Author Topic: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness  (Read 22058 times)

HazelStone

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Related to this thread:
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/stealth-wealthpoverty-how-to-blend-in/

If you haven't read any of Terry Pratchett's work, shame on you! Get thee to a library! Captain Vimes is the classic hardened cop/detective character, though Pratchett has created many others just as great. Many of you may be familiar with this passage, though:

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”


For those not familiar, and getting not too spoiler-y for context, Vimes gets to know the daughter of the oldest, wealthiest family in the city and has lots of occasion to observe the habits of the rich. He goes on to observe how wealthy households never throw anything away- they buy top quality and use it forever/pack it for the next generation.

Quoted from here, but Pratchett quotes abound...
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/72745-the-reason-that-the-rich-were-so-rich-vimes-reasoned

Without delving too far into the affectations of old money vs. nouveau-riche (fascinating in itself), it bears thinking about. One of my many jobs was working in a high end boutique. I interacted with lots of ladies who'd bought expensive brands most of their lives (think Nieman-Marcus crowd, the Michigan Ave. set (Chicago), not Nordstrom and certainly not Macy's). It was there that I learned the counterintuitive concept that "fancy" brands were sometimes the better deal in the long run because they were so well made. They had purses, shoes, and suits/dresses that were twenty years old and still looked great, and weren't out of fashion.

Now, there's certainly ways to get that sort of stuff cheaper. My point is that if you see someone wearing "designer" clothes or accessories, it isn't always to flaunt it. Except for those twits who buy Coach's PVC bags with the big Cs stamped all over. Those are just idiots with no taste. :P


AJ

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2015, 11:05:25 AM »
I spend significantly less money on clothes now than in my early 20s, but am much better dressed. Back then I bought my clothes at Target and Ross, and I just assumed that was the cheapest option. But those clothes wore out quickly, and went out of style faster as well. Now I buy nicer brands used, and they last forever. I spend as much per item as the Target and Ross clothes, but the items are much nicer and better made.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2015, 11:59:15 AM »


“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”



Guards! Guards!

I think. I know I re-read it about a year ago..

Excellent books. vimes is great but Death may be a better character. And Binky of course. Not as much time spend on those though..

Zikoris

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2015, 12:15:21 PM »
I'm not crazy about that quote. I've heard it before, and think I was relevant a long time ago but no longer is. The reality is, in this day and age the basics are so cheap and of reasonable quality that it doesn't matter whether you cheap out on most things.

I buy shoes every year, but it's a tiny fraction of my (average) income. I buy lower cost furniture, also for a tiny fraction of my income, and I have yet to have a chair collapse under me. Buying a purse for $20 every two or three years does not put me in the poor house.

People in this day and age are not broke because they buy basic goods for cheap and have to replace them more frequently, they're broke because they blow all their money on junk (barring medical conditions, disabilities, life choices, etc).

Kaspian

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2015, 12:20:29 PM »
Met lots of people (sorry, usually ladies) who say, "Well, I should buy these $600 boots because they're good quality and will last for years."  Do they wear them even three years later?  Hell, no--they're out of style now.

homehandymum

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2015, 01:02:20 PM »
I need to get off the laptop so my kids can use it for schoolwork, but I just needed to pop my head around the door of this thread and see who the other Pratchett fans were :)

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MicroRN

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2015, 01:44:43 PM »
I love Pratchett!  Speaking of shoes in particular, I used to always buy cheap shoes, but they died so easily I was always replacing them and my feet, back, and knees hurt a lot.  I still tend to buy cheap clothes, but good quality shoes (classic styles, not trendy).  Not only do they last far longer, but they can usually be repaired, and are much easier on the joints.  Payless is not a good place to buy shoes. 

The old vs new money reminded me of "A Portion for Foxes,"  written about the VA horsey set.  The author paints a picture of the old money ladies wearing ancient boots and barn clothes, a skirt fastened with a safety pin, clothes handed down from family, etc.  They're so secure in where they stand that they don't feel the need to show off, while the new money family goes for over the top designer clothes and gems.   

sheepstache

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2015, 01:57:41 PM »
The old vs new money reminded me of "A Portion for Foxes,"  written about the VA horsey set.  The author paints a picture of the old money ladies wearing ancient boots and barn clothes, a skirt fastened with a safety pin, clothes handed down from family, etc.  They're so secure in where they stand that they don't feel the need to show off, while the new money family goes for over the top designer clothes and gems.

Reminds me of this bit from the opening of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Quote
"I know I'm apt to give the wrong impression, living the way I do. But I'm not trying to fool anyone. Years ago I was showing a group of visitors through the house and I noticed one man giving his wife the high sign. I saw him mouth the words 'old money!' The man was David Howard, the world's leading expert on armorial Chinese porcelain. I took him aside afterward and said, 'Mr. Howard, I was born in Gordon, Georgia. That's a little town near Macon. The biggest thing in Gordon is a chalk mine. My father was a barber, and my mother worked as a secretary for the mine. My money - what there is of it - is about eleven years old.' Well, the man was completely taken aback. 'Do you know what made me think you were from an old family,' he said, 'apart from the portraits and the antiques? Those chairs over there. The needlework on the covers is unraveling. New money would mend it right away. Old money would leave it just as it is.' 'I know that,' I told him. 'Some of my best customers are old money.'"
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 01:59:14 PM by sheepstache »

marty998

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2015, 02:02:21 PM »
+1 I love Terry.

How truly observant about the world he is.

So many great characters: Rincewind and the Luggage, the Librarian "oook", Nanny Ogg, Magrat and Granny Weatherwax, Lu Tze, Carrot, Detritus list goes on and on.

Brilliant mind.

KCM5

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2015, 03:11:08 PM »
Met lots of people (sorry, usually ladies) who say, "Well, I should buy these $600 boots because they're good quality and will last for years."  Do they wear them even three years later?  Hell, no--they're out of style now.

Well, that's true and it's not true at the same time.

My favorite pair of boots were $200 8 years ago. I just wore through the soles and got them replaced and I still get compliments on them. That was $200 well spent (not $600 like your example but still way more than I think is okay to spend on shoes generally).

And I have this other $200 pair of boots that are 10 years old and have been languishing in my closet for almost as long (they pinch, darn it!).

red7

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2015, 03:52:58 PM »
So many great characters: Rincewind and the Luggage, the Librarian "oook", Nanny Ogg, Magrat and Granny Weatherwax, Lu Tze, Carrot, Detritus list goes on and on.

So I've never read a Terry Pratchett book, but these character names alone make me want to run to the library immediately! I now have a new author on my reading list. Thanks!

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2015, 04:06:27 PM »
Years ago there was a famous put-down of a UK politician as "the sort of man who had to buy his own furniture".

AllChoptUp

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2015, 10:13:40 AM »
+1 I love Terry.

How truly observant about the world he is.

