Frugality is not about consuming but investing in your life: that often contradicts with cheap.
Frugality is about not buying things you don't need but buying things you can't live without. A frugal person will typically invest in quality because he knows he'll be using the item for years and doesn't want to replace it every few.
I wouldn't consider myself extremely frugal but my favorite shoes I'm wearing today I bought in the year 2000. They feel great, they have never had to been repaired, they resist water enough, the leather is in good condition and actually they didn't cost much (guesstimate in today's currency: 100-150€). But I have this mindset that I don't need new shoes just for the sake of new shoes. That's frugality. I will wear mine for another ten years if only they'll hold together and still look tidy enough to walk into the public. (They look used of course, but still tidy.) If they don't, I'll have to buy a replacement pair.
Frugality is also sometimes buying the cheapest thing. Buying a cheap electric drill is frugal if you only drill a few times a year, which makes the drill last for decades. Buying the best that money can buy would be frugal if you're a carpenter or do renovations every week and need a professional grade durability; however, if you're not doing that you're not frugal but rather just going on the hifi tangent and in reality you want to buy the expensive model because of your ego only.
Frugality also brings focus to—I was going to say consumption but I'll say personal investment instead. It makes sense to buy quality items for what you love: if you love riding a bike then investing in a quality bike is frugal because it saves you and the environment from unneeded consumption and hair-pulling. But you can't love everything either. You can't have the top of the line computer, screen, home theater, coffee grinder, washing machine, mattress, toilet seat, motorcycle, car, bike, camera, video camera, clothes, shoes, accessories and consider yourself frugal. You can have one or two because you simply can't be spending all of your time only grinding coffee, coding, washing laundry, riding a motorbike, and shooting photos.
And yes, being frugal inevitably does make me look like a loser in the eyes of some people. But then what?
Other people's opinions about me are none of my business anyway.
One example: Craftsman Hand Tools. They have a lifetime guarantee, so provided you don't lose them, you're done buying screwdrivers and wrenches for life.
True story. I walked into Sears with a broken socket wrench.
Sears guy: "Wow. What happened to that?"
Me: "Well, I had a bolt that really didn't want to come loose, so I had a six foot cheater bar and I was bouncing my whole weight on it when suddenly it exploded."
Sears guy: "Yeah, that would do it. Let me see what I can do..."
[check in the back]
"Well, we don't have that model in stock, so here's a new one from our Pro line. It's a bit more expensive, but it's probably a bit stronger too. Good luck with that bolt."
I've had that same conversation on 3 different occasions, each with ludicrously mis-used tools broken entirely through my foolishness. All replaced for free with a smile.
Almost everyone in the U.S. has access to an internet connection. If not in their home, in their local library. The median household income in the U.S. is around $50k. Many people earn much less than that, and they still manage to get access to the internet. If you are used to living with above-median income, you should be humble when saying what people earning much less than median can and can't afford.
And that's just considering the U.S., which is easily in the top 10 of median income.
By contrast, yason did not assume anything about the readers ability to afford things and he or she did not put anyone down, except maybe people who buy the best of absolutely everything and still claim to be frugal, and even then, yason only addressed their behavior, not them as people.
There is a right and a wrong way to say things. The original author went with the wrong way.
"You will certainly do great next time!"
Of course, if Sears tanks in a few years, then those tools aren't such a good deal anymore.
My notebook computer is my main tool, without it I couldn't work. So when something happens, it's critical to be able to pick up the phone, dial a toll-free number, and have a new part or computer arriving very quickly by an overnight carrier. Saved my bacon many times.
Me: "My keyboard seems to have acquired this big fist-shaped dent, and now the spacebar doesn't work right."
Dell Onsite Rep: "Let me grab you a new one out of the truck."
I've had that same conversation on 3 different occasions,
each with ludicrously mis-used tools broken entirely
through my foolishness. All replaced for free with a
Good luck getting the same result in Europe ;)
In case I wasn't clear, all the abovementioned conversations happened at Sears department store, the sole distributor of Craftsman hand tools. They have an explicit policy of replacing any broken tool, regardless of how you broke it.
So if you rock up with the snapped-off handle of one of those tiny little flathead screwdrivers (complete with a little clip so that you can keep it in your shirt pocket), and a story about how you were trying to pry off a rusted-on cylinder head using it and a large hammer, they'll replace it.
(as I have personally verified)
And yeah, you're right about the European version of customer service (at least the English variant). Since moving here, I've never once come across a merchant who was familiar with the concept of "the customer is always right". Rather, "It's my shop, so by definition I'm right. And why are there so many customers in here, anyway? I think I'll start closing at 5:30 so I don't have to deal with them."
The one HUGE exception was the French national rail service. They must get great compensation, or have good hiring policies, because everyone I dealt with was spontaneously helpful and didn't mind spending extra time with me, even to the point of extending their work hours.
In Canada, I've lived in Ontario, Alberta and BC. In each province frugal means someone who spends money wisely.
ie buying a Toyota Camry instead of a BMW
There are people who take consumption too far, and there are people who take frugality to the point of miserliness. I don't think it's fair to peg the definition of frugality to either of these extremes.
Furthermore, I take issue with the author's (or anyone's) attempts to stake out objective ground on what does or does not constitute "the right place" to spend money. Everyone lives differently. "The right places" are subjective. If I derive a ton of personal utility and happiness from splurging on something someone else considers worthless, while saving on something someone else considers vital, then that's my prerogative. So long as my overall strategy is sound, and I'm living within or under my means, I'm fine with my choices.
No one really thinks it makes sense to save your time by not spending time on anything at all. You want to be frugal with your time -- you save it in order to splurge on the things that matter and will give you the most benefit/productivity. I think it's the same with money -- cheapness is a mentally lazy way to save money, frugality is a smarter way.
As a side note, I've never understood the obsession with making food purchases your main source of money-saving. The idea of "cheap calories" seems so misguided when you take into account that, down the line, those diabetes and heart disease treatments will be anything but cheap. Not to mention what you lose in productivity with the mental and physical sluggishness that comes from eating crappy, fake food.
I'm all for ramen-profitable, but I'll pass on the ramen. If only "3 year old shoes and grass-fed steak profitable" had a better ring to it.
Though I do like to splurge on food.
You can also get them repaired.
For play, I use a ratio I call the Fun Factor. Essentially, that's the $/hr of fun I get out of something. So if you go see a movie and it is $10, and it is the rare money that is actually fun to watch, then the fun factor is roughly $5.
So then you apply it to other things. Sure, $2,000 is a lot to spend a mountain bike, but divided out by the number of hours I've had on it, I'm way below $5 these days, so I consider it a fair deal.
A smartphone and laptop I love is always worth it in fun factor dollars.
