The Frugalwoods home is primarily outfitted with discount Craigslist deals, garage sale goodies, and of course, great trash finds. If you’re a regular reader, please sit down before continuing to read. Brace yourself: there are a few things Mr. Frugalwoods and I have purchased brand new and, in some instances, not even on sale. GASP. Everyone still breathing? Ok, let’s continue.
I thought it would be a revealing exercise to itemize our not so frugal fixtures and I took a walk around our house this weekend on my quest. I’m pleased to report that I didn’t unearth too much stuff. But, it’s more than you might suspect given our status as chief frugal weirdos and savers of 65%-85% of our income every month.
The theme of this list is long-term quality. We could’ve gotten cheaper analogs of each of these things, but, every item is something we determined was worthy of the added expense. Will we use these things forever and ever? Probably not. But, they’re also not tip-top of the line (except for perhaps #9, which I think might in fact be…).
The point here is to be a conscious consumer and not mindlessly fritter money away on junk we don’t need. Most of these products enable us to attain greater frugality in the long run. Mr. FW’s bike, for example, means a free commute to work for him every single day. And our tupperware lets us take our lunches to work without fail. Thus, the savings we reap over the years from these items far exceeds their initial costs.
10 Shockingly Expensive Things We Own
1) Mrs. FW’s Lasik Eyes: $4,225 (for two eyes)
My laser eyes definitely clock in as our most expensive purchase. No, I cannot in fact shoot lasers from my eyes (yet), but I do have 20/20 vision. I’ve worn glasses and contacts since 7th grade and always had a terrible time with uncomfortable, dry contacts and endless frustration with glasses. Especially in yoga and hiking (my two favorite things), glasses were problematic for me. And so, a year and a half ago, I took the plunge and got Lasik surgery.
Lasik is the best thing I’ve ever purchased and I cannot recommend it highly enough. The difference this had made in my life is tremendous–I mean, I can see! Every morning for about 6 months after my surgery, I’d grab Mr. FW and shout “I can see!!!” Finally, he was like “I know you can see sweetheart, please stop waking me up to tell me about it.” Touche.
I of course sought out every possible avenue to save money on my surgery. This did not, however, involve going to a cheap doctor. I actually selected one of the most prominent Lasik surgeons in Boston because frankly, my eyes are worth more than a few hundred bucks in savings! However, I was able to use a percentage off coupon from my health insurance company and, most significantly, we saved $300 by paying in full on the day of the surgery. Apparently most people finance Lasik and the Lasik center was more than happy to give me a discount for up-front pay.
Plus, I referred a friend and received a $100 referral credit when he had his surgery done. Sidenote and shameless request: if you live in the Boston area and are interested in Lasik, shoot me an email and I’ll send you my doctor’s details. I’d love it if you’d say I referred you, but, don’t tell them Mrs. Frugalwoods sent you–it’s not actually my name! Shocker, I know.
2) Mr. FW’s Bicycle: $500
Mr. FW here: since I commute to work by bike year-round (yes, even through the barren depths of Boston winters), I bought a pretty swell cycle a number of years ago. The expense was absolutely worth it for the savings we reap from this free method of transit. It’s a Marin Larkspur, which is a hybrid road bike. I purchased it from a local bike shop, which I highly recommend because they fit me to the bike ensuring I’m positioned correctly when cycling.
3) Electric kettle: $85
Morning coffee at the Frugalwoods home is a ritual. As is afternoon coffee on the weekends! Evenings find us with mugs of tea or hot cocoa in hand (especially as winter sets in). What does one need in order to create these fine, homemade, artisanal beverages? Hot water!
Our electric kettle (affiliate link) has individual temperature controls, which are a requirement for pour-over coffee. Our coffee making process necessitates 200 degree water, not 212 degree water, which is what standard kettles (with only an on/off switch) generate. It’s remarkably convenient, efficient, and worth every penny. Plus, it looks nice on the counter and matches our stainless-steel appliances. My coffee mugs may be from a trash pile, but I do have some pride, folks.
4) Glass tupperware: $55.99
Crucial to our cook-from-scratch, no-food-ever-wasted philosophy is a place to store all of that food we’re cooking from scratch. Mr. FW makes a gigantic batch of rice, beans, and mushrooms every Sunday for us to eat all week long for our work lunches. He frequently crafts large quantities of stews, soups, and hummus, which all must be kept in something. We use almost every piece in our two sets of glass tupperware every single week. Plus, no weird plastic chemicals leech into our foods. Plus, our snap-lock containers (affiliate link) are completely spill proof and thus can safely travel to work in Mr. FW’s bike pack.
5) Kitchen knives: $77.91
Mr. FW here: these are another key component of my culinary creations. I have three knives, which are really all you’ll ever need: a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife. The chef’s knife was a gift from my mom (thanks, mom!) and it has a full tang, which means the metal of the knife goes all the way through the handle–important for balance and quality. My paring knife is a Shun (affiliate link), a high-quality, thin bladed Japanese steel. My bread knife is good for cutting bread and tomatoes. The keys to using knives for life is to buy good knives to begin with, learn how to properly sharpen them yourself, never put them through the dishwasher, and never let anyone* use them who doesn’t know how.
