Author Topic: Do you ever feel like being frugal means everything wears out at once?  (Read 7869 times)

superone!

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Do you ever feel like being frugal means everything wears out at once?

I get a little frustrated, because not everything can be buy it for life. Or even if it is, maybe I'm not so good at keeping these things maintained. This week, the (aftermarket) charger for my phone stopped working. The (also aftermarket) charger for my laptop (which I bought in 2007) also stopped charging my laptop. My headphones finally gave out (after weeks of only one ear or the other working) and I realize that my capsule wardrobe clothes are increasingly threadbare. And stained. My 1977 car developed a weird squeak when I turn the wheel. I got a flat tire on my bike. I'm starting to feel rather disheveled by all of this happening at once, and I can't decide what I should replace altogether, and what I should keep hobbling along with minimal repairs.

Do you ever feel like you maybe used things until they were oh-so-slightly past when they should've been replaced, and then suddenly you have to make lots of decisions about what you need to actually replace, and what is worth putting in a little more money (or effort) to make it stretch a little longer? Maybe I'm just feeling complainypants, but darn it, I suddenly feel like I need a different car and a new laptop and at minimum new headphones, and I don't want to buy any of these things!

That's all, just venting. But wondering if others ever feel the same...

surfhb

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Next time buy quality stuff so it wont wear out so quick.      Being frugal isnt the same as cheap ;)

But, you've received many years of use without spending the money to replace....whats the problem here? 
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 11:19:05 PM by surfhb »

Joshin

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Next time buy quality stuff so it wont wear out so quick.      Being frugal isnt the same as cheap ;)


I don't know, a 38 year old car and an 8 year old charger sounds pretty quality to me. And a steering wheel squeak (depending on the cause) and flat bike tire don't sound like a big deal.

 I know the pain of everything happening at once, though. Generally, I begin by fixing/replacing the most pressing but inexpensive things first, and then limp along with the others until I'm positive that I can't go on without handling them. For example, my oven crapped out and my tires needed replaced at the same time. Eh, it's summer. I'll worry about the oven in a few months, I have other ways to cook, but we need the tires because the little bit of driving we do all happens in the summer. So maybe in your case, fix the bike and limp along with the car, or vice versa, depending on which one is most needed in your daily life.

kendallf

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Do you ever feel like being frugal means everything wears out at once?

I'm starting to feel rather disheveled by all of this happening at once, and I can't decide what I should replace altogether, and what I should keep hobbling along with minimal repairs.

That's all, just venting. But wondering if others ever feel the same...
I struggle with this all the time.  Most often it's car related, but any number of other items crop up also.  This week it's my high mileage Prius, which is having intermittent combination meter problems (the speedo and other dash info do not turn on when the car starts).  I can buy a used one on Ebay, but will I just get another one that will fail eventually?  I'm not really willing to pay dealer price for a new one (yet, at least...).  Argh.

deborah

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It is a problem. Sometimes because we notice some things wearing out, we then start to notice other things.

The capsule wardrobe all wearing out at once is almost a given. For a capsule to work, you really need to buy all the clothes together because that particular pink (for example) is only available this year, not next year or last year. As a result, the clothes are all the same age, get rotated and used the same amount, and so wear out at the same time. It doesn't matter whether the capsule is made up of good clothes or poor quality clothes - they have the same amount of wear. The way I avoided this is to stick to navy or black, which may go together year in, year out.

Actually, having a capsule wardrobe all wear out at once isn't bad.  You can check at the end of the season whether it will last another, and get a new capsule at the cheaper prices of season-end sales. This will give you a completely new look for next year (or you can alternate the two capsules during the next year until the older one starts to fall apart) and you can feel like a new person!

markbrynn

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The problem comes when you save money by buying things used and less expensive versions and then spend the savings somewhere else. If you make a budget, then the budget should have a place for replacing/repairing things. This is obvious for things like a car, but should also apply to wardrobe. Some people say that their clothing budget is $0. Unless they're getting everything literally for free, then they are more likely living off past spending. Make a budget with realistic ongoing costs and you won't be surprised.

