Monday, October 20, 2008

Be a valueskate, not cheapskate

With recession looming like dark clouds over our heads, I think it's a good idea to start a label for my opinions on personal finance. Is it surprising that I'll start on this topic? It shouldn't be, because investing is basically a philosophy that can best be summarized like this: Forgo immediate wants for future gains. I think this philosophy can be extended to the broader aspects of life, rather than just the myopic realm of investing only.

I've a happy problem. I've got difficulties spending money on myself. I find it strange because I can commit 10k into the stock market without batting an eyelid but I've got problems spending $10 on socks. I've been eyeing this brand of socks by Byford, which are rather cheap, for almost a year. I've been wearing those black socks issued by SAF, but the quality is quite questionable as after a few washings, the socks will become quite distorted and gets 'hardened'. Those who wore it before will know what I meant by 'hardened' socks, haha!

How much are the socks, u ask? It's selling for around $10 for 3 pairs, which is about as cheap as it can get. I wonder why I took so long to decide on buying it :) At the rate that I'm walking, I 'holed' socks very frequently, so it's important for me to get good quality at cheap prices. I'm going to dump my SAF issued black socks for the new ones.

Recently I also bought a pair of shoes. I've been using a cheap $23 shoe for more than 10 months, which I think is very good value for money. I used to think that the more I pay, the more quality I get. My previous pairs are from caterpillar, selling around $80 to $100 per pair. But guess what? It didn't last me 6 months. I changed my philosophy on buying shoes now: Buy it cheap, if it last longer than expected, it's a bonus - if it didn't last long, at least I didn't spend too much on it. Buy a pair of shoes for $23 is better than buying one for $90, because while the latter can last me for 6 mths, I can buy 3-4 pairs of the former :) There! My downside (price) is taken care of, the upside (how long it lasts) will get care of itself.

The new crocodile shoes I bought in a sale cost me $29. It is much much better than my previous pair because there are ample support at the heels. From here, I also learnt another lesson: Cheap does not equal to value. My previous pairs makes my angle painful because when my heel strike the floor, the shock goes up instead of being absorbed by sponges or other cushioned support. Be a value hunter, not a cheapskate.

My blade shaver is getting blunt too (and a little rusty), so I thought of getting another one. At guardian pharmacy, I saw that there are two brands of shaver - one from the famous Gillette and the other is the less well known Schick. 3 pieces of Gillette's blade cost $22, while the same quantity of Schick's blade will cost me $12. I decided to try out Schick, even though I've been using Gillette since I started shaving. The mechanical parts of Schick seems to be more inferior than Gillette (it feels a little rickety) but nevertheless do the job it's supposed to do well. I maintain my blades very well, so the $12 is money well spent. The recommendation is to change the blades monthly but I think I've used my blade for 1.5-2 yrs already.

I'm sharing all these because I think that at all times, it's good to control one's expenses. It's only when in recessionary times that we hear people talking about cutting costs, whereas I think one should always trim excesses and adopt a lifestyle that is simple but not cheapskate. For those familiar with Greek philosopher Diogenes, I think I bear a resemblance to him.


Mike Dirnt said...

LP i consider myself as cheapskate. i always need to cut my spending and find ways to increase other source of income.

for running shoes, i have been wearing the same pair of NB saf shoes that my brother got from his army camp. i dont like to wear casual shoes so i go around with my timberland leather slippers which have been more than 2 years. the quality is still superb

for shaver, im using a braun electric shaver. i just changed a new one after using the previous one for about 2 year. i hate or dont know how to use the razor type

well thats some of the things that save me alot. i got to adopt this lifestyle for being the sole bread winner

la papillion said...

Hey mike,

haha, we all got to do what it takes to boost our savings and decrease my expenses. Tought life eh? hoho!