Buy nice or buy twice
– My Mother (probably….I can’t remember)
Are expensive shoes worth it? That’s the question I’m going to dig into today. Being a cheapa$$, I’m always looking for an excuse to spend less on things so naturally, I’m not stoked about buying premium kicks.
A couple of weeks ago I finally wore a hole through my foam-heeled $50 specials from Payless Shoes. Annoyed with having to go to the mall again so soon after Christmas, I turned to the internet and started researching cheap shoes vs. expensive shoes. I’ve always wanted a good set of leather boots, and I figured it was time to find out if expensive shoes are worth it.
The thing is, I tend to be pretty thrifty when buying for myself. While I’m happy to dole out the money to buy nicer things for my wife and children (when we can afford it), it’s hard for me to give myself the same treatment. I’m not sure why.
I’ll Spend on Anyone but Me
For some time now, I’ve been on a mission to improve my look. As a 30-something father of 3 who is not required to dress professionally for work, I’ve maintained a pretty low standard for clothing. Most days I can be found in a hoodie, jeans and a cheap pair of shoes.
Classy? No. Functional? Absolutely.
For years, I’ve bought crappy shoes pretty much exclusively. The $50 variety are my go-to. While looking into how I can upgrade my look a little bit, I started noticing that a few of my more fashion-conscious friends often wear nice leather boots, starkly contrasting my cheap, holed shoes.
Always wanting the best deal, I started wondering if I were to spend more on high-quality boots, if the higher price would net me a longer life and be a better value in the long run.
Like any good consumer, I headed to Google and did some research.
What Makes a Good-Quality Shoe
I’ll save you the hours of research and sum up a few key points that I learned while looking into
what makes a high-quality shoe or boots vs a cheaper alternative.
- Goodyear Welt – This is a method by which the sole of a shoe is attached to the leather top. Pretty much all cheaper shoes are glued, whereas a high quality shoe will be stitched. This makes them resoleable as well as water resistant.
- Made From Real Leather – Leather shoes will stand the test of time. Cheaper shoes are typically made from ‘bonded leather’ or other synthetic materials. In time these will crack and fall apart. If you want something that lasts, get leather.
- High Quality Materials Throughout – I’ve had lots of shoes fall apart from the inside-out. The insole will peel away from the inside of the shoe or straight up wear out. High quality shoes or boots will last much longer.
I have a few friends that wear Thursday Boots. They’re an American brand that are not outrageously priced at $200-250USD. They’re Goodyear welted and well-reviewed online.
Late last year, I had a chat with Santa Claus, and placed my order.
The Math Behind Buying Good Footwear
In the past, I’ve paid around $50 for cheap casual shoes. I’ve found that it’s typical for me to get between 10-20 uses out of them before they start to wear visually. This might take 3-6 months of wearing them occasionally. I wear them beyond that point and typically replace them in less than a year.
I figure that I’m getting about a year out of my cheap shoes on average, so let’s say I spend $50/year on shoes.
My extensive research tells me that I can expect a pair of quality boots to last between 5 years and a lifetime if properly cared for.
Let’s say that I can expect to get 10 years out of my new boots (I’m sure I’ll get more). Also, I’ll budget $100 for having them repaired in that time. The boots were $200, plus $100 for repair is $300. Over ten years they will have cost me $30/year vs $50/year for my cheapos (and look/feel much better as well).
How Much To Spend
As with anything, there’s really no upper limit to what you can spend. I’ve found high-end men’s leather shoes for $600-$900. I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to convince myself to spend $900 on a pair of shoes. I expect my $200 pair to last a lifetime with my average of 2-3x per week wear.
You never know though, if something really will last forever, it might be worth forking out the money. I can’t say.
So Are Expensive Shoes Worth It?
In my opinion – absolutely.
Prior to this, I had never owned a pair of high-quality casual or dress shoes. I have paid more for runners in the past, but I don’t wear them daily.
So are expensive shoes worth it? If they last as long as I think they will, heck yes.
I fricken love my Thursday boots. I’ve had them for a couple of weeks now and they’re comfortable, look great and obviously well-built. Prior to Christmas 2017 I had never been complimented on my shoes. I’ve had 3 compliments in the last couple of weeks.
