issue I’ve had with cheap bathing suits is that they stretch out once they get wet. So a suit whose straps stay comfortably in place when you try it on in the store can have the straps slip off your shoulders and become baggy and ill-fitting once you actually try to swim in it.

    For Jonathan (#13), when I was on vacation in Hawaii I saw a lot of girls wearing women’s board shorts and bikini tops. However, not all women feel comfortable in a bikini top instead of something that covers the stomach, and bikini tops for me just mean more skin area to get sunburned. They also don’t stay in place that well in rough surf or for activities like snorkeling or water park rides, depending on your figure and the design of the top.

  23. Also Am wondering if you spend much time in the water, living in Iowa and all? My family lives in our suits for weeks at a time in the summer, because of our proximity to the beach, so a good suit is a good investment for me. Isn’t that what good personal financial management is about? Investing in the things that are important or relevant to your own life?

  24. Trent, if all you could get for $2 was an ill-fitting speedo, and a pair of trunks that covered you decently cost $70, which would you go for? There’s a value to being comfortable and feeling appropriately dressed. If ALL that matters to you is the cost of the suit, go to a nude beach, then none of your family members will need swimsuits, and you’ll be able to save a few bucks.

    I shop at goodwill frequently and have never seen a decent women’s swimsuit at any price (kids suits are another matter). Marshalls and similar stores have reasonably priced suits ($20-30). You yourself frequently comment that frugality is not necessarily getting the lowest price, but getting the best value. You really missed the mark here.

    What’s next, advice on getting brassieres, complete with comments that a woman who spends more than $2 has the “wrong” values?

  25. If it were a private beach, I’d swim naked.

    Women face a lot more societal pressure to look good than men. Why can’t you acknowledge that instead of getting all preachy?

  26. I think Trent needs to compile a list of stores where one can find a women’s bathing suit for 2-3 bucks. It would be hugely entertaining.

    That said, I think there’s a world of difference between a 2-3$ suit (not sure where you could get one, see comment above!) and a 70$ one… not to mention the 150$ ones you get at a place like Bikini Village.

    For cheap swimsuits, the best I’ve found have been at Joe Fresh by Loblaws (the grocery store chain). They’re geared to the “mom shopper”, so they tend to cover the bits well. I picked up two suits there this past weekend- one tankini set (12$ for the top, 12$ for the bottom), and a one-piece for 29$.

  27. Well said from others re: swimsuits.

    Trent: when the time comes, please encourage your wife to buy herself a $50, $70 or whatever that fits her properly and one she feels good in. It’s the least you can do since she gave birth to (and now has the body changes that come w/ pregnancy) your three beautiful children.

  28. Also re: swimsuits… my very hearty and supportive speedo lasted me through 2 years of lifeguarding plus another 8 of weeklyish lap swimming. It has finally given up the ghost. I think those $60 were well worth it.
    What does Sarah think about this topic?

  29. Swimsuits should be given the same treatment you give to trash bags and cars. You can’t buy one just because it’s the least expensive. Quality matters in swimsuits too, especially women’s where coverage and support are important. And plenty of research can be done on them before making a purchase. I agree with Jon (#7) about feeling sorry for your wife if you make her buy the cheap suit. Having had 3 children myself, I would rather not go swimming at all.

  30. @CV (#19) – I agree that not all women are comfortable wearing bikini tops, or other tops that do not cover their stomach. I don’t think there is anything wrong with women spending more money on a suit if they aren’t going to be comfortable in something that is cheap but covers less. I think it is important to realize, however, that choosing the more expensive suit for this reason makes it a want, not a need. There is nothing wrong with wanting the suit that covers more, but as Trent said, the suit has become a fashion accessory.

  31. Trent, sorry, i generally agree with you but i just can’t go with this one: “When someone – male or female – pays more than a few bucks for a swimsuit, they’re not paying for clothing to cover their bodies while swimming.”

    A woman might be able to buy an off-season suit at about $20 (new, at a place like Ross they might get it for $10 – OFF SEASON), but during season that is nearly impossible.

    I have a very large bust. Wearing a tee shirt & swim shorts is not an option for me. Trying to find a swimsuit that even fits is quite a challenge. I often do not have the option of something from a store like Ross. They create suits made to fit the average, not the extreme of either side.

    The same goes for bras. Frankly, if i find a bra that actually fits, i’m spending $70-90 for that bra. I’ve found a cheaper way to do it. Certain bras are constructed in a way where they can be partially-deconstructed & remade with basic sewing skills. I buy the largest bras i can find for about $25 each, deconstruct them & put them back together so that they fit me.

    I know i’m probably the extreme, but i don’t spend $$ on clothes that aren’t necessary, & swimsuits & bras are something that just don’t go by these rules.

  32. I am the author of question #7. I forgot to mention that I am unable to sit down and talk this out with my husband. He is in the military and is not stateside. So, my options are limited. I would love to sit down and have a chat with him about this, but I’m lucky if we talk once every three weeks. :-(

  33. For the love of God, can a filter be set up that will automatically delete any comment with the word “Prius” in it?

    The debate is worn out and I’ve heard everybody’s opinion multiple times.

    I can’t take it anymore!

  34. Last year I had to buy 4 $20 bathing suits because they were crap – they fall apart, literally. Plus they were uncomfortable.

    This year I bought 1 $80 dollar one, and oddly, it lasted more than one trip to the beach.

    Huh. Weird.

  35. Also trunks vs swimsuits are COMPLETELY different clothing items! It’s like comparing a bathrobe to a ballgown.

    Men’s trunks are made of a quick drying fabric and a basically just a pair of shorts. Women’s suits are made of spandex, liners, padding, support panels, and elastic. Just the supplies to even make a swimsuit would be about triple compared to trunks – not even to mention the level of difficulty of sewing going up by about 200%.

    You also have to take into consideration that MANY public pools will not let you wear t-shirts in the pool. (Although I’ve never understood why) And besides do you really want to see a big 40 year old mom with large, sagging breasts chasing after her three kids with no bra in a wet t-shirt? (Believe me SHE doesn’t want you to see her that way either!)

    Remember – MOST women swimming are not 17 year olds with no fat and tiny breasts.

  36. There seems to be some sort of mental block with the folks leaving comments on the swimsuit issue.

    Unless you’re swimming competitively, there is no reason a woman can’t wear a pair of swim trunks and a bikini top of t-shirt swimming. I’ve seen tons of ladies doing this. You can spend under $10 for such an outfit.

    I think this is what Trent meant when he described what HE wears swimming – there’s no reason a woman can’t wear the same outfit, and just leave the shirt on.

    He’s offering advice on how to save money on a swimsuit, not how to save money on a swimsuit and look good. If you spend more than that, you’re paying for fashion.

  37. @Melissa

    “Last year I had to buy 4 $20 bathing suits because they were crap – they fall apart, literally. Plus they were uncomfortable.

    This year I bought 1 $80 dollar one, and oddly, it lasted more than one trip to the beach.

    Huh. Weird.”

    ..but,but,that’s now how life works for middle aged white men who live in Iowa!

    Seriously Trent. We know this is your blog and is biased towards your opinions, but stating things like “When someone – male or female – pays more than a few bucks for a swimsuit, they’re not paying for clothing to cover their bodies while swimming. They’re paying for a fashion accessory – a completely nonessential item. ” makes you look chauvinist and ignorant. You can at least pretend like you know how things are for the other half of the population.

  38. @Jonathon (#26). Being comfortable that one’s clothing is appropriately modest is a need, not a want. If the only option is an immodest ill-fitting suit that makes one feel naked, many women would stay home. Another factor is harassment; if a woman shows up at the beach falling out of her $2 swimsuit, many men may get the wrong idea.

    Men, how would you feel in a tiny banana sling speedo at a crowded family beach? Especially if your figure isn’t perfect.

    Almost all clothing IS a fashion accessory, otherwise everyone would have one set of clothes for just about everything.

  39. @Jenelle
    I wouldn’t track your weight every day, it will drive you crazy. Trent can get away with that because he likes numbers and because he understands that daily fluctuations are ok. Most people (including me) aren’t like that. Track it once a week using something simple like Excel and you’ll be fine.

    By the way, there’s an excellent (and free) program for the iPhone called WeightBot which will help you keep track of weight.

    @Matt
    Having gone through a divorce myself, the best thing you can do is exactly what Trent said, be a good friend. You don’t need to help out with money, that will work itself out. Just be there for your friend, take him out occasionally and give him a fun evening where he doesn’t have to think about this problems. That means more than anything else.

  40. One option available to the couple in Brooklyn considering a joint property is to consider setting up an LLC with their friends and buying the property that way. I don’t know if they’re seeking separate mortgages, but as a corporation, you can claim business expenses, apply for a mortgage as a unit, and set up an operating agreement that governs everything from joint utility bills to how parties can sell their interest in the property. Might be worth thinking about – and helps if you ever want to rent out the other units. Also gives the property one consistent owner.

  41. Have to object to answer #8. Prepayments will yield an effective return equal to the mortgage interest rate ONLY IF the property value remains constant for as long as you hold the loan. If the value falls, you are putting extra money into a depreciating asset. This is why I would only recommend making extra payments if you’re either staying there long term or are confident the property value will rise in the short term.

    Example: I hold a 200k loan (on a 250k property) with 5% interest. A 1k prepayment gives me that much instant equity, and reduces the interest I pay by ~$4 per month (1,000*.05/12). But the additional variable here is that 1k of equity. If the property is sold for less than the purchase price, that deficit comes out of your equity.

    Same thing happens with some CDs when you cash them out early. You may deposit it at 5% APR, but if they charge you a 2% penalty on the principle when you withdraw it, the yield is somewhere around 3%.

  42. Prufock: are these really ladies you see doing this? Or teeny boppers with flat chests and no hips? Swim “trunks” don’t really fit a lot of women’s bodies, bikini tops that are cheap fall off and have no support, and tshirts are not comfortable to swim in (or else why don’t more men wear their tshirts swimming?!). I’m not asking to look “good” I am asking to be comfortable swimming while also not flashing anyone.

  43. Just wanted to chime in on the shorts & bikini top issue – I’d love for a guy to find an under-wire bikini top made for someone who is a little more endowed and pair it with some shorts and find it for under $10. Even the cheap target non-supportive bikini tops cost more than $10.

    Compare it with a similar undergarment – you can buy a pair of mens boxer shorts for cheap, so I would expect a swim suit to be just a little more. A woman’s bra in a hard-to-fit size will never be that cheap, so don’t expect to find a bikini top (which is just a bra with different fabric) suddenly be in that price range.

  44. “there’s no reason a woman can’t wear the same outfit, and just leave the shirt on.”

    Yes, these are called Wet T-Shirt Contests. Real family friendly. Even if she IS wearing a t-shirt, she’s still going to have to wear some kind of swim top underneath for coverage and support (hint – you can’t swim in a regular bra…) and then what’s the point of the t-shirt in the first place?

  45. Once again, I have to chime in and say that your experience in money-saving as a male does not apply to women. Mother nature was very generous to me, and that means I need support. Without good support for my chest, I could easily end up with upper back problems. That means underwire, solid construction and quality fabric. I wouldn’t be able to find a $2-5 bra and I likewise cannot find a $2-5 bathing suit. Cheaping out on a bathing suit is a literal health hazard for any woman with ample proportions, it’s not vanity.

    I don’t understand how you can say you value health enough to pay $8 for a container of organic milk, but then accuse a woman of caring too much about fashion for wanting proper chest & back support. It’s quite the double standard.

  46. Trunks and a t-shirt still won’t suffice if a woman has any size of chest. Supportive undergarments would have to be worn then, too (and I’m not going to submerge my bras in a chlorine pool, sorry), plus the bulk of excess fabric in the water is unpleasant. Instead of blanketly stating one method of frugal swimsuit shopping, why not suggest practical alternatives for each person’s unique body, values, and swimming situations? Buy it used, buy it off-season, buy it from a discount retailer, buy something with a classic style that won’t go out of fashion, buy separates that can be paired with other outdoor garments to get multiple use (like board shorts or a skirted bottom).

  47. If I were swimming in a really private beach, or a nude beach, I would skip the swimsuit altogether. I did this for a few summers rather than buy a swim suit, as the only kind that support and fit me are very expensive. Yeah – in order to swim, one doesn’t need anything fancy.

    But most people aren’t comfortable swimming in the nude, in private or public. A t-shirt gets in the way of actual swimming, and no t-shirt at all tends to be frowned upon for women. A bathing suit is built for the job and covers what it is supposed to, but for women these are harder to create and need to be well made to do their jobs. That comes at a price and has nothing to do with fashion. My bathing suits are all hideous affairs for much older women because of my figure, and hideous as they are, none were cheap.

  48. Trent is way off base on the swimsuit issue. first of all, many pools have restrictions that prevent people from wearing t-shirts in their pools. Secondly, as a larger woman I NEED good support from my swimsuit, and it needs to have a T-style back not just a big scooped out back to stay on properly and allow me to swim. It also has to be fully lined so that it is not see through. Women DO NOT have the same options as men, and even through all of my thrift shopping and shopping off season I have NEVER found a bathing suit that would be suitable to wear for less than 30.00 (and even that price is VERY rare)

  49. Meg,

    I am following Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” book right now, and it has helped ALOT! I highly recommend it. I’ve also wondered about FPU, but decided against it.

    The book is good enough for me. Even though I’m on Baby Step #2 right now (paying off the debts), we are almost there! Since January, we’ve paid off $8500+ in debts!!!! I rent his CD and listen to it every few months to keep motivated.

    I also download his free 30 minute podcast from iTunes daily and listen to them in the car on my way to and from work to keep me motivated.

    Good luck!

    ~Meg*n

  50. Trent – why did you even pay $2-3 for a pair of trunks? Why don’t’ you save your money and swim in your underwear? By your logic, you must be trying to keep up appearances…

  51. trent, i love you- i really do, but you’re making me nuts w/ the bathing suit advice.

    i am the QUEEN of thrift- i drive a honda w/ 224,000 miles on it, wear 50 cent (lucky brand, though) jeans i picked up at the thrift shop, and make all of the frugal choices i can.

    i also have had three children by c section, and nursed for a total of eight years. i am not looking for a bathing suit to flatter my figure at this point- i am just looking for one that will let me actually move around in the water without indecently exposing myself. one that covers the stretch marks (on my belly AND breasts) and scars isn’t a fashion accessory or a nonessential item. i think it’s important.

    i doubt you have a single female reader who is with you on this. if you do, it is someone who doesn’t actually swim, or have to accompany children who swim or are learning how to swim.

    if i go to the pool in a three dollar bathing suit and bend over just once to pick up a kid or their dropped towel, i might as well be topless.

  52. Brianna — You hire a lawyer for his advice. If you don’t like or understand the advice — ask for clarification. Ask for scenarios of different possibilities of what might happen with the credit card companies.

    Matt — If you can give him money outright, then do so. When you invite him for a meal, take him out (instead of a meal at your house). Do what you can to help IF he’s trying to drum up some extra ‘handyman’ type work.

    Rachel — Trent is right when he says there are responsibility issues. If you re-read your statement you can see all the “I”s are responsiblity (“I want”, “I pay”) whereas your husband is presented as spending the leftover. If that’s the case, I’d pay it off so there’d be no leftover. But as my ex puts it, I am a cold, overly-responsible, miserable … you get the idea. In your case, sit down with your husband and talk about it and follow up as necessary with sharing the responsibility.

    “If you were going to a completely private beach to swim, would you need that $70 swimsuit?” No — but it’s illegal to swim nude in public places. I don’t require a perfect swimsuit – just one that is fairly comfortable, lasts at least a season (I’m currently in FL, so a season is pretty long) doesn’t fall off/droop down to my knees/ride up inappropriately/lose the top or bottom/make me grab for the straps when a wave hits, keeps out the sand and doesn’t add a lot of drag when I’m swimming laps. That is not available for $2-3 and none of these criteria are ‘fashion accesories’.

  53. I agree with much of the above on tshirts. I prefer to be covered up for sun protection (read very fair skinned) but many pools won’t let you swim with a shirt on b/c it could get caught in drain holes and such. Also as a teen I swam with a shirt over my suit at the lake for modesty and sun protection and boy was that embarassing! Anyway. I have suits from off season clearance Target racks even mixing plain black bottoms with other tops so my whole suit might have been under $10 and lasted me a while BUT I don’t swim often and I’m not in as much need for busty support as some. I again wonder what your wife thinks of this conversation.

  54. Best $70 I ever spent was on a swimsuit from Lands End. I bought it 15 years ago and, seriously…it still looks brand new. I don’t swim in chlorinated water very much so I know that has contributed to its longevity. And I am not swimming every day so that helps, too.
    Paying for a swimsuit that fits well and looks good is worth every single penny. If I could find a newer version of the same suit, I would gladly pay $100 or more.

  55. There is a difference between what is culturally acceptable (not flashing people) and trying to be fashionable with many areas in between the two. Comparing it to being on a private island isn’t particularly useful. And please don’t try to speak like you know what its like having a womans body. Seriously.

  56. @Meg – I can vouch for the FPU classes. I read all Dave’s books, and was quite frugal before going. My husband was fine with whatever I chose to do with our money, and he didn’t mind living frugally. But I felt that taking the class together would get us on the same page and fire us up to do even better. It definitely did that and now, 15 months later, we’ll be making our last payment on our last non-mortgage loan on July 16th. In the last 15 months we’ve paid off over half our annual income worth of debt, and I definitely credit that class for giving us the shot in the arm to push harder. YMMV, but the class more than paid for itself in our case.

  57. Dave:

    You sound like you’re pretty young, why do you need life insurance at all? Do you have any dependents? If not, then what are you “insuring” against?

    It sounds like you have a whole life policy. Those are widely aknowledged to be the worst possible kind of life insurance policies. You shouldn’t borrow against it – you should cash the whole thing out, right now. Take the proceeds and use it to pay off your credit card completely. There will not be any tax implications (because the cashout value will inevitably be less than the total value of all the premium contributions).

    You’re correct that relying on an employer-provided life insurance policy isn’t a good idea. What if you work for a company until you’re 40, then are laid off? You go shopping to get your own life insurance, and suddenly find that it’s much more expensive than if you’d gotten your own 30-year term policy at age 30.

    I’m guessing you don’t need life insurance at all. But if you do, just get a simple term life policy. They cost about 1/20th as much as a whole life policy. Bottom line: cash out that ripoff whole-life policy ASAP.

  58. I think the swimsuit comment might have finally pushed me over the edge with this blog. I have enjoyed this blog for a number of years and gleaned some useful information here. I just don’t think I can take the arrogance of the blanket statements regarding things that he CLEARLY knows nothing about anymore.

  59. trent-

    i’m sorry i can’t let this go, but you’ve really got me upset.

    i know where you stand on swimsuits, but i have to ask you, how much do you think women should be spending on bras?? not even bras as beautiful lingerie, but more plain and simple bras women need to wear on a day to day basis, not for fashion, but for comfort and modesty.

    and once you figure the reasonable cost of a woman’s bra, would it make sense that the price of a decent swimsuit would be at least a few times that amount?

  60. Trent, I think you owe your female readers an apology because of the ridiculous comments you’ve made about swimsuits for women.

  61. Love the many excellent comments on the swimsuit issue–and just wanted to emphasize that keeping a swimsuit where it belongs is not just a problem for “large” women, but for MOST women… It’s not just a matter of size or proportion, but the nature of having curves and smooth skin. But, that’s a good thing, right?

  62. I must chime in on the swimsuit thing.

    I’m almost 6 feet tall, so pretty much the only thing I can get cheaply for clothing is tops and skirts. Nothing else fits and I have to get custom sizes. I bought an $80 speedo and it lasted 13 years. I loved that suit and was sad to see it get retired. I cheaped out last summer and bought a $30 one that does not fit at all. I wish I just plunked down the $80 and an expensive one.

    Ditto on the post kid body. $20 bikinis were great when I was 20, but no way I’d do it now. It just makes me think of the “people of walmart” website that has pictures of people with flesh hanging out in all the wrong places.

    This was a really really bad example.

  63. Wow the suimsuit debate :p

    I’m a larger sized girl, and I bought a maternity suit at Sears on clearance for $15, marked down from $60 one winter.

    I live in Florida, I go to the beach/water parks/pool on a fairly regular basis and I have to say… the support, quality, and durability of the suit has withstood ANY other one before – pay good money for a good suit and it’ll last you a long time.

  64. #35- courtney-

    i just read your comment- you crack me up!!!!!

    and des at #38, you make an excellent point, too.

  65. Totally and absolutely disagree about the swimsuit! A quality swimsuit isn’t just a fashion accessory, it’s functional. People who swim a lot, such as people who swim as part of a regular exercise routine will need something quality that isn’t going to snag on the rough surfaces of the pool, not drag in the water and not turn see-through or loose elasticity after a few washings.

