Reader Tip Tuesday #3

There is a common misconception that being frugal means being “cheap”, but frugality isn’t just about cutting budgets. We believe that the most important part of leading a cost-effective lifestyle is recognizing the value of your money and what you’re really getting for it. When it comes to our most frequently-used items (like our cookware, our storm windows or our family car) we can usually save more in the long-term by spending a little more at the start.  

Of course, the trick to all of this is knowing when something is worth the extra cash and when it really isn’t. A lot of factors go into this. If you live in a temperate climate or aren’t worried about selling your house soon, you probably don’t need to go for the premium, triple pane window upgrade this year. And if you don’t like to cook, you aren’t really saving much if you spend hundreds on that discounted Le Creuset cookware set at the outlet mall.

Since this is different for everyone, we thought we’d turn this question over to our readers in discussion on’s . We asked: “What is the most you’ve spent on a simple item and it was worth it?” From Cutco knives to Miu Miu boots, the responses were wide-ranging and sometimes a little surprising. Still, most items all had one thing in common—they’ve retained their original function and value for many years.

Here are some of our favorite responses with minor edits!

  • “Oster Kitchen Center – bought it for $25 and still use it for EVERYTHING…” -David E.
  • “…a belt from Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC. I was on a school trip and forgot to pack one. Since it’s been almost 25 years since the trip, I think the purchase was well worth whatever I paid for it.” -Chris H.
  • “Back in the 80s, I bought some lovely heels for about $80. It was the first big purchase I had ever spent on myself. I loved those shoes and wore them for years. I had them worked on at the cobbler’s several times to keep wearing them. I felt it was an extravagant purchase at the time, but I probably wore them for 10 years.” -Kathryn R.
  • “A $600 pair of Miu Miu boots in Las Vegas post-deployment to Iraq and post-divorce. I feel like a rock star every time I wear them. Wildly out of character for me.” -Monica O.
  • “I purchased a high quality inflatable kayak, so I can take it with me in my Jeep, wherever I go. Before I purchased the expensive one, I purchased a very inexpensive model, to see if I would really like it and use it. After using the heck out of it, I upgraded. We wound up purchasing two, a year apart…It’s not expensive if it is something that is high quality that you use often, and in our case, use to enjoy time with your family and friends.” -Barbara R.
  • “I spent about $300 over a year or so buying a full set of Calphalon cookware (always on sale of course!) and a closeout deal of $99 for a block and full set of Cuisinart knives. My teenagers (now men) kept prodding me to upgrade my cooking tools until I relented. As it turned out, I learned to really love cooking and thus became very good at it. We used to go out nearly weekly, but now only do so for special occasions – I cook as well or better than most restaurants. Having the right high quality tools saved us lots of money in the end. We still have twin teenagers at home, so that variable is really not a factor in dining out more often.” -Marie St.
  • “A $50 Harley Davidson Cowboy Hat…Yes.” -Dawn S.

A huge thank you for the readers that shared their ideas! Every Tuesday we’ll post a new question on our .  We look forward to hearing and sharing your tips.

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