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.

Mr. FW biking to work on his not-so-frugal bike

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.

The bike of Mr. Frugalwoods

3) Electric kettle: $85

Kettle controls!
Kettle controls!

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.

The Kettle
The Kettle

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.

Frugalwoods lunches all lined up for the week
Frugalwoods lunches all lined up for the week

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.

*Mrs. Frugalwoods.

The knives of Mr. FW
The knives of Mr. FW

6) Hiking gear: $I have no idea, I’m not that organized. Maybe $500?

Mr. FW using our water filtration gear on a hike
Mr. FW using our water filtration gear

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.

Mr. FW putting his hiking gear through its paces on Mt. Lincoln

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.

Mrs. FW on the Franconia Ridge summit
Mrs. FW on the Franconia Ridge summit

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

Me + my boots
Me + my boots

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.

Wore a hole in the sole

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

The FW Tree!
The FW Tree!

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.

Frugal Hound posing for last year’s Christmas card photo

What do you think of our list? What’s the most expensive thing you own? Do you wish you had our underwear? You should.

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  1. Everything on the list makes sense and sometimes it is worth it to spend a bit more or certain things – it’s all about what value it adds to your life and choices. These are great examples.
    I have a hybrid Shimano – I need to ride it more. I am terrified to ride on busy streets. TERRIFIED. Something I need to work on. LOL.

    1. Many years ago, when I first started bike commuting, I certainly needed to ease into it. I did a lot of side-street detours. Eventually you become more confident. It’s all about practice!

  2. Hmmm I believe this post is the one I can relate to the most. I’ve tried used clothing but when you aren’t a size 0, jeans will have the previous owner’s body print (just like used shoes), I can’t pick kitchen stuff from garbage my brain tells me it was thrown away because something gross was done with it. My thing is just to buy quality and very seldom. I have read that the best deal comes from going middle of line. Can’t go too cheap, that stuff is crap and can’t go too expensive because you won’t be able to get your money back on it.
    As for gym clothes I must disagree and say you do need multiples, I do hot yoga 5 or more times a week and I can’t wear the clothes again without washing therefore I own several of each item that way I do laundry only once. Great post.

    1. I’m with you on the jeans! Mrs. FW can find some decent pairs, but I’ve never found a good used pair of guy jeans.

      1. “Me Too” brand on Amazon. Not encouraging you to shop, just an inexpensive (but real leather) brand that is amazing for long narrow feet. I am size 9 foot and 5’8″ and weigh 115 and these are the ONLY ones that fit right. Wore them for 2 years in northern NY through snow and all. Also, Poshmark is great for very specific used stuff and sometimes even people who bought brand new (like undies) and never used and it’s still packaged/with tags that they are reselling to get a little money back. And you can sell stuff too! Not getting carried away is the key with it though lol :). Love your blog! We just started a no-spend year. Wish us luck! Or willpower and common sense, rather.

    2. There is a group in my city who holds a clothing swap every year. For every item you bring to the swap you earn one credit to spend at the swap. Prior to the swap the organization goes though the clothes to assure quality, no rips or stains ect…

      I pay $10.00 a year to go, the money goes to charity and last year I took home about 30 new items, including shoes and accessories.

      many of my favorite pieces of clothing has come from swaps it’s the cheapest way I’ve found to get great used items

  3. If I made this list, it would be bike after bike — I fully support spending where your values are! The $300 pair of fryes I splurged on this year would also be on there – I plan to wear them forever and ever, and I feel even better about the purchase knowing that someone as frugal as you has a pair too!

    I plan to buy a pair of the undies you linked to, is that weird?? I bought a bunch of cheap underwear recently and was shocked at how quickly they are falling apart even with air drying.

    Lastly: I wish I could get away with one sports bra (since I only like one of the four I own and don’t want to spend $50 right now on another one), but I sweat way. too. much. for that to be feasible.

    1. Haha–that’s awesome you’re going to buy some of those undies! They really are incredible, very comfortable and just so long-lasting. I just kind of air dry my workout clothes in between workouts (and wash everything once a week)… I’m realizing now that I may be alone in that and maybe I’m gross 🙂

      1. You’re not gross! 🙂 I try to tell people that I’m not gross by wearing my stuff more than once before washing all the time, and about half would give me the doubtful “Yea right” look. haha I don’t sweat that much (I’m Asian), and I have been doing that wear-multiple-times trick on a lot of my clothes, even work clothing. I wear it at least twice, and give it a smell test. Some clothes are worn up to 4 or 5 times before I wash! If I cook in the clothes, then most likely I have to wash it. That’s why I cook in clothes that are on their last cycle before getting washed. I have never been called smelly before. LOL When my husband knew about my trick, he was genuinely surprised. He could never pull that off. (Underwear is a different case. Once it’s off my body, it’s going in the hamper.)

  4. Very wise purchases indeed. I also have the glass containers for my lunch. One of my expensive purchases was my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. Sometimes I use it more than others but I know it will last forever. It makes a huge difference in how much my cakes rise. The stand mixer was on sale and came with some extra attachments but it still cost more than my computer. Ha ha.

    1. Hah! We have a Kitchenaid mixer, but it was a very kind wedding gift. It’s gotten heavy use over the last 7 years and keeps on truckin!

      If we didn’t own one, I’d definitely buy one. It saves soooo much time and effort.

  5. You caught me, your underwear link was the only one I HAD to click! I’m so jealous that you found your perfect boots, I’ve been looking for many years. This year I’m probably going to break down and get some hideous but oh so warm snow boots to play outside. Winter gets miserable fast with cold toes!
    For an expensive splurge in our house: our $100 electric burr coffee grinder (bought with a gift card).

    1. Cover your coffee loving ears… we own a $80 hot water kettle and a $13 blade coffee grinder! (*crowd gasps!!*)

      I bought it as a stopgap when our old grinder stopped working… and it made totally decent coffee. I told myself I’d give it a couple of days. That was 2.5 years ago.

      I’m ashamed. I’ve also fixed it with JB Weld twice. Maybe it will really die someday and I can get a decent grinder 🙂

        1. My plan is to “retire” the blade grinder to spice grinding duty and replace it with an old-school hand crank coffee grinder. I have a friend with one of those, and it’s so neat. Perfect grind, and you get a decent arm workout! I’m keeping my eye out for one at antique sales, but haven’t found one in good condition for a price I’m willing to pay.

  6. This was a fun list! We, too, buy most of our things secondhand or find nice stuff at the end of people’s driveways. I guess our most expensive item is our minivan. It’s secondhand, too, but it was $3,600 We bought it in 2013. I love minivans because when we buy or find large items, they almost always fit and they stay safe from the elements. Seriously, love that Mr. FW bikes throughout the winter. That is hardcore! 🙂

    1. Woohoo minivans! The Frugalwoods-mobile is a 1996 Honda Odyssey minivan. We’ve hauled 80% of our furniture home from craigslist in that thing. It’s a wonderful vehicle, and still going strong!