    Tent is leaving out the important fact that women’s suits are nearly 100% elastic or spandex, which degrades over time and with washing and drying.

    Also, women’s suits are harder to fit, especially the functional 1 piece suits for exercise swimming. Women with long or short torsos can have a really difficult time finding a 1 piece suit that fits, and the more quality brands have more size variation, including long/short.

  66. Trent, I think there’s a consensus building. Jean’s letter was in response to a comment you made in a post. You didn’t need to put that in a mailbag.

    If you want to be all things to all people (i.e. with a general-interest PF blog), you really need to try to understand other peoples’ viewpoints a little more. Your experience is limited, and it limits you as an advisor.

    I do realize this is still a personal blog. You are not a CFP, or an otherwise certified financial advisor. Everything here is your opinion, and you’re entitled to your opinion. But in the same week you’re promoting your book, to show your butt like this? Not the best move.

  67. Rachel–I am a military wife too, so I totally understand the frustrations of putting important discussions like that off. With that said, I would go with the “spend it first” route until he gets home. You should put off the big money talks until he gets home.

    Incedintally, you two should maybe consider opening a separate checking account for him to use as a deployment account. That works really well for my husband and I.

    If you want to talk more, e-mail me. I give Trent Hamm my permission to give my e-mail to you.

  68. Trent, I’ve enjoyed the blog for the past two years but geez, would you ever admit you are wrong or that there is another way of doing things? Why don’t you do an experiment? Go out and try to find a one piece swim suit that would fit you. Now mind you, most ladies aren’t 6’6”. However, I think you might begin to see how difficult this task would be at a Goodwill or whatever thrift store you might shop in.

    Besides, you are just asking to catch something funky with used swimsuits. I suppose you would buy used shoes and then wonder how you caught athlete’s foot. Like I said, I appreciate the material you put out in the blog but you are turning a lot of people off lately.

  69. When it comes to women’s clothing, designers and retailers have much more power than consumers.

    It is not possible for most women (regardless of size but especially those who wear a C cup or above) to obtain a swimming outfit which is 1) socially acceptable, and 2) physically comfortable for “a few bucks.”

    But I personally would greatly welcome an example outfit, because if one existed, I would go out and buy it in a heartbeat. So please show us some examples!

  70. I used to buy expensive swimsuits, but they would stretch out after a year or two, so I would end up having to buy a new one quite often. Now I buy the cheap ones at Target when they are on clearance, and they aren’t that well made, but they still last a year or two. I go in the hot tub a lot, and that destroys swimsuits, even if you wash them out right away. But I agree with everyone else that finding a swimsuit that fits well is a nightmare, so sometimes I’ll buy two if I find one that looks good on me.

  71. Trent,

    Are you kidding!? I would love to wear trunks and a shirt at the pool but, no shirts in the water allowed, bikini tops do not have enough support and I have hips so trunks don’t fit. A bathing suit that doesn’t fit can get you arrested, my family was at the pool a few days ago and some poor woman lost her suit when she went off the diving board. She was mortified and everyone was embarrassed for her.
    Please tell me that you didn’t give your wife a hard time about having a suit that fits her chest, torso, hips, has armholes that don’t bind, supports what needs support and covers what needs covering. Women have to buy a real garment and men’s trunks are basically a pair of shorts that just need to fit in the waist.
    I bet you would give me a hard time about my maternity swimsuit that I will only wear for a few months but supports and fits my body and was way too much money. It was worth every penny and I don’t have to worry about my breasts or my rear end being exposed accidentally.
    On this topic you have no idea what you are talking about- what on earth were you thinking?

  72. Oh man, I would love to see you try to find a suitable women’s swimsuit for $3! That would be such a gas.
    Here are my qualifications:
    Double layer fabric is essential because, unlike men’s swimming trunks, the fabric is stretched over the skin and quickly develops transparency issues.
    We’re going to assume that this is for a *woman* and not a child, so proper coverage and support will be necessary. I’m sure we all remember the first time we dived into the pool and discovered that we needed to start wearing the big girl swimsuits.
    In fact, I’ll be generous and not even require you to stay on budget. Personally I shopped for more than 6 hours to find my current bathing suit, WITH ABSOLUTELY NO FASHION REQUIREMENTS INVOLVED, so when I finally found one I wasn’t really concerned with the price.

  73. Re: women’s swimsuits … just last week I stumbled upon this 2009 article from USA Today about swimwear designers who cater to women from conservative religious traditions:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-06-18-modest-suits_N.htm

    The article makes the excellent point (also covered by some comments above) that street clothes are NOT designed to be comfortable when wet. Plenty of women appreciate the fast-drying materials that make up swimsuits, but if you’re looking to cover up most of your bits, that amount of material won’t come inexpensively.

    One of the designers quoted in the article notes that her customers have a wide range of reasons for wanting to cover up their skin: “‘I’d say 95% of my clientele is Muslim, but I also have Jewish and Christian customers as well as non-religious women … They may be a plus size, sensitive to the sun, are older, or have a physical abnormality.’”

    I forwarded the article to a friend of mine who belongs to a conservative Christian church, and she was thrilled to find additional sources for modest swimwear. She’s a former lifeguard who lives in the pool with her kids over the summer, and she’d much prefer to feel sleek in the water than weighed down with the equivalent of a load of wet laundry on her back.

  74. Can I please put in a request for SARAH to write a guest post on this topic, since she’ll actually know what she’s talking about? Following your suggestions would make half of us end up on the sex offenders list for indecent exposure.

  75. My god Trent! My eyebrows went up when I saw your swimsuit comment. You might have well suggested that women wear a Burka to the beach. I am speculating that this post may get more reponses than any one you have ever had. Its like you are trolling your own blog! I love you man. Hang in there for the firestorm.
    jcw

  76. for jesse-

    how many friends do you have going in on this with you?? if you do a fha loan, you can do a small down payment, but you can’t go in on it w/ a bunch of unrelated people.

    i think you’d need a lot more of a down payment than you and your friends seem to have, if the property will be $600,000.

    the only thing i can think of that might work w/ a group of financially strapped unrelated investors trying to buy something so pricey might be approaching the city and seeing if there are any properties that need to be rehabbed and might qualify for grant money. perhaps you and your friends could form a parntership and take on a project that way, and get a rehab mortgage.

    my husband and i got grant money from hud that is administered by the city- ours is for lead abatement. there is also grant money out there for things like wood windows.

    i’d go look at HUD’s website- also, depending on your careers, maybe you or a friend could qualify for a good neighbor mortgage program or something similar, but those are for single families- not multifamilies, if i recall correctly.

  77. #28 Ryan, Also, thanks for making me LOL re the Prius filter comment. Trent, I hope you are getting as much entertainment from this thread as the rest of us are.

  78. OK, the swimsuit. By Trent’s logic- why does he not just wear already owned shorts? Could it be comfort and…support for the “troops”?

    Padding and support count. No support is uncomfortable for most women, as is “flashing your headlights on” at everybody when you step out of the water.

    I assume ladies would remove the shorts immediately after swimming? There are…ahem..certain ladies maladies that can arise from too much moisture and not enough ventilation. Yes, women wore all sorts of massively covered up suits in the past. But they also never spoke about such maladies, so there is no reliable data. A suit cut like an undergarment is better, if you cannot change immediately.

    And it is ignorant to comment that women should not care what anyone thinks of their looks, when every single societal message is the exact opposite. It would require a schizophrenic break to separate that from our own experiences.

    And if it is about money- a woman is, frankly, more marketable as a mate when she looks better. It has a distinct monetary advantage, both in dating, and choice of husband. Sad, but true.

    And divorce being so expensive…it might be worth a few extra bucks to feel confident that you can still turn your husband’s head. A woman who feels beautiful makes for a happy husband.

    To protect a swimsuit investment: hand rinse it, dish detergent if necessary, hang it out of direct sunlight, and never, ever, put it in a dryer.

  79. I saw a girl thrown out of our city pool three days ago, because she was wearing shorts and a tshirt. Nothing allowed but real swimsuits!

    I certainly couldn’t do any actual swimming in a tshirt, as it would float up and expose me.

    A woman’s suit has to fit around her torso, up-and-down. If the torso measurement is too short, the suit cuts into your butt and shoulders, and rides down at the cleavage. If it’s too long, the suit is loose and your boobs flop out.

    This is analogous to saying that a 6’6″ man is spending for fashion when he buys shirts long enough to cover his belly button and wrists. He could spend MUCH less by buying whatever’s cheapest at the thrift store, and not insisting that it perform as a shirt.

  80. Shouldn’t Nate, who’s saving for a down payment on his house, pay off his student loan debt? I would. I just hate any kind of debt, no matter how low the interest. =)

    You’re wrong about swimsuits! Women’s suits are EXPENSIVE. I’ve gotten some at clearance sales and the best I could do was $40. It wasn’t for the “perfect” suit either. It was just to make do. They just cost more.

  81. Plenty of people (male and female!) have already said, very eloquently, that you are dead wrong about women’s swimsuits, Trent. Count me in with all of them, especially those who want to hear what your wife thinks. I hope you don’t pass judgment on her the way you’ve passed judgment on the rest of us. She doesn’t deserve that. (Neither do we, but hey, we’re just the people who buy your book, right?)

    Many of those eloquent remarks extend to other articles of women’s clothing, too, like brassieres, shirts, and pants. Trent, keep in mind that when you men shop, you pretty much only have to think about four numbers: neck size, arm length, waist size and pant length. If those numbers change, it’s because your body has changed. Moreover, the cut of men’s clothing does not change drastically from year to year in response to stupid fashion trends, so if you buy a pair of pants one year and want to find the exact same pair next year, you’ve got a good chance of actually being able to buy the exact same item — or if you are a thrift store shopper, and know that you take a 32×36 in jeans, you can be pretty sure that they will fit no matter how old or new they are.

    Absolutely none of this is true for women’s clothing. How I wish that women’s clothing sizes (other than brassieres and some swimsuits) ran by measurements!!! Instead, we have to guess. Take pants as an example. The manufacturers assign numbers: 2,4,6,8,10,12,14, and so on. But an 8 in one manufacturer is not the same as an 8 in another (in one line, for example, the waist of an 8 could be 30, in another, 32). Plus, an 8 in the same manufacturer will fit differently in each different style of pants that manufacturer makes. On top of that, styles change every year, so if you find something that fits well and is well made one year, you may never be able to find it again. Finally, manufacturers will revise their sizing charts downward every so often on the theory that women buy more clothing in a line where they can wear a smaller size. So an 8 in last year’s pants might not be the same as an 8 in the 5-year-old pair of $3 thrift shop pants you would love to buy.

    This may seem like a digression from the swimsuit discussion, but what I am trying to do is explain to you how lucky you are (and how limited your perspective is!) when it comes to buying clothes in general. That limited perspective is severely hampering you here. Please don’t insult us by implying that we spend more on swimsuits because we are unthinking slaves to fashion.

    I’m a daily reader, and I expected better of you.

  82. Dave, you should re-evaluate whether to cash in that life insurance policy.

    How I wish that Andrew Tobias’s THE SECRET BANKERS was still in print. It tells you all you need to know about the insurance industry and the chapters on life insurance are a revelation.

    I HATE it when I hear parents have bought life insurance for a child. What the heck does a child need with life insurance? In my view the only person who needs life insurance is someone with dependents who doesn’t have enough savings/investments to care for those dependents in case he should die.

    A child ordinarily doesn’t have dependents. You as a young person living with your parents don’t have dependents as far as I can tell from your post. So why on earth should you keep this policy that some shyster insurance agent sold to your parents many years ago. Cash it in and put the money towards becoming debt free.

    For those who DO need insurance (say, parents with minor children) the cheapest insurance is through your employer if they offer it as a benefit. That source is almost always the lowest cost Otherwise shop around for Term insurance and run, do not walk, from Whole Life insurance.

  83. Trent, do you have the same views on bras that you do on swimsuits? I can tell you as an F cup, I will never ever be able to find a bra that fits for $3. The same goes for swimsuits. Wearing swim trunks and a t-shirt might get me to the pool or the beach, but it’s not something I could swim in. For one thing, regular bras aren’t made to be swam in and I certainly wouldn’t go braless. I’m not really into wet t-shirt contests, afterall.

    I really think that until you go and shop for a woman’s suit to fit your body, you have no right to assume that finding a $3 swimsuit is an option for everyone.

  84. #62- valerie

    i think yours is my favorite comment so far about swimsuits. you’re so right.

  85. Yeah I have to go with all the other ladies here. You want me to buy your book on the same page as accusing me of caring about what others think because I do not want to be arrested wearing a too ill fitting swimsuit. What? Hmmm don’t think so.

  86. I’m a competitive swimmer and a triathlete, as well as a general water aficionada. I spend a lot of money on swimsuits in a year, and I use each and every one of them into rags. I clicked through because I was also pissed about the comment about anything over $5 being a “fashion accessory.”

    That angle, however, has been sufficiently covered. :)

    For the ladies who have commented: You are all ABSOLUTELY CORRECT (and Trent is dead wrong). But next time you need a suit, please go look at SwimOutlet.com. I went to check just now in their competitive suit section, and you can get a basic one-piece from a not-disreputable brand for $15. If you’re not wearing it, say, more than 5 hours a week in heavy chlorine and caring for it properly, it should last awhile.

    And finally, I want to add that I am not an employee of nor do I have any paid connection to this website. Just a very happy customer. :) Happy hunting to all you ladies.

  87. #27 Rachel. I’d consider opening a separate bank account and transfering the “extra” money to it until the end of the month. Then, you can use it on other bills that come up through the month or for your extra payment. Maybe leave a budgeted amount in the account for your husband to spend…

    Get that debt paid off. He’ll appreciate coming home to that, even if he doesn’t know it now. ;)

  88. Hi Trent,

    I’d really like to put your swimsuit for $3 theory to the test. It just so happens that I will be at Lake Okoboji in Spirit Lake, IA for a family reunion in three weeks. I challenge you to show up, walk into a store with me and purchase a new swimsuit for less than $5. It should generally fit and it cover everything that I could be arrested for exposing and I can move in it without the items mentioned above falling out, it can’t be see-through when wet, the crotch can’t bag down when wet, and if I can swim for 15 minutes without it ripping, falling off or giving me some sort of rash, I will not only let you post a picture of me in said swimsuit on your website (I warn you that it may scare off potential readers), I will donate $250 to the charity of your choice.

    The swimsuit I currently wear is an 18/20.

    I’ll be at Lake Okoboji the week of July 25.

    Looking forward to proving you wrong!

  89. I love the support you all gave my original argument. And I think Trent has “gone off the deep end” on this one….

    As others have said, there is a comfort level as to the modesty of swimsuits. There are requirements at city pools as to what is acceptable and what is just too revealing. And there are the physical comfort concerns of a swimsuit to consider (ie- not riding up, straps remaining in place, etc). A woman’s swimsuit in comparison to a man’s swimsuit has way more to consider overall, and unfortunately, each of the considerations involved make it nearly impossible to get a cheap swimsuit for women.

  90. My wife is generally frugal. She bought a nice, modest, 2-piece swim suit that fits her well. I don’t know and don’t care what it cost. She looks great in it, is comfortable wearing it, and has used it a lot over the the past few years and I’m sure it’ll last another season or three. Even if it cost $200, it was money well spent, given the fact that we are able to spend so much time at the beach with the kids having fun and getting exercise.
    $2-3 for a bathing suit? I’ve never seen swim trunks for men at that price, except perhaps at garage sales.

  91. Posted earlier on the swimsuit thing.

    Trent’s comments made me actually leave during my lunch hour and buy an $80 Land’s End Long Torso swimsuit. Oh, and just to salt the wound, the regular sized ones were 50% off, but the custom sizes were only 10% off.

    Saving $40 isn’t worth the wedgies I was getting from my last “frugal” purchase.

  92. Now there’s a Victoria’s Secret swim suit ad on your page Trent. LOL LOL LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Talk about “fashion” and looking well. LOL LOL LOL LOL The rest of us are talking about suits we can find at Sears or something. LOL LOL

  93. SimplySara – I love your challenge! Goes without saying, Trent’s not going to be accepting it…

  94. “When someone – male or female – pays more than a few bucks for a swimsuit, they’re not paying for clothing to cover their bodies while swimming. They’re paying for a fashion accessory – a completely nonessential item.”

    If coverage is the only requirement for a suit to be functional I suppose I could buy a towel and some cord to swim in for $3.

    Though when it gets down to it swimming itself is an elective activity. Why waste $2-3?

  95. (My original comment is stuck in the moderation queue, so here it is without the URL I’d included):

    Just last week I stumbled upon a 2009 article in USA Today about swimwear designers who cater to women from conservative religious traditions. Some of their modest swimsuits feature short sleeves and long shorts, others extend all the way to the wrists and the ankles.

    The article makes the excellent point (also covered by some comments above) that street clothes are NOT designed to be comfortable when wet. Plenty of women appreciate the fast-drying materials that make up swimsuits, but if you’re looking to cover up most of your bits, that amount of specialty material won’t come inexpensively.

    One of the designers quoted in the article notes that her customers have a wide range of reasons for wanting to cover up their skin: “‘I’d say 95% of my clientele is Muslim, but I also have Jewish and Christian customers as well as non-religious women … They may be a plus size, sensitive to the sun, are older, or have a physical abnormality.’”

    I forwarded the article to a friend of mine who belongs to a conservative Christian church, and she was thrilled to find additional sources for modest swimwear. She’s a former lifeguard who lives in the pool with her kids over the summer, and she’d much prefer to feel sleek in the water than weighed down with the equivalent of a load of wet laundry on her back.

  96. The swimsuit comment was downright mean and insulting. I think your female readers deserve and apology. Modesty has nothing to do with fashion. If $2-$3 options existed for women somebody would have chimed in by now.

  97. I have read all of the arguments about swimsuits very carefully, and have spent several minuets considering what many women have said about cheap swimsuits being too skimpy, see-through, prone to fall off, and inappropriate for public places.

    In light of these arguments, I whole-heartedly agree with Trent’s recommendations that women ONLY purchase $2-3 swimsuits. ;-)

  98. Trent — I like SimplySara’s challenge. I like it so much that I will match the $250 donation to the charity of your choice if you accept SimplySara’s challenge as she as written it.

  99. Bras and swimsuits that don’t provide the necessary bust support for a large-breasted woman HURT, just like badly fit shoes.

    Pain is rarely frugal: cheap, maybe, but not frugal.

  100. @ 73 reulte

    you may want to rephrase that (unless your intent was to word it so that trent would get the $250 charity donation from you for simply accepting the challenge, even if he fails) ;)

  101. Regarding the swimsuit debate:

    Maybe Trent wants us to spend $3 or less on swimsuits so we’ll have enough money leftover in the budget to buy his book.

    Funny how ALL personal finance books are about financial responsibility, yet they rely on your financial irresponsibility to get you to buy the book in the first place.

    After today’s ridiculous showing, Trent, I’m one step closer to unsubscribing.

  102. My wife is generously proportioned up top (gifted really) and although we’ve never discussed swimsuits much I have seen her take a cheap bra from brand new to utterly destroyed in a remarkably short period of time.

    Women tend to have more exposure to the perils of “falling out” and “riding up” than we do too.

  103. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a public pool where shirts and shirts were allowed.

    Perhaps because shirts are even more see through and trampy.

    Admit you are wrong on this one.

  104. Regarding Matt’s friend, he says the friend “builds his own furniture.” Does that mean the friend is a (at least semi-) competent woodworker? If so, is there an opportunity for the friend to make some furniture for sale as a side job, or to do some custom work for somebody?

    If so, maybe Matt could help his friend get started doing that – help him get the first client (or be the first client, if Matt needs something done), help out with the work to get him started, etc.

    That way Matt wouldn’t be giving the friend money outright, but he’d be helping him get money of his own. Just a thought.

  105. Trent for your next act, tell the women spending more than $12 on a hair cut is a waste!!!

  106. As to the logging of the weight loss, there are several sites where you can do that for free.

    I’ve used fitday and sparkpeople for that: their food databases each have pros and cons but for weight any free site would do. They also have places for measurements.

  107. Swimsuits…
    It’s not always about finding one that shows off your figure. Sometimes it’s just a matter covering your figure. I’m short and fat and I’m happy if I can find a suit that fits without drooping in the wrong place and showing off too much. I’ve never seen a suit that comes even close to this criteria for less than $50.

    Bill,
    I have long hair. I trim it every couple of months. Nobody in town offers $12 cuts to women anymore. The least I’ve paid in the last 2 years is $15. Yes, there are all kinds of arguments about cutting your own hair. But I’m not very coordinated and that’s an experiment I’m not willing to try.

