Shoes… and what they taught me about being Frugal vs. Cheap

If you’re a regular reader here, you know that at the end of each month, we publish our expenses. When we do that at the end of November, you will notice that a total of $158 was spent on shoes this month!

The shoes in this photo served me very well.

The shoes in this photo served me very well.

What’s worse, is that both pairs were for me. I replaced a pair of ASICS Running Shoes and a pair of Converse Sneakers.

To provide a little bit of background, these replacements could definitely be classified as needs. I had owned the Asics runners for almost four years and they had a hole in the toe, one that I could poke my entire finger through. I run occasionally and we go on a lot of long walks, including bushwalks. They definitely got a good amount of use over the last four years.

The Converse I had owned for… wait for it… almost eleven years. That’s right. I bought them when I was 18, and I am now almost 29. They have also served me really well but both soles had cracked and torn at about the halfway point.

Knowing that these two pairs of shoes were on their way out, we searched for replacements during our trip to the USA, hoping to take advantage of lower prices. Unfortunately, mainly due to the exchange rate, we didn’t find any deals.

You can't see it, but I am wearing my cracked Converse sneakers in this photo strolling around New York City.

You can’t see it, but I am wearing my cracked Converse sneakers in this photo strolling around New York City.

We returned to Australia and kept an eye out on sales here. The Asics runners were becoming imperative, as each time I went for a run, the hole got a little bigger. We visited a local DFO, which for non-Australians is a Direct Factory Outlet, providing steep discounts on consumer products. Asics usually retail brand new for $249.95. By buying the “old” style- which basically just means a different colour scheme- you can save significantly.

We found a pair that was reduced to about $105 and, that day the store was running a further 20% off sale, so we ended up purchasing them for $88. They have already taken me on a number of runs and long walks.

My new Asics... they colours are so last season.

My new Asics… the colours are so last season.

The Converse were not as imperative to replace. I don’t use them as much during the summer, and even though the cracks were quite significant, I could still wear them in a pinch.

However, Poopsie was perusing OzBargains one day and came across a Converse sale. My shoes, usually $100, were reduced to $70 and free shipping was provided. Free shipping is quite rare in Australia, so we become uncharacteristically excited when it is offered. $30 off plus free shipping was a great deal, so we purchased the shoes.

The new Converse.

The new Converse.

A couple of days later, I commented to Poopsie that I was going to have to justify spending $158 on shoes on our frugality blog and that it would be a bit embarrassing to have to do so.

Poopsie reminded me that being frugal is not about spending no money. It’s not about walking around with big holes in my shoes because I don’t want to spend money. That, he informed me, was cheap.

Frugality is different for everyone. For us, it is about spending money only on the things we value. I value the activities that I conduct wearing those shoes, and, I also value my pride in not wearing shoes or clothes with holes in them. If I had chosen not to live according to these values, I would have been being cheap.

Now for someone else, having holes in their shoes may not be a big deal. That doesn’t automatically make them cheap. If they don’t value hole-less shoes, then it would be silly for them to spend money on the pursuit of that. Frugality is about spending money on the things you value and only those things.

This was a good reminder for me. Sometimes I get caught up in wanting to save money, that I forget to spend according to my values. As always, I am lucky to have Poopsie by my side to remind me of this.

Have you ever battled between being frugal and cheap? How do you make sure you’re not becoming cheap?

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3 Responses to Shoes… and what they taught me about being Frugal vs. Cheap

  1. Mrs. ETT says:

    I definitely tend more towards the cheap vs. frugal side! How do I balance it? Not sure that I do… Mr. ETT is a good balance for me, and makes me spend (justified) money when I need to.

    Good bargains on the sneakers. I too have had a pair for over a decade (my “good” sneakers, if you can believe I had such a thing). The glue parted, so I have recently taken them to be re-glued, because they are really comfortable and I didn’t want to buy a new pair. It hasn’t been very successful, now I just intermittently use Araldite to glue them back together. I think that is on the cheap spectrum, but there is nothing wrong with them except the flappy soles! Also, I just wear sneakers around, they are definitely not to exercise in.

    Because of the intermittent and unexpected loose soles, I really did need to buy another pair, so it was off to Big W where I got a lucky bargain on another super comfortable set, which turned out to be Michelle Bridges (I had no idea when I tried them on, they just looked nice and felt good).

  2. It sucks when clothes/shoes you love finally wear out, ugh. But good on you for getting good quality replacements – shoes, pillows and bedsheets are places we really should get good quality and it doesn’t cost a ton.

    So there are definitely things that I think are worth spending the money on, not always cheap. Spend as much as needed to get the job done with quality (eg IKEA kitchen utensils will do the job well).


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