That said, I do take issue on the 'lasting forever' bit, because wow, stuff just isn't made to last forever anymore and nor would you want to. I think it is a clever trick that we play on ourselves, oh, "This will be the last [blank] I ever have to buy", but how often is that really the case?
I can think of a few things I have that qualify, but they are few. I bought a $100 chef knife about a decade ago, still use it daily, still love it. I don't see my Ortlieb messenger bag ever breaking down, so maybe that's another. A few hand tools, but most hand tools last forever regardless of quality.
What are yours, what have you bought that you think you might keep forever?
As to the "lasting forever bit", I don't think it's necessary that things last literally forever; the point is more that making very long term purchases is a worthy goal. 15-20 years maybe. That said, I do try to buy things that literally will last me forever, though the list isn't very long, yet:
I try to buy tools that will last forever, or close to. With things like digital cameras (or any consumer electronics), it's silly to expect anything to last more than 10 years, on the very long end.
But, with power tools, I buy things expecting them to last forever (with routine maintenance and not heavy duty use).
I more or less expect my nice knives to last forever.
I expect most of my furniture to last forever.
I expect my weight set to last forever.
On the other hand the 2000$ bike is perhaps so much nicer that you ride it more often and have more fun doing it. It might last longer as well lowering the fun factor even more.
> With things like digital cameras (or any consumer electronics), it's silly to expect anything to last more than 10 years, on the very long end.
I think that's an unreasonable assumption. I had a Kyocera camera (designed in 1999) but even though I would call myself frugal (some people would call me cheap) and I didn't have much money I basically had to replace it around 2006 because of technology progress and lack of batteries, replacement parts.
How's that for longevity?
Other things I've spent money on (that I'm happy with): heated slate floors for my bathroom - nothing like 85deg toasty floors when you get up in the morning; Benchmade knives; our latex foam mattress. Probably more things I can't think of at the moment.
If a person does any amount of cooking a nice set of knives is one of the best things a person can spend money on. They make preparing meals easier, faster and safer.
One thing that I have spent good money on is sheets. I spend 6-8 hours/day in bed sleeping so why not be as comfortable as possible?
I think frugal people also recognize the importance of good enough. One of the easiest places to see this in action is when buying wine. Going from the $5 bottle of wine to the $10-$20 bottle of wine often yields huge quality increases. When you start going from the $20 to $50 and $100+ the changes are often barely noticeable if at all. Most things that we buy have a similar scale and the key is finding that spot that is good enough for the best price.
In the garage: Any cars you're committed to taking care of. For me, my passion, is Mercedes. I see somebody slse mention Vette's. But there's all the tools I have. Spend a little more and they'll truly last.
High quality hi-fi equipment.
High quality hardwood furniture.
Probably more, but that's what came to mine :)
This is the best knife I've owned, better than much more expensive chef's knives. Sometimes the best things are not the cheapest nor the most expensive.
As a rule I've found things that look cheap but are expensive for how they look are the best. You can buy good looking expensive "design" scissors that are likely to be bad in every other department, or you can buy relatively expensive cheap looking scissors that stay sharp forever.
The one thing that I'm still looking for are quality bicycle lights on batteries.
There's a social cost to making an ass of yourself arguing +/- $0.30 on a loaf of bread, so I don't do it. And--I jest not--I get chided by "frugal" people for not spending a half hour going through my pile of 50+ coupon clippings in front of the register in the express lane, ten people waiting in line behind me be damned.
Nobody in the startup scene here likes a customer that rides them about price no matter the discount, and appears to be fixated solely on price and not on value. Nobody likes the message that sends about the customer's priorities, their character, or the value they attach to the product or service. There is a moral and a psychological valence to the whole thing. It's off-putting, because it says that you don't realise that sometimes there is more to life than cold, rational economic calculus. So why do it to others?
Negotiating big-ticket items like salaries, houses and cars has always been okay in this culture, and there are considerable practical reasons to do it; thousands of dollars are on the line, and the people on the other end of the table have a pricing structure and a sales methodology designed specifically to maximise gains on people reluctant or unable to negotiate. Obviously, I'm not saying you should allow yourself to be screwed for the sake of eschewing confrontation.
However, at the risk of sounding culturally chauvinist, as a Soviet immigrant, one of the things I have always liked about the US and for which I have taken pride in my adopted homeland is the fact that we're above petty bazaar culture here--haggling for the sake of haggling, or being obscenely preoccupied with price. Let's not lose that. Those of us from other cultures that have fewer compunctions about wheel-dealing in petty crap know where that leads, and it's a really detestable trait when not mandated by the necessities of poverty.
Remember what Einstein called "The most powerful force in the universe" -- compound interest.
Small savings, done consistently, can grow into fortunes. Haggling; Couponing; Finding the best cash-back credit offers (and changing regularly to the currently-best credit card), the best APYs, the best coupon codes for websites;
Three general things I listed. In my own personal experience, you can very easily save $1000 a year from each of those 3, so in total, $3000 a year. (In fact, we save that from couponing alone.)
At a fair, 5% APY, when I retire in 40 years, that has grown to nearly $400,000. And if you can approach a historically-avergae 8%... wow: That's now $840,000.
There's no "social cost" to that. There's certainly pressure to conform: Pay the asking price, don't waste the time using coupons to full-effectiveness which often requires doing more than one transaction when you checkout, don't have the audacity to use the best deals possible from every bank you can find. But "cost"? No. There's no cost. Having strangers like you upset at us doesn't cost me a thing.
I've noticed that others with your POV dismiss the potential, they think they have it figured out. That coupons waste hours to save pennies and even then only on things you may not want or need anyway. That there's no way to "win" when you game the banking systems rewards. That haggling just doesn't work unless you're buying a car or a house.
But an additional $840k at retirement should illustrate to anybody that discounts the potential that they're just wrong on this one.
I merely encourage judiciousness about the wisdom and worth-it-ness of bargain-hunting in a given situation, and the recognition that doing it in every situation is not necessarily the best thing ipso facto.
Also, left unsaid is that I am coming from the perspective of someone who started a business from cash, with nothing, in a high-cost area. Having had to tenaciously brute force my way through every step of of the process without the benefit of 5% APY offers or anything of the sort has taught me important lessons in when it's worth it to pursue a discount.
Your comment was hyperbole before I got to it.
You thought I was kidding? I wish I were. I ran into a woman the day before yesterday who was at Publix (www.publix.com) here in Atlanta, asserting that the identical multigrain rye was 30c cheaper at Kroger down the street and she was taking her business elsewhere.
She didn't exactly look indigent, either; I'd take pity upon someone who managed to panhandle $2 but not $2.30. She was in a smart business suit.
It's not the first, second or third time I've seen something this ridiculous lately. I can only conclude it's a trend.