  108. I agree with the swimsuit comments.

    However, I have ONCE, and TWENTY years ago, found a good suit for $3. Unfortunately, that was when I learned that I can’t wear most storebought suits because by body shape is all wrong. (First my mom, and then later I, made all of my suits. We did a lot of sewing back then.) Yes, it was $3, but it was a wasted $3.

    That said, even sewing my own, I have ONCE and TEN years ago managed to make my own for $6 with some clearance fabric, plus the price of the elastic. That suit lasted for several years and through two pregnancies. Although, as any woman reading this immediately knew, after I wore it for the first pregnancy, I never wore it again unless I was pregnant, so that immediately cut down the wearings and increased how long it lasted.

  109. Echo the posters requesting an apology. How insulting. I’m not well endowed, but have wide hips, so finding something for hippy/small busted is a nightmare. I had a wonderful suit that I bought in 1997 and wore until last year when the elastic/nylon was so stretched I was forced to throw out. I knew the end was near and looked for two years – yes, TWO years – for a suit. By that time there was nothing in my size. Finally I found a suit that covered me and I felt comfortable in. I could care less what the suit looked like, as long as it made me feel comfortable. When I finally found one, I was very happy and expect to wear it for 5-10 years.
    On a side note, last fall when visiting friends, we decided to go swimming…and didn’t pack suits. I found one at Goodwill that I actually love. It is good quality and probably cost around $50-60 new, and even this suit was more than $3. At Goodwill. I’m not sure where you find men’s swim trunks for $3.
    It would be great if Trent took SimplySara’s challenge. I’d love to see what the outcome would be, if you really can find a swimsuit for $3 that would fit decent.

  110. I read this blog in a reader and don’t usually read from the blog.

    When I saw the remarks about women’s swimwear in this post I had to pop over and see how many comments it had generated. I wasn’t disappointed. :)

    Being a middle-aged female, I agree with all the remarks regarding support, comfort and the ability to actually swim in one’s suit. I have an 8 year old $70 Land’s End suit that’s going strong. After having many suits that rode up, stretched out, had straps that slipped, etc. – this suit was worth every penny.

  111. I have to say I agree with the other posters on the swimsuit issue. I got very very lucky in a store a few weeks ago, it was a clearance, end of range and I managed to get a tankini top and 2 bottoms for less than £10. However I expect this to last the 5 days I am on holiday (working out at £2/day) and by then it should have fallen apart so I can throw it out instead of bringing it home. My last swimsuit was still in very good condition, unfortunately however my figure doesn’t fit into a swimsuit made for a 14 year old anymore…

  112. Angie – I am hippy/small busted too! The secret is buying separates. I can get an 8-10/M bottom and a 4-6/S top. It doesn’t have to be teeny-bopper-ish or string bikinis only; I’ve gotten several great tankini sets and a sport (racerback) bikini for swimming laps. In the $35-60 range, I might add.

  113. (My original was also stuck in a queue for including a URL – reprint)

    I’m a competitive swimmer and a triathlete, as well as a general water aficionada. I spend a lot of money on swimsuits in a year, and I use each and every one of them into rags. I clicked through because I was also pissed about the comment about anything over $5 being a “fashion accessory.”

    That angle, however, has been sufficiently covered. :)

    For the ladies who have commented: You are all ABSOLUTELY CORRECT (and Trent is dead wrong). But next time you need a suit, please go look at Swim Outlet (an online business). I went to check just now in their competitive suit section, and you can get a basic one-piece from a not-disreputable brand for $15. If you’re not wearing it, say, more than 5 hours a week in heavy chlorine and caring for it properly, it should last awhile.

    And finally, I want to add that I am not an employee of nor do I have any paid connection to the business I mentioned above. Just a very happy customer. :) Happy hunting to all you ladies.

  114. I was at a public pool last year where there was a middle aged woman wearing a thin/cheap bathingsuit. Everyone could see through the top. Some poor 16 year old girl had to go up to a woman old enough to be her mother and tell her to cover up or change.

  115. Trent, taking your kids to a beach filled with average women dressed in the type of bathing suits you can find for $3 would basically mean taking your kids to a nudist colony. Cheap bathing suits leave NOTHING about a woman’s figure to the imagination. Somehow I don’t get the impression that you would want to expose your kids to that.

  116. My $70 swimsuit lasted four years of three times a week water aerobics plus some trips to Hawaii. The lining wore out before the swimsuit did. I’ve bought cheap suits ($20) and watched them become thin within a few months of pool use.

  117. We all know that there’s sexism in the market. Comparable women’s products are priced at a premium over men’s products in all kinds of categores.

    Where swimsuits are concerned, most women will tell you that they hate buying swimsuits more than virtually any other garment. Most of them don’t fit most of us. Period. When you find one that fits, you’ll pay ANYTHING, just to alleviate the need to try on more, terrible fitting swimsuits! Amy I right, ladies?

    If you can find one that’s less than 50 bucks that you like, it’s a bonus! Might be a good idea to pick up more than one….

  118. First, you said that buying thrift store/used bathing suits were unsanitary and you would not do it. Even with clearance, I doubt you could find new off the rack bathing suits for less than $10. I lucked up once and found a $6 Land’s End bathing suit once at a thrift store, but those bathing suits are known for their quality and if I had not found that miraculous find, I would have paid the normal price for one. Even then, finding a separate top that doesn’t tie around my neck, yanking my hair and cutting into my skin, is about darn near impossible. Do you call that fashion? To me, most of the time being fashionable is being UNcomfortable, not paying high price for something that fits you well with freedom of movement.

    Mark me as a female reader that was very put off by your answer.

  119. Wow. Does anyone else get the feeling that some people are being paid under the table by Land’s End to make positive comments here? I don’t think a single other brand was mentioned in the 90+ comments (some large chain stores like Target or Walmart, sure, but not brands).

    That being said, as a lumpy 30 year old woman, I generally just avoid swimming if at all possible just to save the hassle of buying a swimsuit. THAT’s how much of a pain it is, Trent, and not one easily solved with a mere $2-3.

  120. By the way, we don’t hesitate to buy Rash Guard and other UV Blocking swim shirts for the kids when they cost around $25. That’s a very low price to protect their skin. Compare that to the cost of sunscreen (or worse — medical bills). I haven’t purchased one for myself, but I always wear a T-Shirt when I swim. I’ll probably get a Rash Guard swim shirt for myself. My wife might get one, too.

  121. I will testify under oath that I was not paid under the table to make a positive comment about Land’s End suits. I am not only tall, I am very long-waisted and the long torso suits are great. They also have a variety of hip/thigh coverage styles. And I don’t have to go into a dressing room and strip down under those nasty flourescent lights that add 100 pounds…I can try on the suit in the comfort of my own home.

  122. @92. I named both speedo and land’s end in my posts. I would’ve bought another speedo if they still made the style I liked.

    I definitely don’t work for land’s end or in retail. I hate shopping and since both brands make petite, tall and plus sizes, they do cater to the hard to fit crowd. And we are the ones that are commenting so passionately.

  123. I’ve had a few $2-$3 swimsuits, bought at the end of the season at Walmart & Target. They were suitable only for wearing while cleaning the pool in the privacy of my own back yard, to spare my more expensive suits the exposure to chemicals and sweat that ate those cheap suits up in less than one season. For polite company or the actual beach I insist on a good quality suit. The brands most frequently cited are the ones that I go to first, because they always have what I need at what I consider to be a reasonable price. Cheap suits do not offer the sort of support and durability I want in a suit that’s going to see a lot of action.

  124. Daily reader here. I’d like to (politely!) request an apology for the female blog readers.

    I’m a member of a religious group that requires women to wear one-piece swimwear. It doesn’t have to be long-sleeved or anything, but swimsuits that have tops and bottoms sold separately are not considered appropriate because during some swimming activities even a very modest combination could shift and show some midriff.

    I have purchased a variety of cheap and expensive swimsuits. I’ve had issues with transparency, sagging in the hips, cutting into my shoulders and underarms, showing too much bust, etc etc etc. NONE OF THESE ARE OKAY, EVEN FOR SWIMMING IN PRIVATE.

  125. Trent, you are hopeless. Ask your wife what she thinks of your remarks about women’s swimsuits.

    Lands End and Speedo suits are the only suits worthy of the name, in my opinion, and they don’t come cheaply. Thankfully, they last forever–at least a decade, if treated with care.

    I will share my ONE success in buying a high-quality swimsuit secondhand. About three weeks ago, I spotted a suit that looked new on the rack at the Salvation Army: my size, in a color I like. When I got to the dressing room, I found that the paper liner was still in place–NWOT! Readers, I bought it–for $4.

    The rest of you ladies know what a stroke of luck this was, unlikely ever to be repeated. I like to have two suits to rotate, so I only need to buy one about every five years. I have reasonable luck on ebay, but I have never found a good suit for less than $20–and I am a committed tightwad.

  126. Land’s End has a serious reputation for being a great brand for frugal people. As a pre-teen my mother bought me a Land’s End backpack and it was replaced regularly when it wore out until I graduated HS. That is why so many people are willing to pay $70 for a suit from the, they can last forever or be replaced when they wear out.

  127. I gave up swimming years ago because I couldn’t find a suit that fit me and I just got tired of looking. Trent, be very glad that it is easy and inexpensive for you to buy swim trunks that enable you to enjoy a day at the beach or the pool. I used to love swimming, but the most I can do now is take off my shoes and wade in the shallows.

    Honestly, the whole swimsuit issue brings back the bitter ironies of choosing outfits for a wedding.

    A groom can either wear a nice suit out of his closet or he can rent a fabulous tuxedo for not very much money. A nice, off-the-rack tux in his size will always be available, the pants will not require hemming, and he will look great. Not that anyone will be looking much at him at the wedding, mind you! ;-D

    Women, because of their varying body shapes and features, will not look good in just any dress or bridal gown (if you don’t believe me, just take a look at identically-dressed bridesmaids at the next wedding you attend). A good online guide can be found on the website The Knot that can help women choose the best necklines and skirt lines/shapes to suit their bodies.

    While I would have loved to have found a dress at a thrift shop or on a sale rack in the bridal shop, it just didn’t happen. After spending many hours of my life looking at well over a thousand dresses that weren’t the right cut, I found exactly two gowns that looked halfway decent on me: one was by Oscar de la Renta and the other was by Reem Acra, and the dress I chose still needed some serious alterations (which cost extra, naturally!). Needless to say, I payed a LOT for my dress. My groom, on the other hand, spent three seconds pulling a nice suit out of his closet and he didn’t have to spend a cent on an outfit for the wedding.

    I just add stuff like swimsuits and wedding gowns to my list when I tote up the high cost of being female.

  128. Daily reader here. I’d like to (politely!) request an apology for the female blog readers. I buy nearly all of my clothing used, and the rest on clearance. Swimsuits, however, are the exception.

    I’m a member of a religious group that requires women to wear one-piece swimwear. Swimsuits that have tops and bottoms sold separately are not considered appropriate because during some swimming activities even a very modest combination could shift and show some midriff. Religion aside, there are many reasons other than fashion for a woman to prefer a particular style of swimsuit. There may also be support issues or skin trouble that make one-piece suits the best option for a particular women. My point is that fashion notwithstanding, women sometimes need to be particular about their swimwear. An above commenter pointed out that women often need to look sexy to get/stay married, which is unfortunate but true, and this often represents a financially sound move on a woman’s part- not to mention one helpful to society.

    I have purchased a variety of cheap and expensive swimsuits. Lately I even branched out and purchased a two-piece style to wear on a trip with my husband. With one-piece suits especially, I’ve had issues with sagging through the hips, cutting into my shoulders and underarms, giving me wedgies, and otherwise restricting movement. None of these are okay, even for swimming alone. They prevent women from swimming in a way that is good aerobic exercise, and hamper women looking after children who are learning to swim.

    This is not to mention the issues I’ve had with transparency, suits falling apart after one use (despite being washed immediately), and showing too much cleavage. I suppose these could be considered fashion issues, but if so, would the choice to wear a suit at all be a fashion issue?

    The cheapest suit I’ve ever purchased was $15. It was the one that fell apart after one use. Lately I’ve been buying at Target for $30ish and replacing yearly, although I may soon invest in a more expensive suit that will last multiple years.

    I wear men’s swim trunks over my suit to provide thigh coverage and I’ve found that they’re 1) easy to find in a functional* size, despite the fact that I’m shaped like a woman and they’re cut for men, and 2) they’re inexpensive and last for years. It’s simply a totally different world than women’s suits.

    *The men’s shorts look awful on me- they make me look really boxy because they’re made for men. I’m not dressing for fashion.

  129. Excitement in the comments section today! SimplySara has thrown down the gauntlet. Will Trent pick it up? Will Trent ever post a reply to the comments on this post? Does Trent get paid per page view and therefor strategically write posts that offend to increase traffic as his readers eagerly await a response?
    All jesting aside, I hope you can see that for many women owning a well fitting swimsuit is an issue of dignity, not fashion.

  130. sorry for the double post… perhaps Trent can remove the incomplete first one (and this apology?)

  131. Being frugal, I avoided paying full price for a swimsuit for several years. I don’t swim much, so I basically didn’t have a swimsuit. I tried various kinds of tank tops and tankini tops with lined running shorts and swim shorts. Finally, Land’s End had a sale on some swim tops I was interested in marked down from $50 to $20 and that was a steal! I bought one and realized what I had been missing all those years without buying a quality suit. Now I would never go back. I tried on a suit from Target I thought I could use as a second suit, and it had no support whatsoever on top.

  132. Your comment about the women’s swimsuit genuinely upset me. As a very large chested woman from a very young age, I have always had to sacrifice “fashion” to have a swimsuit that modestly covered and supported my chest, and I’ve had to pay out the nose to do so. I usually love this blog, and obviously you could not have known about it, but I am actually offended that as a woman I’m accused of being frivolous instead of modest. There are times when functionality is an essential, not a luxury. This is obviously one of those times.

  133. I think the swimsuit issue has been beat to death, so moving on…

    Jenelle – I highly recommend Spark People for tracking weight, calories eaten and exercise. It’s free and it’s good and I used it to help me lose weight.

  134. #92PK- Land’s End suits are just the best. The Volvo of body protection. They offer great support, excellent coverage, and options for different body types. They fit well, and last 10 plus years with proper care. You are more likely to change size over the years, than for the suit to wear out prematurely. I have owned 2 in 20 years. The one I grew out of is still in my drawer, should I ever be pre-baby size again!

    I do have an excellent 2-piece tankini I got from a Lord and Taylor clearance store for 25 (gift certificate!). It is also excellent, and I am still at a loss as how to it ended up there! Maybe it was the 2 plus hours I spent scouring the football sized store for a top and bottom that could coordinate.

    My mom used to stick me in those cheapo bathing suits from the grocery store when I was a kid and pre-teen. When I hit puberty, the humiliation of having my developing body clearly visible when I got out of the water is a horrific memory that still makes me wince. I was mocked behind my back, and remember hearing the other girls point and giggle, right in from the boy I adored. Bathing suits are one item I will never, ever, skimp on.

    Trent, please take Simply Sarah’s challenge. I can chip in 20 bucks for the winner.

  135. Everybody has already said everything I was going to say about swimsuits (and most eloquently, too!) except for this:

    I am a plain, boring average-sized woman with a “normal” sized bust, waist and hips. I haven’t had kids so I have no stretch marks or saggy bits to hide. I have no particular need for any special requirements in a swimsuit with regard to fitting properly. And I STILL have trouble finding an appropriate solution which doesn’t cost a fortune. So I just wanted to point out that it’s not just women who are perhaps a bit taller, wider or saggier who have trouble with this!

    Also there’s a huge difference between lying around on the beach in a swimsuit and actually swimming in it. Unless a woman has no chest whatsoever a bikini is really only suitable for tanning purposes.

  136. SimplySara – I hope you are ready to document Trent’s appearance.

    Count me in as someone who would love to see Sarah write guest posts. You would do well to run your articles past your wife, too.

  137. momof4 wrote: “For many women owning a well fitting swimsuit is an issue of dignity, not fashion.”

    BINGO!

    Speaking of dignity, another factor that influences a woman’s swimsuit choice is her preferred means of dealing with prevailing cultural norms regarding body hair. In my case, I’ll gladly fork over $25 or more for a pair of shorts-style swim bottoms if it means never, EVER using a razor or other depilatory on that part of my body again. Let’s not even discuss the horror that is the Brazilian wax phenomenon. :(

  138. If Trent won’t take SimplySara’s challenge, the least he could do is post a picture of Sarah in HER $3 bathing suit.

  139. Wow, people really get worked up over bathing suits! I don’t swim because society has decided that nobody wants to see a fat chick in a bathing suit (it’s too bad, because I used to swim competitively and I really loved it), so I’m as unfamiliar as Trent with the nuances of buying a bathing suit. It’s interesting that people have categorized bathing suits together with makeup and shoes. Makeup is truly unnecessary — yeah, yeah, I know some women believe that they can’t get ahead in their careers without face paint, but it is all about appearances and not utility. And shoes? I will gladly pay more for shoes that are comfortable and durable, but again, the stereotypical woman who “needs” a closet full of designer shoes is kidding herself.

    Still… I think Trent is kidding himself if he thinks a woman can pick up a decent swim suit for less than $5.

  140. Where could I buy a pair of Men’s swimming shorts for $2-3? I’m often stunned by the low prices bloggers claim for all kinds of things. OTOH swimming tops are optional for women in quite a few countries (though not the US or Australia)…

  141. I was always taught that the difference between being cheap and being frugal is that a person who is just cheap will only look at the price of an item and buy the cheapest one. A frugal person, however, will look at other factors — like quality, durability,etc — and then decided based on all the factors on how much to spend and what to get. And find a good deal to get the item.

    In the case of the bathing suits it seems that Trent is advocating cheap over frugal.

    I haven’t been swimming in a long time but the kind of suit I need has to have a built in bra. There’s no way around it. And I don’t mean some cheap padding sewn in, but a good decent support. Also anything with a scoop back is not going to work.

    I’ve worn a cheap, ill fitting swimsuit with a scoop back before. That was an almost memorable occasion when a wave hit me from behind and the straps started falling down. I managed to grab my chest and keep my bathing suit on, but I almost had the whole top of my bathing suit come off.

    In front of my brother, cousins, aunts, uncles and assorted other relatives.

    I don’t think anyone noticed but I’m sure someone would have if I was suddenly naked from the waist up.

  142. Trent, I’ll even write the apology that you can post. All you need to do is find your funnybone and some humility:

    “I SUBMIT!!!!! I would like to heartily apologize to all the women out there whom I’ve offended with my lack of knowledge and one-sided assumptions!! Plus, Sarah has offered to rip me a new one for what I wrote!!!!”

    Now, that’s not so hard, is it?

  143. I’m just joining the parade here to say that finding a good bathing suit that covers your body properly without flashing or mooning people is hard.

    If I was on a deserted island?? I’d wear nothing!! But sadly, the beach, or public pool have other people and most of them don’t want to see my privates. Therefore, buying a decent swimsuit, and not even a pretty one; I’m talking a basic, supportive swimsuit, is not going to happen for $2-3. And buying a used swimsuit is like buying somebody’s used underwear and I sure hope that you wouldn’t do that.

  144. Trent, I used to really like your site a lot. I’ve subscribed via RSS feed since I was in graduate school three years ago. My husband often makes your homemade bread, and it’s always delicious.

    This post about womens’ swimsuits has prompted me to unsubscribe to your RSS feed. I guess I’m sort of flouncing away, because I am mad enough to write this comment, but I figure that I owe it to you to let you (and others) know what’s made me do this.

    Many other eloquent women have posted about the problems women have with buying not only swimsuits, but clothing of all types. As a short woman with large hips and thighs, it’s almost impossible for me to find a pair of jeans that fits well, doesn’t ride down when I sit in a chair, and doesn’t wear through in the thighs after two months. I shudder to think about the process I’d have to go through to buy a swimsuit that would provide the coverage and performance that I require in order to feel confident enough to go swimming in a public place.

    If I could even obtain such a garment after less than three hours spent sampling my available options, you can bet I would pay a lot more than $70 to do so. I’m sure many women would feel the same way.

    I’m glad that you’ve had success shopping for cheap clothing at thrift stores. However, when it comes to providing universal advice in this particular area of frugality, you are wrong.

    Cordially,
    A former Simple Dollar reader

  145. Trent,

    If your son ever plays football, I hope you don’t tell him to skip those expensive pads and cups and stuff, and to just stuff himself with socks for $3. Athletic wear for women (including swimsuits) is every bit as functional. You were way off track on this one.