So many great characters: Rincewind and the Luggage, the Librarian "oook", Nanny Ogg, Magrat and Granny Weatherwax, Lu Tze, Carrot, Detritus list goes on and on.

Brilliant mind.

Granny Weatherwax is my hero.

HazelStone

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2015, 12:30:16 PM »
Met lots of people (sorry, usually ladies) who say, "Well, I should buy these $600 boots because they're good quality and will last for years."  Do they wear them even three years later?  Hell, no--they're out of style now.

I have a pair of Clarks boots I've worn for eight years and Doc Maartens I've worn for six. I still have my shoes from junior prom.

HazelStone

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2015, 12:36:32 PM »
+1 I love Terry.

How truly observant about the world he is.

So many great characters: Rincewind and the Luggage, the Librarian "oook", Nanny Ogg, Magrat and Granny Weatherwax, Lu Tze, Carrot, Detritus list goes on and on.

Brilliant mind.

Granny Weatherwax is my hero.

I love Granny Weatherwax. *grim smile* "Let's do some good!" Susan is a close second.

The D&D character I run has aspects of Tiffany Aching.

UnleashHell

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2015, 12:37:09 PM »
Years ago there was a famous put-down of a UK politician as "the sort of man who had to buy his own furniture".
Alan Clark to Heseltine!! Wasn't a fan of Clark but I did like that he said exactly what he thought. A rare trait in a politician.

AllChoptUp

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2015, 01:52:52 PM »
+1 I love Terry.

How truly observant about the world he is.

So many great characters: Rincewind and the Luggage, the Librarian "oook", Nanny Ogg, Magrat and Granny Weatherwax, Lu Tze, Carrot, Detritus list goes on and on.

Brilliant mind.

Granny Weatherwax is my hero.

I love Granny Weatherwax. *grim smile* "Let's do some good!" Susan is a close second.

The D&D character I run has aspects of Tiffany Aching.

Nice choice!  She's awesome!

MsPeacock

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2015, 02:15:11 PM »
Met lots of people (sorry, usually ladies) who say, "Well, I should buy these $600 boots because they're good quality and will last for years."  Do they wear them even three years later?  Hell, no--they're out of style now.

They aren't out of style if you buy classics. The problem is buying anything trendy, regardless of the cost. You won't want to wear it in a few months or years.  I have a pair of very expensive black dress boots (similar to riding boots) that cost close to $600 that I purchased 6 years ago. I wear them frequently, they will never go out of style, and they are excellent quality and I take care of them - so they will never wear out. My feet aren't growing. There isn't any reason I'd stop wearing them. I could have spent the same $600 on a trendy pair of open-toed boots in white suede with 4" heels - and yeah, they would be out of style and not worn (not that they would have ever been a good choice).

I have a circular argument (ok, discussion) w/ my boyfriend regarding being cheap (e.g. spending as little as possible on something) vs. frugal (buying good quality items so they last). I see no point in "cheap" purchases of anything that is not intended to be very temporary (e.g. a very trendy t-shirt - best purchased cheap if you really must have it at all). This holds true to me for clothing, tools, appliances, etc.

marty998

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2015, 03:59:26 AM »
So many great characters: Rincewind and the Luggage, the Librarian "oook", Nanny Ogg, Magrat and Granny Weatherwax, Lu Tze, Carrot, Detritus list goes on and on.

So I've never read a Terry Pratchett book, but these character names alone make me want to run to the library immediately! I now have a new author on my reading list. Thanks!

Lots to devour. The Discworld series is mostly designed to be read as stand alone books, but for some of the story arcs it is useful to know the history.

Start at The Colour of Magic and go from there. Helpfully, the books are numbered.

The cities and countries in the Discworld are a parody of the "Roundworld". Ankh-Morpork is quite obviously London, but I'll leave you to figure out Klatch, Howondaland, the Counterweight Continent and my personal favourite "Fourecks".

Hard to say what my favourite book is, but I do like Small Gods - Brutha, Vorbis and the Turtle, Soul Music - Death takes a holiday to discover the meaning of life, and Carrot's reciting of the Oath in Men at Arms leaves me in stitches every time:

"I comma square bracket recruit's name square bracket comma...
...do solemnly swear by square bracket recruit's deity of choice square bracket...
...to uphold the Laws and Ordinances of the city of Ankh-Morpork, serve the public trust comma and defend the subjects of His stroke Her bracket delete whichever is inappropriate bracket Majesty bracket name of reigning monarch bracket...
...without fear comma favour comma or thought of personal safety semi-colon to pursue evil-doers and protect the innocent comma laying down my life if necessary in the cause of said duty comma so help me bracket aforesaid deity bracket full stop Gods Save the King stroke Queen bracket delete whichever is inappropriate bracket full stop"


+1 I love Terry.

How truly observant about the world he is.

So many great characters: Rincewind and the Luggage, the Librarian "oook", Nanny Ogg, Magrat and Granny Weatherwax, Lu Tze, Carrot, Detritus list goes on and on.

Brilliant mind.

Granny Weatherwax is my hero.

I love Granny Weatherwax. *grim smile* "Let's do some good!" Susan is a close second.

The D&D character I run has aspects of Tiffany Aching.

Nothing beats her Headology.

HazelStone

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2015, 10:41:00 AM »
So many great characters: Rincewind and the Luggage, the Librarian "oook", Nanny Ogg, Magrat and Granny Weatherwax, Lu Tze, Carrot, Detritus list goes on and on.

So I've never read a Terry Pratchett book, but these character names alone make me want to run to the library immediately! I now have a new author on my reading list. Thanks!

It depends which set of characters/story arcs you want to start with.

The friend who recommended Pratchett gave me "Interesting Times" to start with. (Rincewind, Twoflower, and the dreaded Luggage). My husband I started off with "Guards! Guards!" (Vimes). My mother I gave "Wyrd Sisters" (Granny Weatherwax and the other witches). My niece I started with "Wee Free Men," which introduces Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegle/Pictsies, who are four inch high Scottish stereotypes. Their chief is named Rob Anybody.

A nine year old farm girl who hits evil fairies in the face with a cast iron frying pan... what's not to like? :P

Thouh I think some of Pratchett's best lines were in "Good Omens," which he co-wrote with Gaiman. (Not a Discworld book)

Also, have you caught The Dresden Virus yet? :)

coppertop

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2015, 11:12:01 AM »
I love Pratchett!  Speaking of shoes in particular, I used to always buy cheap shoes, but they died so easily I was always replacing them and my feet, back, and knees hurt a lot.  I still tend to buy cheap clothes, but good quality shoes (classic styles, not trendy).  Not only do they last far longer, but they can usually be repaired, and are much easier on the joints.  Payless is not a good place to buy shoes. 

