Some Thoughts on Wearing Things Out

The end of a shoe

What you see above is one of my sandals that’s beginning to (finally) fall apart.

I’ve been wearing this same pair of sandals during the summer since 2003. They’ve went on vacations with me. I’ve worn them on walks through parks, strolls around the block, and countless other activities. They’re older than any of my children.

These shoes are actually falling apart due to wear. I’ve worn these shoes until they were falling apart.

I couldn’t be happier about it, either.

An item that is falling apart from wear is the best sign of a great purchase where the buyer got a lot of value for his or her dollar. This pair of sandals, bought for $20 eight years ago, has provided footwear for nine long summers. That’s an incredible bargain. The cost per hour of usage of those sandals is incredibly low.

I tend to use the cost per hour of usage metric on as many things as I can. For example, a book is worth buying (to me) if I’m going to read it multiple times and reference it in addition to that, which creates a very low cost per hour for that book. If I’m just going to read it once, I’d rather check it out from the library, which still has a cost per hour, but a very low one (the cost of going there, essentially).

The problem is that we purchase so many items we purchase that we never use enough to wear out or use enough to make the cost per hour of use sufficiently low. I’ve certainly done plenty of this in my own life: purchasing items, using them a few times, tossing them in storage, and selling them at a big loss (or giving them away) later on.

What sets these types of purchases apart? How do I know that I’ll get enough value out of this item before I buy it?

For me, the biggest part of the equation is that the purchase is well-considered. Impulsive buys tend to be the ones that I don’t use enough to wear out or reduce the cost per hour to a very low point. That’s not to say that spontaneity isn’t occasionally fun, but I find it’s almost always better to be spontaneous with experiences rather than purchases.

Simply put, if the purchase is significant at all, I research it first. I get a strong sense as to whether or not I’ll actually use the item a significant amount and I make an effort to choose items that will have a long lifetime. These two factors together tend to drive the cost per hour of use down quite low.

When done collectively with all of your significant purchases, buying things with the intent of wearing them out ends up saving you a tremendous amount of money.

These old shoes will be laid to rest soon, but I’ll have no guilt when I throw them away. I used them well and got every penny of value out of them.

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80 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Wearing Things Out

  1. I totally agree with the principles of well-thought-out purchases, and getting the most value by wearing them out (when appropriate). I just so happen to be going through the same situation with my flip flops. Been wearing them for 12 summers, and only now starting to come apart. That’s a good purchase. The best part is that I’m not wearing them just to avoid buying a new pair. I genuinely still like them, and won’t need a new pair until they fall apart.

  2. jo says:

    i can totally relate to this! when i was 18, my mom bought me a pair of very pricey (to me) $80 black shiny ballet flats from a department store to wear to prom, and she would only buy them if i promised to wear them a lot. Now i’m 22 and finally i had to throw them away because they were coming apart at the seams. i wore those shoes year round for 4 years. winter, summer, formal… i’d guess about 250-300 days per year. multiply that by 4 years and divide by $80 dollars, that’s about 7 cents a days… i got a lot of bang for her money, and i called her last week to tell her they’d finally given out!
    great post, trent!

  3. Allie says:

    But when you bought them, did you actually intend (at that time) to wear them till they wore out, or just until the social circle you were trying to impress bought their next round of shiny new things? Their purchase pre-dates your financial turnaround and the impression you have given in the past is that everything great and frugal you do now is a 180-degree change from the way you did things before. I don’t know, something’s just bothering me about this.

    The idea of the post is a good one, with a worthwhile take-away, but the specific example given makes me feel funny.

  4. Steven says:

    Don’t throw them out, recycle them.

  5. Vanessa says:

    @Steven, how do you recycle shoes?

  6. LB says:

    I generally agree with using items I purchase until they no longer are able to serve their original function (and sometimes beyond that, if parts can be repurposed… like the blender lid that I used as a part of a worm compost bin setup). I had a pair of sports sandals that I bought in college and wore for almost 10 years. The problem with using sandals as an example is that in the case of my pair- they could no longer be adequately cleaned long before they fell apart. I guess I waded into too many streams in them, because every time they got wet they smelled like pond scum. I tried everything to clean them… but nothing worked and I finally bought a new pair of sports sandals. It just wasn’t worth it.

  7. Des says:

    Hmm…$20 is ok for sandals but more than $3 for a bathing suit and its vanity?