  146. Man, I knew this post would get tons of comments…

    I won’t pile on Trent in my post, but if people are looking for non-Lands End alternatives for swimwear, I suggest looking at:

    ATHLETA, TITLE NINE SPORTS, and PATAGONIA

  147. Man, I knew this post would get tons of comments…

    I won’t pile on Trent in my post, but if people are looking for Lands End alternatives for swimwear, I suggest looking at:

    ATHLETA, TITLE NINE SPORTS, and PATAGONIA

  148. @ Jillian (#104): me, too! I’m a pretty normal-sized 20-something, even on the thin and small-chested side, and bathing suits are still a pain to shop for, and expensive. Not the huge, royal pain they are for some hard-to-fit women, but certainly no picnic.

  149. I won’t try to speak for women. But I’ll say that men can justify spending more than a few dollars on a suit.

    My last suit probably cost close to $20 on sale. While cheaper than a woman’s suit, it is considerably more expensive than a $5 clearance suit at Target in September. When I swim, I actually swim–lap swimming has been one of my primary forms exercise off and on–and I’ve found that something actually made for “real” swimmers works much better. Bonus: these suits seem to last longer. (At least the suits intended for training that are 100% nylon or polyester. I’m told suits for competition with Lycra content apparently don’t last as long.)

    Of course, most men have simpler needs. Many people’s “swimming” is really splashing with their kids a few times a summer, or maybe a few yards after diving off the diving board. For these men, cheap will work.

    As always, there is no one answer. It all depends on the person and his or her needs.

  150. Sara #108 said: “Wow, people really get worked up over bathing suits! I don’t swim because society has decided that nobody wants to see a fat chick in a bathing suit (it’s too bad, because I used to swim competitively and I really loved it)[...]”

    I’d say that anyone who’s body is, for whatever reason, something society doesn’t want should still feel free to go swimming if he or she wants to. Anyone who doesn’t like the way someone else looks can feel free to look at someone or something else.

    Learning to quit caring about what society thinks about stuff that really doesn’t matter is a good lesson. One that I, myself, haven’t fully learned, but am working on.

  151. @Jesse:

    You can collectively purchase a brownstone/multifamily building and then turn it into separate units by going condo. You will have to get a condo declaration. Contact the NYS Attorney General’s Office (Real Estate), they are in charge of approving new condos.

  152. “When someone – male or female – pays more than a few bucks for a swimsuit, they’re not paying for clothing to cover their bodies while swimming.”

    Wrong. I need a swimsuit that supports my bust, and just as a bra in my size costs more than a budget bra (I mean a basic one, not a fancy one) the cheapest cupsized-swimsuit to fit me I found was £45. There are outlet sites for them, but it’s hit and miss whether your size will come up.

  153. “Unless you’re swimming competitively, there is no reason a woman can’t wear a pair of swim trunks and a bikini top of t-shirt swimming. I’ve seen tons of ladies doing this. You can spend under $10 for such an outfit.”

    No, you can’t – not if you’re above a C-cup. A-C cups can choose from budget to high-end styles. Above that, we can’t. I know it’s not easy for men to understand as they don’t have breasts, but think about it – they’re mostly made of fat, and they are heavy, and not supporting them properly can cause permanent stretching of the ligaments.

    And if it was a private beach, I’d still need my Panache swimsuit, just as if I was walking round the house at home I’d feel more comfortable in a bra. This isn’t an issue of simply wanting to spend more on a haircut or a pair of shoes – sometimes spending more on something that functions correctly is more frugal than taking the cheaper but useless option.

  154. Rachel and Meg: I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s get out of debt plan. If you get his book Total Money Makeover, you will find a simple yet powerful 7 step plan to get control of your finances, get out of debt and build wealth. To really flesh out the plan, take Financial Peace, his 13 week program that goes much more into detail about finance, including appropriate insurance coverage, investing, and retirement planning.
    My husband and I read Total Money Makeover in the early spring, got rolling with the plan, and then took Financial Peace, which we just completed. The book can be bought for $10-$25, or taken out at the library, and the class will cost you $99-$200 per couple. The benefits are huge, but probably the biggest is the sense of peace that comes from having a plan and working a plan, and feeling financially secure.
    Rachel-one of the key components that the Ramsey plan addresses is creating marital unity, that is, the husband and wife getting on the same page and pulling together towards the same goals. He even has rules for arguing over budgets, lol! Seriously, one of the top reasons for divorce is money, so it is incredibly important to address these money issues.
    I cannot recommend this program enough. Our income is not very high and it has not changed, yet we feel like we have gotten a huge raise, because we have gone from pretty much living paycheck to paycheck, to where we have been able to easily plan for monthly bills, save for monthly/yearly expenses (such as insurance and car repairs), and start building a long term 3-6 months worth of expenses emergency fund. This has been possible because my husband and I are on the same page with our financial goals, and because we tell our money where to go as opposed to wondering where it went.

  155. Add me to the list on the swimsuit. For me it’s about basic comfort, not fashion or modesty. When I can’t sleep and get up in the middle of night to read without disturbing my husband, I put on a bra for my own comfort, regardless of whether we have any guests or not. I would certainly wear a swimsuit with decent chest support on a private beach. And that costs more than $5.

  156. Re: Bathingsuits

    Trent, do you have breasts? Do you have somewhere between 2 and 10 pounds of unsupported flesh trying to pull your body forward in ways that can eventually result in extreme back pain?

    Even while swimming (especially while swimming for some women, myself included) breasts need support to prevent discomfort at best and pain at worst. A swimsuit that will support them is not going to be 5$. If you’re quite lucky, it will be closer to $30.

  157. lol @ Todd (#112). Maybe by then, they can recycle all their cloth diapers into football pads!

  158. Sara (@ comment # 109) said: “Wow, people really get worked up over bathing suits! I don’t swim because society has decided that nobody wants to see a fat chick in a bathing suit (it’s too bad, because I used to swim competitively and I really loved it)”

    Sara- get a swimsuit and swim. Life is too damn short to not do what you love. I did not mention where I bought my suit above (and in the prior post) since I didn’t think we advertised here– but everyone chiming in about Land’s End makes me feel free to mention Junionia for larger women’s swimsuits. I HIGHLY endorse their aquatard for real swimming and exercise; I had a plain black one for somewhere between 8-10 years and got a new blue and black one this year.

    My comment to those who may think a whale has washed on the shore when they see me on the beach–you’d better have a big enough harpoon, because nothing short of that will keep me from having fun with my kids in the water!

  159. Piling on the swimsuit issue – I remember several years ago shopping for a swimsuit last minute as I was about to leave for a beach vacation with friends. I am only 5’5 but have a very long torso for my height. I probably tried on 20 suits at TJ Maxx and none fit, they were all too short and gave me a wedgie. Bikinis do not work with my body either.

    This year I spent $80 on a long torso swimsuit from Lands End – just wore it this week, it fits great, stays in place, relatively flattering and I am confident it will last several years!

  160. I can, and do, get $12 haircuts.

    That being said, I did click through my feed reader because of the swimsuit mention.

    It’s amazing how many women wish they had – or their men wish to see – D cup size. But if you really are blessed in that regard, as I am, then you will find that clothing choices are extremely limited whether it is casual, business or active wear.

    Fashion has nothing to do with the situation, as other women said. The problem is finding attire that will fit the curves correctly. When a woman can find the proper fit, we buy multiple colors of the same shirt, several bras at one time, make the swimsuit last as long as possible, etc.

  161. Another faithful Lands End swimsuit shopper here – I buy a $70 swimsuit from them about every 3 years (usually for $40-50 on sale) and they have lasted 5-8 years. Sizing is consistent year-to-year. We’re regular beach-goers from April to October & I swim in the Atlantic regularly. My suit takes abuse: sand abrades any fabric, & I wash my suits in the washer with the beachtowels, etc, but dry them on a rack. I reckon I’m paying less than $0.20 per wearing.

    I want to add that they sell swim shorts and good coverage tops in a variety of styles and have terrific sales in the off-seasons (Sept & October, then again in March & May). Shopping carefully & getting a little lucky, I’ve twice gotten swim shorts & a top for about $30. But that’s a cheap as it gets for a 68 year-old woman with a BMI of 26.

    Final point – Freedom from dressing-room angst. I know my Lands End size (their sizing is consistent year-to-year, but when I gained weight the old suit stretched gradually & needed to be replaced with a bigger size). When it’s time to buy a new one, there’s no anxiety-ridden treasure hunt., I can order 3 suits that look good (that brings a price that gets free shipping) try them on in privacy in 5 minutes, return the discards to the local Sears store (again no shipping cost). Total time spent- 2 hours once every 3 years: 1/2 hour to order the suits, 1/2 an hour to unpack, try on, repack discards, 1 hour to drive to Sears to return the discards. No sifting though rack after rack. No writhing in the dressing room. No hassle.

  162. I never claimed that there is a great woman’s swimsuit that can be bought for $2. What I said was that I didn’t understand why a special suit was needed for women to begin with. I still haven’t seen an explanation of why a bra with a t-shirt and a pair of swim trunks won’t work for swimming.

    Why, pray tell, do women not swim in their favorite bras?

  163. I don’t have any issue with women who choose to spend more than the cost of a bra and a pair of swimming trunks on a swimsuit, but it’s similar to paying more for a non-junker car.

    The low end is really cheap. Very few people buy the low end because they’re focused deeply on what other people think.

    If your concern is support (and I think that’s a very reasonable concern), why not just wear your favorite bra when you swim?

    Again, I’m all for women (and men) buying the swimsuit they want to wear, but it’s *not* a required expense. It’s spending more because you want to look modest/good/whatever your aesthetic goal is. That’s a perfectly reasonable expense, but it’s not a required one.

    I’m not questioning your choice to wear such a swimsuit. I’m more disappointed that society expects such things of women. It’s marketing at its finest.

  164. You obviously don’t read the comments. Several posters pointed out why a bra and tee shirt won’t work: not allowed in public pools, wet tee shirt effect, difficult to swim in a tee shirt, etc. And, bras (another item you’ll undoubtedly lecture women about) are quite costly, so there would be no savings by swimming in a favorite bra.

    I used to think this blog was about frugality, but there’s been zero analysis from you about the cost of a women’s swimsuit in terms of number of wears. ZERO. You really ought to take a look at the inherent sexism in your assumptions: you buy yourself video games (and get into complicated cost per use analysis), yet lecture women about what they should wear to the beach, then ignore more than 100 comments on the issue.

  165. Clearly, Trent, you’re not getting it. Your question has been answered numerous times in the prior comments. T-shirts aren’t ALLOWED in many public swimming venues (we’re not talking the local swimming hole). Bras (especially for the full-figured) are not made for swimming. They are not comfortable enough, they don’t hold up well in chlorinated or salt water, and they are not made for the type of movement involved in swimming. Do you understand now?

    Just put on your big boy swim trunks and admit you were wrong, already.

  166. I didn’t want to add to the dumping on you, but I think you really aren’t getting this.

    As other commenters have said, many pools don’t allow t-shirts. Many bras are not quite modest enough to wear without a t-shirt (that’s why swimsuits have extra layers in the breast region).

    Also, even if you were to wear a bra –most bras are not made to withstand wearing in chlorinated water, again and again. The manufacturers of many sports bras specifically state that.

    I also don’t think you get the need that many women have for breast support while engaging in physical activities like running/walking/jumping/swimming. Without proper breast support, women get upper back pain and extreme pain when engaging in those physical activities and others.

    Bras for anyone who is not a ‘standard’ size are also extremely expensive. I am a 32F and need custom fitting as this size is not found in stores like Target and Walmart. All of my bras are a minimum of $50 each (even looking for deals online).

    Out of my close female friends, 4/10 do not fit in the ‘standard’ bra sizes that are found in cheapo retail stores.

    This is not a luxury.

  167. twblues: That’s still not addressing my point. You don’t need the $70 suit to swim. You need the $70 suit to swim in a specific place that you want to swim.

    It’s not the swimsuit that’s the cost. It’s the social environment. I think that’s really, really sad.

    Women should feel free to swim in whatever they please and not feel they have to invest a ton of money in a swimsuit just to swim in a public pool. The fact that women do not – and clearly many do not, based on this thread – is an indictment not of my comment, but of a century of marketing and of a society that has really messed-up expectations of women and their bodies.

    We need to change that, and the only way to change it is to stop caring what other people think and stop worrying about such ridiculous nonsense. If a woman wants to swim where I do wearing a t-shirt or a supportive bra or whatever they feel most comfortable in, they’re perfectly welcome to.

  168. Trent your willful ignorance is shocking. I can’t believe that you’ve read through 120+ comments and still refuse to understand.

    So let’s try smaller words and sentences.

    Bras are not made for swimming.
    Shorts are not made for swimming.
    T shirts are not made for swimming.

    They are not comfortable.

    They do not provide enough support.

    They are not allowed in certain areas.

  169. And, by the way, my favorite bra, which is not particularly pretty, but is supportive and not over-priced, costs $30. Still not a $2-3 solution.

  170. “The low end is really cheap. Very few people buy the low end because they’re focused deeply on what other people think. ”

    But what about the low end product that doesn’t offer the correct support, or modesty?

    I’m a guy so I can’t comment on wearing a bra and a t-shirt in the surf, but I believe the 100s of women posters here saying that it wouldn’t work right and may be a good way to ruin a bra.

  171. …heh, yeah, I have no idea why I tried to answer that. I should have known that, by the time I got to the bottom of the comments, there would be other comments from people that had already answered Trent’s question better than I.

    But I would think it would be fairly obvious to pretty much anyone that bras are NOT designed to operate underwater, for reasons twblues mentioned (and probably more). Guess not.

  172. #129: Trent, REALLY? Now I can’t swim where I want to swim? So, I have to find a private swimming hole where I can dress my middle-aged, plus-sized body like a teenaged boy and splash around rather than actually swim because my clothing is so unwieldy (but thrifty!!)?

    Seriously??

    Fine. I’m just going to go there…PRIUS!!!

  173. Oh dear.
    1. Tshirts, as mentioned, are not allowed in many public pools. As a former lifeguard, I know it’s because they get caught in drains and can be a hazard in the event of a lifesaving event. They float and can get caught around your neck, as well as making it MUCH harder to actually save somebody. You try getting a grip on a body and pulling them out when they are wearing extraneous clothing. I do not recommend anybody swim in a tshirt.
    2. Tshirts, when wet, are quite inappropriate for family swimming. I recommend seeing the wet tshirt contest comments above.
    3. Regular bras that fit are EXPENSIVE. They can help prevent back pain, shoulder pain, shoulder divets, and future surgeries. They are not intended to be worn wet and could easily have the deer in headlights phenomenon. Or the see through phenomenon. Not appropriate. They do not hold up well in salt water, chlorinated water, hot tubs, oreven regular washing machines. They do not move appropriately when swimming laps. I am NOT destroying my favorite bras because I swam in them 3 times.

  174. AJ you’re right on target.

    So is Adam and Kevin and almost every male here.

    Trent when every person with actual first hand experience in a situation says you are wrong then you are wrong.

    You can try to explain how we women are just deluded by the fashion industry and marketing and can’t possibly see clearly on the issue. But that doesn’t make you right.

    It makes you sound like a sexist, arrogant jerk.

  175. Every guy except Trent seems to get it.

    Here’s a clue for you Trent when EVERY person with actual real life experience says you are wrong then you are wrong.

    You can try and “explain” to your female readers that we are just wrong and deluded and can’t see past marketing but that doesn’t make you right.

    It makes you not only wrong but a sexist jerk.

  176. 4. Oh, and because bras and underwear are not considered “appropriate swimwear” according to the Y rules.

  177. This just keeps getting better, and by better I mean worse.

    “If a woman wants to swim where I do wearing a t-shirt or a supportive bra or whatever they feel most comfortable in, they’re perfectly welcome to.”

    Where, exactly, is this? Not a public pool.

    Also noted you avoided answering what Sarah wears if she’s going to said pool with you.

  178. alliz: “Shorts are not made for swimming.
    T shirts are not made for swimming.”

    I swim in shorts and t-shirts every single time I swim. They’re not made for swimming, perhaps, but they certainly work. I could spend a lot more for more flattering and more comfortable swimwear (because what I wear can certainly be uncomfortable at times), but it’s just not an extra expense that pays enough dividends in my life to be worth it. T-shirts and shorts may not be made for swimming, but they certainly can be used that way.

    I think women should have full rights to do the same and make the same choice. If they choose to wear something different for comfort or appearance or performance – an option that I have, as well, by purchasing performance swimwear, swimming goggles, etc. – that’s a personal choice, but it’s an extra cost.

    I apologize to any and all female readers who felt that I somehow undermined their swimming needs. I fully understand that many women have comfort and body issue concerns. The comfort issues can be dealt with if desired by buying appropriately supportive gear, but the body issue concerns are the product of many, many years of marketing and social influence, and the only way to fight that is to just not care what other people think. If you’re swimming, enjoy YOURSELF and ignore ‘em.

  179. wow-

    trent, when i saw you came back to address us in the comments section, i thought you might have the decency/intelligence to admit you might need to rethink your stance here.

    i can’t believe i’m still trying to explain something so simple to you, like it might even make a difference, but here goes-

    you’re willing to invest in quality knives, quality pots and pans, and quality ingredients when you cook, and this is because it makes cooking a better, safer experience w/ a good end result.

    if i can speak for the women here who have taken the time to share with you, we ALL feel the same way about our swimming experience, and are willing to make a similar investment in the proper gear. your lack of respect for our input is insulting to us.

    telling us AGAIN to just swim in a bra and t shirt would be like me telling you fix the family dinner by chopping vegetables and chicken w/ a half a pair of your kid’s safety scissors and heating it all up w/ a hair dryer in an empty mayonnaise jar. you sound like a half an idiot. you really do.

    and you’ve made me feel sorry for your wife and kids now. you really have.

    i think i’m done with your website- i can’t take you seriously anymore.

    -anne

  180. It’s almost like Trent is trolling his own site.

    I hope, Trent, that your children are clothed in rucksacks. Anything more than that would go against what you’re saying here.

  181. Trent let me try this again.

    The approriate supportive gear for swimming is a SWIMSUIT THAT FITS. and for many many women the proper supportive gear is NOT CHEAP.

  182. A tshirt and shorts or $2 trunks?

    This is when you told women we shouldn’t ever wear makeup because we should love the way we look without it and anything else is the problem of the people we were around. (paraphrasing.)

  183. So…if special clothing is not required for swimming why did you spend even $3 on swim trunks? Why don’t you swim in a pair of bulky denim shorts or in your underwear?

  184. my comment is awaiting moderation- here is some of it, w/ a little missing. let’s see if it posts-

    wow-

    trent, i can’t believe i’m still trying to explain something so simple to you, like it might even make a difference, but here goes-

    you’re willing to invest in quality knives, quality pots and pans, and quality ingredients when you cook, and this is because it makes cooking a better, safer experience w/ a good end result.

    if i can speak for the women here who have taken the time to share with you, we ALL feel the same way about our swimming experience, and are willing to make a similar investment in the proper gear. your lack of respect for our input is insulting to us.

    telling us AGAIN to just swim in a bra and t shirt would be like me telling you fix the family dinner by chopping vegetables and chicken w/ a half a pair of your kid’s safety scissors and heating it all up w/ a hair dryer in an empty mayonnaise jar.

    and you’ve made me feel sorry for your wife and kids now. you really have.

    i think i’m done with your website- i can’t take you seriously anymore.

    -anne

  185. my comments keep ending up awaiting moderation- here goes again- an even more severely edited version of what i want to say-

    trent- you’re willing to invest in quality knives, quality pots and pans, and quality ingredients when you cook, and this is because it makes cooking a better, safer experience w/ a good end result.

    if i can speak for the women here who have taken the time to share with you, we ALL feel the same way about our swimming experience, and are willing to make a similar investment in the proper gear. your lack of respect for our input is insulting to us.

    telling us AGAIN to just swim in a bra and t shirt would be like me telling you fix the family dinner by chopping vegetables and chicken w/ a half a pair of your kid’s safety scissors and heating it all up w/ a hair dryer in an empty mayonnaise jar.

  186. Bras can cost more than swimsuits so wearing a bra isn’t necessarily a more frugal option.

    A sports bra *might* be ok to swim in as it should give support but the modesty issues comes up…I don’t want to explain to children why my high beams are on.

    As for a regular bra…mine aren’t the best for swimming I would come out of them. I could lay on a beach but true swimming would be out of the question.

    But you are correct in that *some* swimsuits are like bras but the difference in material makes them dry quicker. My regular bra would retain water and thus be uncomfortable.

    For the sake of this argument I view the swimsuits that are like bras to be more for fashion as you can’t swim in them very well(a lot of times).