The old vs new money reminded me of "A Portion for Foxes,"  written about the VA horsey set.  The author paints a picture of the old money ladies wearing ancient boots and barn clothes, a skirt fastened with a safety pin, clothes handed down from family, etc.  They're so secure in where they stand that they don't feel the need to show off, while the new money family goes for over the top designer clothes and gems.
One of the bosses at my job is from 'old' money.  His wife buys his clothing, so it is top quality, has monograms on the cuffs etc ... but when it comes to cars and offices, he doesn't care what he drives or what kind of office he has.  He drives old junkers and his office is far from posh.  He knows where he's from and he doesn't seem to have the need to impress anyone.  He is a multimillionaire (and I am in a position to know this).

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2015, 01:15:41 PM »
I'm not crazy about that quote. I've heard it before, and think I was relevant a long time ago but no longer is. The reality is, in this day and age the basics are so cheap and of reasonable quality that it doesn't matter whether you cheap out on most things.

I buy shoes every year, but it's a tiny fraction of my (average) income. I buy lower cost furniture, also for a tiny fraction of my income, and I have yet to have a chair collapse under me. Buying a purse for $20 every two or three years does not put me in the poor house.

People in this day and age are not broke because they buy basic goods for cheap and have to replace them more frequently, they're broke because they blow all their money on junk (barring medical conditions, disabilities, life choices, etc).

Well said!  I've always had the same problem with this quote.

It is no longer true or relevant in the world we live in today.  People who say it now use it as an excuse.
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Astatine

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2015, 08:05:30 PM »
I'm not crazy about that quote. I've heard it before, and think I was relevant a long time ago but no longer is. The reality is, in this day and age the basics are so cheap and of reasonable quality that it doesn't matter whether you cheap out on most things.

I buy shoes every year, but it's a tiny fraction of my (average) income. I buy lower cost furniture, also for a tiny fraction of my income, and I have yet to have a chair collapse under me. Buying a purse for $20 every two or three years does not put me in the poor house.

People in this day and age are not broke because they buy basic goods for cheap and have to replace them more frequently, they're broke because they blow all their money on junk (barring medical conditions, disabilities, life choices, etc).

Well said!  I've always had the same problem with this quote.

It is no longer true or relevant in the world we live in today.  People who say it now use it as an excuse.

People on incomes above the poverty line, yeah, maybe. Otherwise, I respectfully disagree with both of you. This John Cheese article, particularly the #1 part, probably says it better than I can:
http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-stupidest-habits-you-develop-growing-up-poor/

Read for the gist of it. Living below the poverty line for extended periods changes your perception of the world for many people (not sure if it's everyone, but it's certainly a significant proportion). Maslow's hierarchy is the key here - fear/stress affects rationality. I'm one of the more ridiculously rational person I know IRL and I'm the only person I know IRL running complex budget spreadsheets and thinking about frugality and financial security. Yet, my years living well below the poverty line in my twenties have left me with plenty of irrationalities, purely from fear. That was 20 years ago. I still struggle to make sensible rational decisions (different irrationalities to those in the John Cheese article but irrational nonetheless) about money because of that overriding fear.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2015, 08:08:38 PM by Astatine »

dcheesi

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2015, 09:36:06 PM »
I'm not crazy about that quote. I've heard it before, and think I was relevant a long time ago but no longer is. The reality is, in this day and age the basics are so cheap and of reasonable quality that it doesn't matter whether you cheap out on most things.

I buy shoes every year, but it's a tiny fraction of my (average) income. I buy lower cost furniture, also for a tiny fraction of my income, and I have yet to have a chair collapse under me. Buying a purse for $20 every two or three years does not put me in the poor house.

People in this day and age are not broke because they buy basic goods for cheap and have to replace them more frequently, they're broke because they blow all their money on junk (barring medical conditions, disabilities, life choices, etc).
The  other half of it is that an expensive brand is no longer a guarantee of quality. Even brands that used to be reliable have succumbed to the lure of cheap overseas manufacturing, to the point that the expensive brand may be coming from the same factory as the no name bargain offering.

former player

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2015, 01:42:45 AM »
I'm not crazy about that quote. I've heard it before, and think I was relevant a long time ago but no longer is. The reality is, in this day and age the basics are so cheap and of reasonable quality that it doesn't matter whether you cheap out on most things.

I buy shoes every year, but it's a tiny fraction of my (average) income. I buy lower cost furniture, also for a tiny fraction of my income, and I have yet to have a chair collapse under me. Buying a purse for $20 every two or three years does not put me in the poor house.

People in this day and age are not broke because they buy basic goods for cheap and have to replace them more frequently, they're broke because they blow all their money on junk (barring medical conditions, disabilities, life choices, etc).

Well said!  I've always had the same problem with this quote.

It is no longer true or relevant in the world we live in today.  People who say it now use it as an excuse.

People on incomes above the poverty line, yeah, maybe. Otherwise, I respectfully disagree with both of you. This John Cheese article, particularly the #1 part, probably says it better than I can:
http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-stupidest-habits-you-develop-growing-up-poor/

Read for the gist of it. Living below the poverty line for extended periods changes your perception of the world for many people (not sure if it's everyone, but it's certainly a significant proportion). Maslow's hierarchy is the key here - fear/stress affects rationality. I'm one of the more ridiculously rational person I know IRL and I'm the only person I know IRL running complex budget spreadsheets and thinking about frugality and financial security. Yet, my years living well below the poverty line in my twenties have left me with plenty of irrationalities, purely from fear. That was 20 years ago. I still struggle to make sensible rational decisions (different irrationalities to those in the John Cheese article but irrational nonetheless) about money because of that overriding fear.
Also, I think the issue of quality matters more in relation to some items than others.  OK, shoes in general are now cheap to buy and replace.  But if you have a physical and/or dangerous job (beat cop, maybe?) where having good shoes matters more than to most of us indoor workers, being able (or having the mindset) to buy quality matters more.  I'd put a lot of outdoor/working equipment in that category. Also, being able (or having the mindset) to put time/money into preventive maintenance is a big financial gain in the long term, and that is something we learn from people around us, not something any of us have as a natural talent.

MrsPete

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2015, 03:31:16 PM »
I think it's a great quote, though I've never read the book. 

I see the point people are making about times having changed /availability being different, but as a person who stands all day long at work, I can tell you that I never skimp on shoes.  When I was younger, I occasionally bought shoes at Payless, and what he says is true:  The shoes were uncomfortable and they didn't last long.  I don't buy loads of shoes, and -- as I said, I stand all day -- so my work shoes tend to have a 4-5 year life span. 

This comment generalizes to other areas of life as well:

Yesterday I was at Target and found boneless, skinless chicken breasts on clearance for a very good price.  Because I have a healthy checking account balance and a freezer, I was able to buy six packages -- all they had.  This will save me money over the next months. 

A couple weeks ago I was at the mall, and I found expensive Aeropostale hoodie sweatshirts marked down below $10 each.  They were originally something like $50 each, but we all know that $50 sweatshirts don't exist --  just things that've been marked up to ridiculous prices.  Still, teenaged girls love such things, and at that price I bought four for my girls and nieces for next Christmas.  This will save me money next December AND make all the girls happy. 