On the emotional side I completely understand. We spend little money for the past year and then have a number of things come up at once. Even if it's budgeted for, it still doesn't feel good to have to blow a lot of money in a short time.

cityfolks

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This happens to me as well, and can be frustrating because it often means starting from scratch. Recently I had a pair of shoes fall apart, which I'd purchased them so long ago I had to spend some time finding a replacement pair, as the original size/style was no longer available.

Some of this is likely because purchases get bundled together (I find undergarments, for example, tend to to shed elastic simultaneously). Also, as a previous poster noticed, that one thing going out of commission causes us to notice other things as well. It can be very frustrating and is that kind of convergence is tricky to plan for!

DeltaBond

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My frugal husband always says "poor people buy things twice".

Mr. Green

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Dang, man! That's a lot of stuff to have happen all at one time, even if you were being cheap. I guess it happens from time to time. Look at it this way, once you're replaced what needs replacing you should be good to go on those things for another long spell.

skunkfunk

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My last few weeks have been absurd as well. I've taken the refrigerator apart three times (finally fixed the issue,) the AC is acting funny, I spent one weekend pulling cables through the attic, set up a new HTPC to cut the DirecTV cord (why won't anything just work, right?) and both cars and the mower need maintenance. Before that I was pretty much clear for a month. It comes in waves.

expectopatronum

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I find that being frugal means that you, unlike other people, actually wear things out rather than replace them when a newer version is out. Instead of being thrown in a pile until it's obsolete, it might get replaced unnecessarily by others.

I agree with buying quality, but like you said, sometimes when it rains, it pours. Old, quality stuff can break.

Secret Mustachian pleasure: using an old backpack until it has holes, using up a pen until it's out, using 100% of spiral notebooks, owning a 2008 laptop that still works, owning 5+ y/o clothes....but yeah, it's not fun when those big expensive things kick the bucket :/

Ricky

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Cheap != frugal.

A frugal person will buy quality items that they know will last. Price is irrelevant. Like someone else said, unnecessarily replacing items when you don't need to is when it's consumerism/materialism.

I don't think everything going bad at once is in anyway related to frugality. That's just bad luck.

skunkfunk

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A frugal person will buy quality items that they know will last. Price is irrelevant.

That isn't true. It is not frugal to buy, for instance, a sub zero refrigerator, or a $800 set of boots. Sure you can fix them up and the leather lasts forever, but I'm still using my $70 POS steel toed boots from 10 years ago so what's the point?

Tester

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It happens.
Make a  budget for slowly replacing them.
I also have very old clothes.
I have a t-shirt which I think is 9 years old - I love it.
My everyday jacket is 5 years old - the same as above.
I had a pair of Head hiking boots for 7 or 8 years - and I wore them in town too besides mountaineering each year for 2-4 weeks.
Just to make it clear: the Head hiking boots cost me a fortune. They were 100 EUR bought in my home country where the average wage is 400 EUR.
At that time I earned almost nothing, I was in university and just helped some colleagues with projects for some vacation money.

My experience until now is: if you have to buy something quick you can go with anything - but if you get it very cheap expect to have problems/need to replace it quicker.

If you want something to last: look for sales. I once bought a pair of Adidas Purah sandals after looking at them for 2 years. When they went on sale for 50% of the price I got them (they were still expensive for my country, but this time I had a good salary). I used them for 4-5 years wearing them daily in town and on some hiking trips. When I moved here I did not take them with me as after so many years they started to have a smell, but they were still very fine. Unfortunately it seems they don't make that model anymore.

For cars: I owned a new car and two used ones.
Just some numbers from my last car:
Bought a 2000 VW Golf Sation Wagon in 2014 (it is Jetta here, the same car just slightly different headlights). It had 1.6 petrol engine - 105 BHP, 5 gears manual. It had 130000 miles when I bought it.
Price for buying: 1850 EUR.
Price to bring it to my country: 650 EUR.
When I bought it I knew I had to replace the timing belt plus water pump.
I was also aware that some other things would need replacement.
The first time I replaced the timing belt and water pump plus spark plugs and spark plugs wiring (don't know the exact words for that in English).
I also bought new summer tires - the car had good winter tires.
Plus I had the oil plus filters changed (regular maintenance).
The car was in good condition, just it had a problem with the EGR valve - it would act like cutting power for short periods of time when driving at cruising speed.
In the following year I changed: one break caliper on one back wheel.
One engine mount.
All shock absorbers - they were the original ones so at 130xxx miles it was time.
The EGR valve plus some sensors.
Total cost of maintenance of around 1300 EUR over one year.
I also modified the car to use LPG. Cost: 800 EUR. I  my country the gas was almost 2 USD/liter (at 500 USD/month average wage...). The LPG was at half price. The car would consume a little more on LPG than on gas so I almost cut the cost/km in half.
As I was planning to keep the car for a long time it was ok, I would have gotten the time to get the money back on the modification.