    I’m all for shopping sales at the end of the season to try and get cheaper swimsuits and I’m not advocating a $70 suit every year (unless you swim for exercise but that’s a whole different story) but I think that a good fitting suit that will last awhile even at $70 is a good purchase.

    The real question is why does it cost so much to make something that covers so little?

    Overall men have it way easier with clothing purchasing. I second the woman that said it took 6 hrs to find a suit to fit having taken that long myself. It would not be cost effective for me to spend longer than that. The value of the time spent searching(or gas cost) would out weigh any savings.

  187. but the body issue concerns are the product of many, many years of marketing and social influence, and the only way to fight that is to just not care what other people think

    So my desire to maintain my own personal dignity by keeping all of my private parts covered while swimming with my family is the product of many many years of marketing and social influence? REALLY? without all of the marketing and influence I would be perfectly comfortable to let my top fall down and my bottoms ride up an it wouldn’t be a a big deal? AMAZING! Thank you for this incredible insight!

  188. What Trent is doing is classic “mansplaining”.

    Mansplaining is when a man, with no first hand knowledge of a subject, starts lecturing women (who have first hand knowledge) on how they are wrong, wrong, so very very wrong. Wrong because they are either too naive to understand how marketing works, or too deluded and can’t see past marketing, or just plain don’t understand how the big wide world works. So the men have to explain it all to women, otherwise the wome would just not ever comprehend these things.

  189. Trent, why did you buy $2 swim trunks? Surely you already own underwear.

    Bras are not waterproof, the padded kind will become a sponge, soaking up as much water as possible, and the non-padded kind will be see through. Tshirts are not allowed in pools because they are dangerous, and look totally inappropriate (wet tshirt contest! Woo!). Bras are also not allowed as swimwear in public pools.

    Trent, as you have three kids, I am sure that you are aware that girly parts and different than boy parts. Girl parts that have wet clothing sticking to it because you are too cheap to buy a bathing suit will lead to infections. Yes, I should wear shorts, be uncomfortable while wearing them, then get a yeast infection because shorts don’t ventiliate or dry like bathing suits, and pay to have that fixed. Or is it not frugal to get proper medical care for women-ly concerns?

    I don’t see why it is a marketing scam to want to keep my private parts private.

  190. I want to second all the postings about Land’s End — that is my go to place for things that are going to need some quality. But you can still get these things at a deal — they have all kinds of sales, if you don’t mind off season, even their swim suits. And their sales can be quite good — I buy my boys their winter coats there off season, and get very high quality for the same amount as a cheapie brand I’d buy in season, and then I pass it down to the next child.

    And their lunch boxes are great! I hate that the character ones are so cheaply made, that you are buying another lunch box half way through the school year. Going on two years now for the ones they are using now.

    It is definitely very hard to compare men’s swim shorts with the swim trunks. Like apples and oranges, in my mind.

  191. I will add that even on a private beach I’d still want a good swimsuit. It’s just not comfortable to swim, run, or do any other physical activity without support, and I am no longer large chested, just plain ole average.

  192. Trent: it’s not that you “undermined [womens'] swimming needs”, whatever that means, it’s that you made some judgmental statements about a topic that you don’t seem to understand.

    A comfortable, supportive bra cannot be had for “a couple of bucks” and even it if it could, the fabric would stretch and sag in the water, therefore failing to perform it’s intended purpose. So then not only have you failed to be comfortable while swimming, you have likely also ruined a bra in the process, especially if there is salt or chlorine involved. Not frugal.

  193. “trent- you’re willing to invest in quality knives, quality pots and pans, and quality ingredients when you cook, and this is because it makes cooking a better, safer experience w/ a good end result.

    if i can speak for the women here who have taken the time to share with you, we ALL feel the same way about our swimming experience, and are willing to make a similar investment in the proper gear. your lack of respect for our input is insulting to us.”

    But we’re in agreement.

    I can cook a meal with very basic stuff. It doesn’t work well. Because I *want* a better cooking experience, I invest in better stuff.

    You can swim with very basic stuff. It doesn’t work well. Because you *want* a better swimming experience, you invest in better stuff.

    This comes back, again, to values. I place a high value on cooking, so it’s fine for me to spend more on it. You place a high value on swimming, so it’s fine for you to spend more on it. If I didn’t place a high value on cooking – I didn’t cook at home often or I made only really simple stuff – I’d be wasting my money to invest in high-end cookwear. If you didn’t place a high value on swimming – you rarely, if ever, swim or you just splash around with the kids on occasion – you’d be wasting money to invest in high-end swimwear.

    All I’m attempting to do is break down what the basic needs are. In a kitchen, for example, all you need is a heat source, one cheap pan, and one cheap knife to make food. In a swimming situation, all you need is basic body coverage.

    But, in both cases, if you hold the experience to be valuable, you will eventually desire to go beyond that. You’ll buy a comfortable swimsuit. I’ll buy a better knife.

    It’s about separating needs and wants. It’s one of the biggest problems people have when it comes to personal finance. They take a strong want and claim it to be a need. I do it myself all the time, but I also keep a watchful eye out for it, too.

    As for the other issue: I don’t swim in underwear because of modesty – men’s underwear typically have holes that often allow for unintentional exposure which could end up being a legal issue. I have $3 swim trunks because they’re cheaper than denim shorts, but I’ve went swimming in denim shorts before and probably will do so again.

  194. alilz, I was just about to say the same thing. :)

    I’ve been staying out of this conversation because I haven’t bought a swimsuit, or even gone swimming, in years. I do think that Trent means well here. It’s really NOT fair that women are under more pressure to look a certain way than men are. And it’s not entirely off-base to point out the role of marketing in creating that situation. What IS off-base is to say that it’s all the stupid women’s fault for being stupid enough to buy into the marketing.

    That, and the “I apologize if you were somehow offended” apology.

  195. “I hope, Trent, that your children are clothed in rucksacks. Anything more than that would go against what you’re saying here.”

    My children wear mostly clothes bought at Goodwill. It’s cheaper than rucksack.

  196. “What IS off-base is to say that it’s all the stupid women’s fault for being stupid enough to buy into the marketing.”

    It’s stupid for ANYONE to buy into marketing, myself included. The entire purpose of marketing is to convince people that their wants, however vague, are needs that can be fulfilled by buying product X.

    Every single one of us is stupid because every single one of us has bought into marketing at some point or another.

    What can we do? We can be vigilant and help each other and focus on the tricks that marketers try to play on us. We can think seriously about what needs are and what wants are and share our thoughts with others in an effort to understand these issues better – and one of the best ways to do that is to constantly question our ideas of what “needs” are. I hope that’s what this comment thread has become, because that’s all my original comment was about. I did not intend to insult anyone’s particular needs and I apologize deeply if I did.

  197. “I don’t swim in underwear because of modesty” – but you’re perfectly okay with telling women to swim in their underwear (bras) with or without a wet t-shirt over top, which when wet might as well be transparent? Why do we need clothes anyways, let’s all just walk around in our underwear! That would be really frugal.

    An appropriate level of modesty and avoidance of yeast infections caused by wet cotton clothing (shorts and underwear) clinging to a woman’s private regions is NOT A WANT.

    I agree with Melissa that it looks like you’re trolling your own site, which is really unattractive.

  198. Trent, it’s been explained to you over and over why there is a *need* for swimsuits with proper coverage. It’s also been explained that those swimsuits that fit that need aren’t cheap.

    Women have demonstrated that they have made clearly frugal choices – buying high quality product, on sale, taking good care of it, and getting years of wear.

    And yet you still insist that we make the cheap choice that will end up costing more in the long run. Either more in terms of replacing cheap products, more in terms of health problems that could arise, more in terms of dealing with teh humiliation of being indecently exposed.

    And yet despite all this evidence that these purchase are not only a need, but also can be down frugally you still argue that doing anythign but the absoultely cheapest option is all due to vanity and reckless spending.

  199. RE: #129 Trent
    So what I understand from your comment is that you wouldn’t mind if women wore wet t shirts where your wife, kids, and yourself were swimming. Not to mention if she was “comfortable” in not wearing a top at all… Are you telling me that you (or your wife) wouldn’t have an issue with that? Really Trent, just man up and admit that all people and genders are not always equal. Some things cost more because there is more cost involved in the manufacturing of it. In your case why not just wear your underwear instead of paying extra for the “fashion” of swim trunks?

  200. no trent-

    we are not in agreement. not. at. all.

    this is what you said-

    “When someone – male or female – pays more than a few bucks for a swimsuit, they’re not paying for clothing to cover their bodies while swimming. They’re paying for a fashion accessory – a completely nonessential item.”

    if i spend more than $3, you say i am buying a “completely nonessential item.”

    while i appreciate your reply to me, i cannot believe you still are trying to convince us that a decent swimsuit that covers, is comfortable, and will do the job it’s supposed to do is a frivolous expenditure.

    honestly, you have me feeling sorry for your wife and kids. god bless them.

  201. That should be “these purchases are not only a need, but also can be done frugally”

  202. I have big boobs and a big bottom and a pool in my back yard. I tend to need at least two – three swim suits a year. I do agree with Trent that I do not NEED a swim suit, I could just swim in my clothes.I think it is uncomfortable and prefer a swimsuit, although I have to admit it feels fun and childish to jump in with your cloths on! However, I do not put much value on suits and do not spend a lot of time looking for the “perfect” one. I have spent a wide range of money on suits each year. ( $5 at consignment to $80 retail) If it nicely holds the top and bottom in I buy it… don’t want an equipment failure!! Unfortunately, as someone mentioned good support is usually not cheap. Neither is a good full figure supportive bar, so at least for me a bra,T-shirt and shorts probably costs the same as a suit on sale. Actually, swimming in your birthday suit is the most frugal. Hmmm, maybe the incentive I need to loose some weight!

  203. So for a man, exposure is a legal concern and valid but for a woman exposure is just giving into society’s whims.

    Also, men have needs, women have wants.

    Got it.

  204. and trent-

    in comment #144 you say “The comfort issues can be dealt with if desired by buying appropriately supportive gear.”

    you forgot to add “just don’t spend more than $3.”

  205. WOW!!

    Trent’s “replies” to the actual concerns raised about his obvious lack of knowledge of this issue are appalling to me.

    Trent – I don’t live near the sea or ocean. If I want to swim I HAVE TO go to a pool. t-shirts are NOT allowed.

    If I want to actually swim as a form of exercise and not just splash around I need something with support. A bra that supports me cannot be found for less than $40.00. If I were to wear a bra and shorts to swim in I would wreck my bra because of the chlorine in the water and the extra weight of having the bra absorb water and stay wet for so long. Bras are not made of the same material as swimsuits or swim trunks. This is not a fashion issue, but a function issue.

    If you cannot read through over 100 comments and realize that perhaps you made a mistake in your generalization about women and their swimming needs then I think it might be time for me to move on from this “holier than thou” site.

  206. re: monitoring weight

    I recommend weighing yourself only in kilograms. It smooths out the weight fluctuations and the numbers won’t have such an emotional componant.

  207. Most bras are See-through when wet and just are not comfortable to swim in. Check out the females getting off the wet rides at amusement parks.

  208. “Trent, it’s been explained to you over and over why there is a *need* for swimsuits with proper coverage. It’s also been explained that those swimsuits that fit that need aren’t cheap.”

    But it’s not a need. It’s a very strong want that, because you value swimming, seems like a need to you. “Proper coverage” can be obtained very cheaply (I can imagine many ways, actually), but if you’re a routine swimmer (meaning you value swimming), you’re going to want something that does it well and efficiently, which likely points you towards a more expensive swimsuit. (Swimming itself isn’t a need, for that matter.) You’re fulfilling wants, not needs. That’s completely fine as long as you value swimming enough to make it worth while.

    What’s dangerous about claiming that someone “needs” something that’s a want is that it influences other people who hear the conversation. If they’re unfamiliar with swimming, they begin to think that it truly is a “need.” That’s how marketing works, and it’s something that frugal people should be mindful of.

    Realize, of course, that swimming and swimsuits in the discussion above could be any activity and almost any associated tool with that activity.

    I am absolutely in agreement with the women that have posted that there is a very strong reason to have supportive and comfortable swimwear. Where we diverge is on whether it’s a need or not.

  209. I guess going to the beach at all is a want, not a need. So save that $3.00, and don’t buy your swim trunks. It’s just a want. You don’t need it.

  210. so now you’re right and we’re wrong because we don’t need to go swimming anyway? we just want to?

  211. I wear my swimsuit only for waterskiing. This involves periodically hitting the water at 30-35 mph. A swimsuit that ties will untie. A bra that hooks will unhook. Shorts may fall off. I need a one piece suit that covers my rear, contains my chest (the lifejacket helps), and has no ties, buckles, etc. (does anyone else remember the suits that had little plastic hooks that slid into the straps so you could adjust the straps to fit? – they become unhooked on impact). $20 suits used to do it. After 6 kids I need more expensive suits. Since I’ll be on the boat for a couple of hours before I’ll be able to change I also need something that won’t cause a yeast infection.

    (All the fit issues with swimsuits also apply to life jackets. They’re not much use if you can see out of the armhole by turning your head. They are very hard to get to fit securely if you are a well-endowed woman.) Kids’s life jackets have crotch straps. I wish grownup ones did too.

  212. We can revisit this when Sarah buys a post 3 baby swimsuit in order to take the kids to swim lessons. We can also revisit this when his pubescent daughter buys a cheap see through bikini in about 12 years. Then we can find out how he feels about wet t shirts in that circumstance. I can hear it now.

    “No you are not going swimming in public in that.”

    “But Daddy, the boys really like it when I go swimming in a bra and t shirt.”

    Nuf said.

  213. aw, come on marie (#171)- you don’t NEED to go waterskiing.

    and i hope you didn’t spend more than $3 on that life jacket. or your kids’ life jackets.

  214. “Proper coverage” can be obtained very cheaply (I can imagine many ways, actually),

    Prove it. I want documentation of either pictures or links of full coverage swimsuits with built in proper support for a price you think is reasonable.

    Since I and every other woman here who has said they have either spent months or even years finding a swimsuit that fits and is affordable. Prove to me that we are all so very very wrong and why we need a man like you Trent to set us right.

    Five links and or pictures should be enough. This is what you should be loooking for – size 6 swimsuit, for a C up, short torso. Size 18/20 D cup, long torso. Size 8, B cup, regular torso. The suits for the larger cup sizes can’t have scoop backs and also the legs must be modest.

  215. There are very few things in life that are needs. Most of your money and time is spent on wants – and most of my time and money is spent on wants as well. If you spend some time thinking about what you actually *want* from your life, a lot of the unnecessary wants just fall away. A $70 swimsuit is a want. Do you value swimming enough to dump $70 into it? If you swim a lot, sure. If you rarely swim… is it really in line with your core values? Is it really worth the extra $70? What if you just splash in the pool a bit with your kids every once in a while? Is there a cheap solution that makes that possible?

    I can’t answer those questions for you, but I can tell you to ask yourself those questions. The more you ask them, the more you’ll find that you have plenty of money and time for the things that really matter in your life, whether they’re swimming or something else. So often, people never even ask these questions or think about it – they just buy the $70 swimsuit and then wonder why it’s hard to make ends meet. The same phenomenon repeats with almost everything people spend money on.

    And I’m finished with this discussion. There’s really nothing else left to say other than what I said above.

  216. Sorry to jump on the swimsuit bandwagon too, but man this I have to agree with all the comments here. I don’t swim at expensive places very often. Trent would you want your small children seeing me in my cheap bathing suit with a regular bra and/or underwear underneath hanging out when we’re both at a public beach? And then when I get uncomfortable after I’ve been in the water, have them watch me whip it off and get rid of the support (which can easily be done without being actually exposed)so I can be comfortable? Except I can’t be comfortable without support, but a wet suit and underwear is pretty uncomfortable. As you’ve heard a lot of women are buying for function and modesty, not the ‘cool’ factor, and the materials and cost of design are higher for that (and also exploited, unfortunately) And I think there should be a one piece bathing suit for men…there’s a lot of men out there who are showing a lot more of things that really many of us don’t want or need to see. And if price not function really is the thing, you could swim in your underwear. A penny’s worth of thread and about 2 minutes could sew that opening shut.

    And I really don’t get comparing swimwear to cookware. I can’t get arrested or gawked at if my cookware is inadequate.

  217. Trent,

    While I agree with your $165 post, I don’t think that’s at all what you said in your original article.

    It’s like saying $50 running shoes are a fashion accessory. Yeah, you can get old shoes at the thrift store, but in many people’s opinions, spending money on functional athletic gear is a need if you intend to participate in certain sports.

    Running is not a need, but a runner needs proper athletic footwear to prevent injury. Swimming is not a need, but swimmers need proper swimwear.

    The truly frugal choice is to not participate in any sports at all…But once that decision is made, certain wants do become needs to prevent injury and or other mishaps.

    If someone gave your child a bike for Xmas, would you say that buying a helmet is a want or need?

  218. trent,

    i really, really hope that your publisher reads this thread.

    for anyone out there who is writing a review of your book, please make sure you put in a little of the highlights of the website and mention this bathing suit advice in particular.

    you have really offended me. i no longer trust your advice on anything. i cannot take anything you say about anything seriously now.

    and as for your comment #175, especially your closing paragraph, all i have to say is “ok daddy. when can i come out of my room?”

  219. @trent #143:

    “T-shirts and shorts may not be made for swimming, but they certainly can be used that way.
    I think women should have full rights to do the same and make the same choice.”

    Right on!!! Now, please petition your local public swimming pools and beaches to make the policy change, so that women CAN legally swim in whatever they want to.

    “If [women] choose to wear something different for comfort or appearance or performance – an option that I have, as well, by purchasing performance swimwear, swimming goggles, etc. – that’s a personal choice, but it’s an extra cost.”

    I think it should be pretty clear to you after all these comments that for women, because we are shaped differently than men, neither support nor coverage is really a ‘personal choice.’ As long as you distinguish between the woman who spends $70 because that is what she has to spend to get the most comfortable, supportive, well-built, long-lasting swimsuit available to her, and the person who spends hundreds of dollars on a top-label fashion designer swimsuit merely to impress other people with how much money he or she has, that’s fine. And as for the fact that it costs women more than men to purchase this comfort and support in a swimsuit, well, now you have some idea how frustrating we women find that situation, and how fed up with the double standard we are. You tapped the vein.

    “I apologize to any and all female readers who felt that I somehow undermined their swimming needs.”

    Thank you for apologizing! I did not feel you “undermined our swimming needs.” I felt that you failed to acknowledge that most women are pretty much required — by the laws of physics, most cities and counties, and the manufacturing Gestapo — to spend more than men on swimsuits, and that you ignored this reality even as you judged us harshly for spending that money.

    “I fully understand that many women have comfort and body issue concerns. The comfort issues can be dealt with if desired by buying appropriately supportive gear.”

    Yes, and I hope you now realize not only that such a purchase is going to cost the average woman more than $3, no matter how thrifty she is.

    You would have been fine if your original sentence had read, “When men pay more than a few bucks for a swimsuit, they’re not paying for clothing to cover their bodies while swimming. They’re paying for a fashion accessory – a completely nonessential item.” Assuming that what works for men will also always work for women is the sort of thinking that we need to overcome as a society. (It has been pervasive for many years in medicine, for instance.) It even has a name: “The universal male.”

    “The body issue concerns are the product of many, many years of marketing and social influence, and the only way to fight that is to just not care what other people think.”

    Well…to a certain extent this is how all repressive social values are changed. I think that lots of people, men and women, would agree that we (men and women both!) should recognize the fictive nature of the airbrushed fat-free big-breasted supermodel in a swimsuit, and resist the tendency to compare women to that unrealistic standard. In fact, I would be that some of the resentment you’ve seen in the comments also comes from the persistence of that stupid idea.

    On the other end of the body-image-message spectrum, however, old-fashioned as they may be, standards of female modesty and attire are institutionalized at the public swimming places that most people have available to them (and not everyone has the option of finding a private skinny-dipping hole). So, alas, it’s not quite so simple as ignoring the rules and not caring what others think.

  220. Good luck with your book sales Trent. I’m sure a lot of ladies will be purchasing it. The problem with you all along has been that you’re unwilling to admit when you’re clearly wrong and continually make matters worse, unlike JD or getrichslowly.org for example. I’m done with this blog.

  221. “Good luck with your book sales Trent. I’m sure a lot of ladies will be purchasing it. The problem with you all along has been that you’re unwilling to admit when you’re clearly wrong and continually make matters worse, unlike JD or getrichslowly.org for example. I’m done with this blog.”