The larger point, obviously:  If you have money, it's easier to make good choices.  Choices that save you cash in the long run AND choices that make your life easier. 



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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2015, 04:02:48 PM »
...The larger point, obviously:  If you have money, it's easier to make good choices.  Choices that save you cash in the long run AND choices that make your life easier.

You hit the nail on the head.  I remember years ago talking with an older co-worker and he said, "Poor people are poor because they don't have any money."

If you have money (and are somewhat frugal) you don't buy your toilet paper at the dollar store - you buy it when it is on sale somewhere and stock up.  You are saving money because you have money.

I shop Target.  This past Black Friday they were selling Target gift cards at a 10% discount until 10am with a maximum purchase of $300.  I bought $300 face value online and went to the store and bought $300 face value more.  So I spent $540 to save $60 in the future. 

Sometimes it takes money to save money.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2015, 12:05:39 AM »
I'm not crazy about that quote. I've heard it before, and think I was relevant a long time ago but no longer is. The reality is, in this day and age the basics are so cheap and of reasonable quality that it doesn't matter whether you cheap out on most things.

I buy shoes every year, but it's a tiny fraction of my (average) income. I buy lower cost furniture, also for a tiny fraction of my income, and I have yet to have a chair collapse under me. Buying a purse for $20 every two or three years does not put me in the poor house.

People in this day and age are not broke because they buy basic goods for cheap and have to replace them more frequently, they're broke because they blow all their money on junk (barring medical conditions, disabilities, life choices, etc).

Well said!  I've always had the same problem with this quote.

It is no longer true or relevant in the world we live in today.  People who say it now use it as an excuse.

Disagree. To use clothes as an example, most clothes in walmart are of terrible quality and fall apart much faster than clothes elsewhere. (Of course, the even better solution is to shop at places like marshall's which has good quality cheap because it's out of style or overstocked or whatever.)

Being poor is expensive.

With that said, certainly a lot of it comes down to making the right choices. Poor immigrants tend not to stay poor for long, even if they come to the country with less than the american poor have, and don't take advantage of any social programs.

With "with that said" said, choices come down to education and knowledge of options, in addition to the more general qualities as a person (foresight, forethought, and restraint come to mind.) Considering most schools don't teach a single thing about money, how to spend it wisely, and how not to spend it - there's certainly more useful things we can do to improve things as a whole.

That's not to say I don't scorn the selfish and lazy idiots who buy junk food to the point that they (and their kids) end up horribly unhealthy, and a dead weight on society. I certainly do. But at the very least, let's educate kids on how to break the cycle, yes?

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2015, 08:11:27 AM »
I'm not crazy about that quote. I've heard it before, and think I was relevant a long time ago but no longer is. The reality is, in this day and age the basics are so cheap and of reasonable quality that it doesn't matter whether you cheap out on most things.

I buy shoes every year, but it's a tiny fraction of my (average) income. I buy lower cost furniture, also for a tiny fraction of my income, and I have yet to have a chair collapse under me. Buying a purse for $20 every two or three years does not put me in the poor house.

People in this day and age are not broke because they buy basic goods for cheap and have to replace them more frequently, they're broke because they blow all their money on junk (barring medical conditions, disabilities, life choices, etc).

Well said!  I've always had the same problem with this quote.

It is no longer true or relevant in the world we live in today.  People who say it now use it as an excuse.

Disagree. To use clothes as an example, most clothes in walmart are of terrible quality and fall apart much faster than clothes elsewhere. (Of course, the even better solution is to shop at places like marshall's which has good quality cheap because it's out of style or overstocked or whatever.)

While I agree they fall apart quicker, I don't think it's that quick. Regardless, I think you missed the point that they are so cheap that even if they do fall apart it's such a small fraction of one's budget. It's not the vast difference as in that quote.
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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2015, 08:38:23 AM »
While I agree they fall apart quicker, I don't think it's that quick. Regardless, I think you missed the point that they are so cheap that even if they do fall apart it's such a small fraction of one's budget. It's not the vast difference as in that quote.

I think that if you are in a job where clothing matters (e.g. business client facing etc), cheap clothing will look cheap faster, so you'll need to keep replacing it faster - to me this is part of the point of the quote, you may be spending the same but it's not performing as well for most of that time.  Especially for shoes, because they can really screw up my back, knees and ankles.

Also, while it may be a small fraction of the budget, going with disposable fashion has moral and environmental implications, to say nothing of the wasted brain cycles and time spent buying new stuff.  (Alas, I don't live in an area where decent second hand clothing in my size can be purchased on a whim.)

Buying chicken on sale at 2.49/lb instead of 4.49/lb is also a small part of my budget.  I do it anyways, because it all adds up.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2015, 09:29:37 AM »
While I agree they fall apart quicker, I don't think it's that quick. Regardless, I think you missed the point that they are so cheap that even if they do fall apart it's such a small fraction of one's budget. It's not the vast difference as in that quote.

I think that if you are in a job where clothing matters (e.g. business client facing etc), cheap clothing will look cheap faster, so you'll need to keep replacing it faster - to me this is part of the point of the quote, you may be spending the same but it's not performing as well for most of that time.  Especially for shoes, because they can really screw up my back, knees and ankles.

If you're in a job where clothing matters that much, why are you being paid so little you can't afford nicer clothes?

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2015, 10:23:07 AM »
I spend significantly less money on clothes now than in my early 20s, but am much better dressed. Back then I bought my clothes at Target and Ross, and I just assumed that was the cheapest option. But those clothes wore out quickly, and went out of style faster as well. Now I buy nicer brands used, and they last forever. I spend as much per item as the Target and Ross clothes, but the items are much nicer and better made.

Since I haven't had to go clothes shopping for years, I haven't been in Ross recently so maybe things have changed; but back in the day you could get good, high quality, name brand clothes at a steep discount - especially good if they were on clearance.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2015, 10:54:12 AM »
I've used some of the same money-saving hacks as Mrs. Pete and dimitri.  Buying in advance of need when you find something that you know you will consume when it is at its rock bottom price saves a lot of money.  It doesn't matter whether it's clothes, dishtowels, sponges, razors, food items that can be frozen, paper products, etc.  People who are living paycheck to paycheck are unable to take advantage of shopping this way.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2015, 11:00:16 AM »
I've used some of the same money-saving hacks as Mrs. Pete and dimitri.  Buying in advance of need when you find something that you know you will consume when it is at its rock bottom price saves a lot of money.  It doesn't matter whether it's clothes, dishtowels, sponges, razors, food items that can be frozen, paper products, etc.  People who are living paycheck to paycheck are unable to take advantage of shopping this way.

My argument is that those things are so low cost these days that it doesn't matter if you don't get the best deal. Getting a great deal on toilet paper vs paying full price is not that big a difference. I, for one, don't bother stocking up on things at all due to space constraints and lack of interest, and spend less on those things than most of the people here.