  8. Telephus44 says:

    Thanks Des. I was thinking that the whole time I read the article!

  9. Teresa says:

    “I tend to use the cost per hour of usage metric on as many things as I can.” How can you figure this until you know exactly how long something is going to last? For instance, Trent you didn’t know that these sandals were going to last for 8 years when he purchased them, you just got lucky with a pair of shoes that you wear seasonly. Even products with the best reviews don’t always last forever.

  10. Nate says:

    I think it’s good to buy quality and then make use of it for as long as you can. And on the flip side, once it’s used up, get rid of it (it seems some want to hang on to stuff long after it’s lost its use).

  11. lynda grant says:

    move on Des. move on

  12. KMH says:

    Gah! Typo! “The problem is that we purchase so many items we purchase that we never use enough to wear out or use enough to make the cost per hour of use sufficiently low.”

    I volunteer my proofreading skills for free. I can’t stand the typos and I’m not even an english major!

  13. Alison says:

    Hope you can find the very same shoes for nine more years of use!!

  14. Einar says:

    Still waiting for you to calculate the cost pr. hour for these sandals ;)

  15. jackie.n says:

    a signficant number of purchases in my life that i wear to shreds was never intended to be that important to me. who knew i would wear a pair of pink sweats to tatters? sometimes one gets lucky and those items FIND YOU and live a co-existing happy life. when i look back on my history with that particular item i realize that i would have paid double, triple the price for the amount of usefulness and joy i got out of it.

    i do not understand the concept of buying a book because you know will read it several times-how do you know this unless you read it first? i have purchased many movies based on reviews and then tossed it in the goodwill bin because i knew i would never waste my time viewing it a second time.

    sometimes wearing or using an item until it’s falling apart may also indicate being too cheap to replace it in a timely fashion. rattling around in a an unsafe vehicle with a gazillion miles on it is a poor exchange for the safety of it’s occupants. “but is still runs good!” is not an acceptable defense.

  16. allyoof says:

    I don’t understand why so many people comment with negative remarks about the posts. If you do not enjoy reading or disagree so strongly with Trent, why read the blog? The hypercritical nature of these comments is disheartening.

  17. MattJ says:

    “An item that is falling apart from wear is the best sign of a great purchase where the buyer got a lot of value for his or her dollar.”

    Many items that fall apart from wear only do so because they were cheap junk to begin with. Others fall apart from wear because they were abused, or poorly maintained.

  18. Jill says:

    Buy a pair of Keens to replace them. Toes are protected, and they’ll last even longer than these did. And they’re probably better for your feet too.

  19. Steven says:

    @Vanessa: There are places where there are shoes “donation” boxes. REI is one place off the top of my head. There’s also a non-profit called Soles for Souls with ten dropoff locations in Des Moines…

  20. Steven says:

    Sorry, some of those are NOT in Des Moines, but there ARE 5 locations in Des Moines!!!

    Good Feet, Mr. B, Fit to Be Tied, Langel Clothing, and Fitness by Design.

  21. Steven says:

    Meh, triple post (wish we could edit comments around here!!!) as I learn more…Soles4Souls only accepts new or gently used shoes. These won’t cut it. Still, there ARE recycling programs available.

  22. Kevin says:

    Can anybody see this? Just wondering as all my comments end up in limbo. Thanks

  23. marta says:

    MattJ has got a point.

    Anyway, in which regards shoes, it’s not always a good idea to wear them till they fall apart because, by then, they may already have done some damage to your feet.

    Running shoes, for example, aren’t meant to be worn until they are literally falling apart — at least, not for running! They should be replaced before you hit 500 miles or so, sometimes even earlier, depending on their shape. So I have to buy new running shoes every year.

    I also do a lot of hiking/backpacking and, while I know people with boots that are 10-20 years old, the kind of footwear I prefer (lightweight) doesn’t last for more than 2-3 years since the trails I do are very rough on the feet. Anyway, I don’t know the exact hourly cost but I am fine with that kind of lifespan. I end up giving my old boots to the homeless in my area as they are still useful for a winter or two in the city, if not on the mountain.

    ***

    On another note: “They’ve went on vacations with me.”

    :: sigh ::

  24. My brother and I were just talking the other day about how old soem of our clothing and footwear is.
    It is amazing how often we buy new things, but just continue to go back to our old “standby” favorite shirts/shoes/sandals/sweats etc.