    I apologized above, twice, in fact:

    #219: “I am absolutely in agreement with the women that have posted that there is a very strong reason to have supportive and comfortable swimwear”

    #188: “I apologize to any and all female readers who felt that I somehow undermined their swimming needs. I fully understand that many women have comfort and body issue concerns.”

    And I’ll do it a third time. I sincerely apologize if I offended or hurt anyone because of my comments about swimwear. My comments were made out of a deep desire to encourage people to separate wants from needs and in doing so, I made a number of assumptions about women’s swimwear that did not fairly include the requirements of women who are passionate about swimming. The best thing any of us can do is to simply think about what our individual wants and needs really are and not take anger out on our fellow people.

  222. Trent always says to spend money on things you value. Certainly his games aren’t a necessity but he values them so he buys them. If you value your supportive swimwear he won’t judge you for wearing it. He is just saying it is not necessary to wear expensive swimsuit to swim. It’s not necessary to swim either.

    I swim in supportive swimwear and I am pretty frugal but its one of the things that I value. Wear what you value.

  223. Talk to Sarah. Show her what you wrote and the responses. Have her explain to you why you are wrong. Yes, you are. Then man up and apologize for real to your female readers for a) weighing in on a subject you clearly have NO knowledge of and b)continuing to insist you are right even in the face of massive evidence to the contrary. Then having a little hissy fit and saying your just done with it. Unworthy.

    AS for why a woman’s bathing suit costs $70 just try and make one yourself and I guarantee you will understand it completely. I am an expert seamstress. I made one and it will be a cold day before I go there again.

  224. ejw- #227

    i know!! i was going to mention something about being in the privacy of one’s own kitchen v. in full view of hundreds, if not thousands of other people, but i didn’t, in the end.

    my point is that trent will recommend very pricey things like a $100 chef’s knife and expect us to be on board, but when we ALL explain we need to spend similar money on a decent swimsuit he shakes his head and talks down to us like we have no idea what we’re talking about.

    i was just trying to point out to trent a distinct example of a time when he thought proper equipment was worth an investment.

  225. trent-

    you’re killing me.

    thank you for coming back to the discussion and apologizing. but this part i just don’t get “…I made a number of assumptions about women’s swimwear that did not fairly include the requirements of women who are passionate about swimming. ”

    can i just say that i am not “passionate” about swimming? i think you still don’t get it that most of us who commented are probably not passionate about swimming.

    what we are “passionate” about is not being talked down to for not wanting to be uncomfortable, indecently exposed, soggy, or chafed.

  226. anne: if you spend $70 on a swimsuit and are repeatedly commenting on a blog defending it, I’d say you’re passionate. He’s commenting on the passion you’re all showing by commenting so much.

  227. The problem I’m having, Trent, is that if someone wrote to you and said “I’m interested in cooking at home more, but kitchen stuff is expensive! What should I do?” you wouldn’t tell the person to just use the blade from their swiss army knife, and that buying a new knife was just about impressing their dinner party guests. Since you’re knowledgeable about cooking, you’d tell the person about different places to look for deals, the fact that one good knife is better than 3 bad ones, etc. If someone asked about what sort of tent you have for your family camping trip, or whether used sleeping bags are sanitary, you wouldn’t tell them that they should sleep in the open wrapped up in an old blanket, and that anything else was about appearances. You’d respond to the question in a thoughtful way.

    The fact that swimming at all is a want and not a need is perhaps a worthwhile point of discussion on a personal finance blog, as is the fact that the costs associated with some activities can be different for men and women. The problem is that you have repeatedly responded to your readers on this topic in a way that was dismissive and insulting.

    Instead of saying “Hey, it sucks that women have to spend more”, or “I don’t know much about women’s swimsuits”, or “if you only swim for a few minutes at the beach once a year like I do, could you think about sacrificing comfort and just swimming in your clothes to save money?”, you implied/stated than anyone who made a choice different than your own is merely a pawn of the fashion and marketing industries, or is indulging in luxury in wanting a comfortable swimsuit. You may not believe those things, but the tone of your writing clearly implied those things to many of your readers.

    Trent, when this many readers respond negatively to something you write, you might want to reassess the words you actually wrote and whether there might have been a way to approach the topic differently.

  228. @#239 cv – THANK YOU for summing this whole disaster up.

    I’ve been debating clicking the “unsubscribe” button on this site for months but kept hoping Trent would take reader’s advice. I’m finally officially disgusted with it all.

    Thanks Trent for proving you still don’t get it and still are not man enough to really apologize without adding terms to your apology.

    Off to someplace more worth my reading.

  229. Re: DINKs. As someone who works with adults who have been damaged by parental abuse, I really wish that more people thought carefully about their choice to have children. After 15 years as a therapist, I am still appalled by the gratuitous cruelty perpetrated on children by parents. This isn’t the occasional loss of temper or the normal mistakes every parent makes but out and out assault, physically, emotionally, and/or sexually, time after time. People who truly want children most often try their best, those who aren’t sure, or really don’t want to, but have them out of a sense of duty, pressure from others or all the myriad other reasons, really should back up and THINK about it first!

  230. This kind of got hijacked into a swimsuit tirade. So in the interests of something different. The singing to your children is sweet. Go visit the free Kididdles web site. There you will find a treasure trove of children’s songs complete with downloadable sheet music. The sheet music would be very appropriate to your piano lessons.

    You could learn to play a simple song you already know and have little family singalongs.

  231. Weighing in on the swimsuit discussion:
    First, if anyone could tell me where to get a cheap swimsuit for under $30, I would appreciate it, because as mentioned above, swimsuits are expensive even at the cheap stores.

    As far as wearing a supportive bra, these are going to run at least $15-20, as well.

    Sometimes the best value isn’t always the cheapest–if you can get 15+ years out of a $50 or $70 suit (as a couple of posters said they had), that’s a better value than $15 that lasts a couple of years.

  232. You should re-read your (non) “apology”, ‘sorry if you took offense’ is not the equivalent of acknowledging that you made a mistake. There’s quite a lot on the internet about this phenomena of people pretendng to apologize by shifting things to the offended person(s).

    I used to trust your advice, this post has made me reevaluate. Your non-apology and the “I’m finished with this discussion” comment make you sound very immature.

  233. Hi Trent,

    I never spend a lot on clothes, most of which were given to me for free or are from Goodwill. I don’t wear any makeup, and I don’t even shave any part of my body, even though I have dark hair. I go out in public like this and I have a formal motto when it comes to other people’s reactions: “whatever!”

    Anyway, the idea that fashion would be a consideration for me when buying anything is pretty much a joke… So keep this if you read the rest of my comment.

    What you seem to be missing is that for most women, in order to swim without risking the same indecency issues that cause you to avoid swimming in your underwear, we essentially have to purchase a special bra. This bra can be built into a 1-piece swimsuit, or it can be a bikini top, or you can get a spandex sports bra with full coverage that can be worn in the water.

    If we try to wear the type of bra that most women wear day to day, it gets waterlogged and our breasts start to fall out of it. There, I said it! I have an average bra size, but the fact is I have to have a special bra for swimming. The bottom is not so much an issue, at least in terms of what fits (although there are relevant yeast infection issues for many women).

    Anyway — I have gone swimming in a lot of different types of clothes. I worked at a residential summer camp once where 2-piece swimsuits were banned, but I didn’t know this until after I got there. We went swimming with the kids in a lake every day, so I could wear street clothes if I wanted, but indecency is not really an option when you’re a camp counselor. I tried wearing a regular, tight fitting tank top with a built in bra that was not made to be worn in the water, and my breasts would not stay covered… I had to get out of the water immediately.

    After this incident I also tried wearing a regular t-shirt over a regular bra, which is what you seem to be suggesting women can swim in decently, if they want to. The bra also got waterlogged and lost its functionality, and my breasts did not stay inside the bra. The t-shirt was not enough to cover this problem which was very apparent! I actually had to get another counselor to watch the kids in the lake for me while I left and went to change, because it was really inappropriate — the equivalent of what would happen if you chose to swim in nothing but regular men’s underwear.

    After that, I learned my lesson and just wore my bikini with a light t-shirt over it. This worked because the bikini top has a bra inside that is meant to be worn in the water. What the women above are saying when they say they need “support” is not only that they want to be extra comfortable. They mean that they have to wear an appropriate swimsuit bra to support their breasts enough so that they aren’t popping out of their clothes in the water.

    Even regular bras cost $10 if you get the super cheap ones at Target — I know because the kind I buy! The cheapest swimsuit tops with bras inside are generally the same price ($10), if there is a good clearance sale. This doesn’t include the bottom part of the swimsuit.

    Here is the cheapest possible way that a women like me, who doesn’t care at all about fashion and is average in size, can go swimming — without being indecent because she is exposing her breasts.

    She can buy the cheapest bikini top that fits. This can be an ordeal because it is essentially like shopping for a bra that fits, but I have been able to get them for $10 on sale in the past. Then wear a light t-shirt over that if necessary. If a woman swims in a pool she will likely not be allowed to wear a t-shirt, so she will be out of luck, but she can go to the lake. This only works if the woman wants to go against the advice of most medical professionals and risk getting a yeast infection by swimming in regular underwear with jean shorts like you suggest. If she wants a bikini bottom, that will also cost money — although maybe she could wear then $2 swim trunks that you suggest if they make them in a smaller size? (Actually I would like some of these — what brand are they and where do I get them?)

    We’ve established that the cheapest bikini bottoms are $3 (I’ll assume I can get the ones you have in a smaller size somewhere). So what you are basically telling us is that we can find a bikini top for free to wear with these, or alternatively, that we don’t need to wear a top that will keep our breasts covered in the water. Well, that’s false — swimsuit tops are more $0 and I’m pretty sure it’s not even legal for me to expose my breasts in most public swimming situations.

    The reason that people are getting upset is that you are insisting that a woman spending more that $3 on swimwear is only doing so for fashion reasons, and maybe personal comfort. She doesn’t really “need” anything more expensive than your swimsuit, because everyone’s needs are exactly the same (and apparently you are able to decide for us what they are).

    But, the bottom line is that everyone with breasts has to buy a top that covers and contains her breasts in the water if she wants to swim. That costs at least $10. Even if a woman pairs this with a small pair of your swim shorts (again, where can we get these?), she has to spend $13, and you will tell her that she is paying for 4 times as much as she needs to. Well, I can tell you that I “need” to keep my breasts from being exposed, so I don’t get arrested or fired from my summer camp job. Just like it is a “need” for you to avoid indecent exposure by not swimming in nothing but your regular underwear. This double standard where you “need” to avoid exposing yourself but I merely “want” it is offensive.

    Another thing that is probably upsetting people is that you are essentially recommending that we swim in regular underwear with shorts over it, which might work for men but which can lead to yeast infections for many women. I am not sure anymore how you personally distinguish “wants” and “needs” because it seems like if you feel that you need something, then it’s a need, but if other people say they need something, it’s a want. I personally feel that I need to follow the advice of my doctor to avoid getting painful yeast infections that can be expensive to treat and hard to get rid of. If you ask any gynecologist whether she recommends that a woman go swimming in regular panties and jean shorts, she will tell you NOT to do it because they dry very slowly and the moisture promotes yeast growth.

    That’s why I shelled out an extra $10 for the bikini bottom, which according to you I “wanted” but didn’t “need.” When you base what people in general “need” only on your own experiences, and then dismiss the experiences of most women (who DO need to keep their breasts covered and need to take precautions to avoid getting yeast infections), it makes some of us wonder how we can relate to a blog that ignores basic facts about our lives even when we point them out to you.

    I hope this information helps you understand better why your statements here have been upsetting to many of your readers.

  234. the “im sorry you were offended by what i did” apology is part of the reason women stereotype men :)

  235. at #245 trent.

    i think its considered insufficient because a) you are apologizing for an effect (people being offended) and not the root cause (your blanket statement regarding womens’ swimwear over $2 being frivolous).

    b) i couldnt find the admission of ignorance, most likely my fault, but even with it, i think it is increasingly devalued with every subsequent response where you try to justify your original point, which leads back to the fact that it comes off that you really ARENT sorry for what you said, nor is there is any chance you think you were in the wrong, you are simply sorry that the 200 voices here took it the wrong way.

    though most of that you wouldnt know unless you strive to understand how women feel and think(honestly though, that sounds sexst too, i mean its common sense that if you say ‘im sorry you didnt like what i did’, to a woman or man, its not a REAL apology that indicates remorse over your actions.)

  236. the comment i was responding to in 247 was deleted. trent asked why a “sincere apology followed by an admission of ignorance wasnt considered sufficient as an apology”.

  237. RE #232 Trent
    I think what everyone wants to have you admit is that you were wrong about your assumptions about swimwear. Although you apologized, it’s not the same as admitting you were wrong. It takes a bigger man to admit his mistakes that to try to explain why he thinks he’s right.

  238. The problem I had with your first apologies is that they didn’t sound sincnere.

    It sounded like you were apologizing but you had no clue what you did wrong. And then you kept on saying the same things that offended people after your apology.

    So it’s hard to take you seriously when you apologize for something and then keep doing what you just apologized for.

    Not until the very end of your comments did it EVER sound like you were just trying to help us separate a want from a need.

    Especially since pretty much every commenter ACKNOWLEDGED that they understood the difference between a want and a need and explained why cheaper options weren’t really an option.

    AND especially after you talked about how you couldn’t possibly wear underwear because it was immodest and discount what female commenters were saying about havign to spend money in order to be modestly covered.

    The sad, sad thing is I still don’t think you get it.

  239. “the “im sorry you were offended by what i did” apology is part of the reason women stereotype men :)”

    I’m not going to apologize for believing that swimsuits are a want and not a need. I absolutely believe that. I apologize for not stating it better in the original post. It was my mistake for not editing it and wording it better.

    My sole point in the original post was to make it clear that swimsuits are *want* items, not *need* items. You do need to wear minimal clothing at all times, however, and if you do swim, a couple dollars’ worth of clothing for swimming purposes is cheaper than the chlorine or salt damage that regular clothes might take. That means a t-shirt and shorts/swim trunks used solely for swimming, costing a dollar or two. It’s being cost-efficient with your clothing.

    Now, if you’re talking about swimming extensively, then it’s a passion or a hobby for you, something you value and care about. It should afford more attention. If you want to swim down at the Y or somewhere other than a private pool where there are going to be swimsuit requirements (even if they’re archaic), you may have to pay more. Similarly, if you want a swimsuit that’s flattering to your figure, you’ll have to pay more.

    Those extra payments are for a *want*, not a *need*. You don’t *need* to go swimming. You don’t *need* a swimsuit to swim in many environments (like a backyard pool). Even the $2-3 stuff for getting wet is arguably a *want* rather than a *need*, but at least then you’re just minimizing wear on other items of clothing.

    This is how I should have worded my original piece. I didn’t, and because of my inability to think through how a reader would be reading it, I offended some people who believed I didn’t care about the requirements women have for buying a swimsuit. Honestly, I know nothing about that and I’m not even sure it’s germane to what I’m talking about here, but my ineloquence brought it into the picture. I apologize for the way I wrote that original piece – it was wholly my mistake – and I did not mean to offend anyone.

  240. I just read almost all of the posts, because I thought I may have missed something really important due to all the comments and insults.
    The main point as I understand it from Trent’s post and comments is that a swimming suit is a want, not a need. I agree with this, since it is possible to swim and enjoy the water with out one… I did not read anything insulting. Some of us WANT to wear a swimsuit because it is more comfortable or holds various body parts in with the strength of steel ( I prefer a suit), however I do not NEED a suit to go swimming. Some may want a suit to swim faster, feel better, look better or do a number of things better,nicer or more efficiently. However, the act of swimming merely requires you to jump in the water and have fun, so therefor you do not NEED a suit.

  241. Honestly, I know nothing about that and I’m not even sure it’s germane to what I’m talking about here,

    This is your big problem. You’ve been told over a hundred times that it is very germane and yet you still DO NOT GET IT.

    Every other male commenter has gotten it. EVERY ONE except you.

    At this point I’m beyond baffled about why you can not grasp what every one else has.

  242. @Alice: “You should re-read your (non) “apology”, ’sorry if you took offense’ is not the equivalent of acknowledging that you made a mistake. There’s quite a lot on the internet about this phenomena of people pretendng to apologize by shifting things to the offended person(s).”

    To add to this: Describing disagreement in terms of “offense” is another form of pushing the blame off of yourself and onto the other person. If a person is offended, you can say it’s their own fault for being too easily offended, too sensitive, too emotional (like women have never heard *that* before), etc.

    That’s why the ever-insightful Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville has the habit of saying “I’m not offended – I’m contemptuous.”

  243. Wow.

    The reason so many posters are up in arms over this is because you said we would be vain to spend more than $3 on a swimsuit. Now you say it’s just that I don’t really need a swimsuit but if I care enough about swimming then it’s okay by you to spend some extra cash on it. Gee thanks for the permission.

    I went to Target last night. The cheapest suit I could find, on Clearance, in my size (and it was completely ugly) was $16. I tried it on just for the heck of it. This is a family friendly site, so I am not going to describe it, except to say that whatever money I saved purchasing the cheap swimsuit would easily be made up for by depilatory bills and indecent exposure tickets.

    Your first mistake was that you generalized about an issue you know nothing about it. Beyond any other aspect of swimwear, I still do not think there is a brand new women’s swimsuit, anywhere in America, for $3. Yet, apparently I am vain for not being able to find something that doesn’t exist. And, even if I were to wear shorts and a t-shirt in the pool, which would be ridiculously hilarious, I still couldn’t find both items for under three dollars.

    People are not insulted because you are clueless about swimwear, people are insulted because you passed judgement on them. Own up to it. Apologize for trying to make up for your lack of swimming attire knowledge, your apparently limited understanding that women’s bodies are not one size fits all, by calling people vain.

    I think I’ll rescind my challenge and instead donate the $250 to the Swim for Equality Open Water Swim in Malibu and just cross my fingers that none of the swimmers were so vain as to spend more than $3 on swimwear.

  244. “The reason so many posters are up in arms over this is because you said we would be vain to spend more than $3 on a swimsuit.”

    That’s my ineloquence showing through.

    My point was that if you’re spending more than $3 on a swimsuit because of vanity, it’s wasted money. That says nothing at all about spending more for comfort or because suits aren’t available that cheaply or anything like that. I confess complete ignorance when it comes to the women’s swimsuit market. All I can say is that if you’re buying a suit just to impress others, it’s probably not the best use of money or energy.

    What came across is that spending more than $3 on a swimsuit is vanity, which is not what I was trying to say at all.

    Spending more than $3 for a comfortable suit if you value swimming is a very worthwhile expense.

    Part of the reason I have had trouble apologizing to this point is because I did not understand where all of the vitriol was coming from. I’d read a comment, look confused, read my original post, look confused again, try to explain myself or ask a question again in a comment, and rinse and repeat.

  245. trent-

    i was starting to feel some sympathy for you when i read the comment to which brad replied (in #s 247 and 248)

    then you delete the comment you wrote in which in addition to asking “why a sincere apology followed by an admission of ignorance wasnt considered sufficient as an apology” you said you were humbly asking because you didn’t understand, and replace it w/ that load of nonsense in #251??

    trent, when it comes to women’s bathing suits and female bodies in particular (oh my goodness- your poor wife. maybe she could buy you a book or a video or something) you don’t have a clue.

    when dozens of your readers gently and politely try to explain things to you, both today and back a few days ago in the other reader mailbag about used swimsuits, you treat us with contempt.

    and in your most recent comment, you restate why you’re right, and how we don’t need to go swimming anyway.

    you have exhausted my patience.

  246. It’s not a marketing ploy or something wrong with society. You just dont get it. A basic suit is as much a part of the standard wardrobe as much as coat is for someone in a wintry climate so it’s not really a need/want issue either. A good bra on sale is $50 so why would a t shirt and shorts save money when you ruin that bra? Did your posts mention what your wife uses for swimwear?

    I’m new to simple dollar. After reading the article and comments I wasn’t too put off. But after your responses I
    thinking of quitting too. You just don’t get it. But I said that already.

  247. thank you

    “Spending more than $3 for a comfortable suit if you value swimming is a very worthwhile expense.”

    getting you to say this was like pulling teeth.

  248. Alice, I agree. “I’m sorry you feel that way” is not an apology or an acknowledgement that the person making that statement did something wrong. It’s yet another way to belittle the person whose feelings were hurt by (1) ignoring the fact that what YOU said hurt their feelings, and (2) making it seem that it’s their own fault for getting their feelings hurt in the first place. It’s manipulative at least and malicious at worst.

    On another note, thanks for the feedback about Land’s End suits. I’ve been contemplating whether to buy one to replace my cheap and ineffective-at-covering-the-important-parts Old Navy suit that, by the way, still cost more than $3 on sale. Because of your comments, readers, I’m gonna go ahead and make that $70 purchase.