The best way to save money on paper towels is not to stock up when they're on sale, it's to reduce or eliminate their usage. That applies to a lot of things.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2015, 11:06:48 AM »
I've used some of the same money-saving hacks as Mrs. Pete and dimitri.  Buying in advance of need when you find something that you know you will consume when it is at its rock bottom price saves a lot of money.  It doesn't matter whether it's clothes, dishtowels, sponges, razors, food items that can be frozen, paper products, etc.  People who are living paycheck to paycheck are unable to take advantage of shopping this way.

My argument is that those things are so low cost these days that it doesn't matter if you don't get the best deal. Getting a great deal on toilet paper vs paying full price is not that big a difference. I, for one, don't bother stocking up on things at all due to space constraints and lack of interest, and spend less on those things than most of the people here.

And poor people can get a great deal on staples like that same as a rich person.

The boots theory just doesn't hold anymore, because plenty of "poor" people walk around in $300 boots with expensive cell phones, and no money in the bank.  With how cheap things are, you can get staples you need even at the amount of the basic lowest level of assistance - rich people don't have an advantage as described in the quote.

They have plenty of other ones, to be sure.  Getting a job is much easier, for example, due to a number of factors.

But it's not the high cost of quality goods versus cheap goods that differentiate the poor vs rich anymore.

The best way to save money on paper towels is not to stock up when they're on sale, it's to reduce or eliminate their usage. That applies to a lot of things.

+1.
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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #35 on: February 09, 2015, 11:48:01 AM »
And poor people can get a great deal on staples like that same as a rich person.

The boots theory just doesn't hold anymore, because plenty of "poor" people walk around in $300 boots with expensive cell phones, and no money in the bank.  With how cheap things are, you can get staples you need even at the amount of the basic lowest level of assistance - rich people don't have an advantage as described in the quote.

They have plenty of other ones, to be sure.  Getting a job is much easier, for example, due to a number of factors.

But it's not the high cost of quality goods versus cheap goods that differentiate the poor vs rich anymore.
I thought that in the USA poor people get those expensive cell phones free from Obama?

In the UK, poor people often pay more for utilities because the companies do not trust them to pay a bill in arrears so they install coin meters which are much more expensive per unit of energy used.   It's a good example of how it can still be expensive to be poor.   I'm sure there are other examples.  Also, it is easy from a position of privilege to say "I'm not buying $300 boots because I'm saving for a house/early retirement".  If you think you are never going to buy a house or have a pension, the boots look a lot more attractive a purchase.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2015, 11:50:27 AM »
I thought that in the USA poor people get those expensive cell phones free from Obama?

In the UK, poor people often pay more for utilities because the companies do not trust them to pay a bill in arrears so they install coin meters which are much more expensive per unit of energy used.   It's a good example of how it can still be expensive to be poor.   I'm sure there are other examples.  Also, it is easy from a position of privilege to say "I'm not buying $300 boots because I'm saving for a house/early retirement".  If you think you are never going to buy a house or have a pension, the boots look a lot more attractive a purchase.

I'm never going to buy a house or have a pension, and wasting money still doesn't appeal to me.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #37 on: February 09, 2015, 12:04:19 PM »
I've used some of the same money-saving hacks as Mrs. Pete and dimitri.  Buying in advance of need when you find something that you know you will consume when it is at its rock bottom price saves a lot of money.  It doesn't matter whether it's clothes, dishtowels, sponges, razors, food items that can be frozen, paper products, etc.  People who are living paycheck to paycheck are unable to take advantage of shopping this way.

My argument is that those things are so low cost these days that it doesn't matter if you don't get the best deal. Getting a great deal on toilet paper vs paying full price is not that big a difference. I, for one, don't bother stocking up on things at all due to space constraints and lack of interest, and spend less on those things than most of the people here.

And poor people can get a great deal on staples like that same as a rich person.

The boots theory just doesn't hold anymore, because plenty of "poor" people walk around in $300 boots with expensive cell phones, and no money in the bank.  With how cheap things are, you can get staples you need even at the amount of the basic lowest level of assistance - rich people don't have an advantage as described in the quote.

They have plenty of other ones, to be sure.  Getting a job is much easier, for example, due to a number of factors.

But it's not the high cost of quality goods versus cheap goods that differentiate the poor vs rich anymore.

The best way to save money on paper towels is not to stock up when they're on sale, it's to reduce or eliminate their usage. That applies to a lot of things.

+1.

I agree that to reduce or eliminate the need for a product is best, but for those products that you find you "can't live without", money can be saved by purchasing not just "on sale", but at rock bottom prices and stocking up in advance of need when you find them.   

Even though the poor person might have access to a great deal on staples, they may or may not have the extra money on hand when the opportunity to stock up on something presents itself. 

Yes, storage can be an issue for some, but it's amazing how much product you can store in a given space (under a sink, under a bed, on a closet shelf, in an otherwise unused drawer, or in a well-organized freezer).  For those who are non-collectors of "stuff", it's a great use of storage space.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #38 on: February 09, 2015, 12:08:41 PM »
While I agree they fall apart quicker, I don't think it's that quick. Regardless, I think you missed the point that they are so cheap that even if they do fall apart it's such a small fraction of one's budget. It's not the vast difference as in that quote.

I think that if you are in a job where clothing matters (e.g. business client facing etc), cheap clothing will look cheap faster, so you'll need to keep replacing it faster - to me this is part of the point of the quote, you may be spending the same but it's not performing as well for most of that time.  Especially for shoes, because they can really screw up my back, knees and ankles.

If you're in a job where clothing matters that much, why are you being paid so little you can't afford nicer clothes?

Because few people start off with the corner office and the attendant salary. In "old economy" style companies, even low level admins face somewhat strict dress code expectations. You've got to work somewhere till you find that magical office that lets you show up in jeans, pays you a decent salary, and telecommute whenever you want, or find other methods of supporting yourself. Meanwhile, in order to advance, you often have to look the part of your target job. And if you toss in some idealistic pablum like "change the system," consider that you first have to reach the position where you would have a say. Pesky Catch-22's....

A job would have to pay an awful damn lot for me to be willing to deal with heels and pantyhose every day. Unless it was during one of my spates of unemployment, and the tradeoffs are very different then. Mercifully I am in a job and field where slacks and a buttoned blouse IS dressing up, and jeans are just fine.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #39 on: February 09, 2015, 12:09:24 PM »
While I agree they fall apart quicker, I don't think it's that quick. Regardless, I think you missed the point that they are so cheap that even if they do fall apart it's such a small fraction of one's budget. It's not the vast difference as in that quote.

I think that if you are in a job where clothing matters (e.g. business client facing etc), cheap clothing will look cheap faster, so you'll need to keep replacing it faster - to me this is part of the point of the quote, you may be spending the same but it's not performing as well for most of that time.  Especially for shoes, because they can really screw up my back, knees and ankles.