    It was definitely a shocker when I thought back to when it was that I purcahsed some of my t-shirts and shorts. (8-10 years in some cases… and I still love wearing these to exercise in)

  25. Shane says:

    I use the “cost per hour” or “cost per use” metric all time and it really helped to open my eyes to crazy spending patterns that represented no value for money.

    It has also helped me to finally realise that quality items may be more expensive but in terms of lifetime use they usually work out cheaper!

  26. Gretchen says:

    100% agree with Jackie. Sometimes the $20 sandals are junk, sometimes the $20 sandals are worth $60.

    My favorite thrift store is currently requesting shoes (and men’s clothing), obviously a little less well worn then this particular pair.

  27. Em says:

    I have a pair of flip flops I bought 5 years ago that I basically have worn everyday of the spring and summer since. They cost me $25, a price I would never spend on flip flops regularly. But I bought them knowing full well that they would last me years without wearing away and they have done just that! This is the 6th summer of having them and they still feel like new flip flops. I used to wear out 2 $5 pairs a summer. Great investment!

  28. TLS says:

    Do other people have shoes/sandals that last this long? I buy good quality footwear, but it never lasts me more than a year or two. However, I do walk all the time and put a lot of miles on my shoes.

  29. What I’m wondering is, when the time comes to actually lay these sandals to rest, whether or not Trent will actually be able to do it. Believe it or not, even a pair of footwear can develop some sentimental value… all the sweat, dirt, athlete’s foot… Trent and those sandals have been through a lot.

  30. lurker carl says:

    Getting several decades of service and hundreds of thousands of miles from a low price used vehicle is something that will save you thousands of dollars over your lifetime. Eight years from sandals? Not so much.

  31. Cass314 says:

    @TLS

    Yes and no. Dress shoes and things I wear only to certain occasions (and not up rough trails) last a long time, but it’s mostly through light and sporadic use. I’ve got a pair of nice leather heels I bought back in high school that are still like new. They’re very nice quality, which I’m sure is part of it, but they’ve also not been worn as much as the shoes I wear every day or my hiking boots.

    I kill a pair of hiking boots every three years without fail. I wear through the soles of a pair of flats (my everyday shoes) in between six months and a year, rotating two or three pairs among the vast majority of my days (I walk a *lot*–nearly everywhere, as I don’t have a car). However, these can go through two or three re-solings (usually less than half the price of the kinds of shoes I like, stalked until they reach the clearance rack) before the rest of the shoe wears and stretches to the point that they no longer fit, even if they can be repaired.

  32. Vanessa says:

    @ Steven

    I thought wearing used shoes was not recommended? People wear shoes down differently and you’ll never get the used shoe to conform to your foot. Even if they are “gently used” there’s sweat, bacteria, fungi and who knows what other germs that build up in shoes that you can’t see. I’d never wear used shoes and I wonder who would besides the very poor.

  33. leslie says:

    #14 Marta – I caught that error too and honestly didn’t bother to read past that point. I just skipped to the comments.

    Trent – You REALLY need to proofread.

  34. Rosanne says:

    Those sandals stopped giving you any sort of support years ago. If I were your wife, I would have “misplaced” them in 2005.

  35. Tegan says:

    Wow, you really get some nitpicky people on this blog. I thought it was a great post!

    Regarding the shoes, I think this is a great argument for brand loyalty. I bought a pair of Doc Martens when I was a teenager. They have been everywhere with me since then, and still show minimal wear. They were a huge (to me) expense at the time, but over the years I’ve come to realise that paying for quality is worth it. I can’t wait to buy my next pair of shoes from them – after I save for a bit. :)

  36. Emma says:

    My uncle ,age 87, died in 1990 from excessive frugality. WWII vet. He was driving his 20 year old Ford Escort, completely not fitted for the road at his age. He used to push it 200 yard from the driveway into the garage with the engine off to save on gas. Paid thousands of dollars for post accident nursing home. All while enjoying retirement in Florida

  37. Steven says:

    @Vanessa: The point of Soles4Souls is to provide them to the poor…the very poor. I think it’s a worthwhile cause, you might want to check it out. Just Google their name.

    I know Nike takes used athletic shoes and grinds them up for recycling, not sure what they make with the ground up shoes though. Could probably Google that too.

