I had a lady the other day crow about how she got such a great deal at Target buying 10 pairs of $5 flip flops in various colours when others are spending $20 – $50 on a single pair of flip flops with fancy brand names.
She scoffed at the ridiculousness of folks wasting money when they didn’t have to.
I didn’t want to point out that she bought 10 pairs at $5 which was the equivalent of a single pair of $50 flip flops anyway.
Also, I didn’t even have to ask to know that these were obviously plastic flip flops made in China where the colour stains your feet, whereas the ones people pay $20 or more for, are probably rubber or leather made in Brazil (as is the pair I paid $50 for).
When I mildly pointed out that the flip flops I was wearing cost me $50 (leather and rubber made in Brazil, and molded to your foot so they’re more comfortable than flat flip flops), she recoiled from me like I had told her I liked to bite the heads off snakes while they were alive.
Her: “Why would you pay $50 for flip flops!?“
Me: “A few reasons why: Not made in China, Leather and Rubber, Molded to my foot and very comfortable, and I only own one pair, not 10.“
Her: “But for the same price, why wouldn’t you want to own 9 more?“
Sensing this would turn into another recoil at my more minimalist tendencies and tastes that gear towards the spendier, higher-quality spectrum, I just simply said I didn’t think I needed more than one pair and I wanted them to be perfect.
She was slightly mollified by my answer, but convinced I was a right idiot for not wanting 9 pairs to be able to wear out over however many years she would wear them.
So I started thinking about people who think that they’re frugal, when in fact they aren’t.
THEY BUY MORE THAN THEY REALLY NEED
My run-in with the lady above is just one facet of this: They buy higher quantities thinking that it is cheaper in the long-run, when in fact it might work out to be the same thing.
She has 10 pairs of flip flops. They’ll last her maybe half a year for each pair. I in contrast, will be wearing my (better constructed) flip flops perhaps for equally as long and even if they do die after 3 years or less, I’ll have been more comfortable in them than in a pair of plastic, sweaty, cheap, foot-staining flip flops.
In the end, she paid the same amount I did. She’s just able to change the colours of her flip flops to match her outfits, but feel less comfortable in them than I do.
Is it really economy in the end? Or sheer, luxurious wastefulness?
My flip flops when they die (and if they cannot be repaired), will end up in a landfill. That lady will have 9X the amount of flip flops in landfills, perhaps in the same amount of time as I will go through one pair.
CHEAP CRAP DOESN’T LAST AS LONG
Another way someone thinks they’re being frugal is by saving money by buying a cheaper version instead of the real thing.
Why on earth would someone pay $5 for something they can pick up at the dollar store for $1?
..because tools at $1 don’t last as long as tools at $5.
I bought cheap pliers at the dollar store once. I paid $2. I went home, tried to fix my necklace, and ended up breaking the pliers because they weren’t made properly to begin with.
Frustrated, I tossed them in the garbage, went to the home hardware store and picked up a real pair of pliers for $5 and got the job done.
End result? I wasted time, and money on cheap crap, and contributed to an ever-growing landfill.
I am not the only one who knows this. Even without prompting or talking about the situation, people lament to me about how they purchased cheap crap (mostly from China), and were so disgusted by the quality they never bought anything from China again.
CHEAP CRAP DOES YOU MORE HARM THAN GOOD IN THE LONG RUN
For starters, you should consider how they were able to make that item for $1 and not $10.
Take for instance a plate. What goes into making a plate? Raw materials, labour and overhead of a factory.
Aside from labour, where do you think they’re cutting on costs? The raw materials of course.
When you end up buying that $1 plate, you eat off it assuming that there’s no lead or anything harmful to leech into your body, but perhaps they used substitute chemicals instead of safe, industry-approved ones, because it was cheaper.
Or how about counterfeit cosmetics or fragrances?
Sure it SOUNDS like the real thing, maybe even smells pretty darn close to it, but if they aren’t spending thousands of dollars to extract the scent and essence of real flowers to obtain that smell, how else are they doing it?
By use of chemicals of course.
In the end, what you are dabbing on your face or on your body as a counterfeit, designer cosmetic or fragrance, could be literally damaging your health and body, all for a wont of saving a few bucks.
YOU THINK YOU’RE BEING FRUGAL BUT YOU REALLY AREN’T
It is one thing to be frugal by saving your money and spend it on a beautiful item that will last your whole life and be able to pass on to the next generation (this is how I’ve started thinking about things that I purchase).
It is another thing altogether to call yourself “frugal” because you’re really just a cheapskate in disguise.
You spent less money, saved that one you didn’t spend for the real thing, but you probably opened yourself up to having to repurchase cheap crap again more often, contributing more than is required to landfills, and possibly harming yourself in the process.
At the end of it all, I look at it like this:
If you were dying from all the cheap crap you bought, you would very definitely on your deathbed, offer every penny you saved in your bank account from your “frugality” to restore your life.
Think I’m exaggerating? You only have to recall those imported lead-poisoned toys that harmed children, and tainted wheat gluten pet food that killed dogs and cats across America to realize that sometimes you need to take precautions against your own frugal nature and spend the money.
Maybe you’ll get off scot free and not die or be harmed by your cheap crap, living a long, healthy life until you die.
…but in the event that you won’t? What will you do then?