        1. 99% of the time it’s a real winner. The 1% of the time I need to transport 4×8 sheet goods… I wish I had a truck. But the home depot rental truck twice a year is so much cheaper than owning one myself!

  7. One of the most expensive things we own has got to be Mr PoP’s Rancillo Silvia espresso machine setup. Between the machine, the grinder, and the modifications he’s made to it, it was probably $1000 (half was financed through Christmas and birthday money), but he’s been using it nearly every day to pour an average of 4 or 5 shots of espresso per day since Christmas 2006. And she’s still going strong.
    It’s not about always finding the most inexpensive things around – it’s about figuring out what’s going to bring the most value to your life and putting money there.

    1. Mmmmm. Espresso! I make due with an Aeropress or a Moka Pot when I get the hankering… but there is a nerd side of me that yearns for a legit espresso experience.

  8. I second quality underwear. I can’t remember the last time I bought new underwear (other than maternity underwear). But the most expensive thing I own? Probably my breast pump. It’s quality and I’ve already used it a total of two years. I paid for a model with a thre year warranty and an internal 4 hr battery because, when I bought it, I was exclusively pumping and pumped in the car, at church, and other places that didn’t have outlets handy.

    1. Good to know re. the breast pump! As we plan & prepare for a baby one day, my sister has advised that a good pump is critical. I didn’t realize there were battery-operated models.

      1. Mine is a Hygeia EnJoye pump. I plug it in but rechargeable the internal battery lasts up to 4 hrs of run time – which is a lot. ,out models allow you to use a battery pack, but the motor won’t run as hard and you’ll go through AA.s like crazy.

  9. I am a fan of quality gear… We end up with a fair bit of it. I am impressed you were able to get hiking gear for two for so little. I bought pants on sale several years ago and they were still $75 just for them!

    1. Yeah, we’ve been pretty crafty about getting clearance, sale and used gear.

      I’m actually on the lookout for another pair of hiking pants. Mine are annoyingly wide at the bottom of the leg. “Swish, swish, swish” down the trail has gotten annoying 🙂

      1. Ooh, I’m shocked at the lack of frugality! Considering new hiking pants just because they’re too wide?-that’s what sewing is for :p
        If you know someone with a sewing machine it’s very easy to just run up the sides to take in as much as you want (obviously pin them to your desired width whilst wearing)

        1. Hah! Totally fair point! Funny enough, sewing has always intimidated me. A sawzall and sledgehammer are more my DIY tools of choice.

          I’ve done some simple repairs to Jeans before, but not much else other than sewing buttons. And I imagine sewing a nylon/polyester/lycra fabric might be slightly different than cotton. These all sound like excuses to me! 🙂

          It’s long been in the back of my mind that we should own a sewing machine. I guess I’ll add it to my craigslist list!

  10. Love this list! I wholeheartedly agree that things that will add value to your life are worth the price. I believe it makes you appreciate those things even more. The most expensive thing I own would be my 2012 Honda Civic… I will drive that car until the wheels fall off! I went for quality and good gas mileage (and of course, it’s stylish good looks!)

    1. We love Honda! We’re at 202,000 miles on our 1996 Honda van. If you take care of it, they’ll last forever!

  11. Reading this feeling so great about what we are doing. My glasses make me look better and they cost me $50 or less since insurance covers most. My undies cost less than $5 a pair (feeling odd being only male commenter commenting on undies). My toothbrush cost $13 for 10 at Costco. Our Christmas tree is a $60 one. The costliest shoes my wife owns is a $50 one, bought 4 years back.

    At the same time our TV i s a 55″ one costing us $1000 and that’s about it no other costly item except fixed furniture which are going to last for another 10 years at least

    1. Hey, different priorities for different people 🙂 Our TV is 7 years old and 36″. Works fine and we bought it for $450 back then. We’ll use it until it catches fire!

  12. The last pic is so cute! And your list all sounds fine to me. I’m a big believer (now) in paying more for something quality (like your boots) than buying something cheap that will need to be replaced every year. Besides my car, the most expensive thing I own is my MacBook. Or maybe my new bed, now that my laptop is a couple years old. 😛

    1. Considering how much quality time we all spend with our beds… makes sense to spend a bit of money there!

  13. I would do number 1 in a heartbeat but I’m not a candidate because of my astigmatism (maybe one day that will change). But I absolutely can relate! I also love the knives – good knives make a world of difference in the kitchen!!

    1. When Mrs. FW was getting evaluated, the doctor mentioned that there are some new options for folks with astigmatism. You might inquire again if you haven’t recently. Technology is amazing!

      And I would honestly be more sad if my chef’s knife was stolen than if my bike was stolen. My brain and hand know my knife. There’s 10 years of muscle memory there!

  14. Okay, I thought my household was the only one to complain about how expensive underwear can be. Ha! That part made me laugh! My husband and I had that conversation literally last week.
    I did the LASIK surgery a few years ago, too. I did go to a top doctor since it’s EYE surgery (yikes) but they let me have a chance to take a few surveys after my surgery to save 200 bucks. Umm, yes please!! Just goes to show you can try to save money with just about anything these days!

    1. I felt the same way about my LASIK–I did not want to cut corners & find a cheap doctor! I’m pretty sure I went to the most expensive doctor in the city, and I’m glad I did. Eyes are too important! Nice job on the surveys–I definitely would’ve done that.

  15. This is a great reminder of the importance of quality over quantity and cost benefit analysis. I got Lasik 7 years ago and it was probably the best investment I have ever made. With the cost of contacts and contact supplies, I knew I would break even within four years, so 7 years later, I KNOW I have gotten my money’s worth. And I agree with you on the boots. They can be a huge investment; however, if you get years of use out of them then they average out to a great investment over time. I have a pair of UGG boots that I have had for 8 years now and I love wearing them every winter.

    1. That’s so great that your eyes are doing well 7 years on! I recommend LASIK to everyone now–it’s just too amazing.

  16. I just spent $90 on Merrell snow boots because they’re SO comfortable. I will be able to wear them for riding my bike in the Colorado winter, I hope.

    Another splurge: We bought a $140 Boba 3G baby carrier even though we already owned an Action Baby Carrier. Our kids were 16 months apart and we wanted to “wear” them both for hikes. That carrier cost more than our crib!

    Those do like nice undies. Especially because my child is two and I am still wearing my maternity bikinis. Someday I will admit that this is my actual size and buy some decent underpants.

    I might need to invest in one of those toothbrushes. I think I’ve been having tooth and gum issues–going to the dentist today!

    1. A good baby carrier sounds important to me! I do highly recommend these undies–very comfortable and durable 🙂

  17. Now you’ve got me thinking about buying an electric toothbrush. I had a great one for probably 6 years and then it died a sad mid-brushing death a few years ago. My teeth have been less excellent since then. Sounds like something to put on my Christmas list. Merry Christmas to me!

    1. I don’t bother to take my sonicare with me on business trips (I just take a normal toothbrush) and I can totally feel a difference after my first brush back home.