If you're in a job where clothing matters that much, why are you being paid so little you can't afford nicer clothes?

Why would the employer pay more than they have to? If people are desperate for the job then they'll make the investment themselves.

Retail workers, sales people, bank tellers, any kind of low office worker like temps or paralegals, etc. Not all poor people are working in the salt mines. We're not talking about clothing mattering "that much", we're talking about a basic professional wardrobe just to be considered for the job.

Obviously people should consider the costs vs. benefits of their jobs and work as hard as they can to improve their market value so they have more leverage, but I'm not trying to get involved in an argument about the entire idea of a poverty trap.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #40 on: February 09, 2015, 12:15:41 PM »
Also, it is easy from a position of privilege to say "I'm not buying $300 boots because I'm saving for a house/early retirement".  If you think you are never going to buy a house or have a pension, the boots look a lot more attractive a purchase.

But that's their mindset, it has nothing to do with what's actually better economically, and whether they can take advantage of it or not.

Like I said, there's lots of things that put them at a disadvantage.  The cost of necessary goods in the first world is not one of them because of how cheap items have gotten.

While I agree they fall apart quicker, I don't think it's that quick. Regardless, I think you missed the point that they are so cheap that even if they do fall apart it's such a small fraction of one's budget. It's not the vast difference as in that quote.

I think that if you are in a job where clothing matters (e.g. business client facing etc), cheap clothing will look cheap faster, so you'll need to keep replacing it faster - to me this is part of the point of the quote, you may be spending the same but it's not performing as well for most of that time.  Especially for shoes, because they can really screw up my back, knees and ankles.

If you're in a job where clothing matters that much, why are you being paid so little you can't afford nicer clothes?

Because few people start off with the corner office and the attendant salary. In "old economy" style companies, even low level admins face somewhat strict dress code expectations. You've got to work somewhere till you find that magical office that lets you show up in jeans, pays you a decent salary, and telecommute whenever you want, or find other methods of supporting yourself. Meanwhile, in order to advance, you often have to look the part of your target job. And if you toss in some idealistic pablum like "change the system," consider that you first have to reach the position where you would have a say. Pesky Catch-22's....

A job would have to pay an awful damn lot for me to be willing to deal with heels and pantyhose every day. Unless it was during one of my spates of unemployment, and the tradeoffs are very different then. Mercifully I am in a job and field where slacks and a buttoned blouse IS dressing up, and jeans are just fine.

We'll just have to agree to disagree then that nice looking clothes have to be expensive, and pretty much any job requiring them should pay enough to afford decent ones, and most jobs that don't pay enough don't require that, and that the exceptions aren't that common.
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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #41 on: February 09, 2015, 12:18:49 PM »
While I agree they fall apart quicker, I don't think it's that quick. Regardless, I think you missed the point that they are so cheap that even if they do fall apart it's such a small fraction of one's budget. It's not the vast difference as in that quote.

I think that if you are in a job where clothing matters (e.g. business client facing etc), cheap clothing will look cheap faster, so you'll need to keep replacing it faster - to me this is part of the point of the quote, you may be spending the same but it's not performing as well for most of that time.  Especially for shoes, because they can really screw up my back, knees and ankles.

If you're in a job where clothing matters that much, why are you being paid so little you can't afford nicer clothes?

Why would the employer pay more than they have to? If people are desperate for the job then they'll make the investment themselves.

Retail workers, sales people, bank tellers, any kind of low office worker like temps or paralegals, etc. Not all poor people are working in the salt mines. We're not talking about clothing mattering "that much", we're talking about a basic professional wardrobe just to be considered for the job.

Obviously people should consider the costs vs. benefits of their jobs and work as hard as they can to improve their market value so they have more leverage, but I'm not trying to get involved in an argument about the entire idea of a poverty trap.

Of course.  And they'll be able to afford it.  If they can't, they won't have that job.  If I offer you a job that pays 1MM/yr. but requires you to spend 1.5MM/yr to have it, you won't have that job.  If I want you to have the job that requires you to spend 1.5MM/yr, I'd better pay you more than that.  Of course I don't want to pay more than I have to, but fundamentally I'll have to pay more than it costs to hold, even if you're the one making the investment.

There is absolutely a poverty trap.  Most of it is due to the poor decision making situations that poverty puts you in (not because of the people, but because of the situation).  But it's not inherent in the cost of goods today, it's other systemic issues.
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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #42 on: February 09, 2015, 12:46:38 PM »

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”


This particular consumer goods "trap" may not be as common as it once was, but there are still plenty of poverty traps out there, ie "poor fees" that are charged to low income individuals, usually to offset the additional risk of doing business with said individuals.   One of the first steps on the way to FI is to get enough "working capital" together so that you can avoid these traps, even if that means eating rice and beans 3 meals a day until you do.  Sadly, many of these types of charges are also "ignorance fees" charged to folks that just don't know any better or just don't care.

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #43 on: February 09, 2015, 01:03:28 PM »
Also, it is easy from a position of privilege to say "I'm not buying $300 boots because I'm saving for a house/early retirement".  If you think you are never going to buy a house or have a pension, the boots look a lot more attractive a purchase.

But that's their mindset, it has nothing to do with what's actually better economically, and whether they can take advantage of it or not.

Like I said, there's lots of things that put them at a disadvantage.  The cost of necessary goods in the first world is not one of them because of how cheap items have gotten.

While I agree they fall apart quicker, I don't think it's that quick. Regardless, I think you missed the point that they are so cheap that even if they do fall apart it's such a small fraction of one's budget. It's not the vast difference as in that quote.

I think that if you are in a job where clothing matters (e.g. business client facing etc), cheap clothing will look cheap faster, so you'll need to keep replacing it faster - to me this is part of the point of the quote, you may be spending the same but it's not performing as well for most of that time.  Especially for shoes, because they can really screw up my back, knees and ankles.

If you're in a job where clothing matters that much, why are you being paid so little you can't afford nicer clothes?

Because few people start off with the corner office and the attendant salary. In "old economy" style companies, even low level admins face somewhat strict dress code expectations. You've got to work somewhere till you find that magical office that lets you show up in jeans, pays you a decent salary, and telecommute whenever you want, or find other methods of supporting yourself. Meanwhile, in order to advance, you often have to look the part of your target job. And if you toss in some idealistic pablum like "change the system," consider that you first have to reach the position where you would have a say. Pesky Catch-22's....

A job would have to pay an awful damn lot for me to be willing to deal with heels and pantyhose every day. Unless it was during one of my spates of unemployment, and the tradeoffs are very different then. Mercifully I am in a job and field where slacks and a buttoned blouse IS dressing up, and jeans are just fine.

We'll just have to agree to disagree then that nice looking clothes have to be expensive, and pretty much any job requiring them should pay enough to afford decent ones, and most jobs that don't pay enough don't require that, and that the exceptions aren't that common.