    The REI recommendation doesn’t seem to be widespread, as it seems it’s a pilot program in my area (as well as a couple other locations nationally) that I believe is going to be, or already is, being expanded upon. I think their program doesn’t have any specific requirements like Soles4Souls or Nike.

    The point I guess I’m making is that there are options besides throwing them in the garbage. You just have to do a quick search online to see what your options are in your area. A couple of the programs mentioned above have mailing addresses as well for people to mail in their shoes.

  38. kristine says:

    jackien.- There is nothing wrong with a vehicle with a “gazillion” miles on it if it passes inspection. Mileage alone is irrelevant. It may not have the latest safety gizmos, but many generations before us did not either. In NY you have to get your car safety inspected every year. My car has a gazillion miles on it- a Ford Focus, and it is safe.

    That said, when I was little, my mom sued to drive us around in a 63 Corvair that belonged my grandpa. It was stored on a field for 10 years, and the floor had rotted out. We used to have to spread our feet to the sides so they would not hit the road, which we cold see rushing by under us. Yup- poor. But I remember it with a smile, as it always reminded me of the Flintstones! It also tipped when we went around corners over 20 mph. It is a miracle we survived!

  39. kristine says:

    Oh, and yeah… “They’ve went?”
    I third the UGH on that one. Even Word grammar check would catch that- which is minimal proofing.

    I am sure there a lot of people in need of work who could proofread posts from home for a few sheckles a week.

    Heck- I’d be willing! Comments are one thing; posts are another.

  40. Jennifer says:

    I couldn’t read beyond the “They’ve went…” In addition to the content and advice being accurate, credibility in what you have to say begins with usage of proper grammar.

  41. Fawn says:

    I am a minimalist, and have come to look for the optimal moment to past items along…often is is before they are “worn out.”

    There is a portion of time when the work clothes are no onger “good enough” for work, but things are not worn out either. At that point I gift them to another person or organization.

    Furniture too. My couches are gettin worn. Today, I could gift them to the furniture/woman’s rescue fundraising shp. If I wait a year or two, they will be good only for the “large item trash pick up.” If I get rid of them now, we all benefit: I get new furniture, the abused woman’s rescue gets a saleable item and the new owner gets a cheap, relatively intact piece of furniture.

    OK, I have talked myself into it…..

  42. Jen says:

    Is it just me, or does Trent use quite a lot of incredibly unnecessary adjectives and adverbs when actually writing his significant and more importantly, amazing blog on the enjoyable and essentially necessary topic of personal finance?

  43. SwingCheese says:

    @Vanessa: I’m not very poor, and I’ve worn used shoes before. In grad school, I fell in love with a pair of gently used sports shoes, bought them, and wore them until they fell apart. Just a few months ago, I found a pair of leather Aigner boots at a thrift store (again, gently used). I know that I purchased (for $3) a pair of boots that were in the $70-80 range brand new. I don’t wear them a lot, but I enjoy them. I like variety in my shoes, but I choose not to spend a great amount of money on shoes I don’t wear frequently. But for shoes that I do wear frequently (i.e., my running shoes), I both buy brand new, and I spend money for the shoes that provide the comfort and support I need. So it depends on their purpose, I guess. And in all my years of wearing gently used shoes, I’ve never gotten any sort of infection or had any issues regarding my foot health.

  44. Erin Q. says:

    It’s so odd to see shoes as example of signs of wear = good use. I have terrible feet that need prescription orthopedic inserts and that are greatly effected by the wear of shoes. Once my shoes begin to wear, my feet progressively hurt more. I go through three pairs of sneakers alone a year, my boots get constantly resoled, etc. And with my special feet these are not $20 shoes, they’re 4 times that much if they’re cheap.

    I’ve had people tell me flat out that I’m wasteful, and I look back at them like they have four heads. Talking about shoes to me is like talking about the longevity of a toothbrush–you’ll still have soles on your feet and bristles on a stick long after they’ve had enough use to stop helping and start damaging instead.

  45. marta says:

    @Steven: I think Nike grinds old athletic shoes up to make synthetic sports surfaces. Which is fitting, somehow.

  46. marta says:

    @Erin Q: I agree with you. I rather go through a few pairs of shoes than risk foot issues.