      I was skeptical, but its turned me into a believer. Plus, I’m not a huge fan of dental work… so anything I can do to prevent expensive and painful work down the road is money well spent!

    2. We have a fancy electric toothbrush too that I love. I was devastated when the handle stopped recharging after about 5 years of use. But luckily I was able to find a same model used handle on Ebay for only $20! I also buy generic toothbrush heads on Ebay too for WAY less than they charge in the stores.

      1. Both great ideas! Thanks! Our handles are pretty old (6?7?8? years?) and still seem to be going strong. But getting a lightly used handle is a great idea for replacement.

        1. And now 3 years later, how is your Sonicare handle/battery holding up? My battery died, and you need a soldering iron (and who knows what else) to fix it. I miss my electric toothbrush!

          1. Fortunately ours are still going strong. I’m sorry to hear your battery died! Bummer.

  18. Thanks for sharing your list! I am still pondering over the Lasik eye surgery. Not because of cost, mainly because of fear as I know of one person who experienced complications post-surgery in spite of it being performed by a top professional. We have a bit in common as I and DH also use Sonicare electric toothbrushes and I love it! Loving the Frye boots and good underwear; I agree that they are well worth the money.

    1. I had qualms about LASIK too, but, I decided to start researching and I found a doctor who does free initial consultations. They tested my eyes, created a map of my cornea, and answered my millions of questions. After that, I felt confident enough to proceed and I’m so glad I did!

  19. I would never buy used shoes or boots…ugh.. We spent many years buying things on the cheap because we had to but now we have the financial resources to buy almost anything we want. Hubbies tools have always been of the highest quality. Over the years I’ve built up an dandy selection of All-clad cookwear and Wustoff knives. I never go cheap on sheets and towels. I love my Keureg that I got as a Christmas gift even though those pods are more expensive than a can of coffee. I’m seriously thinking about Lasik surgery but have heard that some people have to go back to glasses in about 10 years. Keep me informed about your long term success.

    1. Ooohhh All Clad. Jealous! I’m on the lookout for some all-clad style cookware. My existing pots and pans are falling apart after years of heavy use and abuse 🙂

      1. FWIW I have both All-Clad and Calphalon Tri-Ply and I’d take the Calphalon every time. The fact that it is 1/2 the price is just an added bonus.

        1. Thanks for the intel! I keep dreaming I’ll end up finding some all-clad at a garage sale… but one of these days I’ll need to come back down to reality and get some decent cookware.

  20. Whoa, that is a bad ass electric kettle! It made my wishlist!
    The most expensive thing…maybe our dogs. The first two were from breeders ($600/$800) the last was a rescue though, he was free 🙂

    1. The kettle is pretty neat. The temp controls are great, but I also like that it is cordless and completely steel. I’ve used plastic kettles in the past, but I’ve always been nervous about any possible leaching. Steel just seems more durable.

      1. That same kettle is the one recommended by The Sweethome. It’s on my list, since I’m now an AeroPress junkie and slowly becoming a tea junkie as well…

  21. Most everything makes sense except the Christmas tree…not your fault though…it’s just that I’m not a fan of Christmas. 🙂 I would say the most expensive things I own is my computer. I have a mac laptop I bought new (because of the type of work I do) but eventually I bought a used mac tower and HUGE screen for $500 to save my neck and eyes from straining on my laptop. Probably my bed comes in second. Can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep.

    1. I think we could honestly be accused of being overly-festive 🙂

      Computers and sleep… sounds like an average day for me too!

  22. I am all about quality vs. quantity! I have a pair of Frye boots as well and I bought them because they are made in the U.S.A. and fantastic quality. I need to do the mink oil thing though 🙂

    1. Yep, they are pretty awesome. Mrs. FW is like a momma-bear protecting her cubs when it comes to keeping the boots in good shape. Chance of rain? No boots that day. They get cloth cleaned every wear, and the mink oil really makes them shine. Smells terrible though! 🙂

  23. I’ve had enough yeast infections that I now swear entirely by 100% cotton underwear, except when working out.

    I tried a pair of Frye boots, but I just couldn’t find the right size. I ended up getting my Nine West boots re-heeled and everything is great now! I also have a pair of ankle boots that I bought about 4 years ago for ~$50 and they’re still surprisingly going strong. My third pair of boots is a pair of Hunter rain boots and I also have a pair of winter boots that I received as a Christmas present about 7 years ago.

    Some of my furniture was reasonably expensive to me. We plan on staying put in this city for many years to come so I don’t think it’s so terrible to have nice furniture that we enjoy.

    1. I just got my Fryes re-soled & re-heeled and I’m so pleased with how they turned out! It really made me realize that I can wear these boots for a looooooong time. Glad to hear yours did well at the cobblers too 🙂

  24. We must be twins! These are all the exact same things I own, except for the LASIK (saving up for that!). Wes has a Marin bike, we only buy high-quality hiking gear, and more.

    1. Hah! Great minds… And hey, when a PF blogger actually spends money on something, it better be worth it! 😉

  25. I was strangely excited to see the list when I read the title! As to be expected, those are pretty good things to invest in. I agree that high quality kitchen knives are important, and I love my electric toothbrush. LASIK though- I’m so jealous! I’ve wanted it for years because I, too, have had nothing but problems with contacts and glasses. It’s not everyday you see an affiliate link for undies; I was almost too nervous to click, but curiosity got the best of me. I think my DSLR is the most expensive thing I own. I bought it refurbished and sold my previous camera to offset the cost.

    1. We’ve been thinking about getting a DSLR! Are you happy with it? Which one did you go for? As you probably can tell, we take photos with our phones. 🙂 It works, but we’d definitely benefit from some nicer pics on occasion.

      1. I love my camera! I started with a Nikon D3000 and went to a D7000. Since I started with Nikon that’s what I’m partial to, but you can look at more than just Nikon and Canon. Luckily there are some great websites out there for researching your first model. It’s an addicting hobby!

      2. We just got a Nikon D3200 with an 18-55 kit lens. Refurbished it was only $375. I’m pretty happy with it so far, though it hasn’t gotten much use yet since I don’t have a bag for it so I don’t bring it on the bike when we go out. Need to get a bag for it before our holiday trip.

          1. There are lots of good cameras out there. But with a modern phone, you may not need one. The latest & greatest smartphones/phablets have awesome cameras – which are always with you & super convenient for sharing.

            If you do want interchangeable lenses, get a Canon DSLR or mirrorless “M”. You can get adaptors for thousands of old lenses which can fit on a Canon which will never fit on a Nikon. Then comb ebay….

            It all depends what you want it for. You do need an interchangeable lens camera for sports or for real large prints

  26. The only link I clicked on was the undies… I was so confused what was so special about these things 🙂 These are all awesome purchases, I have to agree. I’m also pretty envious of your Frye boots – maybe one day 🙂

  27. I’m right there with ya on the boots, glass containers and Christmas tree! I can’t say I treat my boots as well as you do though;0) The hubby is having LASIK in December so I love your ringing endorsement. We might have to goal set so I can do it too!