Joke all you want, she's the smart one here. You crowing about her here has no "social cost." And you say that your POV comes from running a business. So does mine. In my case, I contract myself out. I've grown into a very high hourly rate. I have an assistant to help with things so I can add more billable hours.
But what I've learned from running a business is to guard every damn cent that goes out the door. Not spending dollars to save dimes, but spending one dime to save 2.
In truth, last year, using those things I mentioned, I received slightly over $25,000 in extra perks and bonuses. That's not an exaggeration. The bulk of that is 2 free first class tickets to Europe. After that, about $3k in coupon savings, and $2k in cashback on my credit card, and a few hundred dollars in the "open this checking account and get a $100 bonus" type of rewards.
This is in addition to 50-60 hour weeks billing hourly and working from my home office.
Next year I probably won't be able to repeat that: it looks like I'll only be scoring _one_ free first class ticket to CDG. Even still, that's an estimated $16k this year
My experience of wearing out shoes was interesting. I used to buy 'cross trainers' or whatever the 'general use' canvas/plastic tennis shoe was at Big-5 when they went on sale every year. Every year I'd get a new pair of shoes for $10 to $15 and think "Wow look how much I'm saving over buying leather shoes for like $100 - $150." And then someone pointed out that they had leather shoes that they hadn't replaced in 10 years and it occurred to me that maybe I was looking at acquisition cost and not lifetime cost.
I did the math and bought my first pair of Clark's. They lasted 7 years and came out costing roughly $11/year for those 7 years. I replaced them with the same exact model that was on sale for $75. Not only did they look better than tennis shoes, they fit better, and 'wore' better. If I added the time spent shopping, the cost to get the car to/from the Big5 every year, the Clarks were 'cheaper' by being more expensive but of better durability.
So it was still being 'Frugal' but it was being a bit more intelligent about going about calculating the costs. I've long since learned to value my time more reasonably than 'free.'
I find this ode to consumerism quite distasteful. Sure, buy quality items if you can afford them, they'll often be worth the investment - but choosing to be frugal because of difficult financial circumstances is a good thing.
Most people don't need half of what they buy.
As for 'being fugal makes you a loser'; I think if the choice is being seen as a loser by the author of the article, and being broke and / or in debt - I'd definitely choose the former.
I'd possibly understand if this kind of rationalisation came from a government wanting its citizens to spend their way out of recession. Coming from a free thinking individual, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Were he arguing that we should all purchase the newest kitchen gadgets, technical life improvement fads, or whatever, I would agree.
Really? "Buy more expensive stuff, so you'll require a higher salary"? This is ridiculous.
And you overlook the point that "better" == "more functional". Good shoes will walk much farther, in better comfort and health, than bad ones. If you choose bad shoes, everyone who understands this will see that you do not.
Being frugal is not mutually exclusive to living a good quality life.
And no one has claimed that goods of any kind are essential to a "good quality life".
That said, the tone of the article is well, smug and obnoxious, and makes no effort to understand that many people cannot afford the quality goods the author can, or just have different values.
For example, I use to drive sports cars and convertibles, but now I drive cheap econo-boxes. Why? They tend to be more reliable, less expensive per mile to maintain, and I drive too damn much and drive them into the ground. (And I have a poor resales strategy -- I don't get rid of the cars fast enough.) I sure do miss my convertibles. Really miss them too at this time of year. But they just had accelerated decrepitude in my hands.
A study done years ago found that the reason poor people stay poor is because they always buy the cheapest option so any money they save up ends up getting used right away to replace something. A never ending cycle of buy cheap/replace broken cheap stuff.
>For example, I use to drive sports cars and convertibles, but now I drive cheap econo-boxes. Why? They tend to be more reliable, less expensive per mile to maintain,
The point of buying quality is that it is cheaper to use and maintain. I think you're doing an apple/orange comparison here. Your sports cars were probably on the low end (and the quality end is probably just not attainable by working class people) while your "cheap econo-boxes" are probably higher on the quality scale for their class. You weren't being cheap here.
I know plenty of people who do go cheap with cars: they buy old used cars so they can do the repairs themselves. And every weekend that's exactly what they're doing: repairs. If they ever stopped and counted up their costs in time, parts and eventually replacing with another clunker they could probably lease a BMW cheaper.
A few hours of research and a $100 inspection prior to purchase will ensure you good odds of buying a reliable vehicle. There are no guarantees, but you can get pretty damn close. If you aren't comfortable with your own judgment, I'm sure you know someone who can advise you.
If you do choose to buy new (or relatively new), an 8-10 year ownership should be your goal. It usually takes that long to get real value for your money.
Considering that a new car loses a huge chunk of its "value" the second you drive it out of the car dealer's, if you're buying new the only sensible strategy is to drive it nearly into the ground. If you have to pay a wrecker to take it away, I agree, you may have taken it too far. But unless there are obscure tax reasons, I can't see any benefit to flipping cars regularly.
I once read about a strategy that made a great deal of sense to me, and that was to buy a 2-3 year old used car from a new car dealer, and sell it after 2-3 years to a private party.
There were all sorts of good reasons for that, some of which may no longer be valid, but some of the reasons were that a 2-3 year old car still had a lot of value but was at the end of it's steep price depreciation curve, and that the new car dealer didn't actually know how much the car was worth, they just knew that every day it sat there was another day of insurance they had to pay for, and sort of more proof to them that the car was not worth much. Also, by buying from a new car dealer, the car was probably in pretty good shape, the worse cars they had gotten rid of, the rest they had fixed up and cleaned up at rates that you or I couldn't get.
Because of that, with good negotiation, you could, in a sense, capture much of the profit the dealer had just made by giving the former owner of the used car a terribly low resale price followed by selling them a high priced new car.
They just made 20,000 by cheating the former owner on both ends of his deal. They don't know how much the used car is worth, but they are scared of it sitting there, and if you know how to price it, value it, and negotiate for it, you can get them to go very low on the price just so they can move it off the lot. You could in fact buy it for far below market rate. That was the theory then. And my own used car purchases showed that to be reasonable.
The claim was that by buying so cheaply a good used car from a dealer, you could sell it in 2-3 years to a private party at a good market rate, but probably very close to what you had paid for the used car 2-3 years earlier.
So... This strategy has actually worked out very well for me. And kept me in some very fun, relatively high end convertibles, starting with a Saab Turbo 900. Buying used cars from new car dealers seems to be a winning strategy.
But you have to remember to flip them. And that's been hard for me to do, in part because like an idiot, I drive too many miles to work, and have no time for selling cars to private parties. But if you're going to put a lot of miles on cars, I think you do need to either flip them or drive them to death, which is one reason I recently bought a low end econobox.