    Sure, if you don’t walk that much, maybe it won’t make a lot of difference. But if you do, forget about wearing shoes until they are falling apart.

    It’s like socks — I see no point in wearing them until they are full of holes. Once they get holes, I replace them. Call me wasteful, but mending them won’t fix matters as the stitches will rub against my soles and cause blisters.

  47. deRuiter says:

    Getting more wear from an item you buy is thrifty. You save money. Most people don’t and this is a buying opportunity for anyone who needs “stuff” and will comb yard sales, house sales, estate sales, thrift and resale shops. Americans have always bought a lot more than they need, and then when they want to buy more they hold a yard sale, donate to a church rummage sale or Goodwill. Save money by buying wonderful and good quality pre owned things which are gently or never worn (often new with tags!) Buying second hand helps your personal economy, keeps that money out of the hands of our enemies the Chinese, is better for the ecology, better for America’s balance of trade. You can buy fine quality merchandise of good materials for pennies on the dollar, with a bit of hunting. Shop better neighborhoods, the nice thrift and resale shops, church sales in expensive neighborhoods, to increase your chance of finding good things. It’s fun if you don’t mind shopping or see it as a treasure hunt. It’s also a good use of spare time when you find expensive items you can use for dirt cheap prices. Amy (rhymes with “decision”) wrote about buying used shoes in her newsletter which was turned into the three volume book set. Anyone interested in saving money ought to read, “The Tightwad Gazette”, all three volumes. Amy devoted a lot of writing to explaining how she bought resale clothing for her self, husband and large brood of children, plus furniture and household things. She’s a woman who made a fortune (retired young on her writing profits to a paid off farm in Maine) by writing about thrift in an anumsing and educational way.

  48. Kevin says:

    Who buys stuff INTENDING for it to fall apart after just a few uses?

    We ALL intend for our purchases to last a long time and eventually “wear out,” but it’s still a gamble when you’re actually making the purchase. You have no way of knowing whether it’s going to last a year or a decade.

    And as someone else pointed out, lots of things are poorly-made junk, and wear out sooner. If you buy a Chevy Cobalt and it falls apart after 180,000 miles, was that a “good purchase,” because you’ve “worn it out?” Of course not. A Honda would’ve lasted 300,000 miles, for just a little more money.

  49. Jane says:

    I agree that it’s hard to always know what items you buy are going to be a keeper and which ones won’t. I have researched things that I ended up never using and bought things on a lark and used them regularly for years. Trent’s ideas are sound and well meaning, but I don’t think in reality life works this way.

    Oh, and you can often recycle your flip flops at Old Navy. I believe they eventually are made into playground surfaces.

    @kristine
    I find it funny that in your comment in which you admonish Trent for his grammar and offer yourself up as an editor, you misspell shekel. I’m not nitpicking (I make mistakes too!), just merely trying to point out the hypocrisy of it.

  50. paul says:

    trent, i feel for your children as you seem to invest your time on our egotistical website than on them. so much for your ‘values.’

  51. J.D. Pohlman says:

    I know exactly how you feel. I bought a pair of Dr. Martins back when I was in college, and they have always been the pair of shoes I wear the most. I still wear them every day even now, 12 years later. The soles are worn out on them, but you would never guess that they are 12 years old. I think that was a great investment, considering how durable they have been.

  52. Janet says:

    Justification for expenditures. I recently started using the $1/use idea in looking at my clothing & shoes. I have shoes that I purchased new 12 years ago for $110 that I still wear 2-3 times per week. I have worn some items out over time, but others have been mistakes that are better off taken to the thrift store for re-sale as soon as I realize they were a mistake. I also shop on e-bay for brand/size of shoes that I have had really good luck with and that are no longer available in stores. Over the years (I’m no spring chicken) I have certainly wasted a lot of money on business clothing, but feel like I’m more in control when I purchase an item and think about how often I will wear it and over what period of time, say an all season dress (I live in NC) that can be worn year round with different jackets & accessories for $150. I just get a kick out of you, Trent – and I have learned lots from you.

  53. Allie says:

    @Jane: You mean the comment kristine ended with “Comments are one thing; posts are another”?

  54. Kelly says:

    I haven’t looked at the comments on this site for a long time because all the nitpicky complainers left me in a bad mood. Just checking in to make sure you’re all still here. Yep! Just a suggestion–maybe don’t read The Simple Dollar if Trent annoys you so much? I don’t think you’ll be missed by him or anyone else.