    1. Mrs. FW treats those boots better than our 1996 Honda van. Which, ok, is probably the right financial move 😉

  28. We also own almost all of these to some degree. I LOVE my glass tupperware. I hate the idea of warming up our lunches in anything plastic (yuck). As a hygienist I love that you use an electric brush too though I don’t love the sonicare line, still glad you’re using it 🙂 And when our debt is paid off I will own a pair of those boots, beautiful 🙂

    1. Plastic tupperware always skeeved me out! It never seemed to get clean, and always got scratched up and warped. Glass really is 1000% better. Thank for the boot love!

    2. Hi Catherine, what brands of electric toothbrushes do you recommend ? I don’t think that manual ones do as good a job. Thanks in advance.

  29. Most of this I’m not too surprised about, based on what I know about you guys. I am a bit surprised by the sheer cost of the boots you have, though I haven’t spent more than $200 on a pair since I bought my snowboarding boots 8 years ago. I also am surprised by your Christmas tree. That’s a pretty expensive tree, but you know what? We buy a real one every year so that ends up being way more than $450 if we keep buying a real one year-after-year (maybe one day I’ll convince my wife to go back to fake….we’ll see how the kitten deals with the real one haha). We are looking into glass tupperware and I’m so ready to ditch our plastic ones.

    1. I was a little agog at the boot price too. But she wears them all the time. And sure enough, when the soles were completely worn out, it was simple and cheap to have them re-soled. Boots for life!

      The tree was the best looking fake tree we could find. We _love_ Christmas, and we loved having real trees. When we decided to go fake, we decided to get the cadillac of fake trees. We still have people come up and touch it in order to decide if it’s real. It’s that good. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to have a chintzy looking fake tree. And over the years we’ve definitely broken even on the purchase and are now in the green.

      1. Got to say I’m surprised about your fake tree choice! There is nothing like the smell of a real tree come Christmas time. Plus, picking one out with kids is something you’ll never forget. My guess is you’ll switch once Baby Frugal gets a little older. I can see why you chose a fake one to save money, but if you really do love real ones, I’d say go for it!

        1. Just can’t beat the savings of the fake tree :)! We’re going to have a lot of real trees outside on the homestead, so we can go sniff those ;).

  30. This is a pretty great list of items that makes sense to spend your hard earned dollars on. In the FB household we don’t mind spending money as long as you get the right value for it. We also frequent the local cobbler to have shoe and boot repair, Mrs. FB has a pair of Frye boots that she loves as well. I can’t say enough about Lasik, I had it done while in the army (so it was free, unless you count the 5 years I spent in the Army?) and I can’t imagine ever going back.

    1. Going to get those boots resoled was my first time at the cobbler. It was pretty neat! I love the idea of repair rather than replace. Seems like it used to be much more common than today.

  31. My problem with boots is completely the opposite – super wide feet and *huge* calves (the “wide calf” boots still don’t fit to give you an idea). I have just found a company that makes boots for my calves, and blew $150 on a nice pair that I’m really liking! I do regularly wear a pair of LLBean hiking boots during the winter – $169 and only replace them every 3 years or so – if they could be resoled, I totally would, but they’ve got a waterproofing rubber bit between the sole and the leather and cobblers won’t touch them 🙁

    1. Hey, Mom, I have the same problem as you. Wide feet and large calves. Would you be willing to share the name of the place where you get custom fitted boots? Thanks!

      1. They’re not completely custom, but I found them through woman within ( Just as a warning, they’re a bit obnoxious about sending unwanted catalogs once you’ve ordered from them. I bought a pair of the ComfortView Melia (wide calf) and I’m really liking them.

        1. Thank you so much! I have actually received that catalog occasionally but get so many different ones that I’ve routinely thrown it away without even looking inside. I’ll definitely give it a look-see the next time.

    2. Bummer about the Bean boots. They do have a really good guarantee… ever thought about returning them and getting a new pair? I tend toward thinking that a good pair of boots should last more than 3 years!

      1. They do have an awesome return policy – and if I was wearing them out so quickly because I was hiking in them on weekends, I would take them back :). I wear them every single day all day long once it starts to get cold, and on streets, hikes, traveling, etc. I definitely feel like I get my money’s worth from them. I wear out the insoles first, and they offered to replace the entire boot because the insoles were worn and they couldn’t replace just the inserts. I just went to WalMart and got a cheap set of insoles – the rest of the boots were fine! And with the Vibram soles, they’re wearing out less and less – I think I’m going to get 4-5 yrs out of the pair I have on now. I could choose a pair that could be resoled, but I kinda like the waterproofing when I’m tromping about in the snow and rain! I do the same with REI – had a 10yr old waterproof raincoat that wasn’t waterproof anymore – I wasn’t going to take that back because of “normal” wear. I know I could, but I feel terrible doing it.

        1. Yeah, that’s a fair point. There’s a fine line between holding a company to their guarantee and taking advantage of them.

          I once had a pair of Merrell leather shoes that wore out in less than a year. I called them up and told them so, and they sent me another pair. Which then wore out in less than a year. I didn’t feel right trying it again… but I still think shoes should last more than a year!

  32. As a longtime fan and wearer of Exofficio briefs, I can tell you that the elastic finally begins to give out after about 7 years, or roughly 350 times through the washer and dryer cycles. Which is a shame, since the rest of the materials look like they could make it to 10 years quite easily. But if you hang them to dry, you might get the full 10 years out of them after all. I’ll have to try that with future pairs…

    Exofficio briefs are one of the smartest, best investments I’ve ever made. 🙂

    1. Huh, I have a couple pair that are going on 8 years. I do put them in the dryer, but maybe now I won’t! So far they are hanging in there… and wow are they amazing.

    2. I tried. I hated the Ex Officios-chintzy, synthetic, and hold odors (yes, others have reported the same thing, not just me) even through the laundry!!! I switched to Ibex wool and never looked back. I love that it’s a (mostly) natural fiber, and the cut and colors are fantastic. They are much pricier, but worth it in every way.

  33. Great list! Lasik was one of my best investments too! 🙂 I tend to prefer high quality, durable products too. You may pay more initially but in the long run, you should wind up ahead. A great pair of boots are must-have. But what I love most is that you spend your money on what you value – and that’s the most important thing to do.

    1. Value is definitely where it’s at. We’re big believers in optimizing most mundane things… and then spending on your big priorities.

  34. Currently, the eyes of Mr. Maroon and I are the target our largest purchase this year. We spent over $800 at the optometrist in March. Now before freaking out, let me explain… We had nearly $1000 sitting in my health care FSA. About a week before I left my job, I learned that I could only get reimbursed for the expenses I incurred during my employment – not the term of the insurance year. Needless to say, we both got exams, new glasses, a year’s worth of contacts, and any other fancy upgrade they could throw at us. Obviously would not have been our choice under other circumstances, but at least we didn’t let the money slip into the black hole of unused FSA funds… Which brings up a good question – Does anyone know what happens to those??