This statement confuses me. When I talk to car dealers, I notice that they always refer to the NADA guide to determine the worth -- even if you think that the blue book is too high, the sales guy certainly knows exactly what the car is worth, and would rather lose the sale than drop significantly below that price. I conclude that insurance and lot space must not be major costs per car.
The thing is, it's really hard to quantify how much that extra safety is actually worth in terms of reduced risk of injury or death for a typical driver. If a QALY is worth, let's say $200K to me, then how many QALYs am I theoretically saving by trading in a 10 year old car for a new one? I would love to see a web application for this.
The way I see it there is a price/value curve where it's worth buying things at both ends.
At the high end you're paying a premium but you're getting a well designed and constructed item, which should last you a long time.
At the low end you're buying cheap crap but you're paying peanuts. You know there's no high end features, that it's not well made and if it breaks you just throw it out.
But in the middle you're paying more than the cheap stuff but you're mostly still getting crap, although here's it's likely to be 'branded' crap. Same thing as the cheap stuff, just more expensive.
So buy at both ends of the scale, not in the middle: buy cheap and get what value you can out of it, buy expensive and appreciate its value for a long time.
I think the top end usually has a huge 'you must be rich' price premium that doesn't usually make sense unless you use this tool all the time.
(Of course, we're both falling in to the trap of evaluating a product based on it's price positioning, which, I think, is quite often a mistake. The evaluation should be based on what you are paying for what you are getting, not based on where in the price curve your particular tool lies, I think.)
I mean, sometimes you need the quality part to do the job, and sometimes maintaining quality tools can even be a pleasurable experience, but recognize that there is a cost to owning stuff you can't just walk away from.
The jeans I'm wearing right now are the costco store brand; I bought a bunch during the first .com boom for $12 a pair and used them for quite some time.
My experience has been that more expensive jeans are usually made of thinner, weaker material. I bought a bunch of fairly nice calvin klein brand jeans which cost 3x as much as these jeans and they all suffered catastrophic failures within the first year or so of use. (nearly all of them, I'd go to lift something fairly heavy, I'd hear a tearing noise and feel a draft. Irritating, as I'd have to interrupt the work day to change pants. The costco brand jeans? when they fail it's usually that the knees or the seat would wear through.)
I'm just saying, expense does not correlate very well with durability. Have you ever owned a 10 year old BMW? I can tell you from experience that a 10 year old toyota is going to be more reliable.
I'm sure you can find many counterexamples; I mean, certainly a nice pair of vibram-soled leather boots is going to last longer than any athletic shoe; probably longer enough to make them cheaper over the long-term. Hell, if you want to look "professional" there are specialized work-slacks and button-down shirts made by companies like Dickies that are very durable but also fairly expensive.
But my point is that more expensive is usually not a very good heuristic for more durable, especially when dealing with fashion items.
I generally disagree with the post. I think fountain pens and fancy notebooks are are a waste of time, though I've been through phases with both. For me - cheap pencils, cheap graph-paper, cheap folders, and a system to keep order.
There are often ways to be smart that don't involve spending money. There's an idea of people who have more money than sense who go with an expensive option because they're hoping that this increases their chance of getting the thing they will want/need.
I have a digital watch. It has a lap timer in it, and shows the full date, cost less than USD100 and far more reliable than the swiss watch I have.
But there is some truth in the article - if you're just frugal all the time out of principle it sends bad signals.
I also find strange the stigma attached to being a "loser".
I try to live my life in the most minimalistic fashion (see my apartment), and am constantly looking to throw away things that add no value to my experiences. I strive to keep my desktop and mailbox empty. But by no means does that make me cheap: I pay for music, video streaming services. I buy premium items and food, because I know that improving my quality of life is the purpose of having money in the first place.
The cliche but somewhat true statement is: what good is all the money in my bank account going to do me when or if I'm not around to spend them. I'd rather live a good life now than the possibility of a better one in the future.
>Also, a downside of 'nice stuff' is you have to lug it everywhere.
What on earth are you talking about? If you buy a cheap generic $200 17" laptop you'll have to lug it around just as much as a nice MBP. The difference is; you'll have to replace the cheapy about 10 times in the lifetime of my MBP.
I can throw out or resell a 400$ laptop with some ease; not so easy with a more expensive model. (My current laptop is a MBP that I got from work)
I can't invest too much on a bed as I can't lug it around with my bedouin lifestyle. I can imagine that is the case for quite a few people.
It's great that you have stability of location but that isn't true for us all.
I disagree here. If you pay $400 for it what is your resale value after a year? I wouldn't even pay $50 for a year old $400 laptop since it's nearing end of life. A good MBP, however could be sold three years later for half value or a little less. This is not a bad option for people who want the quality but can't afford a new one (and unless something big changes in the line it's not always so compelling to get the newest model anyway).
>I can't invest too much on a bed as I can't lug it around with my bedouin lifestyle.
>I can imagine that is the case for quite a few people.
I can't imagine this being a very high % of people.
>It's great that you have stability of location but that isn't true for us all.
For me the key is to be sensible with money. If you're getting the cheapest thing because you've actually thought it out and it doesn't make sense to go for the long term (e.g. because there wont be one) then fair enough. Most of the people I know who go cheap do it because they're too intellectually lazy to work out that they're actually spending more in the long term (and conversations confirm this, I'm not being cynical).
It's hard to find a buyer for an expensive laptop. Furthermore, you can find people who buy Pentium 4 laptops for more than 50$ if the battery is working properly. Point being, a one-year old 400$ laptop selling for 200-300$ is not utterly unheard of, especially if you have kept good care of it. I understand that it may be different in other parts of the world. The additional liquidity of a cheaper asset shouldn't be underestimated.
I do think that we "computer people" are far more mobile than someone in more traditional fields; it's part and parcel of online / startup life. I used to shuttle between Montreal, Tokyo and Singapore all the time, and for a time I expected I would wind up in Singapore. Instead, I ended up in Tokyo. Who could have known? Thank God I didn't drop 2gs on a bed. (I wound up buying one on Craigslist for about $450)
I do agree with you for the most part about the disgusting low quality crap that people buy to save a dollar. However, I do feel the need to express why some people may come to different value propositions.
Not to mention selling stuff is a pain in the ass. I'm a programmer, not a professional craigslist haggler. Buying things "because I can sell them later" has always burned me in the end.
Sweet ad hominem attack, bro.
> The difference is; you'll have to replace the cheapy about 10 times in the lifetime of my MBP.
And when that sweet MBP gets stolen or you spill tea all over it rendering it useless, you have to spend a ton more to get it back/working again.
People keep saying "I never have to think about it again!!!" but the opposite happens: you turn into a little gollum thinking about and protecting your stuff whenever it's in danger. Again, I'm not advocating one or the other, just be aware that expensive stuff has downsides and making fun of people who choose not to have that is a shitty move.