When I left my country (unfortunately right when I fixed almost everything on the car) I got almost all my money back.
The car needed break discs replaced. They were replaced by the one buying it.
He is very happy with the car right now :). I talked with him and the car is in great shape.
I knew I would have to spend money on the car, but I knew I wanted to keep it for a long time.
So I kept fixing one thing at a time for some time knowing then I will have a long time with only regular maintenance.

If I had known I will leave the country I would have skipped replacing the EGR valve for a while as I disabled it and the car worked fine.
I also talked with the service if blocking the EGR would damage my car and they explained exactly what it does and that it is ok to block it - just I wold not pass emissions test.
But the rest would have still been done, as I like my car to be "perfect".

The last story: when I was a kid I liked playing basketball (I still like it but I don't get to play anymore :)).
I wanted Nike shoes. You could find them very hard plus they were very costly.
So I used local made shoes. Very good upper leather, but i went through the soles in 3 weeks. After the second pair with the same story my parent said I should stop playing basketball with them. They bought me some better ones for basketball and I wore the others just for walking. Although the better ones were also from a big company, when I bought my first 2 pairs of Nike shoes (at age 32!!!) they were "perfect". Still, last year I bough another pair of Nike shoes which were just stinky after wearing them for 2 hours. Unfortunately I bought them in Canada and first wore them in my country so no return...

After a very long story (hopefully not too long), what I wanted to say:
- Things break from time to time.
- If they consume your money, get rid of them and buy better ones.
- Sometimes there is no free meal - if you want something of good quality you have to pay for it.
- Make sure you don't pay for "quality" when in fact it is not of quality.
- I like to avoid buying the same thing several times if it keeps breaking the same way. After two, it is time for something else if I really need it.

« Last Edit: June 12, 2015, 01:18:53 PM by Tester »

Ricky

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A frugal person will buy quality items that they know will last. Price is irrelevant.

That isn't true. It is not frugal to buy, for instance, a sub zero refrigerator, or a $800 set of boots. Sure you can fix them up and the leather lasts forever, but I'm still using my $70 POS steel toed boots from 10 years ago so what's the point?

Well I think "within reason" is always assumed. A frugal person also buys for needs. No one needs a sub zero fridge or $800 set of boots? There are obvious diminishing returns for every dollar spent past a certain amount on any given item. Price is still irrelevant. If an $800 widget is what you have to pay to get the most bang/buck then so be it.

Gone Fishing

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I wear out/break things all the time despite taking pretty good care of my stuff.  This is why I can not do the minimalist thing.  I keep a stache of back-up items to either sub in or raid for spare parts.  My method is not perfect, as it takes time and space, but can help reduce the cost of replacements/repairs significantly.  I am hoping to up my game once FIREd and have more time to organize and work on things.

As far as high dollar, more "serviceable" items go, I have found the replacement parts and/or labor often times outweigh the cost of another China made cheapo replacement which saddens me, but seems to be the new reality.

My wife and I often remark about the lack of a "mid-grade" option.  Just last week, one of the kids dropped the the plastic watering can and split the bottom out.  A new cheapo can was $5 at the box store.  Just for kicks I looked up what it would take to get a well made one with a personal limit of around $20.  What I found was that it took around $50 to get a really good one- 10x the price of the cheapo that had lasted me 5 years.  At that rate, the new can would have to last me 50 years to break even or actually longer when you include the opportunity cost of the funds no longer invested (assuming stocks beat the inflationary increases in the cost of plastic, which they should). 

Another way to think about it is that the $45 that remains invested can probaby buy me a new cheapo watering can every 2-3 years which is less than the expected life of the can, leaving me with more money to spend on other things at the end of the day.