  55. DOT says:

    Leslie and Jennifer
    Help me understand your comments…The two of you voluntarily come to the site of a finance blog that is freely written by an amateur author and both of you are too distraught to finish reading the article about wearing out a pair of shoes because “they’ve went on vacations with me” is too grammatically incorrect for you.

  56. I love this post. I love it because my Hot Hubbie has the SAME pair of sandals (same brand-I can tell from the photo) that you have and he has been wearing them since 2004. And since we are desert dwellers, sandals are our shoe of choice year-round. That is a remarkable amount of wear for a pair of shoes, let alone a pair of sandals. I remember when I bought these sandals for him. At that time we had a job and were headed on a vacation to Hawaii. I remember thinking they were a splurge and quite expensive for a pair of sandals. Yet, 7 years later, I realize He has gotten every cent out of them and they were a great purchase.

    7 years later, Hubbie asked for a new pair of sandals. The problem: trying to find another GREAT pair of sandals like these that will last for YEARS of wear here in the desert. I would gladly “splurge” to buy this pair again (too bad they aren’t made anymore), even though we are unemployed, because I know that in the end I will end up saving TONS of money because these sandals last FOREVER!

  57. David says:

    “They [ha]ve went” is described by the OED as “obsolete, except as dialect”, and is a locution more often found in the American mid-West than anywhere else. In terms of correctness it is roughly on a par with “yall” (or “y’all”, to stave off indignant but ill-informed critique from various quarters).

    “Sheckle” is given in the OED as a variant spelling of “shekel”. In terms of correctness it is at worst a misdemeanour, since any spelling that yields a pronunciation equivalent to the Hebrew is certainly acceptable.

    Pedantry requires stupendous amounts of training and practice. For some reason, though, very few people are inspired by it.

  58. I’ve worn a few things out in the past couple of months and it’s an interesting feeling. In a few days, I will bring a pair of shoes to the cobblers – these shoes have seen more wear in these months than ever before. It feels good to be USING my things, even if that means I need to repair or replace them. And it feels good to get rid of what I’m not using because it’s like a lesson – don’t buy it if you won’t use it.

  59. DOT says:

    ped·ant·ry   

    1. the character, qualities, practices, etc., of a pedant, especially undue display of learning.
    2. slavish attention to rules, details, etc.

    I don’t think I could be inspired to have an undue diplay of learning or slavish attention to rules.

    It appears that a pedant may never be fully satisfied and could spend the rest of their life noting the simplest of errors of others.

  60. Marie says:

    In 2002 I purchased a pair of Birkenstock shoes (closed toe) new on Ebay for around $50. List price at that time was $150. I wore them almost daily (including a 3 year parttime job in retail) and trips to England, France & Japan where we walked extensively and even to walk on a treadmill – they were that comfortable. Then last year the soles gave out. Instead of discarding the shoes and purchasing new ones (now listed at $179) I opted to take them to a Birenstock store and have the soles replaced (the leather uppers of the shoes were still fine). For around $130 they replaced both outsoles and insoles and refinished the leather uppers. I should get another 8 years out of them.

  61. joan says:

    How many people have, like me, purchased a high-quality item at a great bargain–and then instead of wearing it regularly (even though you really want to), you use it as infrequently as possible because you know it will eventually wear out (even though it might take years) and you’ll never find a replacement at that price? Call me weird, but I’ve done this.

  62. Andrew says:

    kristine–love your Corvair story. When I was in high school my best friend owned an ancient Dodge Dart without floorboards on the front seat passenger side. I too remember straddling the hole so as not to hit the ground while the car was moving.

    Of course, he was driving 65 mph at the time and had a fully stocked bar in the trunk. It’s a wonder we made it through adolescence!

  63. MARY S says:

    RE: used shoes
    I’ve never had a problem wearing used shoes. I’ve gotten them anywhere from Goodwill to garage sales. I’ve also donated more than a few pairs over the years because 1)had no more use for high heels 2) impulse buy 3)didn’t fit and couldn’t return. If you wear socks, you shouldn’t “catch” anything from the previous owner.

  64. jackowick says:

    What is up with the bitterness around here? Starting with comment #1 Allie. ALLIE, HE’S TALKING ABOUT $20 SANDALS AND YOU GO INTO HIM TRYING TO IMPRESS A SOCIAL CIRCLE? WHAT ARE YOU READING???