My username on reddit is the same also. 2+ Years or so and no comments.
Reading this article made me feel like I was shopping in the discount aisle of the pop-psych megalo-mart. This article is cheap shoes. It is poorly written, contains numerous abuses of the English language, and aims low at an obvious insight; the comments have been an order of magnitude more insightful. The author utterly misunderstands the meaning of the main thing he impugns: Frugality. Sorry, but this is a cheap knife with a flimsy blade.
Maybe I should write some call-out in overly emotional language about how you, Hacker News reader, should do ergonomics better. Probably I should just write it in earnest, but then it probably won't be interesting enough to capture the wisdom of the mob.
I'm not sure if the author of this piece even realized his own thesis, which was basically "spend money on ergonomics" and instead he linked it together under the guise of being frugal, where frugality is a great attribute that is in reality divorced from the logic of this article.
I love this metaphor. Your comment perfectly summarized my feelings about the submission.
For shoes buy some trekking shoes with goretex membrane. You'll never have wet feet in your life again. My Garmont's served me well for last 8 ears. I just had to do minor adjustment year ago because soles have rubbed off not evenly. And I am yet to find shoelaces that don't break. I think about the ones made of kevlar. Before that I was buying sneakers and leather shoes that fell apart after 0.5-1 year and had to watch out for every puddle.
For your torso buy something from Polartec, as thick as you can find. And something thin, light breathable, waterproof and windstopping to wear it when it rains. Again you'll not get wet from the rain and dry up as fast as if you were wearing only t-shirt.
Always spend money on things that make you life easier or the things you have to do more comfortable. But when you don't have idea how good are the things you consider buying are always pick cheaper ones. High price never guarantees quality. It's often even strong indicator that seller is dishonest.
Oh. And don't make stuff up and don't buy things that will require from you doing additional things.
I also almost never bring damaged things to the store to have them replaced. It's easier to toss it away and buy something else. Much less unpleasant social interaction.
I personally went with the Tempurpedic Cloud memory foam. Very soft, but supportive. I'm tall (and therefore heavy), so I appreciate the lack of pressure points memory foam has going for it. The most importing thing, though, is to bargain them down to at least 40% off the original sticker price.
Goretex membrane shoes can be quite hot; often the non goretex versions of the same shoes are quite water resistant anyways, I never had a problem with my non-goretex hiking shoes until I wore them so much several holes appeared.
Just count the number of hours you use an item in a week. Anything you use for a large part of the week should be of high quality.
Bed, office chair, desk, computer screen, computer, cooking utensils if you cook a lot, phone - in my case.
My car is 10 years old and doesn't have an a/c but I use it irregularly for Kiteboarding purposes and don't care.
In essence, it's much harder to bear a small pain for a long time than it is to bear a big pain for a small amount of time. And the mental stress from the smaller and longer pain is much much more IMHO.
Why does anyone spend their time coming up with rules for what other people should do in situations that are inherently based on personal values?
This rule works for me and since it's not actually straight forward to figure out, I thought it would help others.
Though that's now that I consider being Frugal. Being frugal is not only being practical with my money (buying what I need and knowing what I won't use). I had a strong desire of buying an iPad, but really I know I won't use it. It also involves making sure I take care of my things, I check my tires and oil on my car regularly. Doing the little things to keep your stuff going and not spending frivolously is being frugal.
I'm not talking haute couture, mind - but everyday people. Didn't get a new car? Weird. Still wearing your old shoes? Weird.
I seriously expect this trend to continue, Idiocracy-style, until utterly stupid is fashionable, like back in high school. Diesel has made a strong start.
Buying the right thing can be less expensive in the long run than buying the cheapest.
It seems people who are frugal/cheap fall in to a few categories:
* Little income and need to maximize runway
The best way to maximize your runway in this case is to reduce monthly/repeated expenditures, especially food and housing. Being frugal here is not only logical, it's a must.
* Saving for the long-term
Although you will net a bit of money this way over the really long-term, it's far more efficient and gratifying to figure out a way to disconnect your income from the the amount of time that you put in to making that income (e.g. making a smart investment with a high rate of return) in order to maximize your savings. Most people simply do not spend enough to see large savings through being frugal, at least not enough to significantly change their economic standing.
* Gaming factor
Some people just like the gratification of having gamed the system, which is understandable.
* Mental cobwebs
It's often the case that people who grow up poor are far more price conscious despite their current economic standing.
$50 bunch-of-choices, made in China
$150 Boss/Diesel/etc, made in China
$225 Mephisto, made in France
$325 Ferragamo, made in Italy.
There is one obvious "wrong" choice here, yet it's the one that many people end up with when they think they're going to "buy something nice".
I have no way to measure if the dressing up has ever made a difference in a deal or presentation. Or that the extra confidence has ever been the tipping point. All I know is that the engineers who go on and on about how they're sticking it to The Man by doing their demos in jeans and sneakers stand there looking like just another barely socially adapted dude from the lab, while those who dress to look the part are the ones that people come to afterwards and remember.
Appearance matters. Not understanding this, or trying to be a rebel by breaking rules you don't fully understand, makes you a hacker who is only capable of hacking code (or circuits or whatever); and incapable of understanding and 'hacking' social customs and psychology.
(PS It may be different in the US, around these parts Mephisto is a brand for old people with bad feet; good shoes but not something you'd wear as a (even slightly) fashion-conscious professional. Is Mephisto 'fancy' in the US?).
No arguments here on appearance.
Situations to use it:
* Treat myself to a $10 lunch instead of a $5 one once a week
* Just pay for parking instead of driving around of 10 minutes looking for a free park.
* Catch a Taxi instead of walking or waiting for a bus
* Want a coke and the nearest store charges $4/can? just pay it rather than spending 10 minutes looking for a more reasonable price.
* See a cheap toy or a book that looks interesting. Just buy it.
Depending on how rich you are it could be more or less than $25/week. Somewhere between 0.1% and 1% of your income perhaps.
Maybe it's because I don't take the same snotty attitude toward the "mediocrity" of consumer purchases. Maybe it's because I recognize that the "draining" and "grating" experience of using "piece of shit" stuff is, in many cases, entirely relative. My car is less a draining piece of shit than a $15,000 car and more a draining piece of shit than a $30,000 car. My television is less a piece of shit than a $1000 television and more a piece of shit than a $2000 television.
There's no magical way to get beyond "piece of shit" when there's always a better, more expensive item available. The shirts I buy are not as nice as the $200 shirts I'd buy if I were not paying careful attention to my spending. I tried to buy a sport coat a few months ago. I'm not really comfortable buying fancy clothes, so I just wandered around randomly for a week before giving up, but what do you know, the perfect jacket I found (not in my size, but perfect fabric) at Armani Exchange cost $2000 marked way down. Apparently I will not be buying a sport coat that makes me feel "quality" and "worth it." My favorite restaurants in town easily run into triple digits for two people or even for one -- I go occasionally and watch what I spend, and on rare occasions I have whatever I want. I don't feel like I'm eating shit and reinforcing the mentality that I'm a cheap piece of crap when I spend $15 on a meal, even if I usually would prefer the $50 meal.