BTW, I did plastic weld the old can back together with a soldering iron and now have it as a back-up/second can, it leaks a but, but is still useful for outdoor work.       

TaxChick

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Sometimes it feels like everything breaks at once. This past week I had issues with a couple of door knobs/locks, a leaky pipe and a portable fan went out.  I was frustrated because the fan wasn't that old....then I remembered I had it for about 15 years. The real issue is that I don't like to spend money.  :)

ketchup

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I hit a deer and had to replace a window in my car, the key broke off in the ignition for no good reason (cheapo Home Depot key copy), the pull-for-shower-thingy on our bathtub came off in my hand, and my friend's 2012 van died in our (narrow) driveway, all around the time we decided to paint half the inside of our house.

When it rains, it pours.  Weather the storm.  All the problems listed above I have now fixed, and life goes on.

Rural

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Yep. It's generally all or nothing in the repair department. I don't think it's related to frugality, though; I think it happens to everybody.

PMG

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I second this.

Frustrating when everything seems to go at once, but I find it so satisfying to actually use something up or wear it out. I am often shocked at my friends who have cell phone chargers in each room and the car, or throw away half eaten food, or toss clothing worn only a handful of times or lose lighters and pens and god knows what else, so have dozens just in case and never actually finish one.

Good to the last drop. Aye?


I find that being frugal means that you, unlike other people, actually wear things out rather than replace them when a newer version is out. Instead of being thrown in a pile until it's obsolete, it might get replaced unnecessarily by others.

I agree with buying quality, but like you said, sometimes when it rains, it pours. Old, quality stuff can break.

Secret Mustachian pleasure: using an old backpack until it has holes, using up a pen until it's out, using 100% of spiral notebooks, owning a 2008 laptop that still works, owning 5+ y/o clothes....but yeah, it's not fun when those big expensive things kick the bucket :/

MrsPete

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We like to get maximum use out of everything we buy, but (cast iron frying pans aside) everything has its limit. 

I remember a point in my life when I realized this:  We were still young and struggling, and we had our first child.  Dedicated to the idea of saving aggressively, we didn't spend much on clothing.  This was sensible:  Clothing is one of those purchases that can usually be put off 'til tomorrow.  After several years of doing this, it was time for me to go back to school in the fall, and as I looked at the clothes I hadn't worn all summer, I realized that every item of professional clothing I owned was a rag.  Everything was faded, pill-y, stretched, mended ... and in a professional job, that won't do.  And my husband's wardrobe was just as bad.  Like most people here, I don't feel the need to maintain a fancy or expensive wardrobe, but I do know that it's important to present a good image in the workplace.  The upshot was that I ended up NEEDING to buy a bunch of clothes that fall ... and when you wait 'til you NEED things, you give up the choice of collecting them gradually at sale prices.

Determined not to fall into that situation again, I developed a clothing rotation.  For example, I 'm doing my husband's shirts right:  He wears only LL Bean, which are incredible quality, and they go on sale after Christmas.  Every year I buy him TWO ... and he discards the two oldest shirts in his closet.  Depending upon his needs, I buy him 1-2 pair of new pants around Father's Day every year (always good sales).  For myself, I tend to buy two outfits every spring and two outfits every fall (not always new, mind you).  I stand up all day and need to wear quality shoes; I evaluate my shoes at the end of each school year, and if I find that my black boots are too worn to see another season, I have the whole summer to pick up another pair on sale (or through ebay).  The result is that we always have SOMETHING relatively new that can be worn for a big-deal day work ... and we always have something that's kind of hanging on for another season and can be worn on a day that we expect to move boxes. 

We have a car system too:  We have money direct deposited into a car fund so that when our current car dies (probably not for more than a decade), we'll be ready to replace it. 

Small things -- tools, cell phones, household goods -- we tend to "hold off on" 'til birthdays or Christmas. 


« Last Edit: June 14, 2015, 06:52:30 AM by MrsPete »

Rezdent

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I do notice this and I do attribute it to frugality.