  249. I thought that all along, anne. I didn’t understand at all what all the vitriol was about. As I said, I would read the comments, read what I wrote, and not get it at all. I thought it was because I wasn’t explaining the point clear enough, so I kept trying to re-explain it and people were just getting madder and claiming I was changing the subject.

    I’ll state it here again so that no one will miss it: “My point was that if you’re spending more than $3 on a swimsuit because of vanity, it’s wasted money. What came across is that spending more than $3 on a swimsuit is vanity, which is not what I was trying to say at all. Spending more than $3 for a comfortable suit if you value swimming is a very worthwhile expense. I apologize for my ineloquence and my thick head.”

  250. And now that I’ve spent five hours trying to figure this out (and I believe I finally have), I really do need to move on and, y’know, actually research and write other posts. Good luck to you all.

  251. Duct Tape would make a great swimsuit, and would be the cheapest option out there.

    I have definitely notice a trend of “trying to piss people off” posts. Anger/Disagreement = More Comments. More Comments = More bucks for Trent.

    Looks like Trent is doing a money grab before this site fades away like a 2 dollar swimsuit in a pool.

  252. Trent, nice backpedal, but your original post had NOTHING to do with your follow-up comment @251. You say there “Now, if you’re talking about swimming extensively, then it’s a passion or a hobby for you, something you value and care about. It should afford more attention.”

    Your original post uses the following terms (emphasis mine):
    a FASHION accessory
    a COMPLETELY NONESSENTIAL item
    a fun expense
    perfect swimsuit to KEEP UP APPEARANCES
    worrying about what other people think of you

    None of which have anything to do with your “correction” of separating wants from needs and affording more attention to things you’re passionate about!

    You didn’t offend “people who believed I didn’t care about the requirements women have for buying a swimsuit” – you offended people who you *continue* to trivialize after they have explained to you approximately 150 different ways that, while SWIMMING is a want, appropriate SWIMWARE is not ‘completely nonessential’ or for ‘keeping up appearances’ – for health, public appropriateness, functional, and yes, comfort reasons. Good grief.

  253. “I have definitely notice a trend of “trying to piss people off” posts. Anger/Disagreement = More Comments. More Comments = More bucks for Trent.”

    Actually, that’s not how it works. I usually lose money on posts with lots of comments, because the comment readers scroll straight down to the comments and skip the ads. I also lose work time because I usually wind up spending a ton of time here that takes away from my time spent doing research and writing.

    I stick around here for hours because I care about my readers. They were obviously trying to tell me something. It just took me time to figure it out.

  254. Dear Rachael, Email your husband and find out what his financial philosophy and goals are, since you don’t seem to know. This isn’t just paying down that one loan, this is two of you not agreeing thatbeing out of debt is your mutual goal.
    Dear Meg, Dave Ramsey is a business. Of course he benefits when you buy his course. The question is, “Are you financially successful as you are operating, and would Dave Ramsey’s book (if the suggestions are followed) make you financially prosperous? If spending $100. for the course (THE TOUGH PART IS YOU HAVE TO IMPLEMENT THE IDEAS) WILL MAKE YOU PROSPEROUS, THEN IT’S A BARGAIN FOR YOU AND GOOD FOR DAVE, Win/Win. Frugality programs are like diet programs, they are a crutch which you don’t really need, but might be nice to have. Want to lose weight? Stop eating more calories than you need, eat fewer calories than necessary to sustain your body weight (multiply 11 calories times you IDEAL weight to get correct calorie amount per day) and you will lose weight, and save money. Want to shed debt and become prosperous? Stop spending for things you don’t need, do the debt snowball, do the debt snowflake. The secret to solving the United States fiscal misery and your financial misery is to STOP SPENDING ON NON ESSENTIALS, and apply all spare money to debt. When you’re deep in a pit of debt and can’t get out, stpo digging (i. e. stop spending.)
    Enough of this swimsuit stuff folks! Ladies, go buy any swim suit which fits. There are some times when it doesn’t pay to pinch pennies, comfort is essential.

  255. trent-

    please. the “because of vanity” part of this is a VERY new insertion-

    “My point was that if you’re spending more than $3 on a swimsuit because of vanity, it’s wasted money. What came across is that spending more than $3 on a swimsuit is vanity, which is not what I was trying to say at all. Spending more than $3 for a comfortable suit if you value swimming is a very worthwhile expense. I apologize for my ineloquence and my thick head.”

    please don’t try to tell me that the above paragraph is REMOTELY like what you initially wrote-

    “When someone – male or female – pays more than a few bucks for a swimsuit, they’re not paying for clothing to cover their bodies while swimming. They’re paying for a fashion accessory – a completely nonessential item. $70 spent on a swimsuit that shows off a woman’s figure might be a fun expense, but it’s certainly not required to swimm.”

    now you’re treating me like i’m stupid, and i resent it.

    you and i both know that you had contempt for us. at first we were all respectful and gentle, because we thought you just didn’t understand. we thought once you understood, you would see where we were coming from.

    you actually used the phrase “pray tell” in this comment of yours: “Why, pray tell, do women not swim in their favorite bras?”

    i have never heard someone who was not being arrogant or condescending use the words “pray tell.” maybe you weren’t being arrogant or condescending, but i find it hard to believe.

    please don’t talk to me like i’m an idiot, and then act surprised when i get offended.

  256. Trent,

    See response from Katie (#245). She explains it very well.

    Your issue with underwear potentially exposing your bits is EXACTLY the same as a woman’s issue with a regular bra potentially exposing her bits.

    This is not a want. This is a need. And it does not come for $3.

    Why can you not understand that?

  257. Trent, the thing you still are failing to grasp is that your condesending attitude on this subject is a big thing that pissed most people off.

    I know it pissed me off, you treated me like I was dumb and had no idea about societal pressures and marketing. I do, trust me. I’m sure that all the women here are very very aware of it, probably more than you did.

    But you still insisted on explaining it like we are all dumb.

  258. So when your wrong and don’t want to or can’t admit it, you just shut off all comments. That’s convenient for you and a poor choice for your readers. I can’t believe you can’t take some criticism when your clearly wrong.

  259. OK, let’s walk through that paragraph sentence by sentence.

    “When someone – male or female – pays more than a few bucks for a swimsuit, they’re not paying for clothing to cover their bodies while swimming.”

    We covered this. You *can* swim with a t-shirt and shorts. There are advantages to other suits, but that’s not the point here.

    “They’re paying for a fashion accessory – a completely nonessential item.”

    This is where I was ineloquent and ignorant. I was focusing only on the fashion attribute of a swimsuit. I wasn’t talking about any other criteria to a swimsuit purchase than the fashion aspect of it – and there are obviously more aspects than that to the purchase. I confess ignorance in this regard, but I honestly didn’t think it was really relevant here because I was focusing on swimsuit as fashion accessory.

    My confusion in the comments came about because I didn’t understand where all the talk about comfort was coming from. That’s why my first comments were full of questions – and then I was even more confused when I was met with some pretty harsh responses. I did not touch that topic in my original statement because I don’t know anything about the comfort of women’s bathing suits. I stuck to what I understood – “wants” versus “needs” and spending money to please others.

    I should have worded this different, and I apologize again for my ineloquence.

    “$70 spent on a swimsuit that shows off a woman’s figure might be a fun expense, but it’s certainly not required to swim.”

    This should also be agreeable – if you’re spending lots of money on a swimsuit solely for vanity, it’s not a requirement to swim.

    My ineloquence and limited vision (if not ignorance) came through on the second sentence. I was not even considering the swimsuit as anything more than a fashion accessory as I wrote it. I completely support women who enjoy swimming spending more on a suit that fits their desires.

  260. See this sentence:

    “When someone – male or female – pays more than a few bucks for a swimsuit, they’re not paying for clothing to cover their bodies while swimming. They’re paying for a fashion accessory – a completely nonessential item.”

    So, a $3 swimsuit isn’t a nonessential item, since it cost just a few bucks? But when I woman cannot find a swimsuit for a few bucks, she is being frivolous?

    Swimming may be a want. But, if you are going to indulge that want, which you apparently do, Trent, then proper clothing is a NEED – you need to not show off parts of your body that will get you arrested, you need to wear something that will not hurt or give you an infection. And to say that spending anything over the amount YOU spent on this need is just a fashion accessory is insulting and sexist. Sure, men can easily find cheap swim tunks, women have a difficult time finding swim wear that fits, never mind trying to find some that fits AND is “a few bucks.”

    It is insulting that you made your swim tunks into a NEED and a frugal choice, but finding a well fitting $70 suit that lasts for years as a WANT.

  261. I don’t think it’s quite right to equate any concern over one’s appearance with “vanity.” Women are culturally constrained in certain aspects of their appearance to a far greater degree than men are. For example, a couple of people have mentioned body hair in a certain region, which “must” be removed or covered up (and yes, the hair can extend far beyond what’s covered by a typical swimsuit). Chest coverage is another example: It’s legal in many (or maybe even most) places for women even to go topless, but it’s still highly frowned upon not to be covered up to an acceptable degree. And there are many more, I’m sure.

    Some women have the courage to shrug off all those expectations and say “I’m just going to do what makes me comfortable, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.” And that’s great. But it takes an enormous amount of courage, so most women don’t want to do that, and that’s fine. To accuse women of “vanity” and “wasting money” for trying to comply with standards that you’ve never had to deal with yourself is, I’ll say, problematic.

  262. My bad about the shutting off of comments, the connection was just resetting but the criticism remark stands.

  263. Trent, please explain how it is more frugal for me to swim in a tshirt and shorts? Will you pay my indecent exposure fees for showing my chest through the wet tshirt and water soaked bra? Will you pay for the medicine to treat the yeast infection I get from wearing wet shorts?

  264. @ Trent #270
    ““When someone – male or female – pays more than a few bucks for a swimsuit, they’re not paying for clothing to cover their bodies while swimming.”

    “We covered this. You *can* swim with a t-shirt and shorts. There are advantages to other suits, but that’s not the point here.”

    NO, you *CAN’T* swim with a t-shirt in many public pools. So this issue has NOT been covered.

  265. You didn’t see it and you still don’t see it. You crossed THE LINE from frugal to cheap b*****d not just for yourself but for everybody. Most women have experience with men who don’t see the NEED for spending money on what they perceive as wants. They get to either be miserable by making do with a cheap solution that doesn’t do the job (the man is happy) or spending the money to get the well functioning solution and being made miserable by the unhappy cheap b******d whining about the money spent on something he sees as frivolous. See also Prius comments for additional insight.

    I can envision Sarah trying to make you happy by engaging in the $3 solution, which isn’t even a viable alternative for your toddlers, which makes you happy and them miserable. I am just happy she has a paycheck and presumably some spending money she can use to buy herself a decent swimsuit if she WANTS one.

    Your wanting that house in the country definitely falls under want and not need and could be considered a horrific waste of money. All that money just so you have a pretty view and some privacy. Money that could be spent on your children’s education, your aging parents, or charity. You already have adequate housing so why even think about it.

    I know you are probably not even looking at more comments but maybe that would shed some light on it for you.

  266. I saw a lot of backpedaling by Trent on the issue: It’s not swimming that is the issue, but wanting to swim in a particular place pool, then how about just splashing in the water a bit with the kids, then why do we even “need” to swim at all. This is not responsive to the comments which were all about how women cannot swim in same gear as mean for lots of reasons. Think about this:

    Men do not have breasts or big breasts.

    Breast have a lot of fat in them, especially if they are bigger.

    Fat tends to float up.

    To keep his fat from floating upwards, this fat they need to be held in place against the body.

    Bras that get waterlogged fall down, exposing breasts.

    Cheap stretch fabric in some swim suit tops also stretches down with gravity and water weight.

    Poor fitting swimsuit top exacerbates this effect.

    Effects of gravity on suit vs. buoyance of breasts equals unwarranted exposure.

    No I do not “need” to cover my breasts while swimming, but I sure “want” to.

  267. I.m with you Trent, I’m not sure I understand why some of these folks are upset. Your message of swimsuit want and need was pretty clear and unoffensive.
    I have read for many years and this is the first time I have commented. I really like it when you participate in the comments, however I think you should opt out of this one. You’ll never be able to understand the thoughts of a person who thinks you are wrong and argues with you on a comment section of a blog for four hours because she thinks you are talking to her like and idiot. Love your blog, but you have some (not all, just some) of the worst commenters I have ever come across.

  268. “Your issue with underwear potentially exposing your bits is EXACTLY the same as a woman’s issue with a regular bra potentially exposing her bits.

    This is not a want. This is a need. And it does not come for $3.

    Why can you not understand that?”

    I understand that completely.

  269. “Actually, that’s not how it works. I usually lose money on posts with lots of comments”

    Wait a second are you saying that your website works completely opposite all the other websites out there? So you want less views and less comments? Did you enter the magical code of up up down down left right left right B A Start?

    I am all for the “piss people off” posts, its makes for an interesting read. But piss off your core readers too many times and all your left with is a bunch of online Viagra ads.

  270. @ Trent #278
    If you understand that, why do you advocate women just wear a bra? You said bra plus t-shirt, but since t-shirts are not permitted at most public pools, that leaves a bra only.

    Further, as many posters have pointed out, a bra that avoids shoulder and back strain is expensive and will be ruined by salt or chlorine or the weight of the water pulling on the fabric.

  271. “It is insulting that you made your swim tunks into a NEED and a frugal choice, but finding a well fitting $70 suit that lasts for years as a WANT.”

    They’re both wants. My swim trunks are not a need. They’re a want on virtually every level. I look at what I value in my own life and choose to make that purchase. Virtually every purchase I make – or that you make – is to fulfill a want. Some wants might be very strong and might be required for some activities, but they’re still wants.

    I have now apologized eight times for my ineloquence and ignorance and stated very clearly that I understand that women have lots of considerations when buying a swimsuit. People are now resorting to making up hypotheticals that I’m a spouse abuser, et. al. That’s enough – it’s gone from being an enlightening and healthy discussion to just being insult flinging. That’s enough. It doesn’t help anyone to continue this discussion.

    Many of the women on this thread have made very valuable and insightful points that have made me think a lot about the considerations women have to make about their swimsuits. I thank all of the level-headed women in this thread for their comments.

  272. “Wait a second are you saying that your website works completely opposite all the other websites out there? So you want less views and less comments? Did you enter the magical code of up up down down left right left right B A Start?”

    The vast majority of ads served on the internet are pay-per-click. If people just scroll right past them, the site owner doesn’t make money. If a site is self-hosted, like this one is, the site owner does pay for bandwidth, and with a page that grows larger with every comment, it costs more and more.

  273. Wow. Trent, kudos to you for coming back again and again to converse with your readers who disagreed with you. My hat is off to you.

  274. Who has called you a spouse abuser in the comments? There were comments wondering how you would react in certain situatations that weren’t flattering depictions but nothing that said you would hurt your wife or children.

  275. 243 – Nancy

    Kiefer.com has some in the $30 range in their clearance section (including a couple speedos for
    $31).

    Below that there are a couple brands I’ve never heard of.

    I’ve ordered from them before.

  276. I can’t possibly know if your recent comments were explanations or backpedaling, but regardless, at least they shared sentiments I could understand and agree with.

    What you originally wrote, yes, was not eloquent, was downright brash and seemingly judgmental, and I could see how some could take offense (I’m not remotely emotionally invested in swimwear and so I wasn’t).

    May I make a suggestion? Based on the sheer number of comments and the vitriol, as you observed, I think it would be wise to make an edit (in bold, or red, etc.) on the original post, explaining it and including your new text:

    “My point was that if you’re spending more than $3 on a swimsuit because of vanity, it’s wasted money. What came across is that spending more than $3 on a swimsuit is vanity, which is not what I was trying to say at all. Spending more than $3 for a comfortable suit if you value swimming is a very worthwhile expense. I apologize for my ineloquence and my thick head.”

    I say this because the way you originally phrased it was potentially alienating to ~half your readership (women), and as some already noted, are willing to stop visiting your site because of this one ‘frugal’ comment of yours. It would be best if you make the addendum/explanation at the top, because I doubt many readers are willing to go through the literally hundreds of comments to read it. Many might not even know you participate in comments.

    Normally I wouldn’t even bother to advise it, but if you have a new book to promote, possibly alienating almost half your readers is simply not a smart move, even if it was unintentional. Make the clarification more prominent.

  277. I think some of the disconnect here is that based on Trent’s original post and early comments, many readers felt that he was saying that their choice to spend $70 on a swimsuit wasn’t frugal. Based on his more recent comments, I think he does see that a good swimsuit that fits properly and will last a long time can be a frugal purchase, even for those who only swim a few times a year, based on the amount of value that someone gets from being comfortable and confident in their swimwear.

    There’s something about being told (or thinking you’re being told) that something you consider frugal is a frivilous fashion accessory that really raises the hackles.

  278. From Merriam-Webster: “Vanity (noun): 1) something that is vain, empty, or valueless.”

    I think Trent’s re-wording to include the word “vanity” gets much closer to the original intent of his post. If vanity is, by definition, something valueless, his new wording basically says, “Don’t spend money on things you don’t value” — which is what he’s been saying for years.

  279. Oooh what a can of worms you opened Trent. I am petite but I still have a problem finding a suit that fits well. I am in my 50′s so what works on a teen doesn’t work on a mature woman. I don’t want my cheeks showing,and I don’t want a top that gaps when I bend over. I have a couple of suits I bought at Costco 6 years ago that have held up very well, fit good, and look good on me. They weren’t expensive & I don’t have to worry about offending the sensibilities of anyone else. These were made by Speedo (laugh) which made a joke of men’s swimwear (now that offends my sensibilities.)lol

  280. Since a bathing suit that fits well and is good quality is not a necessity, I should just not go swimming?

    You said: “Why, pray tell, do women not swim in their favorite bras?”

    Ohhhh, Trent. Because chlorine dulls clothes and makes fabric fray. It eats away at the fibers of the clothing. Why would I want to swim in a bra with all of that sopping wet padding, just to have it ruined?

  281. Ok I do have to add, Trent you have NOT addressed how I am going to pay for the yeast infection I am going to get by swimming in my “need” shorts. As a women’s healthcare provider I can tell you that long exposure (by long I mean even a day at the pool) to wet clothes WILL cause yeast infections in a large segment of the population. Pray tell how is that frugal?

    On another note, I believe I am done. You simply seem incapable of admitting you are incorrect. The numerous “apologies” and much backpeddling as to what you “really meant” to say have made me sort of ill. I wish you the best and I hope you never send your future teenage daughter swimming in a t-shirt and shorts.

  282. I got a yeast infection the last time I went swimming in my normal swimsuit. It’s happened to my friends, too. Here’s an article about yeast infections ans swimsuits: http://www.fitsugar.com/Wet-Bathing-Suits-Yeast-Infections-Fun-317748

    Trent’s original post was poorly worded, but it’s clear what he meant. He spent a lot of time here listening to concerns and talking to readers. He apologized. I think it’s time to let it go considering he didn’t say anything really bad to begin with. If I were him, I probably would have ignored it.

  283. I’ve been trying to think what Trent could have done differently that would change how I feel adn this is what I came up with.

    A real apology and an acknowledgement of not knowing enough about women’s swimsuits needs the first time. Plus a neutral way to talk about making a swimsuit purchase a frugal one.

    Maybe something like this.

    “I want to apologize to my readers. I really did not understand all of the aspects about women and swimsuits. From the comments I’ve read it’s obvious that many of you have had difficulty finding a swimsuit that offers proper support and coverage. I know understand that while some options work for me as a man they wouldn’t work well for women.

    If you are buying a swimsuit I would like to remind people about ways to make the purchase a frugal one. Some people have already mentioned this but I’d like to repeat them — look for end of season sales (some may be going on now**), try to combine the sale with a coupon if those are available, some department stores offer them. And look for something that will last through multiple wears and washings.”

    ** – amazingly it’s getting hard to find summer clothes around here and I’m in florida.

  284. What troubled me most about Trent’s post and his follow-up comments was the apparent lack of respect for those voicing opinions that differed from his. Since Trent will presumably never wear a women’s swimsuit, never receive unwanted sexual attention from persons physically larger and more powerful than he is, and will not personally deal with societal expectations of women, he lacks the perspective to understand why women who go swimming WANT to wear a SWIMSUIT that fits. Yes, its a WANT, but WANTING to be decently covered and not sexually harrassed is at least as important to most women as Trent’s WANT for le crueset cookware. But instead of having the insight to realize that he was ignorant of many experiences women have, he initially delved into further discussion of the merits of swimming in bras and tee shirts and fashion statements. I’m perceiving something demeaning to women, perhaps subconscious, in the post.

