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Buying for the Long Haul
Old 10-12-2012, 10:23 AM   #1
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Buying for the Long Haul

For starters, this will not apply to those who always buy the best of everything. Don't bother.

Let me explain. We are frugal... very frugal in some cases, and stupidly frugal in others. We buy at Walmart, The Dollar Tree, Aldi's, and we frequent Goodwill, Garage Sales, and Resale stores.
Over many years, this has paid off, allowing us to have things that wouldn't normally be able to afford. I truly believe that without this tightfisted approach, we might still be working, instead of being retired for over 20 years. Frugal extends to limited eating out, outside entertainment... Movies, Concerts, what we used to call "Nightclubs", flying for any reason, or expensive vacations. Never had a new car, a new house, or boat, and have never done extensive remodeling or landscaping. (Of course moving 22 times would have made permanent changes to our housing unnecessary.)

So about two years ago, as we were walking through one of our "bettr stores", my bride suggested that she'd like a new "pot" for the kitchen. "What!!!! We have a perfectly good "pot" that we've had for years." "But it's hard to clean" says she. That earthshaking moment began a new stage in our lives. We still shop in the same places, but have done a broad review of "Things", with an eye to spending money where it really counts. On "stuff" that works well, and lasts. Simple!

So here's our short list of things that we think are really important, where we've made mistakes in the past, by being penny wise and pound foolish. Where we learned a lesson. So, am passing on some of these "discoveries". Things we wish we had bought (invested in)60 years ago.

Kitchen-
1. Best knives possible, and a good sharpener. Some mistakes we made were to buy brand knives at the low end.
2. Best Stainless dinner utensils.
3. Manual can opener... (hard to find).
4. Pots and pans. Still have our original Revere Ware set, but the newest (more expensive) sets made of newer compounds are best. Should be a great payback over the Walmart "specials".
5. Ice cream scoop. Yeah... $15+ for one that works.
6. Scissors- "Fiskars" only... throughout the house and garage.
7. Slide out shelves.
8. Dishwasher... only the best. Other appliances, refrigerators, washers, dryers etc., not so much.
9. A good "pusher" for the garbage disposal. We just discovered this.

Living room- Bedroom
Nothing particular here..EXCEPT! Decide early on, what type of furniture and accessories you like, and stay with the basics... ie. Decorating style... modern, conventional, period etc. Type of wood, cloth, leather, colors, lamps and accessories. A very important decision over the years. Keep in mind the possibilty of moving. This was probably our biggest mistake. Over 50+ years, trying to adjust has cost us perhaps an extra hundred thousand dollars or more.
A good, plain colored quilt... Sounds funny, but we use it to cover, to hide messes, to cozy up, and to stay warm until the house warms up on a cold night.
Throw rugs, where possible in traffic areas. Saves carpeting and increases resale value.

Garage/workshop- YMMV
The absolute necessities:
Top of the line electric CORDED drill.
Good Sawzall and hand jigsaw
Better or best full socket set... all sizes, 100 pc. or more.
One each Best hammer, screwdriver set, vise grips, pliers, wire cutter, metal shears.
Average hatchet, prybar, cordless drill
Best reamer (discovered late in life...)
Best Spade, Shovel, Garden Rake, Leaf Rake, hand gardening tools including pruner.
While there are literally thousands of tools available, my philosophy is that the rarely used tools don't require a Snap-On (sic)label.

This may sound like an unnecessary thread, and of course very incomplete. It's just a result of looking back to see how many wasted dollars we spent on replacing items that might have cost more in the beginning, but in hindsight would have been better choices.

It's a Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda thing, but for anyone looking forward 20, 30, or 40 years... something to consider.

Your thoughts?
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:33 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
3. Manual can opener... (hard to find).
Bed, Bath, and Beyond has the kind I like.

Swing-A-Way Can Opener - Bed Bath & Beyond
Attached Images
File Type: jpg canopener.jpg (12.0 KB, 239 views)
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:37 AM   #3
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My general rule is the more often you use an item, be it a pot, a hammer, a TV, a deck, whatever, the greater the emphasis you should put on quality. Yes, it will cost more than the cheap alternative, but if selected wisely quality will pay for itself in enjoyment and/or durability.
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:44 AM   #4
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To the OP:

Your list seems to be very reasonable. I didn't see anything on there that I consider over the top or wasteful.

All that crap that (other) people buy doesn't make them happy anyway. And look at how hard they have to work just to pay for it all.

The older I get the less things I want
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:49 AM   #5
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I have always been pretty careful with money esp. right after retiring 6 years ago. But now I find that I am loosening up and getting quality things we want. There is truth to the saying "you get what you pay for".
My favorite recent large purchase was a brand new Victory Cross Country Tour motorcycle. DW and I have been going on great rides and trips
You can't take it with you, enjoy it !
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:04 PM   #6
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Never could understand the appeal of electric can opener. We bought a Zyliss manual that opens lids differently; not jagged and you can re set the lid on top. A little getting used to how it's used, but a far superior can opener IMO.

Always believed in the best tools and at this point anything I buy that won't become obsolete I intend to have to never replace in my remaining years, so get good quality; whatever it is. I have bought my last leaf blower, trimmer, chain saw, lawn mower. I know I could make my 2011 pickup last my life, but likely won't. We're (fortunately) at point where any saving in purchases will accrue to benefit of kids, which is OK, but we basically limit purchases to what makes sense and is justified by our sense of the value of a dollar, which we still have a problem in parting with big batches thereof.
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:10 PM   #7
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The older I get the less things I want
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:20 PM   #8
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I have bought my last leaf blower, trimmer, chain saw, lawn mower.
Ironically every trimmer and weedwhacker and lawn mower that I've bought has been lighter, more powerful, and needed less maintenance. Sort of the Moore's Law of yardwork.