I compare myself to coworkers and neighbors and:
  • My 3yr old cell phone battery died.  This wouldn't happen to them because hey - they get a new phone when they re-up their high-priced contract.  I just bought a new battery.
  • My clothes wear out.  This wouldn't happen to them - they've bought piles of clothes and continue buying.
  • I use my worn out clothes as rags.  This wouldn't happen to them - their barely used clothes go to thrift stores (or spare closets) and they've bought their "rags" new.

and so it goes.

The repairs and replacements are more obvious in my life.  My normal coworkers and neighbors are also doing replacements but it is hidden because they are doing multiple upgrades prior to failure.

Because I deal with way more of these expected failures, it makes sense that there will be periods where they cluster.
I'm still coming out WAY ahead.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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We've had a crazy run of bad luck lately, too!

--My 99 Accord needs at least several hundred dollars of work.
--Our 10 or 12-year-old printer is dead.
--My cell phone inexplicably stopped working. Apparently the battery is integrated and non-replaceable. (I tried anyway, but failed!)
--Mr. FP dropped his cell phone and broke the screen.
--The TV broke.
--All my underpants have holes in them.

Also, we are still trying to get our house set up.

I'm trying to just take this all in stride. It's just a run of bad luck to have a lot of things happen at once, and it's frustrating when one would rather be building up savings than shelling out $160 for a new printer. But it will be better next month!

MLKnits

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The problem comes when you save money by buying things used and less expensive versions and then spend the savings somewhere else. If you make a budget, then the budget should have a place for replacing/repairing things. This is obvious for things like a car, but should also apply to wardrobe.

This is why I'm trying to use YNAB-style budgeting instead of Mint. My norm, and I think the norm for most people, is to buy first and pay for it later, when things "just come up." But most of those things, like eventually having to replace clothes, shoes, electronics, etc, are things that could be planned for. I'd much rather "pay for it" first, buy it later, but it takes a lot of getting used to!

expectopatronum

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--All my underpants have holes in them.


I realize this wasn't meant to be funny, but it did kind of make my morning. Definitely a Mustachian problem to have.

DeltaBond

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I actually stepped up my frugality lately just going without.  Its not always easy to do, but we have a percolator for coffee, and a one cup Kurig - the Kurig stopped working so well, but its 2.5 years old.  I thought about buying another one, but at $95, I'll just use the percolator.

Cell phones, that's a tough one, but its been a long time since my husband or I have bought a new cell, much less the most updated one out there.  Lately when something breaks, as it does, I just say, "Lets just go without for a while."  I feel like I'm just buying tickets to the circus replacing everything... the circus being this product market where nothing is made to last and store owners get richer upcharging on poorly made items.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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--All my underpants have holes in them.


I realize this wasn't meant to be funny, but it did kind of make my morning. Definitely a Mustachian problem to have.

Underpants are always funny.

Paul der Krake

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When things go wrong, the brain will  look for something to blame, and our habit of stretching things is a easy target.

It's why you question getting the high deductible plan when you get a $400 bill even though it's your first health expense in 5 years and you've saved thousands in tax breaks this year alone.

It's why you are annoyed when someone wins big on a highly speculative bet in the stock market when you passed to go the rational, conservative way, instead.

It's why you think that you should have gotten the store insurance that covers electronic failure when your device fails, even though this is the first time any electronic equipement has ever failed on you within the short covered period.

Nobody is 100% immune to emotional decisions. This is why tracking what actually happens, instead of what your brain thinks happens, is important. Now pray with me to the spreadsheet and backup gods, for we are all sinners.

letired

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Partially attributed to frugality, a whole bunch of my clothes wore out right as I finished grad school, including 10 year old undies. I say partially because up till everything gave out, I didn't need more underwear! But partially due to poverty, because it wasn't a good use of money to buy new undies to hedge against everything falling apart when I needed to pay rent.

patrickza

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There's always something wearing out in my life, but I do great battles with them to keep them going. A tip for the laptop charger, find someone who has a broken laptop and take their charger, then cut the connector plugs off and put your connector on. They are almost always 19v and generally interchangeable. I've done this many times and never had an issue even when there was a full volt difference. Don't believe that you need to go for the expensive original brand.

FYI I'm in the IT office at work, so I have loads of old chargers from extinct laptops lying around which I love to recycle for people in need.