  285. I hit comment before I was ready.

    I wanted to state WHY an apology like that is better than the 8 or so Trent made.

    First – it clearly puts the blame on Trent (which is where it should be) without any back tracking or trying to justify.

    Second – there’s a clear acknowledgment of the posts made and the first hand information that was given by people as well as an admission that this is a subject that is not well known by Trent.

    Third – there is advice on what to do about buying swimsuit frugally.

    And most important there is no LOADED or BLAME type language.

    There is no mention of vanity or body image issues and no trying to “educate” anyone about marketing or societal pressures.

    Also it should be “I now understand” instead of “I know understand”.

    Trent I’m not expecting another comment from you or another apology I just hope that when you don’t feel so piled on that you reread the comments and suggestions and learn from this.

  286. A litte humor and humility would have helped tremendously.

    Something along the lines of “Sarah has informed me that my services as Women’s Swimsuit Buyer are no longer required in the Hamm household. I am a dolt; sorry if I offended,” would have put the issue to bed and NOT made you look arrogant, stubborn, or clueless. (And admitting that you’re human would not have impacted your credibility one whit.)

    Each time something like this happens, it seems you try to weasel out of it and in the process come off as disingenuous, or worse.

    By the way, don’t women make up the majority of your readers? You ought to pay attention to what happened here…

  287. I have noticed/felt an increasingly condescending and judgemental attitude in the posts lately. ‘My way is the only right way’ seems to be a good description. Along with the continued spelling/grammatical errors, and the answers that don’t fit the questions. Since I already have a programmable thermostat, an emergency fund, automatic deposits and drive a paid for 13yr old car I believe that I am done with this blog.

  288. @ejw – “And I really don’t get comparing swimwear to cookware. I can’t get arrested or gawked at if my cookware is inadequate.”

    That had to be the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

  289. Um, OK. Trent called himself ineloquent and thick headed and he apologized eight times and spent most of the day listening to your concerns and talking about them, far more than most people would have ever done. Nothing he does will ever make some of you happy. You’re unpleasable.

    Trent, please don’t listen to these people. Don’t apologize again.

  290. I’m a long time reader and first time commenter. I have to admit that at first I was also offended by the whole swim suit thing. I spent a good part of my day reading all the comments and agreeing with the many people who are up in arms over Trent’s perceived judgement of anyone who would spend more than $3 on a swimsuit.

    However, after scrolling to the top and re-reading what Trent wrote, I would like to point your attention to the paragragh after that.

    “If you think you must spend that kind of money to have the perfect swimsuit to keep up appearances, you’re spending too much time (read: more than zero) and too much money (read: more than zero) worrying about what other people think of you. Think of it this way: if you were going to a completely private beach to swim, would you need that $70 swimsuit?”

    If you take the frst paragraph out of context, ignoring what her wrote next, sure you are going to be upset, I understand that. Take it in context and I think that Trent explained his view quite adequately.

    I have read many comments on this blog about Tren’t holier-than-thou attitude and I have NEVER felt thay were warrented. I that that he usually eplains himself well and leaves the door open for differing opinions.

    As for those who feel that his apologies were inadequate and shifted that blame to those who were offended, I would like to say that you give way too much power to Trent. Anything that you might be offended about has much more to do with you and your reactions than about the person who “committed the offense” “against” you. This is something I learned from my therapist and it has changed my life. Take responsiblilty for your own actions and reactions and stop laying the blame at the door of others and you will be much happier for it.

    Trent, I think you do a great job! Thank you for taking the time and energy to stick with this discussion and for caring enough about your readers to apologize repeatedly.

    I think that Sarah and your kids are lucky to have you as a husband and father.

  291. Marlene, a big problem is that many people did say that YES even on a private beach they would need a $70 swimsuit and Trent still tried to dismiss that as vanity and luxury and somehow it took him over 200 posts to understand what every other male commenter got in less than that.

    Trent worded things badly and apologized badly and hopefully he’ll learn something about this.

    I also disagree about what you said about being offended. I was offended at being talked down to by Trent about societal pressures, something I’m well aware of and something that I think every woman is aware of. It’s not something we need a man to explain to us.

    Of course this is something we’re just going to have to disagree on.

    I’m not saying Trent is a horrible person, but there have been many times where he has shown blind spots to certain issues.

  292. Trent, after comment #181, a former lifeguard telling why tshirts are hazardous to swim in, and can damage the pool equipment, you repeatedly advised your readers to do it.

    Not to mention that you ignored all the readers who told you why tshirts, bras, and shorts are not replacements for a swimsuit.

    If, when you make unfounded generalizations, you refuse to learn from your readers, and advise unsafe practices, why should I trust your judgment in matters of more moment?

  293. This is Trent’s blog and he shares his thoughts freely with us. In no way shape or form do I think someone should comment on why they/she thinks he should apologize for his thoughts. I read this post over and over I am still not able to find where he used words that would offend a women.
    And as far as Alilz comment #306, you certainly do not speak for this woman when you say, “I was offended at being talked down to ..something that I think every woman is aware of..It’s not something we need a man to explain to us.
    That statement is more harmful to women than anything Trent said today.
    I do agree with you when you say you hope Trent learned something about this… I hope he learned that by no means he needs to apologize to a crazy goofball woman like yourself.

  294. I think Jon and Kevin and many of the other men here immediately realized that Trent had said something stupid by speaking way outside most men’s area of experience/expertise (women buying women’s swimwear) and then having the nerve to advise the experts themselves of what they should want and need.

    If this ever happens to anyone, the worst thing they can do is to arrogantly try to justify their opinion by parsing their words or by blaming the listener for not understanding correctly what they “meant” to say. Simple good manners and human graciousness requires that they say, “You’re right. I don’t really know as much as I should about __________. It was dumb of me to say that.”

    Admitting this does not diminish one’s authority, it makes the person look smarter. I’m sure Trent does this in his personal life, but I, like many others, have just about had it with the “know it all” attitude that comes across in responses. Please don’t try to be right–simply be gracious.

  295. I’m sorry, I just had to drop in one more time for three simple comments:

    1.) This is hilarious. Kept me entertained at work.

    2.) Please enjoy your wife’s breasts being around her ankles in no less than 10 years if her “wants” for support are considered so vain and useless.

    3.) I’m waiting one more day to see if you say anything that changes my mind tomorrow, but at this juncture, I’m out.

  296. Wow. I am so turned off by this whole thing. It reminds why I chose a female gynecologist. They have a shared experience for which there is no substitute, or proxy understanding. Male and female bodies and societal expectations are different. Sometimes, like today, the lack of awareness, and subsequent lack of empathy, is glaring.

    I also agree about the incendiary posts comment, and the resistance to a truly humble apology. I feel for the author’s attempt to catch up and make amends, but the defensive tone makes it a zero-sum-gain. I don’t know, I’ll probably come back, but I’ve definitely lost the love.

  297. Under certain circumstances, I, too, would want women to dress like communist era factory workers.

  298. Dottie, why is what I said more harmful to women?

    You know what, never mind. You go ahead and call me names. I don’t care.

    Every other male commenter got it except for Trent. I think maybe after 250+ posts he finally understood but I’m not so sure.

    And really I’m not sticking around for it. I like some of the commenters here but I’m really not into the narrow world view that Trent has.

  299. Ok, I just read through all these comments and I think this was sufficiently covered. HOWEVER, Trent, you asked:

    “Why, pray tell, do women not swim in their favorite bras?”

    And while there have been plenty of answers, nobody really mentioned the COST of a good bra. For someone of a decent size, a good bra can *easily* cost as much an expensive bathing suit. My cup size is between a DDD and an F. They don’t even carry those size bras in regular stores, and the ones that do don’t have any support. I need a bra specially made for large breasted women, a brand like Cacique. I don’t buy bras often, and when I find one that fits and works, I will spend $65 on it and keep it for years and years and years. Now, do I buy them when they’re on sale, buy one get one half off, use coupons, get the ones on clearance? OF COURSE! But why swim in a bra that is as expensive as a swimsuit when the only result will be that I’ll need to buy a new bra more quickly, since getting wet will ruin the bra? Instead of buying 2 bras a year because they wear out after wearing them in the pool/lake/ocean/wherever, I can buy one bra and one swimsuit and keep both for years! Makes much more sense to me.

    This of course, goes without saying all the other problems, like falling out of the bra in the water and being inappropriate in public places and being potentially arrested for indecent exposure, etc. etc. etc. that have all already been more than adequately covered.

  300. OH, and I totally forgot, on another point- as to the weight loss question, for both you and Jenelle and anyone else interested, check out myfitnesspal.com. It is a really wonderful site where you put in your information and it gives you a plan to follow (how many calories, fat, carbs, protein, etc. you should be eating every day) to lose (or maintain or gain!) weight as you set it. You can track your food and at the end of the day, it tells you how much you’d weigh in 5 weeks if you ate the same exact way every day until then. There is also a huge community with active forums for help and support, if you are looking for that. But even if you aren’t, it is an incredible site. Good luck on the weight loss journey!!

  301. alilz: I just read all of your comments in this thread. You have some very serious issues that you need to work out. Trent’s original comment was off base, but he didn’t mean harm by it and he spent a lot of time here today trying to learn from his female readers. If you read his comments rationally, he’s trying to figure out why people are upset because he didn’t get it at first. Over time, he listened and he did. That’s awesome in a lot of ways. He took the time to figure out what was wrong and he listened to people and he apologized. That’s what we want men to do when they don’t understand a women’s issue. Your continued rage is scary and unhealthy.

  302. I left a comment true, but I also said where I got some good quality suits that have lasted me for a number of years. (I wore one just last week) They were inexpensive in that they cost less than $20 each and if you divide that by 6 it comes to just over $3 per year! They are in colors I like & they actually look good on me & fit well. Trent may have made some errors in how he worded his thoughts, but the vitriol being spewed is totally unnecessary for a swimsuit issue. To actually decide that his column is no longer valid, or his book editor should be brought into this discussion borders on ridiculous. I also was concerned about the way people turned things around and pretty much accused him of all kinds of behavior as regards to his wife and kids.

  303. I appreciate the time you spent responding to all of us. Thank you.

    I’d like to add that even psychologists do not agree on any one list of human needs. Sure, you mention physical needs such as food, water, and clothing–but there’s also psychological needs like love and esteem. What one defines as a need is different across cultures and even within a society. In addition, the appropriate/correct way to fulfill one’s needs is subjective. When you begin to categorize needs vs. wants you are doing so based on the resources available to you and your own perspective. If you don’t want to offend others you shouldn’t define needs or wants; instead, encourage individuals to further analyze their choices. What may be true for you, may not be true for someone else.

  304. Trent, I hope you will revisit this issue (ie. the women’s swimsuits) in an article co-written with your wife- or another female friend. Go shopping with her as if she were to buy a swimsuit, please document the trip, the prices, the fits of the suits. Ask a woman what she needs in a suit that would be fit to be worn somewhere other than the local mossy farm pond. (I’ve swam in them and you do not wear in them what you’d wear at the local YMCA.)

    It will get site traffic up at any rate.

    Good luck.

  305. I find it interesting that Trent appears to have a disdain for anyone who gives into marketing, social norms, and body image concerns, yet, in the same post, talks about how he wants to lose weight. This too is a product of massive marketing efforts, socialization, and some might even say vanity.

    Trent, if you want some cooking equipment, I hear those pots and black kettles are going on sale!

  306. Trent,

    First, I cannot swim in a short and a T-shirt. I can get wet very well, and stay wet even better in a T-shirt and a short.
    If I was on a totally private beach, and I wanted to get wet, I would not evenneed the short and the T-shirt. However, if I wanted to swim I would need a good fitting swimsuit. Last time I bought one, I bought a custom made one, which costed about $100. That (naturally) fitted perfectly. Any suits available in stores that would have somewhat fitted me, were in the same price range. Be glad your body has a standard size, that saves a lot of money.

  307. Trent, after reading all your comments, I have a hypothesis about what you’re trying to say:

    “You do not have to swim. If ladies swim, they will need to do so in a way that is legal and safe- i.e. not exposing breasts and not causing yeast infections. Because of this, many women will require an expensive swimsuit. Women who do not value swimming may want to consider eliminating all swimming, so that they don’t have to buy an expensive suit.”

    What I actually hear you saying is:

    “If women only swim once in a while, they should consider doing it in a t-shirt and shorts.”

    I feel that this suggestion is not appropriate, because it encourages women to act illegally and unsafely. I can’t imagine that you would encourage people to act illegally and unsafely, but I don’t see any acknowledgment that *any* act of immersed swimming for a woman (clearly a want for most people) requires an expensive garment, and it is not appropriate to swim even occasionally in an illegal or unsafe manner.

  308. Jenny, wow. That was really uncalled for. I don’t know why you see the need to call me (a perfect stranger) “pathetic and sad,” but it certainly doesn’t make me agree with you.

    I looked the post you mentioned. I’d like to point out a couple of things. First of all, NONE of the advice that Trent’s doctor gave to him (that Trent listed) included weight loss. I absolutely agree that doing those things the doctor recommended (such as eating green vegetables) is healthy. However, one could do those healthy things without the aim to lose weight.

    Second of all, Trent suggests Michael Jackson’s death as something that inspired him to lose weight. I don’t know about you, but Michael Jackson looked pretty gaunt to me. I’m sure being overweight was not a cause of his death. So, I don’t think there is a direct logical connection between Michael Jackson’s death and Trent wanting to lose weight. I get the point he is trying to make, but the logic is missing a step.

    Plenty of marketing tells us we ‘NEED’ to lose weight to be healthy. But is that really a “need” or a “want”? Sure, many things that people do in attempts to lose weight can be considered healthy (although other things might not be), but certainly, one does not ‘need’ to lose weight to still eat 5 vegetables a day, get enough sleep, get exercise, and not take drugs. Plenty of larger women on here, who have talked about spending more money to get better-fitting swimsuits, are probably avid swimmers and would really be insulted if we called them unhealthy.

    Changing one’s appearances to give the “look” of being healthy might be akin to buying a $70 swimsuit. If losing weight is a high priority for him, that’s fine for him, but let’s not judge other people as “vain” for buying fashionable swimsuits, and then act as though losing weight (another change in appearance) is a “need.” Let’s instead talk about budgeting and setting priorities – which would probably be a more effective and universal message – without insulting people for their values.

    Certainly in a post that talks about “vanity” and “response to marketing,” it is not unthinkable to bring up other things that affect our body image aside from swimsuit marketing.

  309. I would like to add a comment to the swimsuit issue, and hope that Trent is still reading. I am a loyal reader and appreciate many of your tips, but found your answer way off base, and your follow up comments show you to be ignorant of the issue.

    The original commenter just meant to emphasize that certain people enjoy saying that it is easy to be frugal, when it is actually quite difficult for certain people. A man can easily meet his WANT of swimming in a public place for $3. A woman simply cannot for the reasons mentioned here. Same would go for eating (diabetics or special diets may be more expensive), shoes (wide shoes cost more), etc. She was just asking that you acknowledge that some of your frugal tips are only applicable to certain groups and not to others.

    I will not stop reading your blog because of a few ignorant remarks, but I do wish you would acknowledge your mistakes rather than try to defend them with ridiculous comments.

    I agree that a follow up post would be a good idea (perhaps under the subject “some frugality tips don’t apply to everyone”) with input from your wife on this subject.

    Interestingly, I just returned from a shopping trip looking for a new suit. I visited 3 stores and found nothing that fit me appropriately at any price, and returned home in tears (and I am a size 4-6, supposedly the “ideal”). Meanwhile, my husband called me, told me his size, and I picked one up off the rack for $10. Just to give you an idea of the differences. In the future, please be more sensitive and stick to giving advice in areas that you have experience.

  310. Yeah, I’m calling foul on the swimsuit issue as well. I’m rather well-endowed in the chest area, and swimming in a t-shirt does not work. I tried swimming in a sports bra and a pair of shorts on a month-long backpacking trip and it worked somewhat, but it was $3 for the outlet mall shorts and $15 for the cheapest sports bra that would contain my chest.

    Furthermore, a good bathing suit will last you a very long time (if you can still fit in it year after year, of course). I had to throw out a $10 Target clearance rack suit after one summer, but I have a $50 suit that I’ve had for 9 summers that is still holding up fine. That’s clearly the more frugal option.

  311. Finally got through the whole thread. What an interesting discussion! It really demonstrates that the needs vs. wants concept is much more complicated than it seems at first glance.

  312. ““Proper coverage” can be obtained very cheaply (I can imagine many ways, actually)”

    If you can show me where I can get cup-sized swimwear very cheaply, I’d be really interested. It’s not an issue of ‘comfort’ – that’s like saying a pair of shoes as opposed to no shoes is mere vanity, because you can still walk barefoot if you really want to. If I went swimming once a year, I’d still need the swimsuit that fits me properly. Women here are not talking about performance swimwear, or designer swimwear – merely an item of clothing that does its job. Unfortunately, bras, and by extension swimwear, is not something women should skimp on if they can avoid it.

    I am so short sighted that I don’t even know what I look like when in the water, so it’s nothing to do with vanity. I don’t have the option of swimming in a private pool, so no skinny-dipping for me. Besides, it would actually be painful, and possibly cause permanent damage.

    Look at the difference between a bra and a supportive swimsuit, and you’ll see why women don’t swim in their bras. Also, some women have religious needs that mean they can’t wear a skimpy swimsuit – Muslim or Orthodox women, for example.

    I find this whole argument slightly bizarre, to be honest. I think it might be prudent for you to have a lady guest blogger to write about ways women can be frugal with women-only expenses – I learned through trial and error that the cheapest sanitary protection is not always best, but there are other areas where it is possible to save money and not live up to what society thinks women ‘need’ to do. I think it would be really helpful.

  313. Just skimmed the comments just because there are so many, i’m sorry I wasted the time…LOL. How can people get so offended by a blog, its funny. I still look forward to reading my Simple Dollar email every day, thanks for all the good tips :-)

  314. 16.

    16 times.

    That’s how many times the phrase “yeast infection” appeared in the comments section of this post (not counting this one).

    That’s gotta be a record for a personal finance blog.

    Oh, and Trent, I know as a policy you don’t post in the comments to your blog entries, but I respect what you did with this one. I think you deserved a little bit of heat for the original poorly-worded advice, and the wiggling and back-pedaling that followed, but you eventually manned up and admitted you were wrong. I respect that, and I think a lot of the criticism you received was excessive.

  315. Hi Trent,

    To join in the conversation… I’m a woman and I wasn’t offended at all by the swimsuit post. In fact, if I didn’t care about what I was wearing I’d totally go in for the “get a pair of board shorts, cheap bikini top, and a teeshirt” thing. As it is I like the swim suits I already have, and I don’t go swimming enough to justify getting something new.

    I think some of the confusion has to do with what people value. The people responding to this comment are not people who particularly value swimming. It’s not their main hobby. It’s just something they want to do with their kids. If it was something they were passionate about there’d be no question that spending the money was worth it.

    The thing is, they still have swimming related values. They do value being comfortable. They do value being modest. I bet there’s a good bit of wanting to remain inconspicuous too since they’re not that comfortable with how their bodies look. (I think the last statement is fair. Take a look at all the “I’m not a 17 year old with no breasts” comments.) Even if board shorts, a not that supportive swimming bra from Walmart, and a teeshirt was decent the fear is that they’d be drawing attention to themselves. They just want to splash around with their kids, not get stared at by the other adults at the pool. Maybe it’s an irrational fear, but I think it’d take a lot of courage for someone who’s not used to acting unconventionally.

    If you want to remain inconspicuous and have proper support and coverage, it’s wise to spend a goodly amount of money on swimwear. It’s hard for us to admit, though, that these things are actually wants, not needs. It’s also hard for us to admit that wanting to be inconspicuous is still vanity. When I hear the word vain, I think ostentatious, but it’s still vain to spend a lot of money to try to fit in.

    Also, I remember in Europe the women going around topless weren’t the youngins.

    And, yes, women’s clothes are often stupidly made and priced.

  316. Without reading any other comments…I challenge you to find a swimsuit for my size 6 bottom and cup size E nursing-a-baby boobs that isn’t obsene for a decent price.

    I think that I am offended for the first time by you, Trent, and I have been reading your blog for years!

    Women’s clothing is in a whole different category than men’s clothing anyway. And you have shown that you aren’t as knowledgeable about it than other topics.

  317. This issue on women’s bathing suits reminds me of the post that you wrote about being a “Cheapskate.” You are most definitely a cheapskate if you insist that your own wife (you do practice what you preach, right?), wears a #3, ill-fitting bathing suit. You obviously have no idea how women think or feel-and what societal pressures they are under.

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