    1. From what I understand, the unused FSA funds go back into the plan and can be used by the company to pay for plan expenses.

      Good job maximizing yours!

    2. They go to other folks in the company who used their whole year’s worth of FSA before funding it 🙂 We ran into this when hubby switched companies. You can claim FSA funds up to the annual amount you state, but you only actually get the money taken out of your paycheck throughout the year. So if you put aside $1000k/yr, spend it all, then leave the company in July, you only contributed $500, but “spent” $1000. The company eats that difference (aka it’s made up from the people who “lose it”)

  35. You bring up some great items and just might have inspired a future post. Like your boots it all comes down to cost per use, if you use them 289 times you would probably say it’s worth it to pay a $1 per use or in 4 years maybe it’s double that and .50 per use, great buy, however if you wore them to the 1st Annual Frugal Woods Dance with Your Dog Extravaganza and put them in the closet till next year, might not be the best decision.

    Also for the glassware did you consider/research buying any other brands than Snapware?

    1. Um, there is a Dance with your Dogs Extravaganza? We’re totally there. With boots on. Even Frugal Hound.

      The snapware wasn’t much of a researched decision. It was what Costco had the week we were there and in the market for glass snap-close tupperware.

      The snaps are really great though, and have definitely avoided some serious soup disasters. Since I bike to work, the ability to put a soup in a tupperware and then throw it in my backpack is key. And these pass the test.

  36. Mrs. FW,

    Great pics of the hikes. It’s flat here in Florida, so I’m pretty limited. But the beaches make up for it. 🙂

    Sounds like a good list there. The great thing about high-quality items is that they generally hold their value a lot better than cheap crap. So the overall depreciation isn’t quite as bad, even if you paid more up front. Plus, they tend to last a lot, lot longer, meaning your overall costs over the course of many years is probably lower anyhow. Doesn’t always work like that, but I’d be willing to bet it does far more often than not.

    Best wishes!

    1. Totally agree! Getting those boots resoled was really an eye opener. Quite cheap, and now they’re good for another 5-8 years. Hopefully we get to do that many more times over our lifetime. 🙂

  37. Quality is often the most frugal way to go in many purchases. I must say, though, that I was expecting Mr. FW’s bike to be a lot more. $500 to me doesn’t seem outrageous at all for a good bike…I have friends with bikes that cost many times that and they ride a lot less.

    1. It’s the cheapest “real” bike I could find at the time. All of the components are solid, and the frame is decently lightweight, but I wouldn’t want to ride 50 miles a day on it. It’s perfect for my commute though. And though I enjoy cycling, I’m not too tempted to upgrade.

  38. I love this post! We’re definitely moving towards the “less but better quality” mindset, as in general, things will last longer if they’re better made. I wear contacts, but must admit I find the idea of laser eye surgery really scary – I think it’s because it’s my eyes? That’s not on my wish list, put it that way ! Those boots look lovely – if only I had the nice slim legs to match. I do have some lovely leather boots though, and totally agree with you there – I’d had cheap, non-leather boots before but bought these after lots of deliberation. I’ve had them 5 year so far, such a good purchase in my mind.

    1. The LASIK is truly not scary–you can’t feel a thing and it’s very quick! And, leather boots are simply amazing 🙂

  39. Yes, that is shockingly expensive! We have most of these, but either bought cheaper versions, bought with gift cards (hiking gear), or got them as gifts (knives). And no LASIK. But we did buy a Sonicare (agreed, worth it).

    The most expensive things I own, besides home improvements and a car… a leather IKEA couch for $1,400, a desktop computer for $900, two used kayaks for $500, a $250 bicycle…

    #10 – We cut down our tree every year for $45 at a tree farm (used to be cheaper). Decent previously cut trees are probably $70 and up. Since we’ve been cutting our trees for almost 10 years, we’ll probably pass you in total cost in a year or two. My family did the artificial tree growing up, but I just can’t anymore. The cutting of the tree is a part of the whole tradition now.
    PS. I might have to steal your Christmas hound picture idea for our cards. Just have to find some antlers, get our tree up early this year, and have your dog give mine modeling tips…

    1. Frugal Hound is always open to modeling consulting. Her fee is 1 can of anchovies per hour, plus constant rubs and neck scratches.

  40. We just made the investment in electric toothbrushes. I’m so glad we did. I’ve noticed that my teeth actually feel cleaner! And if this helps prevent cavities, then it should be well worth the money. Dental care isn’t cheap.

    1. So true! I feel like it’s well worth the expense to stave off future costlier (and more painful) interventions.

  41. Sometimes, you just have to spend money on quality items. I completely agree with that! I think all of the items you splurged on were totally worth it!

  42. I’m thinking of getting Lasik – I’ve had glasses since I was in Kindergarten! I’ll probably wait until after I get married so I can free up some money for it. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it!

    1. I highly, highly recommend LASIK! I honestly wish I’d done it sooner, but, I was afraid of the lasers :). There’s seriously nothing to fear though and it’s beyond incredible to be able to see!

  43. Boots for $285.49? I know that’s what good pair of ladies boots cost (according to my wife) but man – that’s really expensive! I just bought a new full suit for less than that.

    1. I know it! I about passed out when I bought them! But, they’ve really turned out to be worth it. I did years worth of “boot research” before pulling the trigger, so I’ve never regretted the purchase. Plus, I get a kick out of wearing them with my garage sale/thrift store clothes 🙂

  44. Those undies! I eyed up similar pairs when I lived in Alaska, but I never did invest. Now I’m wishing I had! My sister has a pair of Frye boots and she loves them. I think she’s going on year 5 with them, so they are definitely worth the price. Buying quality, long lasting items is certainly frugal in the long run 🙂

    1. Yep, repairable consumer goods are amazing! Getting those boots back from the cobbler was like magic. Like new boots!

  45. Totally agree about the Lasik, its life changing! Just have a question – do you do hot yoga? And do your eyes feel fine after? I’ve been wanting to try it, but after my surgery I have slightly dry eyes and was wondering if the heated room would aggravate it.

    1. I do indeed do hot (circa 100 degrees) yoga and my eyes have actually never bothered me since my LASIK. My contacts would get cloudy with sweat and the heat of the room, but post-surgery I haven’t had any problems. It’s usually a humid heat in heated yoga classes, not a dry heat, so that might be better on your eyes. I do love hot yoga, so I hope you try it 🙂

    1. DO IT!!! 🙂 It was seriously one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s quite a straightforward and quick surgery and the recovery time is very fast. Good luck!