I can still remember all the small-engine maintenance that I used to do with my Dad on our 1960s Toro mower. (In the 1960s.) I'm glad that I didn't even stick with my 1990s models.
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:20 PM   #9
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I bought Revere Ware about 35 years ago. My daughter is using it now. My parents still have theirs and some of it was from my grandmother.
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:56 PM   #10
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Brief thoughts:
Knives. Yes, we have good ones and like them, but I gotta say I very often reach for that darn $5 "Ginsu" TV knife. I've never sharpened it (it's serrated, so sharpening is impractical) and it still cuts very well many years after we bought it.

Cordless Tools: Find a brand you like and stick to it, that way your batteries can be used in many tools and the ongoing cost of replacing dead ones is lower. The Craftsman 19.2V line have been good for me, they have many choices of tools, and they've stayed loyal to one battery style for over a decade.

Manual Can Opener: Yes, I agree on the Swing-a-way brand.

Pens: I'm not a pen snob, but life is too short to write with whatever free pen you pick up. I like the at the Pilot Precise needle point pens that frequently leak all over the place after an airplane flight.

Drawers rather than cabinets in the kitchen: We love 'em, and now the only low cabinets we have are beneath the sink. If you've already got cabinets then pull-outs are a nice addition, but drawers are more convenient still (one motion rather than two, no scraping the back of the door on a partially open pull-out, nothing tumbles out, less wasted space).

Jumper cables: Get good, thick ones with quality clamps and insulation that will stay flexible at the coldest temps that exist where you live. Keep them in the car.

Extension cords for the shop: Buy the good ones. Look for beefy terminals that are solidly affixed to the cord insulation. They'll stay nicer and last longer if you buy a reel/spool for them and use it.

Dolly/handtruck: You'll use it for decades, and sometimes in "iffy" situations (moving heavy things down stairs, across the lawn, etc). You don't need to spend a bundle, but don't get a flimsy little one with thin tires and a flimsy platform that will bend out of shape someday.

Good wall paint. Getting a paint that covers in fewer coats saves a lot of time, and getting a paint that will look good for years can delay the hassle of repainting. DW and I like the Behr paint.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:30 PM   #11
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We bought a Zyliss manual that opens lids differently; not jagged and you can re set the lid on top. A little getting used to how it's used, but a far superior can opener IMO.

We purchased something similar from Pampered Chef, works great.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:46 PM   #12
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I spend more on good quality shoes, and on certain clothing items that I know I will wear to death. Poor craftsmanship on seams, fabric, or shoe soles aren't worth the money saved. I know a lot of people who like their "cheap duds" will disagree with me on this one.
Spending a little more on the "good seats" at a concert, ball game or play makes the experience more enjoyable and memorable (like being able to see the pianist's hands instead of being in the nosebleed section).
Better olive oil and balsamic vinegar!
It all comes down to ROI. Old Revere ware was made well and is worth using as long as it lasts. The culture of frugal does not have to mean the culture of cheaply made!
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:48 PM   #13
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+1 where to draw the line between foolish frugality (you get what you pay for) and quailty for a fair price is a constant struggle for me. I like the idea of going for higher quality on things that you use frequently - makes a lot of sense.
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:10 PM   #14
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I have always been a proponent of buying quality and keeping things until they are completely used up.
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:32 PM   #15
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I'm also very frugal, and will shop at Harbor Freight for most of my power tools, and a lot of basic supplies. But most of that is for my hobbies and I only need stuff that lasts a few years. I also buy cheaper teflon frying pans, and replace them every 8-10 years.

I'm glad I have a few quality knives, I like the OXO brand for kitchen stuff like the can opener and veggie peeler.
With our new house, we finally bought a real dining room table, after using a hand me down table and folding costco chairs for more than 13 years.
My moving out present from my dad was a basic black and decker drill. He taped the chuck to the cord, and I'm still using it 20 years later.
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Old 10-13-2012, 06:20 AM   #16
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Speakers and amp.
Anything related to cooking.
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Old 10-13-2012, 08:21 AM   #17
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You folks are an inspiration to me! Thanks!
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Old 10-13-2012, 10:46 AM   #18
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Bed, Bath, and Beyond has the kind I like.

Swing-A-Way Can Opener - Bed Bath & Beyond
+1

I worked in a restaurant kitchen as a teenager, and had lots of practice with different cans and can openers.

They had one of those big, table-mounted jobs with a crank that beat out the Swing-a-way for the big cans, but for everything else we used the Swing-a-way.

Bought myself one when I moved to a place with a kitchen for the first time. Never found a reason to look at anything else.
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Old 10-13-2012, 11:26 AM   #19
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I spend more on good quality shoes, and on certain clothing items that I know I will wear to death. Poor craftsmanship on seams, fabric, or shoe soles aren't worth the money saved. I know a lot of people who like their "cheap duds" will disagree with me on this one.
The culture of frugal does not have to mean the culture of cheaply made!
Living in Hawaii has saved us thousands of dollars in wardrobe expenses, especially "business wear" and competitive fashion.
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Old 10-13-2012, 11:29 AM   #20
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My wife bought our cast iron frying pans for $5 in 1976. We use them nearly every day. Best ROI of anything in our kitchen.
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