When Spending More is Frugal

My new, not quite so cheap,
but still frugal pocketbook
There are some people in the world that think frugality means spending as little as possible whenever possible. I mean, that can be one definition, but as I recently talked about, my definition of frugality is mindfully spending your money, so that you spend less on things that don't matter as much to you, so that you have more available to spend on things that are worthwhile to you. Some people might argue with me on that, that that is smart money practice but not necessarily frugality. Sometimes money mindfulness means spending money on something meaningful to you and not just trying to spend as little as possible. Because you're worthwhile and self care is important. But one thing that I am trying to get everyone to agree upon is that sometimes it is frugal to spend more money.

Frugal to spend money? How is that?

Well, let me give you an example.

I use a pocketbook whenever I leave my house. Sometimes I bring a backpack, but even then I use my pocketbook as well. (The only exception is when I travel abroad. Then I use a money belt.) My pocket book gets a lot of use. And I have really bad juju with pocketbooks. In the last year I literally bought 5 different pocketbooks. I have particular taste, and even finding each one to begin with was difficult. Each pocketbook was purchased from a different place, but all discount places. 
The first one's zipper broke.
The second one's strap broke.
The third one's lining ripped apart.
The fourth one, one that I really loved, and thought was beautiful, and hoped would last, literally fell apart in so many places, along the seams especially.

After that, I was so fed up. I wanted a pocketbook that would actually last me. My fourth pocketbook literally broke within one month.

I decided to invest in a better quality pocketbook, even if it meant spending more money. Because as much as I thought it was "cheap" to buy "cheap pocketbooks" if you add up the price of four pocketbooks in the span of a year, that is pretty much the price of a more expensive pocketbook, if not more.

I researched brands, and a woman in a nearby city makes and sells beautiful pocketbooks, and she stands behind her quality. I met her at a conference for women in business and I saw her pocketbook and was able to inspect the quality of the work and I could see just how well made it was. I spoke to other people and they all confirmed that it was great quality, and so I spent the money. And I absolutely love my new pocketbook!

In my books, it is frugal to buy something quality once, instead of sub par quality and need to replace it multiple times.

We experienced this when it came to home appliances. Our dryer, washing machine, stove and refrigerators were purchased second hand (or more) when we first got married. All of them died relatively quickly, and needed to be replaced. From then on, we decided not to purchase used appliances because if they don't last long, they aren't worth the money because you need to purchase them again soon after. One time we bought something refurbished, and it lasted longer than the used things, and at least came with a warranty. But in general we go only for new appliances now (unless they're given to us free). Since we've been buying appliances new, we've been having much better success with them.

There are other times where it is frugal to spend more as well.

For example, sometimes spending money on something helps you save money in the long run, because what you purchased saved you money. My husband's tools might be seen by some as an unnecessary expense, but because he has all these tools, he's able to DIY and do thing like build our own furniture and fix our dishwasher, which is pretty frugal. My grain grinder allows me to grind my own gluten free flours, which saves me money each time I bake something gluten free. Sewing machines also are an "extra expense" but if you have one, you're able to make so many things from scratch and fix things that they are certainly frugal.

Another time spending more is frugal is when you bulk buy. In one go, you end up laying out a lot of money, but because you're buying more in one shot, you typically get what you're purchasing at a very discounted price. (And if you're not, then don't buy it! Don't be fooled by Costco sized packaging; check how much you're paying per unit, and price compare.) The same goes for stocking up on items that are on sale. You're spending more in one go, but over time you end up saving money.

A saying I've heard and identify with is that "it takes money to save money" and that really is true. To be able to benefit from most frugal ideas, you need to have the extra cash to get started. This was a big struggle of mine when I wanted to start bulk buying but didn't have any extra cash. Here's what I did though, that allowed me to bulk buy without any extra cash, and it made a big difference.
I've heard some people be very critical of poor people for buying expensive takeout food instead of making from scratch meals, but if you don't have the money for a refrigerator, stove, or cooking tools, then you end up spending more money on food because you can't make your own.

It is a fallacy to think that being frugal means you never spend money. Because there are definitely times where the best way to save money is to first spend money.

What are examples from your life where your spending money was more frugal? What else would you add to my list?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. i mostly agree but also try to repair things as long as it makes sense. we bought a new cheap dryer (i got scammed; long story) and it cost about $100 a year to own. we then had a used dryer of a top-notch make and that also cost us $100/year to own. then it broke in a way we weren't going to fix. so we found a slightly used dryer, model has good reviews and is still being sold in stores, heavily discounted, and we grabbed it for $200. we suspect it will last more than two years. so i actually think that used name-brand is superior to new off-brand for the same price. our washer was also slightly used when we bought it, and half the price it would have been new.

  2. Excellent read! I spend money on good tennis shoes because I exercise a lot and they last longer than the cheap ones. Last week my favorite brand had an event at a local store and the rep was there from the company. I purchased a pair of well fitted tennis shoes and received a free pair of 80 value shoes plus a large insulated bag and a lunch box. They also had free appetizers. And I found out they do this once a year. I also checked online for deals first and the event pricing was cheaper.

  3. It really depends. I bought my current laptop secondhand for around 300 euros. It's got an i5 processor, 240 GB SSD, has 8 MB of RAM, runs Windows 10, and still performs like a top-notch machine. A new machine with similar specs would cost me at least double. And bikes where I live are SO expensive new that you're really better off buying them secondhand and then taking them to the shop and letting them have a go at it.

    On the other hand, things like purses are usually worth paying a little more for; I have a bag that's about 9 years old; it's still nice and still wonderful, though I unofficially retired it about two years ago. Shoes are hit or miss, I wear them out so fast that it's really a crapshoot as to whether it's worth paying more for them

  4. I got my used upright, size of a fridge, freezer on craigslist for half the price of a new one. It's a name brand and good quality and was less than 5 yrs old. I assume I can get it fixed via the company etc if it breaks down but so far so good. My husband also bought a "refurbished" amazing laptop on Newegg and we included a warranty on it for any issues- it is amazing and works perfectly. But I did a lot of research on both of those and was glad to have found such good bargains.

  5. I'm the same way with certain purchases. We bought a refrigerator and a dishwasher second-hand on Craigslist just before moving into our first home. The total cost was less than a new dishwasher at the time, and they've both lasted about 4 years. They've never a small amount of maintenance each year, which I estimate to be around $15 a year total, and they're both Energy Star rated. That was a good deal for us. However, when we went to buy a riding lawnmower for our land, we first bought an old Craftsman that seemed in good shape got about $400. Turned out the belt slipped every time you used it, and we had to stop and reset the belt five or six times just in the front yard. It wasn't something we could fix without incurring further costs, so we made the decision to purchase a brand new John Deere during a sale using our non-emergency savings. It still runs great 4 years later, and it should still be in good shape when we move again, this time to a farm with even more land. Some purchase are worth the extra investment!

  6. Got lucky with a used refurbished washing machine and a free dryer. What's funny is the free dryer only needed a $10 part and has lasted 5 years so far. The person who gave it said shes gone through 2 new Smart dryers since. I told her to get an older plain model if she wants a good one.

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