  46. I’m a big believer in buying quality when it’s something you will use a lot. Got our artificial tree nearly 20 years ago, but got it on clearance for $99 after Christmas. Woohoo! It still rocks and looks gorgeous today. We spent a lot on our bikes too, and Rick has some expensive winter gear that he’s had for decades. Well worth the spend in a state where a foot of snow at a time is not uncommon enough. 🙂

    1. 20 years! That’s awesome! Winter clothing is a great category as well. My Darn Tough socks might have been expensive, but they’ve outlived several generations of costco knockoffs. I’ve learned my lesson there…

  47. I have a very similar list of things that make life better and are totally worth the expense. The most expensive thing I own is a BMW motorcycle that took me on fabulous road trips around Europe and Morocco. Then comes a $1,000 bicycle, $900 laptop, and the best mattress, sheets and kitchenware I could find in Guatemala.

    1. Ooohh a motorcycle! Honestly, I’m a little terrified of those. Much more comfortable riding something where my speed is limited by my lungs 🙂

    1. Oh the Frugal Hound! I should’ve listed her! She was $225 from the greyhound rescue organization (this covered her health work-up after the racetrack including spaying, teeth cleaning, etc and the transition from the racetrack to home life). Well worth the expense :)!

  48. This list is the difference between frugal and cheap. It’s fine to own quality things if you really value those things!

    The item I own that I feel the most self-conscious about its expense is my iPad. You can’t even necessarily tell by looking at it, but it’s the most top-of-the-line version available (purchased in early 2014). Kyle and I each have one and they were gifts. We even tried to refuse/downgrade them, but the giver got pretty offended.

    After my car, I think it’s the most expensive thing I own at the moment since my laptop is a few years old. I have recently started taking it out in public to take notes at various events (I’m trying to cut down on carrying my laptop everywhere) and I always think about what people might think of me owning this expensive object – especially since I take it to Financial Peace University every week! (The only other person in my FPU class who brings an iPad is a multi-millionaire!) I guess I also feel weird about it because I don’t value it as highly as it deserves to be valued. I didn’t think that I needed it and have to make a conscious effort to use it more often.

    1. I think it’s pretty great that one of your most expensive items was a gift! And, the fact that you’re so conscious of it is really a testament to your true frugal nature!

  49. Love this list!!! Even though the items are pricey – you’re right, they’re quality!! Plus they add to your quality of life (the hiking gear, the bike, the Christmas tree!). We LOVE Christmas here in this household, too, and will also be purchasing a fake tree this year actually. I had a fake $75 one from Big Lots that lasted us three years, but unfortunately it was one of the things we had to get rid of for our move. I like your thinking on that though – purchase a really good one that you can use year after year after year. I can’t wait to make that purchase 🙂

    1. Yep, we’re really glad we sprung for a nice one. We beam with pride every time someone asks us, “Is that a fake? It looks so real!” while touching it!

  50. One thing we spent quite a bit of money on was quality luggage. We travel often and got Ebags. They have a lifetime warranty, so if anything ever goes wrong, they will replace the bag for free. I think it’s worth it to spend extra on a lifetime warranty.

    1. Oooohhh. That’s a good one. I actually use a late 80s (?) samsonite rolling bag that is practically bulletproof. My dad gave it to me after he got a new one, and I’ve been using it for nearly 10 years. The thing just won’t stop! I know it must have been pretty pricey originally, but we’ve gotten our money’s worth long term!

  51. Good stuff here! Sometimes paying more for quality items will save you more than constant replacements in the long run. All of these things are of good quality and add value to your life and home.

    Question about the artificial tree as I’m contemplating getting one: Is it a pain to set up and take down? Do the branches just all fold up and then go into a box or do you have to take all the branches off? My mom had one for awhile and over the years of packing it and unpacking it, the branches became uneven and parts of the tree acquired noticeable holes/bare spots as the branches became bent and frail.

    Nice post as always!

    1. Ours does take a while to setup and take down, but it’s worth the trouble. It comes in 3 sections. Each section needs to have each branch “fluffed”, which is what takes the most time.

      I usually can put it up in less than 2 hours if I’m hustling and listening to holiday tunes.

      So far it hasn’t dropped any needles or gotten any holes. It seems pretty solid. We’re also pretty careful when handling and storing it, so who knows 🙂

      I do know that it’s nothing compared to the mess of a real tree. Love the smell, hate the needles, sap, pollen, etc..

  52. I love this! And I was surprised at some of the items on your list. And you are really picky about your coffee! (200 degrees instead of 212?) The key was your conscious, value-based spending. I’m glad you mentioned underwear. Just today, I could not bring myself to buy cheap underwear, and I felt a twinge of frugal-fail. After reading your post, I can disregard that unpleasant twinge : )

    1. We’re definitely coffee fanatics :)! And, agreed on the underwear–worth it to get something that will last.

    1. Thanks! Our duvet was a hand-me-down from my parents–they bought a new one and gave us their old. My pillow was actually also a hand-me-down from my parents (they didn’t need it anymore) and Mr. FW’s pillow was a Christmas gift from his parents a number of years ago. We kind of need new pillows I think… 🙂

  53. I’ve always envied the really expensive nice trees. But I can’t bring myself to pay it. If Tim were at all interested in a tree for the holiday, I’d probably do it, though. Instead, we make do with a somewhat sparse one that I nonetheless love.

    I’m glad to see that you’re not confusing frugality with miserdom. (We’ll just pretend that’s a word.) Sometimes you have to spend on quality or you’ll just be spending again and again for the same product.

    1. I like ‘miserdom’ as a word :)! And I completely agree on spending for quality. We try to make calculated decisions about what’s going to be worth it/bring us joy and then, spend our money!

  54. Most of these make sense to me and we’d make the same choices. After seeing how badly bargain laser eye surgery was botched on a friend, I’d NEVER compromise on LASIK. Shop around for the best value and experience, sure, find a way to subsidize it better, yep. But go with a cut rate surgeon? Oh heck no.

    I love your kettle, we’re considering getting something like that so it’s good to know you endorse one.

    It might be time to go your route with the underwear, though, I still try for the cheapest underwear and grouch about it getting holes a year later.

    1. That’s exactly how I felt regarding my LASIK–I was more than happy to pay for one of the best surgeons in town!

      The kettle and our underwear have been solid purchases for us. We use both every single day and I’d definitely buy these brands again. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  55. That is a great list. We learned a long time ago that if you are doing serious outdoor stuff, you need the right gear. My first mountain bike was a cheap monstrosity from Sears. I almost gave up because I sucked so bad. After I got an actual Trek mountain bike, I found I was pretty darn good! Lesson learned. All our our skiing, biking, and outdoor stuff is good quality, but it’s easy to find used or clearance if you look hard enough. I also buy nice shoes and coats. Clothes not so much. I think if you if you take care of your feet and stay warm, it’s hard to go wrong.

    1. Absolutely! I would never skimp on our hiking boots or packs. It’s just not worth it. You make a great point about your bike–so worth the expense!