There's no way I can escape those compromises. There's a hell of a lot of better stuff I would buy if I made twice the money I make now. There's no way I can escape consciousness of that better stuff, and there's no way I can escape the fact that there are plenty of people in town who don't have to make the same compromises I do. There's no way I can escape the fact that the fabrics I wear do not feel as nice as the fabrics they wear. There's no escaping the fact that I chose my apartment as a trade-off between niceness and location. I have a crappy apartment in a perfect location; most of my coworkers have beautiful, new houses in distant, desolate suburbs; and a few blocks away from me there are beautiful high-rise condos that are nicer than my coworkers' houses and more centrally located than my crappy apartment. I could afford one of those condos if I stopped contributing to my 401k and stopped saving for a down payment on a house.
Does my choice of apartment make me frugal? I pay more for a central location, which is what I want, so maybe I am following his advice. On the other hand, I pay less by accepting a crappier apartment, so maybe I am not following his advice. Actually, now that I think about it, I cannot be following his advice, because my apartment does not fill me with gratification and self-esteem. Even when I make the right decisions for myself, I never think "Damn, this is great, I am so totally worth this." Instead, I think, "This isn't the best or the worst, but it's the best trade-off for me. Some people who make the same money as me will spend more and have something better, and others will spend less and have something not as good."
I really don't feel bad about it until I run into people like this who ram it down my throat that not having the stuff I really want is supposed to make me feel cheap and unworthy compared to the people who can afford it.
And finally, not that anybody gives a shit anymore, it's just morally wrong to equate possession of higher quality stuff with a higher level of worthiness. If you indulge in the gratifying thought that your nice stuff reflects your superior worthiness, that generalizes to the perception that people with higher quality stuff are higher quality people. It's an inescapable mentality, you can't not think that way, but shouldn't we be working to moderate that prejudice instead of intentionally aggravating it?
I don't see how that's a healthy attitude. I'm probably on an extreme end of the spectrum as I'm pretty minimalistic and don't have many possessions but those I do have are typically of higher quality. I don't buy those things because they make me feel like a better person, that I'm worthy of the higher quality things, or that I deserve them but rather because they generally don't cause me pain. Isn't that why we here on HN try to build high quality software? To solve and cure some kind of pain? I appreciate when a product does that so I'm willing to pay for it.
Qualifying your worth based on what you choose to purchase is short-sighted, physical goods no matter their quality deteriorate in usefulness and lustre with time. Experience, knowledge, and human relationships are enduring. Therefore I reject any notion that a person's worth is valued by the quantity and quality of their possessions.
Where the author and I differ is that I don't always believe "spending more" is the key. More appropriately, spend where it matters. As a corollary, don't spend where it matters as well.
"1. Chasing more and more money is not a route to happiness. You shouldn't try specifically to acquire more money in the hopes that it will make you happy but rather, once you have money, think carefully about how you can use it to increase your happiness.
2. Using money to buy the wrong things (often: things which are popular, things which other people desire, things which require much manual upkeep or worry - see #3) does not result in happiness.
3. People often use money to buy things which they then spend time worrying about, rather than purchasing things which allow them to worry less."
The main argument is that it's not a good idea to be frugal just for the sake of being frugal - both extremes of materialism and the opposite are an unhealthy relationship with money or possessions. Buying better things isn't because "you're worth it", but because in some areas it will genuinely make your life a better experience. It's about evaluating all the circumstances and making the best decision rather than applying one credo constantly and repeatedly.
The key thing is, if you care about the experience you give yourself, it will be easier for you to give the same level of experience to others -- and they more likely than not will appreciate it.
If getting what I want makes me worthy, what does it mean when I want something I can never have?
If getting what I want makes me worthy, what does it mean when others have more than me?
If getting what I want makes me worthy, what does it mean when others have less than me?
If you could isolate the positive, useful aspect -- "I got what I want, and therefore I'm a worthy person" -- then there would be nothing wrong with it. It's good and useful to believe you're a worthy person. Unfortunately, your brain has a certain capacity for logic (even if you're not an engineer or programmer type of person :-P) and you can't prevent it proceeding from that benign intention to its ugly logical reflection. It's logically a zero-sum game, and some of the logically "neutral" effects (assuming a rich person is more worthy than a poor person could be seen as logically neutral) are not really neutral because they are unjust.
There's even the spite angle - I buy a crappy screwdriver, it breaks, I swear at it, I feel better. That's a payoff too. So its complicated.
> So what if they’re $100. Unless you’re some sort of foot messenger, you only need to buy one pair a year.
Or buy $30 shoes that last 2 years and are subjectively just as comfortable. Maybe if you're a foot messenger you need better shoes (or go shoeless), maybe if you have bad feet or a bad back you need expensive shoes with Dr. Shoels. Another example?
> Buy scented candle or some potpourri and a stack of washcloths for your bathroom counter. It smells awesome and you feel great when you grab a fresh towel to wash your face every day.
I hate that crap. My point is that people have different utility functions.
I think what he was saying was more like: if the difference in costs is smaller than the appreciated gaining in life comfort, then do it, spend the money in the expensive one.
The point being, don't be cheap if not being cheap can make your life better.
The "loser" word choice, as someone pointed out below, was a double entendre, meant to mean, first, that you're losing in the long run when you make bad/cheap purchases, and second, that I think there is a psychological effect of surrounding yourself with low quality stuff.
Second, I'm really not talking about expensive v. cheap. Most of the stuff I'm talking about, like nail clippers, might be 2-3 times the price of the cheapest you could find, but still well under $10. And, the quality is so much better it makes life easier/more enjoyable.
And, of course there's a way to get beyond "piece of shit" when there's better or more expensive available. There are nail clippers on amazon right now for like $80. That's absurd. And, you can get fantastic meals for $15, or terrible meals for $80. I think that's kind of missing the point. We're talking about quality here, which isn't always synonymous with price.
As to the psychological effect: I don't think anyone literally thinks "damn, I'm worth this" (maybe occasionally as a rationalization?) or "damn, I'm not worth it". But, I really do think that there is some psychological effect of surrounding yourself with cheap, shitty quality stuff that never quite works right. Whether that's morally wrong or not, I think people do this to themselves (I've got no studies to back this one up, btw, just what I've observed). I also think there's a psychological upside to surrounding yourself with well-made and well-designed stuff. If nothing more, it frees up some neurons from getting angry at shit that doesn't work well, but even more so, for me at least, it helps creativity.