6) Hiking gear: $I have no idea, I’m not that organized. Maybe $500?
We love to hike and thus, we have decent hiking gear. When you’re out in the elements or doing any type of performance sport/activity, the right gear can be the difference between having a crappy time (with a frozen toe*, bruised ankles, or seriously chafed legs) and having an awesome time in all weather.
Our gear is not phenomenal, but it wasn’t dirt cheap either. Most was purchased on the clearance rack at REI using the REI credit card and the co-op member discounts/dividends they provide annually. Since we bought what was on clearance, we both ended up with beige hiking pants and black outer coats. We look like the freaking bobsy twins on hikes. I’m sure people think we did it intentionally, but, it just happened to be what was on clearance! So if you see two identically-clad hikers in the Northeast, say hi.
Another way we’ve kept our gear costs down is that we only have one of each item. We each have 1 pair of hiking pants, 1 rain shell, 1 fleece liner, 1 sun hat, 1 wind-proof hat, 1 face mask, 1 pair of waterproof gloves, 1 set of hiking poles, 1 water bladder, and 1 pair of hiking boots. In this same vein, I own 1 sports bra, 1 yoga top, and 1 pair of yoga pants.
There’s simply no need to own multiples of any of this stuff–you can only wear one thing at a time. And if you’re overnighting, it’s not like you need to put clean clothes on the next day. Trust me, you ain’t gonna be clean. We do each have two packs (gluttonous I know), which are used for different seasons and types of hikes.
*Do not ever wear cotton socks when hiking in the wintertime. My toes may never be the same…
7) Undies: $12-$25/pair
Since we’ve established that you can’t/shouldn’t buy used underwear (and 1500 Days to Freedom corroborated), we decided to go the quality route. Mr. FW and I each bought our sets of undies five years ago and haven’t needed to replace a single pair yet. The Frugalwoods underwear (men’s, ladies) is a perfect example of the long-term benefit of buying quality over cheapest (affiliate link). These undies are ideal for the boardroom and the mountaintop: they’re comfortable, breathable, and extremely durable. Not buying underwear every year or even every five or ten years? Now that’s some frugal action.
8) Boots: $285.49
I have this pair of Frye leather boots (affiliate link). I didn’t buy them on sale. I didn’t even buy them used. Yep, I bought brand new, full-price boots 4 years ago. And I love them. I’ve worn them hundreds of times and will probably wear them thousands more times. These boots are amazing. They’re comfortable, classic, and fabulous.
I staged a years-long boot quest to find these exact boots. I’ve tried on every pair of cheap, plastic, imitation leather boots imaginable and I discovered a few things: 1) I have extremely long and narrow feet (size 9.5 double A narrow to be exact) and plastic boots aren’t narrow, 2) my calves are very slim and plastic boots aren’t slim, 3) I really wanted some quality boots!
Since Mr. FW and I walk just about everywhere, my boots needed to have low heels, be durable, and very comfortable for walking. These gorgeous specimens fit the bill perfectly. As a testament to their longevity, I had a cobbler re-sole and re-heel them last week (I wore an actual hole through one of the soles…).
I am a fiend of boot care: I never wear them in the rain, I rub them with mink oil twice a year, and I wipe them off with a soft rag after each time I wear them. You could say I’m a bit obsessed with these boots. If our paths cross in a cold climate, I’ll be wearing these boots. If you invite me to a nice gathering, I’ll be wearing these boots. If I go to FinCon 2015, I’ll be wearing these boots. Anytime I travel, I’ll be wearing these boots. If I just feel like, oh I’ll be wearing these boots.
9) Electric toothbrushes: $49.95 each
The Frugalwoods fangs are cleaned by none other than the most expensive electric toothbrush on the market: Sonicare (affiliate link). Rationale? Our dentist told us that this is what he uses, what he recommends people use, and that it’s the best thing you can do for your teeth on a regular basis.
Since we’re the #1 fans of preventative maintenance, these were an easy decision for us. We’ve had the same toothbrushes for 6 years and we replace the brush heads every few months. Bonus is that Costco sells replacement brush heads for super, duper cheap. Love, love, love how clean and shiny our teeth are. Neither of us has had a cavity since buying these babies. Before you ask, no Frugal Hound does not use an electric toothbrush. She has a very nice hound brush that we use on her little teefs.
10) Our Christmas Tree: $450
Ironic as it may be in light of our love of nature, not to mention the NAME OF OUR BLOG, we own an artificial Christmas tree. Given our penchant for the natural world, we didn’t arrive at this decision lightly, my friends.
In addition to loving coffee and Frugal Hound, Mr. FW and I love Christmas. Like really really love it. Not the crazy consumer gift giving culture, but the true meaning, the decor, and the general festive coziness. Live Christmas trees run close to $100 in the Boston area and, frankly, this is a little ridiculous. If we had land to go chop one down, fine. But paying that much year after year? Nope. We bought a quality, pre-lit artificial tree four years ago and never looked back.