It’s amazing what a good pair of boots does for my overall look and confidence.
So far, I can highly recommend coughing up a few extra bucks and buying a decent pair of shoes. Whether they last, time will tell but I have several friends with these that are going on one and two years now, and the boots still look great.
Related Post – I Spent $11,000 On A Pilot License While I Was Still In Debt (And I’d Do It Again)
Being Frugal Doesn’t Mean Being Cheap
I’m learning that being frugal doesn’t necessarily mean buying cheap. In fact, I would argue that to spend the least amount of money in the long-term, it’s necessary to buy good stuff.
Years ago, I bought an expensive flashlight. It’s this one for anybody interested. It seemed (to my wife, and pretty much everybody else I told), to be a foolish purchase. But here we are going on 4 years later and the light still works like a champ. I use it all of the time and don’t regret my purchase at all.
I’m hoping that in time, I’ll find that good boots hold the same value.
Ultimately, my goal is to save money by owning fewer, higher quality things. I think that by purchasing awesome stuff, I’m more likely to reduce my spending in the long-term.
Question for you:
What high-quality item have you bought and not regretted? Bonus points if your family and friends thought you were crazy!
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13 thoughts on “Are Expensive Shoes Worth It?”
I was going through this same dilemma before the new year!
Came to the same conclusion as you and bought a nice pair for $225.
Nice write up!
Thanks Nick, congrats on the kicks 😀
We did this with windows. One set was significantly more expensive, but they had better soundproofing qualities than the other ones, which was half the reason we were replacing the old windows. The cheaper ones might have worked fine, sound-wise, but if they didn’t, we’d always wonder if the more expensive set would do a better job. So we spent (way more, but the quiet in our house is totally worth it.
Some things in life are just worth it in the long run. Honestly, I think Wal-Mart and Amazon have conditioned us to low prices to the point where many don’t know what’s worth actually splurging on. Good on ya for getting the windows you wanted 🙂
I agree with you. Sometimes it’s better to spend more money on shoes that will last a long period of time. I have that issue on some of the cheap shoes I bought. Great post.
The longer I live, the more I believe that in order to save money in the long-term, it’s important to buy nice things when you do buy them.
Years ago I would have said absolutely not, find something on sale, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that one must take care of his feet…
Just because a shoe is more expensive it does not mean it’s good for your feet. In fact some shoes I’ve seen, like ultra-heavy (lead inside?) sneakers I saw that cost over $150, looked like they could cause foot problems.
I would say the minimum price of $100 should get you something that will be quality in all respects. However, some high end shoe companies do not make any healthily claims because there may not be any. In the $100-150 range though you can find manufacturers who tout actual healthy benefits, like stability and breathability.
It’s an interesting subject that needs to be studied in depth. For now I say the major manufacturers at $100 – $150 are a safe bet for a quality and healthy shoe.
For sure, I’m no podiatrist. I’m just looking at quality and longevity here.
A few years ago I convinced my husband to purchase a grill that was about $1400. He thought I was NUTS. Grills at the big box stores were about $300, but I was replacing them about every 3-5 years because parts would rust out. I have been ecstatic over the purchase of the grill and LOVE using during the summer months almost every night. It’s easy to light, no more rusting out burners (expensive one has lifetime warranty on burners), and the stainless steel looks as good as the day it was purchased. I would do it all over again!!!
Funny you mention that, our 4th or 5th cheap BBQ is on it’s way out and I’m seriously thinking about buying a model in the 1k range. I’m just sick and tired of changing burners (which are really expensive) and the lighting mechanism failing after one season.
Buying cheap stuff definitely doesn’t always pay.
I just found this post which confirmed my suspicion that it doesn’t pay to save on shoes. I did get a remarkable amount of wear out of a pair of Wally World hikers, but subsequent purchases revealed that to be a fluke. I will cough up the money for some decent boots. On the other hand, I usually wear insoles and more expensive ones I tried fell apart in record time, so I think I’ll stick to the cheapies. Thanks for the post.