Spending Money to Save Money

My best friend, Michelle, introduced me to this quote by Terry Pratchet, in the book "Men At Arms", which is probably one of the best explanations on economic unfairness, why the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. 

“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.”

I could try to explain this to you in depth, but when Terry Pratchet did it so well, why reinvent the wheel.

So in this post, I wanted to share with you some examples about how spending money can actually save you money in the long run.

As a home owner this is something that comes up often. When we purchased our house, we purchased a brand new home from a company that was building a project. I had an option to buy a different house, one that was already built, that was somewhat cheaper, but decided to go with the building company, because the building company actually had a warranty, so if anything was wrong structurally for the first however many years, they would fix it. Something that wouldn't happen if I bought a house. But even within the house there were things we chose to spend more on, so that we'd be able to spend less on overall. 

While the house was being built, we paid for our private person to come supervise the building, making sure the builders weren't cutting any corners. Yes, this cost more, but overall, is saving us money to make sure we didn't end up screwed over. And then when our home was ready, we paid someone to do an inspection of the pipes, because that isn't something we could do ourselves, and we didn't want to sign off that everything was ok, when it actually wasnt. The inspector did find issues and got the builders to fix it, catching things I never would have caught. (For example, the shower tiles didn't actually slant towards the drain, which would make the water not go down, and standing water can cause quite a few other issues down the line.)

When doing construction to make the rental unit for the apartment, I paid more for a higher quality hot water heater, so that I wouldn't have to replace it for a while. Another thing a home owner might do is get a system to melt ice off a roof, such as the one found at https://heatline.com/paladin-for-roof. I mean, this might seem superfluous at first- what's the big deal about having some snow on your roof, why spend money on something like that, but this initial expense can mean stopping snow build up on your roof which could cause your roof to collapse, which would be a greater expense than the roof paladin by a long while.

Another thing on my mind is a car. I've mentioned before that I really, really want a car, and am seriously thinking about buyinh one. Just buying a car already is an example of spending money to save money, because paying for a car is a big chunk of money at once, but if I spent a lot on renting a car each month, overall it ends up being like Sam Vine's boots instead of the expensive initial boots. But then even once buying a car, how do you make sure that you don't end up screwed over? 

I have a close relative that purchased a car with their hard earned money, trying to make a frugal deal out of it, but less than a month later the car completely stopped working and they were out of all their money. They bought from a private person with no guarantee, probably someone looking to make a quick buck off their problem car and have no accountability. So it is more worthwhile to buy from a used car dealership, with something like a Florida Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond, because a bond like that protects customers from fraud or misrepresentation during a business transaction, which means that you won't end up screwed over like happened to this relative of mine. Accountability is important. So even if it means not getting as "great of a deal" as possible, spending more money on a car with a guarantee is better than chancing it with some random person you found on the internet. And then there's also the factor of buying a car model that is known for reliability, even if its more expensive, so you aren't spending as much time in the shop with it.

And last for now. Today, despite being absolutely zonked, I made myself some gluten free bread, which reminded me of another big thing that I spent a lot of money on at first but now saves me so much money on a regular basis. When I found out that I needed to go gluten free, I was so worried about the expense, because gluten free things are so ridiculously expensive. And even if you want to make things from scratch, just gluten free flour is so much more expensive than regular flour, and I'm not talking abotu the ready made mixes, just simple things like rice flour or buckwheat flour are 4 times or more the price of wheat flour. So I purchased an electric grain grinder, the Blendtec Kitchen Mill, and wrote about how much it cost me, and how much I think it'll save me, already 8 years ago (and purchased the grinder closer to 9 years ago if I recall correctly). And it has served me faithfully, and I never buy gluten free flour, just gluten free pseudograins, and over the last 8+ years it has saved me so much money. So yes, the initial expense was a big deal for someone struggling financially at the time, but it was probably the best financial decision I ever made, and has paid for itself so many times over.

Yes, it is hard to spend money to save money down the line when you are short on cash, which is why I wrote this post on how to bulk buy with no extra money, which is a good way to free up some cash, and whose concepts can be applied to other things as well. 

Good luck!

How have you found spending money has saved you money? What were the best investments that saved you the most money?