  56. OMG you guys aren’t total frugal weirdos! Haha it’s all about picking your spots when it comes to frugality – there are some areas in life where frugality goes out the window. 80/20 rule for frugality for us 😉

    1. Good to know! I’ve informed chef Mr. Frugalwoods that he’d better write down the recipe next time he makes it (he kind of improvises as he goes when cooking… ). We’ll try to get the facts down! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  57. I can’t imagine how lovely it must be to be able to wake up and see. I think I’d be really excited about it for a long time, too! I remember when I got my first glasses in second grade, I was astonished at the beauty of the detail of the leaves in the trees. I still remember that first moment vividly. Lol who knows how long my vision had been blurry before then! I can’t wait til I can get Lasik, too. Glad you didn’t go cheap on that! Your eyes are of utmost importance!

  58. My first visit here and I must admit I love the blog. I believe that if these things bring value to your life then why not. I blog about being frugal and one of the things I focus on is the fact that being frugal is not about being cheap but instead getting the most of our your purchases. You seem to be doing that. If some of these items were stuck in a closet somewhere and not being used then that is another story. I truly enjoyed this article. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I completely agree with you on the frugal vs. cheap divide. Much wiser to spend a bit more at the outset if it’ll forestall future purchases. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    1. Yes to the knives! Such a key part of Mr. FW’s cooking. We don’t use our blender very often either… although our food processor gets a workout!

  59. Shun knives are awesome, that’s what we have at home too. Makes cutting a lot easier when you have sharp knives.

    I have a lot of outdoor gear too… don’t even remember how much they cost anymore. Oops!

    1. Agreed on the Fryes–such awesome boots! I’d love to see your list (and everyone’s), I’m such a financial snoop :)!

  60. Haha, I was expecting a list of really expensive and unnecessary things… How wrong I was. Everything you mentioned makes sense to me! $500 for a bike is not a lot of money, for example. And buying expensive shoes/boots is a win-win in most situations, I’ve found. They just last a lot longer.

    In general I like to pay a premium for good quality products since they last longer and are more enjoyable to use!

    1. So true! Well worth the expense up front for something that’ll last and get the job done better than a cheaper version.

  61. Your list makes total sense to me. I love your boots! So classic and such a good investment. I’ve been looking into buying a pair, but haven’t found the perfect pair yet (and at $200-$400, I want them to be perfect). I’m pretty cheap when it comes to most purchases, but I will spend more for good quality (running shoes, sports bras,food etc.) One of my most expensive purchases was my sewing machine. I believe I paid about $800 at the time. It’s made many many quilts and will make many many more. Not a necessity by any means, but a passion for me, and something I hope I’ll be able to pass along to future generations (the quilts and the machine).

    1. The right boots are worth the money! But I agree with you, they’ve got to be perfect. I seriously tried on probably a hundred pairs before settling on these. It was a years-long search :).

      A sewing machine sounds like a great investment to me. I don’t have one, but it’s on my list if I come across one at a garage sale or on Craigslist.

  62. I love this post! I was so curious about the underwear I just ordered a pair for myself and one for the hubby. I read this blog to get motivation to stop spending money, but today it backfired 🙁
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Haha! Thanks! Well, they are really great undies, I must say. And, you won’t need to replace them for many years, so, they’ll enable future frugality 🙂

  63. Hi FW,
    I found you by way of You may have answered this in an above comment, but I was wondering where you bought your tree (it’s beautiful). It sounds like you bought it a while back, but I’m in the market for a quality artificial tree (for Christmas 2015), and am looking for some suggestions on where to buy one. Thanks!

    1. Hi Carrie, I’m glad you found us :)! We got our Christmas tree at Lowe’s 5 years ago and it’s still in great condition. I’m not sure what the brand is, but it wasn’t the cheapest or the most expensive option–it was somewhere in the middle. The store had the trees out on display, which I think is key in selecting one. It’s a lot easier to gauge quality when they’re fully set up. I bet you can find some deals here in the off season. Good luck and thank you for reading :)!

  64. I’m loving this list. I love my electric toothbrush too. I used my first one for about 5 and a half year until my dentist told me after 2 years electric toothbrushes don’t work well and need replacing. 🙂
    YOur boots look great!

  65. I basically feel like we’re the same person. It’s a little scary honestly. Though living in cheap Ohio and similarly OBSESSED with Christmas, we get a live tree each year for about $20. That piney smell makes me soooooooooooo giddy, and then we burn it in the first campfire of the year 🙂 That’s what a call a solid tradition!!

    1. I love that piney smell too! And, $20 is pretty good for a live tree! They’re so expensive out here. Plus, burning it in a campfire sounds like a good end-game too :).

  66. every post I read (I’m new) I feel like Mrs. FW is my east coast twinsie. I have a $500 bike that I’m very satisfied with for commuting, I have Shun knives that I am obsessed with (was a great thing to ask for on our wedding registry). After I got those I just gave away the rest of our knives, they were so sorry in comparison. I wanted Lasik, not a candidate though, and my electric kettle is my favorite thing. I do yoga consistently with only 2 yoga outfits. And I love my electric toothbrush! Let us know when you make your airbnb available in Vermont and we’ll do some chaturangas under the trees.

    1. That’s awesome, Diana! We do sound like the same person ;)! I’m definitely looking forward to doing some chaturangas in the woods–I’m actually hoping we can build a sort of yoga platform for the purpose. Would be great to have you come stay at the Airbnb!

  67. I would like all winter in frigid Ottawa. Boston does not hold a candle! Get studded tires, and avoid the black ice.
    See for advice

    Hiking through national and state parks is very frugal Especially if you bicycle there. I would suggest, however, two pairs of socks. One to wear, one to to rinse out each night and dry on your pack. Wool socks of course.

    As for boots, I would suggest a better tread for the trail.

    As for my not-so-frugal expenditures, I have a big fast refurbished laptop that I upgraded with an SSD and more RAM. I bought a one-generation-behind smart phone, the galaxy S3. Now it is three generations behind…

    1. Two pairs of socks is definitely a necessity while hiking! We always carry extras in our pack–you just never know when you might need dry socks.

  68. I did my Lasik back in 2003. I cant be more happy with my investment. I recommend that to everyone its such a reliev to be able to see clearly. Love your posts and im waiting for new ones

    1. Lasik really is amazing–worth every single penny! So glad that it worked well for you too. And, many thanks for reading :)!

    1. Thanks! It’s definitely about figuring out that balance between frugality and spending on what’s meaningful to you 🙂

  69. Hi-ho!
    I’ve been very inspired by your blog. I’ve got this question about this article though – Why do you need two toothbrushes, when you can switch the heads? When I was a kid our entire household used the same electric toothbrush, each of us had their own brushhead with a little coloured band under it (So that we wouldn’t accidentally take the wrong one – yuck!)
    Thanks for keeping this blog.

  70. The fake Christmas tree is a good value. I bought a fake one 15 years ago and I thought we would alternate years with real then fake. But no, for the kids putting up the fake tree became a tradition and we probably only had a real tree twice. The tree is still in great shape, too. I spent maybe $7 on a bottle real tree spray scent years ago and still have some left. For undies I once bought a “deal” at costco and they lasted 1 year. I went back to the pricier ones that lasted at least 5 years = better value. My splurge item is my IPad. I love it & use it all the time in so many different ways that it makes my life easier.