Small stuff adds up dude.
If you're living on $300/mo in America, or somewhere with a similar cost of living (it sounds like the OP is), realize that (statistically speaking) the majority of the author's audience doesn't share your financial situation.
If you're living somewhere with a considerably lower cost of living, adjust the price of "better than bargain-bin" nail clippers for your locale, then reconsider the point the author is making.
Also, don't use nail clippers if the example doesn't fit your situation. I use nail clippers every week or two, so it's a good example for me. For you? Buy the paper plates that don't get soggy, and aren't so flimsy that you need two hands to keep your food from spilling. Or invest in a nice set of real plates once that you can use forever, instead of buying paper plates every couple of weeks.
Generalize. Don't reject the OP's point just because one specific example doesn't fit your lifestyle.
My verdict: the author lives in a bubble that he has created and paid for. However, that bubble is also his prison; it suppresses his ability to make sudden changes in life.
I am fairly ok with sleeping on the street, since I've done it a number of times, so when it comes to making a mildly life-changing decision I'll be more confident about taking a risk.
Look, I like sitting here in a nice couch, typing on a Macbook about how hardcore I am, just as much as everyone else does. But ultimately, a nice couch is just that -- a nice couch, and a candle in the bathroom is just a fucking candle. And in a hundred years, no one will care if you had a nice couch or a candle in your bathroom, but they will if you wrote a book or created something beautiful.
It's a little unfortunate that viridiandesign.org is basically unreadable due to that terrible background image.
Pleasure from amassing wealth or things is misplaced. It's a dangerous addiction to nothing. Work on that before you lecture the frugal about being cheap.
Says you. A holier than thou attitude about how awful all this 'materialism' and 'attachment to the physical world' is, is also misplaced.
Beds. Yes, you spend 1/3 your life in bed. And you spend it unconscious. You spend about 0.03% of your conscious life in bed while falling asleep (30 mins a day).
But more importantly: Relax. Just because you make a certain decision doesn't mean everyone else needs to.
They often are more comfortable, it all depends on what you're doing. You wouldn't go on a long walk in those flip-flops, but if you did, you'd hope you'd have better shoes than $15 runners (seriously, huge difference).
But it's not just about comfort - it's about perception: how others perceive you, and how you perceive yourself. It's about hacking how others see you, and more importantly knowing yourself well enough to hack around your own behavior with your environment and possessions.
For example: cute girl over there, you want to go talk to her. What do you think will give you more confidence, you in a ratty but comfy t-shirt and shorts, or you dressed to the nines and knowing you look good enough to eat?
Another example: that work laptop you use every single day. They both compile code just as well as one another, but one is plasticky and flimsy, and the keyboard creaks annoyingly when you press a key a little too hard. The other is rock solid and feels like Zeus himself cast it out of Mt. Olympus. Which increases your productivity and general satisfaction while working?
> "Beds. Yes, you spend 1/3 your life in bed. And you spend it unconscious. You spend about 0.03% of your conscious life in bed while falling asleep (30 mins a day)."
Yes, but how rested you feel when you regain consciousness is very much related to the quality of your mattress. If we take your logic to its natural conclusion, we'd all just sleep on cardboard.
For me the difference between good shoes and bad shoes is desperately wanting to sit down after a an hour on my feet and being able to walk for 8-10 hours without really feeling it. And while far from all expensive shoes are comfortable, I've yet to find a pair of comfortable shoes for less than $120, and my $350+ hiking boots are pure magic and somehow make even the hardest hike under the heaviest of loads so much easier.
As for beds, you're not unconscious while you're sleeping, you're sleeping, and not all sleep is equal. Sleeping in a comfortable bed means I wake up far more refreshed and with far less stiffness and muscle pain, than sleeping exactly the same amount of time in an uncomfortable bed.
There is a close correlation, but only if you buy genuine leather shoes. Good leather gets into shape while you wear it. If the leather is really tough, it takes a while, but afterwards these shoes will fit as if they were made for you. There is nothing that can be as comfortable, IMHO. The feet are always dry, warm and comfortable.
The price is high, of course. Good leather costs a fortune (you want the one without chemicals in them). Repairing these shoes is expensive too. Find the right person who does it well, find the right brands, so you don't buy expensive fake, etc. pp.
I own many hand made pairs, none of them less then 400 Euros worth (some more). This is not frugal, this is luxury. But I have 20 year old pairs that still look great and can easily be worn to the opera or a concert (if that's your kind of occupation). Calculating the price per year is also pretty good value for money.
But I would never dispute that flip flops are cheaper ;o). If you loose them, if they are damaged, no problem. Investment is also always a commitment.
The answer is: no!
I feel good, because I want to wear nice shoes (sometimes, for reasons I have to discuss with Mr. Freud sometimes) and what makes me feel good is that I can fulfill my wish. Definitely not the fact that some of my shows are expensive.
I actually wear leather flip-flops. They are quite painful to break in, but ultimately curve exactly like my foot and have a wonderful feel.
Part of our opinions are also cultural. I live by the beach in California and wearing flip-flops can actually be stylish.
Thanks for the informative reply.
Neither did I, until I got plantar fasciitis from wearing cheap shoes, and couldn't stand or walk for more than 10 minutes without pain. Cheap shoes tend to skimp on the parts that provide support and impact resistance.
If nothing else, good shoes are worth the money they save you on podiatry.
But if you don't care about the future, then sure; it's your life. But maybe you just never thought about this.
Edit: changed some 'will' into 'might'; some people just are unbreakable. Most of us are not though although we think so when nothing ever happened so far.
Edit: another good example is an office chair or standing table; just SPEND the money on really good desks and chairs; it's just plain stupid not to.
Flip flops don't provide a lot of ankle support, and for some people that can be an issue. I walk between 5-7 miles a day, and while I find flip flops comfortable for lounging around, I wouldn't want to walk any serious distance in them.
I've found that certain shoes are much more comfortable than others, and they tend to not be on the cheap end of things (not the most expensive either). Because of how much I walk, I'd go through several shoes a year, and now I'm switching to only buying shoes that can be resoled. It will save me a lot of money in the long term.
If a less comfortable bed makes it take longer to fall asleep, then that figure just got bigger and there's an extra cost in time every single day.
If a less comfortable bed means you sleep worse, then again there's an extra cost in happiness and productivity every single day.
Now, whether spending more on your bed always makes it more comfortable, and whether that makes you sleep sooner and better, is a separate question. Got any evidence that bears on it?
My point is that not thinking about decisions "makes you a loser", and equating price with quality is often a mistake.
