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Buy nice or buy twice
– My Mother, probably….I can’t remember
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.
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 hoody, 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.
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!