    Moving on to the article itself: while some people “fail” to see the thrift in wearing things out, there are always specific cases and circumstances that make up the real world, so rules of thumb do not apply to every single case! Most people I know will cite 2 distinct shoes as their main shoe of choice: Converse All Stars and Doc Martens. These shoes seem to wear forever. While one is much more expensive than the other, the versatility of each is a big factor. Black Doc Martens can hide under non-jeans for the casual office, then go to the bar or a sporting event. Chuck Taylors are easy to wash, easy to de-sand at the beach and when they completely break down, you delace and de-eye them to make nice slippers. But while you own them and use them 80% of the time, it’s less wear on your other shoes.

    While some comments also question why saving money on shoes is significant, that’s how you maximize wealth. Not by one-time saving $5K on a car, but the ongoing microtransactions. Buying one less pair of shoes per year is $50-100 to put in the bank. Or pay down a mortgage.

  65. Steven says:

    The Chinese aren’t my enemy…

  66. I love the spirit of this post. I often make purchases with an eye toward how long the item will last until it is beyond being reasonably usable anymore. “Worn out” has different meanings to different people and clearly depends on the item. I’ve been known to wear something till it is falling apart (depending on what it is) and I still wear plenty of things that I’ve owned longer than my children have been alive. Sometimes I marvel at how long a thing has lasted! Sometimes things I buy on the cheap that last longer than things I paid more money for and find that frustrating. I do believe buying with intention to get longest life out of something is a good approach to frugality. We bought our vehicles with this intent in an age where most people seem to believe it’s absolutely necessary to trade in at 5 years. Again, great spirit to this post! Enjoyed it.

  67. Alice says:

    In linguistic defense of Trent, “they’ve went” is a dialect feature where he’s from, not something ungrammatical. Using the past form (went) instead of the perfect (gone) is a fairly common feature among younger speakers of some types of American English (and British English). It has nothing to do with level of education, it’s just a variety that tends to have social stigma attached to it by those who are from other regions (or classes) by accident of birth. Language has varieties, and it changes. Deal.

  68. Anna says:

    My grandmother, a thrifty Scots woman who always knew the value of a dollar, had I saying I still use today.

    “Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.”

    Thanks, grandma!

  69. Deb says:

    If you’re a gardener, you can recycle old shoes in the flower garden. I’ve used ladies’ high heeled shoes or little girls’ patent leather shoes as planters for the succulents “hen & chicks”. They look cute and always get positive comments.

  70. Rachel says:

    Amen! Preach it! I love it when I get such great use out of an outfit or pair of shoes.

  71. tentaculistic says:

    Missus Smartypants (low-cost wardrobe/style/shape instructor and online clothes “shopper”) taught me so much about style, and she always mentions “Cost Per Wear” (CPW), which is just what Trent is talking about here. She recommends being willing to spend extra on everyday basics in a flattering color shape and style. CPW has really been an important lesson to learn – helps me channel my clothes budget towards versatile and high-use clothes rather than “I might wear it” splurges.

    For specific items – as other have said, it is often hard to know which items of clothing will be the “wear until they turn to rags” kind or the “hang in the closet till I donate them” kind (although I have found that certain brands are consistenly well made, others are consistenly crap). I’ve made two changes that have helped me a bit – one is I try not to buy online bargains, instead I try to only shop in person. Two is I have streamlined my wardrobe to only a few colors and a single line of neutrals, tip of the hat to Miss Minimalist for the inspiration. That means that now I don’t need a pair of shoes or a shirt or… in every shade, so the coordinates I do buy can be of higher quality. I have so many fewer shoes now, but the ones I have are comfortable (esp for heels!), stylish, and high quality.

    I do struggle with watches though. I love watches. I really really really love watches. Funky and well-made and awesome, I love them. Fortunately now that I have specific colors in my wardrobe, it helps me channel my watch-lust. But still, it’s a sickness.

  72. Lisa says:

    I’m glad people pointed out the dialect issue with “they’ve went” because I seriously didn’t see anything wrong with it. But I’m from Maryland, not the Midwest. Maybe my grammar skills are lacking =/ Either way, I knew what Trent meant.