Again, I'm just throwing this in because I think it's best to think flexibly. I also often argue that it makes perfect sense to splurge on a $60 massage or a $75 per person meal every now and then because memorable experiences are surprisingly valuable and more permanent (in one's mind) than they might appear to the impulsively thrifty consumer.
Though you can sidestep the chair issue: Just get a standing desk.
You can skimp on the things you merely want, and still be happy.
Think of all the things you really need, the things you would be really miserable without. These are the ones you should splurge on. I mean, really, spend 2x as much as you think the average person would spend on them. Totally own it. Then you will always feel like your life is good. Because you don't sweat the small stuff :)
I didn't grow up with a lot of money, and was raised on the 'If it's available Wal-Mart, buy it at Wal-Mart' mentality.
Looking back on this, I wasted so much money on crap that just got replaced.
Now, I spare no expense (within reason....) to buy the nicest of what I want. End result? I'm more picky about what I buy, so I have fewer, but nicer things. and I am rarely left thinking "Well I wish my X could do Y".
I don't disagree with his suggestion that the primary tools you use in life and your trade should be high-quality. He's right about that specific statement. If I must eat a Ramen-equivalent to buy the tools I need, I will. However, most of us cannot afford his tastes in every area of life after paying for crappy health insurance, a mortgage, and children. He reads like a child who has never been forced to live on less and to value the tools we have.
Most normal people are aware that every purchasing decision we make involves trade-offs. We perform a cost-benefit analysis with many purchases. We think, if I cut back on buying fancy coffee over the course of a year, I will save up enough to afford a better laptop or a lower health insurance deductible.
The author has issues that need to be addressed. The whole article reads like someone rationalizing bad choices on luxury-branded products and criticizing in advance anyone who may one day point them out.
And value your time. If you don't, no one else will.
However, I'm changing. More into the direction that the author proposes. This year, I got a Mac. It was almost forced on me by a friend. I always liked Apple products but thought the price/value was just not good enough for a poor student. I think I was wrong. I never want to go back. I would probably clean toilets to afford a Mac if I have to.
The author touches an important point, especially for aspring entrepreneurs, when he says:
"Using well designed stuff reinforces the mindset of earning and creating. “Man, the world needs more well designed and well made stuff like this.” “Man, I’m going to earn more so I can have more well designed and well made stuff like this.”"
I couldn't agree more. How can you get costumers to buy quality from you if you don't choose quality over price in your daily life? Its hard to build something, that you have no experience with.
One advantage of buying cheap, though, is that its easier to get rid of them later. Hence, you might feel more freedom and flexibility. However, I'm starting to pay attention to aspects like weight and robustness so I don't have to leave them behind when I leave. What I really want to get rid of the next time I move is all the cheap stuff. On the other hand, having lots of cheap stuff is a good reservoir for hacks!
I also agree with the author on "The mental aspect [being cheap] is huge."
I'm trying to get rid of this problem, too. In the last month I've bought two free Apps  on online stores. I just felt they were worth the money. Later, when I learned this was actually true, I checked for the license and was pleased to see they where under GPL and Apache 2.0
 touch.txt for Android ($2) and Brisk ($15) for the Mac
The idea being, or rather my interpretation of it is: something of high quality that's 2x the price of something else of low quality is probably wroth 10x more, so it's actually "cheap" in the sense that you get a lot more than what you pay for.
To clarify hasenj's point about the more expensive thing being "worth 10x more", imagine that an expensive couch will last you 10 times longer than the cheap one (in addition to being more comfortable), but it will cost you twice as much. If owning a couch is an essential part of your desired lifestyle, then buying the more expensive couch is just the logical choice.
Of course, the real question is whether or not you really need couch? This is obviously a matter personal preference, but your present decision-making should incorporate your future preferences as well. There is often a lot of uncertainty in gauging your future level of need/want for a given product, which makes this a tricky game.
It's not a mistake to spend a little extra for something you need. This idiom is designed as a counter-argument to people who buy cheap stuff and boast about how they "saved" money by buying cheap crap that doesn't work well and causes you headaches.
> You’re such a dick, Scott.
The first one is fine and bang on the money, but are people actually getting their sense of self worth from the quality of their nail clippers or having pot pourri in the bathroom? Seriously?
If that's really the case then I'd suggest that people look at the underlying issue of why this is rather than papering over the cracks by buying nice stuff. The idea that your self worth comes down to your stuff is horrible and should only be true in the world of advertising and marketing.
I should change my nickname to "socialist_commentary" or something. Why not argue about why you need all these things and what you're doing by supporting particular companies (some of which may treat their workers like shit)? You're smart enough to talk about the price of the product, but not smart enough to talk about the companies and our consumerist culture in general? I don't buy that.
For eg: a person making $1 million a year, could buy a $40K car and feel like he was not compromising if all his friends had $30K cars.
However, a guy who is making a similar amount of money might not be too happy if he had to buy a Jag and all his friends had Ferraris.
Ignoring the whole loser argument that the author is making, the one good thing to consider here in the article is, its a good idea to spend proportional to the time you will be spending with the product.
For eg: If you are spending a lot of time on computer, you probably want to get something that is "good" quality and which is good for your eyes and has other benefits.
Always spend more to increase your production by a bigger amount. It pays for itself in the end.
Now, how much should you cut on pure consumption? That's a tricky one. I tend to cut my consumption as low as I can without hurting my production. But do always spend well on tools, on getting your production up, on your health, and on taking good care of people who do right by you. Absolutely don't go cheap on that stuff, you wind up with less in the long run if you do.
If you're a carpenter running a shop, it's a no-brainer to buy tools that help you be more productive and make your life easier. But, there are other tools or things we use every day, whose cumulative effects can be as important as the one big tool we spend most of our time on. Making the same smart decisions on those smaller things as we do on the larger ones isn't going to impact your bottom line in a meaningful way, but can dramatically impact your quality of life.
Ramit Sethi likes to go on about this topic - see his "Cheap vs. frugal" blog post, for example: http://sandbox.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/archives/2005/09/ch...
Sure, my backpack has a nice laptop, iPad, etc. - but to me those are true conveniences. I've slept for years on shit mattresses, and I've come to conclude that it's how hard I worked that most affects my sleep.
Just my two cents...
Cheap: not spending more _only_ because the price is higher.
Frugal builds wealth. Cheap squanders it.
In that sense, buying better quality products which might be more expensive at first is a better deal. In this way I am willing to concede that you shouldn't sell yourself short. But this can honestly be all summoned up by saying, do your research before you buy.
Take what he says with a grain of salt and apply to your life what you think is right.
Hacker News comments are created by a bunch of self-righteous, over-generalizing trolls.
Live and let live and don't be a cheapskate :]
Miserly-ness is the result of something I call naive cost benefit analysis, which is an analysis that leaves out important variables.
Agree that he's just a total unlikeable dick all throughout the post. Heh.