  71. I think we are kindred spirits! I was with you until the Christmas tree, but with prices of real trees that high where you are, I completely understand. It’s just that artificial holiday greens, etc. are made with lead and PVC and nasty stuff. Which brings me to the electric kettle, I have the same one! Unfortunately, pricey doesn’t always mean quality, but we’ve had this one for several years and still going strong. I chose it because it is metal and not plastic – I don’t want to drink water that’s been heated in plastic. I also replaced my plastic storage containers with glass – but got the full set on sale 🙂

  72. I think it is a great list. Lucky for my boyfriend and I (the frugal minimalists we are) we live in the Manchester, NH/Concord, NH region and next Christmas we will be cutting down our own Christmas tree (fingers crossed ;)). I just recently bought a pair of Frye shoes for working, knowing they would be replacing all of my other current shoes (two pairs of flats and miscellaneous shoes) and my goal was to minimize to the point where I only own a handful of shoes – only ones I truly need. I have a pair of high quality knee high boots (similar to your Frye’s) but I found them 3 years ago, prior to my knowledge of Frye, but they are holding up tremendously! Our next quest is to purchase microspikes and proper hiking shoes/boots and a hiking backback. Last Sunday we hiked up Mt. Haystack, over the ridge to Mt. Lincoln and continued over the ridge to Mt. Lafayette then down the mountain, which completed a 14 mile loop. The issue was, there was a severe amount of ice we weren’t expecting but what an adventure it was! And another random fact, we each own bikes also, priced around the same amount as yours, and you truly get what you pay for! Again, love your blog!

    1. That’s an awesome hike–we’ve done that one too :)! And enjoy the Christmas tree cutting down–so perfectly New England! Final note: Fryes are awesome.

  73. Well this is just a fine list! As a new fan, I’d be interested to know how you weigh in on things like toothpaste, shampoo, creams, and other assorted “jams and jellies” necessary to keep us fresh and young. Do us go for drug store brands or the more expensive department store or specialty store types? Can’t wait to devour more of your excellent posts…I’m learning so much!

  74. Since you love your kettle so much, I think you may be a good candidate for getting a Japanese-style kettle, also called a thermo pot. We saw these in Japan and fell in love, so we got one when we got home.. The kettle uses vaccum technology to keep water hot all the time, so you can have hot water on demand. Whenever the temperature goes down (which takes a while), the kettle boils the water again. It does not use up a lot of electricity at all (we ran the calculations) and we have found it to be really convenient. It’s great for tea and oatmeal and it also helps speed up cooking, since we can get boiling water from it when we need to boil something on the stove.

  75. Hi, I like the idea of glass containers. However, what about the lids? Are they plastic?

    Great blog! I have small parts of your lifestyle in me so it is nice to see someone really pushing it.

  76. Hi, I just wanted to share with you that here where I live (Czech republic) we can RENT a real Christmas tree! It is a tree that grows in the pot and after Christmas they will enroot it nature.
    It works like this: you choose the tree online (there are pictures) and few days before Christmas they will deliver the tree to your home with instructions how to take care of it. Then few days after christmas they come to pick it up.
    And it cost 580 CZK (which equals to 23 USD). If I want to buy a christmas tree it costs about the same.
    I am always happy to have a real “living” christmas tree in our house.

  77. I like it that frugal is different for different people. When I get a $10 off $10 coupon for a local dept store I go and buy Christmas gifts. Recently, for .85 cents, I got a nightgown, 3 pairs of socks and a pair of gloves, all for gifts next year. I stopped getting my nails done but I get my hair cut 2x a year professionally. I won’t buy store brand ketchup but will buy store brand milk and other things. I love to find name brand lotions and things at a discount store that are outdated but perfectly good still.

  78. Super late to the party here, but did you continue to use your fake Christmas tree this year, or did you chop one down from your land?

      1. We used our artificial tree again this year! Much, much easier with a toddler and a dog underfoot :). Someday I’m sure we’ll source one from our land though.

  79. We splurged on an $80 stainless steel french press, since we are french press devotees. I had serious sticker shock the first time I saw it, but after breaking three $20 glass ones, I was sold. Years later and it’s still going strong…

  80. Good question, and one which makes me realise why I am not financially independent yet. At a dead heat in first place are my car, now just over ten years old, and my kitchen renovation from 2015, at €9,900 each ($11,800). Next down the list is a triptych in acrylic on canvas which my mother created specifically for the space above my dining table. That was €2,400 ($2,800), which I paid her in 12 interest-free monthly payments of €200 each. Friends have asked why I would pay my mother for her artwork. The answer is that she is a professional artist, and I do earn enough money to pay her, and I remember well enough from my childhood what the finances of a freelance studio artist look like! Who would stiff their own parent in such a situation, really? Anyway, the work is spectacular. I can honestly say that I haven’t regretted a single penny of this expense for a single second, ever.

    Other big expenses include two suits, including one bespoke, which make a crucial difference in some professional situations for me and are now 15 and 10 years old and still going strong (and which are also an incentive to keep within a reasonable weight range!), and a number of furniture kits from Shaker Workshops in Arlington, MA, which get even more expensive by the time they have been shipped across the Atlantic and imported into the EU. But again, I have no regrets.

    My bicycle, custom-ordered from Germany for €1070 ($1280) including delivery in May 2008, is now 9.5 years old and has survived two accidents and two complete back-wheel rebuilds in better shape than I, so I consider this a frugal purchase. My yearly mileage on it is about 650 miles, so it sees a good bit of use.

    So these would be my big five or six or so in terms of expenditure.

  81. Most expensive things we own – the block of land for the to-be-built house probably tops the bill, followed by the cars, my heart surgery (fortunately most of it paid by insurance) and the dog (various planned and emergency surgeries).

    As for underwear, I prefer natural fibres. Fortunately, my preferred brand isn’t so hard on the wallet, and is less hard on the workers making them than some other brands. I did stop myself from buying some more recently when they were on half-price sale – I took a good look at my drawer and decided that, really, I didn’t need to replace any just yet. Sorry, no idea how long they actually last – will have to put numbers on them.

  82. Just finished your book, and I’m now reading through your blog!

    I laughed a little at the expensive kettle. I’m a coffee fiend and make pourover as well, but my solution has been to either listen and shut it off right before it boils, or let it boil, open the lid, and wait about 10 seconds, then hope it’s around the right temp. Very scientific, I know ;).

    Regardless, I am $90,000 in debt (working on it now! I woke up!), and you are home free. So enjoy the hell outta that thing!

  83. The electric toothbrush you linked to on amazon, is that the actual one you bought and is still going strong after 6/7years? We’re thinking of investing 🙂 And recently found your blog and am loving it!! Thanks!

    Philips Sonicare 2 Series plaque control rechargeable electric toothbrush, HX6211/30

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