  73. SwingCheese says:

    “In linguistic defense of Trent, “they’ve went” is a dialect feature where he’s from”

    No it isn’t. I’m from Iowa, too, and although I grew up in a different area of the state, I lived in the same area as Trent for five years. This is not common, not a dialect feature, and (right or wrong) I associate it with poor grammar and a lack of education. (FWIW, I have the same sort of association with “ain’t”, which is something my husband uses all the time. I *know* that it isn’t necessarily an indication of the person’s overall intelligence or education level, but that is my knee-jerk assumption.)

  74. Ask says:

    A friend is a kind of help. Rain the life on the road, friends can block wind chill for you, for you share sorrow, remove the pain and difficulties, friends will always friendship.
    He is you climb up the escalator when you were injured, is a medicine, is you when a bowl of water of hunger, is when you across the river is the boat; He is money can’t buy orders not to come of, only the truly can track, and the most valuable for the real thing.

  75. Jennifer says:

    DOT,

    Yes, I am aware it’s a free blog and Trent takes the time to try to provide value information. Many times I appreciate what he shares with his readers. However, while he freely admits that he desires to make a full-time career as a writer, I find that he frequently uses poor grammar and/or has typos in his posts. How many times do people have to mention that his weekly inspiration blog has an error in the very first sentence, yet his chooses not to correct it. I just don’t feel he puts much time into proofing what he writes. The errors detract from the message he is trying to convey.

    My only other complaint is his repeated misinformation on the subject of IRAs.

    Again, I enjoy the blog and appreciate Trent’s efforts to help others by sharing his experiences.

  76. Jennifer says:

    DOT,

    Yes, I am aware it’s a free blog and Trent takes the time to try to provide value information. Many times I appreciate what he shares with his readers. However, while he freely admits that he desires to make a full-time career as a writer, I find that he frequently uses poor grammar and/or has typos in his posts. How many times do people have to mention that his weekly inspiration blog has an error in the very first sentence, yet he chooses not to correct it. I just don’t feel he puts much time into proofing what he writes. The errors detract from the message he is trying to convey.

    My only other complaint is his repeated misinformation on the subject of IRAs.

    Again, I enjoy the blog and appreciate Trent’s efforts to help others by sharing his experiences.

  77. lurker carl says:

    #22 Emma – The Ford Escort was first sold in the US in 1981. Even if your uncle bought the first one off the assembly line, it couldn’t have been more than 9 years old at the time of his death. In 1990, a twenty year old Ford would have been mighty big car for anyone to be pushing one tenth of a mile.

  78. maria says:

    Jennifer,
    If Trent wanted his finance blog to be grammatically perfect he could hire a proof reader, editor, assistant etc. Even then it would not be guaranteed to be error free, and would be an additional time and expense. I do not feel the small grammatical errors he makes are unusual or detracts from his message. (Perhaps, he doesn’t think so either since he is ignoring your requests to make changes.. or maybe your demographic is not the audience he is writing for)
    Just because someone chooses a career as an author does not mean they have to be a pendant or subjected to criticism for not perfecting the written word.
    I do believe rapper Flavor Flav is a inspiring published author (The Icon , The Memoir)… Can you imagine being the editor of that book!!

  79. littlepitcher says:

    Re used shoes: sneakers and runners can go in the washing machine. I long for the days when a certain thrift store in another city frequently had 9 West and Jazmin heels in my size, gently used, thanks to a woman who insisted on that totally fresh fashion look. Use some common sense. Desk jockeys can get great mileage out of shoes; my Reebok runners, new blems or gently used, last no more than three years on my active job.
    I drove an $800 car for twelve years. Parked it in a dirt driveway and the floorboards rusted out. The six-banger had no air or options, was ridiculously easy to repair, and I eventually replaced the floorboards with signs from a defunct real estate agency.

  80. Sam says:

    I agree on the “you never know which items of clothing will be the “wear until they turn to rags”
    I had a $10 pair of earth shoes that died last year after about 5 years.
    I did some research over the winter and went out in March/April to buy a pair of good shoes that *should* have lasted 10yrs only ot have the ankle strap where it connects to the sole pop of the day before yesterday! Took them to a old fashioned cobbler near my work to hear back that it’s unfixable! Sigh… I’ll probably try pinging the manufacturer to se if they’ll cover but I’ll surprised in this day & age if they do anything.

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