Penniless Parenting

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


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  1. This is truth. But I managed to accumulate a backlog of groceries by a bit of sacrifice and some good shopping strategies, which eventually led to the ability to buy better quality here and there. Paired with buying quality preowned items, which is also better for the earth, I've managed to buy the "$50 boots" most of the time. Checking out The Tightwad Gazette and Your Money or Your Life from the library is a good, no cost beginning.

  2. That boots theory is really interesting. I think fast fashion is another example. I would rather pay more for clothing and shoes that will last than those that are cheaper but made with chintzy fabrics or sewn poorly. It's hard to make the initial investment, especially if I'm short on money at the time, but really worth it in the long run.

  3. This boot story is so true, my husband bought a pair of Red Wing steel toed boots 30 years ago, he dyed them, waxed them to a beautiful black shine every couple months to keep the leather from cracking. I lost count of the number of times they have been resoled and now they just sit in the closet but they look amazing. He has several pair of Wingtips he bought when he worked at Hanover shoe store in the early 90's that have cedar shoe trees in them and they almost look new and have had new heals and soles put on them. When he bought them he said he would never need a new pair. I just donated his fathers after he passed along with several beautiful suits and sport coats some almost 25 years old, classics never go out of style. He in lies the key, doesn't matter if you are using hand tools from your grandfather, good clothes and shoes, a 20 year old car. I had a 2000 Lincoln I bought in 2001 and just gave it away last year with little rust and the heated seats still work, runs amazingly and I would have kept it if I hadn't found a 2003 with 45,000 miles. Buy good products, care for them ritually and they will last for an amazing amount of time. But the item doesn't need to be new, I just donated a whole wardrobe of men's shoes and suits along with shirts, ties and wool winter outerwear, I signed over my car to a person my mechanic knew needed a car last year because it needed a new alternator and tires, no one would buy a car that old that needed work. It would have broken my heart to pay to have it junked, it now goes 30 miles to and from work everyday, yes it only gets about 20 miles to the gallon but it's in perfect shape and no car payment and the cost of insurance is almost non existent as she carries liability only.

  4. Continued from previous post. You don't have to buy anything new, hit the thrift stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, church basements, the curb on garbage day. The good stuff is out there especially now that the country has had almost a year to do nothing but go through their closets and attics. I went nuts trying to give away furniture in perfect condition, people who cried that they needed good furniture walked away from something free because they didn't like the color, my FIL only bought the top of the line, I told one lady to buy a cover until she could have it redone and she said no and bought a new sofa that will at best last 2 years on 1 year no interest. Solid Oak bedroom sets, kitchen table and chairs, but oak is out of fashion, it's so 90's, no it's over 100 years old with no pressed board. Habitat brought a truck and took it all, the guy said it wouldn't last a day, the furniture dealers and antique dealers will buy it up and sell it at a ridiculous price. I have a house full of 100 year old furniture and have for more than 30 years, same bedroom set (it was my grandparents), kitchen set (the table my 90 year old mother grew up at) that was given to me when I bought my first house. I know people who have replaced their furniture at least 4 times because they bought cheap, or it's out of style, new cookware because theirs is scratched or broken, new cars because they were bored with the old one. People who are now in real trouble, they haven't worked since March or April, might lose their house, lose their business, who wished they hadn't replaced that car. Yes my friend, even the poor can acquire quality, they just can't buy it new, they need to keep their eyes open, I am shocked at what I've seen on the curb on garbage day, take something good even if its out of style, put a cover over it, paint it. I spent the first 10 years of life on my own receiving shutoff notices for my utilities, going to work hungry but I never needed new furniture, clothes, I drove my second car 16 years, my 3rd car 20 before I gave it away, I'll drive this 2003 until the tires fall off. I believe the poor are being screwed over, they are told to believe they are nothing without that new pair of gym shoes, great cell phone, getting their nails done. I watch my friends children kids throw good money after bad on things they don't need to impress people who mean nothing. I know the good stuff is out there because I just gave a house full of stuff away and I am not alone.

  5. I totally agree with you. For instance many people here in the UK can't afford the internet so they cannot access many deals or search on-line for cheaper insurance etc. Years ago my son needed new boots but didn't have the cash to buy them at the market so was going to get the same ones in a catalogue and pay monthly which cost much more. I suggested I lend him the money so he could get the better deal. I knew he would pay me back quickly which he did. I always buy good shoes and they do last me years. I'm fortunate I can afford to.

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