Of course there are ways to get nice clothes for cheapER. Not always easy, but possible. But some the hardliners here a straight jeans-and-tshirts-from-Goodwill wardrobe model and argue that why aren't you doing the same? That does not work for many occupations paying a living wage, much less one leaving you room to invest. So the question is then about getting the best long term value for your money.

Hell, I hate shopping. The less I have to do it, the better.

Dee 72013

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #44 on: February 09, 2015, 01:22:28 PM »

Related to this thread:
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/stealth-wealthpoverty-how-to-blend-in/

If you haven't read any of Terry Pratchett's work, shame on you! Get thee to a library! Captain Vimes is the classic hardened cop/detective character, though Pratchett has created many others just as great. Many of you may be familiar with this passage, though:

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”


For those not familiar, and getting not too spoiler-y for context, Vimes gets to know the daughter of the oldest, wealthiest family in the city and has lots of occasion to observe the habits of the rich. He goes on to observe how wealthy households never throw anything away- they buy top quality and use it forever/pack it for the next generation.

Quoted from here, but Pratchett quotes abound...
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/72745-the-reason-that-the-rich-were-so-rich-vimes-reasoned

Without delving too far into the affectations of old money vs. nouveau-riche (fascinating in itself), it bears thinking about. One of my many jobs was working in a high end boutique. I interacted with lots of ladies who'd bought expensive brands most of their lives (think Nieman-Marcus crowd, the Michigan Ave. set (Chicago), not Nordstrom and certainly not Macy's). It was there that I learned the counterintuitive concept that "fancy" brands were sometimes the better deal in the long run because they were so well made. They had purses, shoes, and suits/dresses that were twenty years old and still looked great, and weren't out of fashion.

Now, there's certainly ways to get that sort of stuff cheaper. My point is that if you see someone wearing "designer" clothes or accessories, it isn't always to flaunt it. Except for those twits who buy Coach's PVC bags with the big Cs stamped all over. Those are just idiots with no taste. :P
Having grown up poor I can say I totally agree as this was my parent's mindset. They would buy the smallest quantity of something and only when it needed to be replaced. My Dad smoked but wouldn't buy a carton of cigarettes instead bought a pack a day and grocery shopped every day because spending $50 on groceries a day hurt less to them than spending a few hundred every week. They never compared rates (phone, auto insurance, etc.) but just accepted that this was the price and they would just pay it.
They would shop at the more expensive grocery store not caring that their money could go further at another. It frustrated me to no end growing up and I read every book on money I could get my hands on that could help me change my perspective I've had since childhood. I've learned that you have to plan and prepare to have money even if you start out small but simple changes do add up. If you plan and prepare whether it be for the week meals ahead (shop for the whole week just once) or for things you need in the future (next years' winter jacket bought off season this year) you save time and money. I challenge myself every month to do as little shopping as possible. I grocery shop once a week max but try to stretch that out as far as possible. I now inventory my wardrobe and hubby's to see what we will need for next year and start buying on the clearance racks the end of each season. I just bought next years' walking clothes, four pairs of Fila yoga pants and four Fila half zip shirts for less than the price of one outfit so I'm set for next year only needing to find two pairs of walking shoes before next year. If I find something on sale that I use regularly I buy always two to have a backup so I don't need to rush out and buy the item at regular price because we need it right now.

Luck better Skill

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #45 on: February 09, 2015, 02:06:41 PM »
I'm not crazy about that quote. I've heard it before, and think I was relevant a long time ago but no longer is. The reality is, in this day and age the basics are so cheap and of reasonable quality that it doesn't matter whether you cheap out on most things.

I buy shoes every year, but it's a tiny fraction of my (average) income. I buy lower cost furniture, also for a tiny fraction of my income, and I have yet to have a chair collapse under me. Buying a purse for $20 every two or three years does not put me in the poor house.

People in this day and age are not broke because they buy basic goods for cheap and have to replace them more frequently, they're broke because they blow all their money on junk (barring medical conditions, disabilities, life choices, etc).

Well said!  I've always had the same problem with this quote.

It is no longer true or relevant in the world we live in today.  People who say it now use it as an excuse.

Better quality is not always being produced.  Outside a few areas we tend to lack the skills to distinguish shoddy work from quality.  I think the quote is good, it is just hard to be success at it.

Blindsquirrel

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #46 on: February 09, 2015, 05:55:48 PM »
 Just checking in as a Pratchett fan. Read em all. Great author.

KD

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #47 on: February 09, 2015, 06:45:39 PM »

Related to this thread:
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/stealth-wealthpoverty-how-to-blend-in/

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Having grown up poor I can say I totally agree as this was my parent's mindset. They would buy the smallest quantity of something and only when it needed to be replaced. My Dad smoked but wouldn't buy a carton of cigarettes instead bought a pack a day and grocery shopped every day because spending $50 on groceries a day hurt less to them than spending a few hundred every week. They never compared rates (phone, auto insurance, etc.) but just accepted that this was the price and they would just pay it.
They would shop at the more expensive grocery store not caring that their money could go further at another. It frustrated me to no end growing up and I read every book on money I could get my hands on that could help me change my perspective I've had since childhood. I've learned that you have to plan and prepare to have money even if you start out small but simple changes do add up. If you plan and prepare whether it be for the week meals ahead (shop for the whole week just once) or for things you need in the future (next years' winter jacket bought off season this year) you save time and money. I challenge myself every month to do as little shopping as possible. I grocery shop once a week max but try to stretch that out as far as possible. I now inventory my wardrobe and hubby's to see what we will need for next year and start buying on the clearance racks the end of each season. I just bought next years' walking clothes, four pairs of Fila yoga pants and four Fila half zip shirts for less than the price of one outfit so I'm set for next year only needing to find two pairs of walking shoes before next year. If I find something on sale that I use regularly I buy always two to have a backup so I don't need to rush out and buy the item at regular price because we need it right now.

YES!  This!

I like the quote but disagree that the second man HAD to buy the lesser quality boots.  He could of held off on purchasing until he had the money for the higher quality.  Someone above stated about taking care of the quality that you do get.  Even poorer quality goods can be made to last longer if they are well cared for. 

Pish posh.  I tend to disagree on the 'poverty trap' as a permanent mindset...only because otherwise how could you possibly go Mustachian from a lower level income??  ...the only way is to incrementally change what you are doing in order to BUILD UP A RESERVE.  Here's where I'm thinking about this...  Were I homeless and went to a soup kitchen where they handed out cookies.  I wouldn't eat my whole cookie.  I would save part of it for tomorrow.  The next day I would go get another cookie and so on and son saving a portion back each time.  Hell, that's how I started from my small earnings of shining my Dad's shoes for a dime to being able to retire at 26.  Each time I got something I saved part of it.  I did learn to 'buy straw hats in the winter time' when they were on sale.  If I wanted quality I saved for it.  OVER TIME I walked myself right out of a 'poverty trap'.  Will every one do this?  No.  They may not think it possible. 

I relate it to Katrina. Many people sat there waiting for someone to come rescue.  I would've been hoofing my way out of Dodge.  (Yes I know the ill, elderly and infirm were not able to.  Tis understood.  This is not to say that there aren't situations where people aren't in bad straits.  Lots are.  Lots plan/learn/work/save/etc. their way out of them.  Choose to stay stuck in the lesser quality boots if you must.  I personally am going to look to a higher level and do all in my power to move towards it.  Sometimes the higher quality just isn't worth it to me.  i.e.  I look at cars as transportation from A to B  as are most Mustachians, and am not concerned about status driving.  If someone wants to drive a nice luxury mobile more power to them.  Tisn't for me.  I choose to save there so I can have better quality X elsewhere. 

Tis all about the choices people choose to make.  An example would be say someone in the military being quadriplegic and choosing to lay down and quit.  Some do.  Many choose to work hard and attain great goals.  CHOICE.  Some people CHOOSE to be homeless.  Not all, but some are there by choice.

Now looking forward to reading Pratchett's works based on ya'lls singing his praises.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 06:49:07 PM by KD »

Dee 72013

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #48 on: February 09, 2015, 08:45:29 PM »

Related to this thread:
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/stealth-wealthpoverty-how-to-blend-in/

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Having grown up poor I can say I totally agree as this was my parent's mindset. They would buy the smallest quantity of something and only when it needed to be replaced. My Dad smoked but wouldn't buy a carton of cigarettes instead bought a pack a day and grocery shopped every day because spending $50 on groceries a day hurt less to them than spending a few hundred every week. They never compared rates (phone, auto insurance, etc.) but just accepted that this was the price and they would just pay it.
They would shop at the more expensive grocery store not caring that their money could go further at another. It frustrated me to no end growing up and I read every book on money I could get my hands on that could help me change my perspective I've had since childhood. I've learned that you have to plan and prepare to have money even if you start out small but simple changes do add up. If you plan and prepare whether it be for the week meals ahead (shop for the whole week just once) or for things you need in the future (next years' winter jacket bought off season this year) you save time and money. I challenge myself every month to do as little shopping as possible. I grocery shop once a week max but try to stretch that out as far as possible. I now inventory my wardrobe and hubby's to see what we will need for next year and start buying on the clearance racks the end of each season. I just bought next years' walking clothes, four pairs of Fila yoga pants and four Fila half zip shirts for less than the price of one outfit so I'm set for next year only needing to find two pairs of walking shoes before next year. If I find something on sale that I use regularly I buy always two to have a backup so I don't need to rush out and buy the item at regular price because we need it right now.

YES!  This!

I like the quote but disagree that the second man HAD to buy the lesser quality boots.  He could of held off on purchasing until he had the money for the higher quality.  Someone above stated about taking care of the quality that you do get.  Even poorer quality goods can be made to last longer if they are well cared for. 

Pish posh.  I tend to disagree on the 'poverty trap' as a permanent mindset...only because otherwise how could you possibly go Mustachian from a lower level income??  ...the only way is to incrementally change what you are doing in order to BUILD UP A RESERVE.  Here's where I'm thinking about this...  Were I homeless and went to a soup kitchen where they handed out cookies.  I wouldn't eat my whole cookie.  I would save part of it for tomorrow.  The next day I would go get another cookie and so on and son saving a portion back each time.  Hell, that's how I started from my small earnings of shining my Dad's shoes for a dime to being able to retire at 26.  Each time I got something I saved part of it.  I did learn to 'buy straw hats in the winter time' when they were on sale.  If I wanted quality I saved for it.  OVER TIME I walked myself right out of a 'poverty trap'.  Will every one do this?  No.  They may not think it possible. 

I relate it to Katrina. Many people sat there waiting for someone to come rescue.  I would've been hoofing my way out of Dodge.  (Yes I know the ill, elderly and infirm were not able to.  Tis understood.  This is not to say that there aren't situations where people aren't in bad straits.  Lots are.  Lots plan/learn/work/save/etc. their way out of them.  Choose to stay stuck in the lesser quality boots if you must.  I personally am going to look to a higher level and do all in my power to move towards it.  Sometimes the higher quality just isn't worth it to me.  i.e.  I look at cars as transportation from A to B  as are most Mustachians, and am not concerned about status driving.  If someone wants to drive a nice luxury mobile more power to them.  Tisn't for me.  I choose to save there so I can have better quality X elsewhere. 

Tis all about the choices people choose to make.  An example would be say someone in the military being quadriplegic and choosing to lay down and quit.  Some do.  Many choose to work hard and attain great goals.  CHOICE.  Some people CHOOSE to be homeless.  Not all, but some are there by choice.

Now looking forward to reading Pratchett's works based on ya'lls singing his praises.
You're absolutely right about needing a reserve and the example of saving a part of a cookie is exactly the way to change your life. It does take time and the right set of priorities to get there.
My car just turned 14 yrs. old and having a new or a luxury model isn't important to me either but I keep it clean, dusting and vacuuming it every week and keeping up on oil changes, etc. The longer I have my car the more sentimental I feel towards it, I guess we have history together.
It's hard to get out of poverty also if you don't value and maintain what possessions you have because you are spending money needlessly replacing goods due to neglect.

 

Jacana

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Re: The Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness
« Reply #49 on: February 09, 2015, 09:42:39 PM »
Love it! If you haven't read Pratchett, please do!

That's really funny, just a few nights ago I was rereading Men at Arms and read that quote out to my husband. But that's only part of the idea. I thought maybe adding the rest (the part the OP summarized) might resonate with other readers here?


When he was a little boy, Sam Vimes had thought that the very rich ate off gold plates and lived in marble houses.

He’d learned something new: the very very rich could afford to be poor. Sybil Ramkin lived in the kind of poverty that was only available to the very rich, a poverty approached from the other side. Women who were merely well-off saved up and bought dresses made of silk edged with lace and pearls, but Lady Ramkin was so rich she could afford to stomp around the place in rubber boots and a tweed skirt that had belonged to her mother. She was so rich she could afford to live on biscuits and cheese sandwiches. She was so rich she lived in three rooms in a thirty-four-roomed mansion; the rest of them were full of very expensive and very old furniture, covered in dust sheets.

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

[Insert original quote from OP here]

The point was that Sybil Ramkin hardly ever had to buy anything. The mansion was full of this big, solid furniture, bought by her ancestors. It never wore out. She had whole boxes full of jewelry which just seemed to have accumulated over the centuries. Vimes had seen a wine cellar that a regiment of speleologists could get so happily drunk in that they wouldn’t mind that they’d got lost without trace.

Lady Sybil Ramkin lived quite comfortably from day to day by spending, Vimes estimated, about half as much as he did. But she spent a lot more on dragons.
- Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms.


In other words, if you have real $$, you don't need to flaunt it, waste it, seek status symbols, or care what others think. You just do what makes you happy and spend your time and money on your passions. The heart of this website, no?