Why We Wear Cheap Socks

A few years back, Angie and I started seeing a lot of posts about how frugal living isn’t the same as cheap living, and I even wrote about the concept on a few occasions. Frugal living (to us, anyway) is about living on less than you earn, using your resources wisely, and not purchasing things that are unnecessary. Cheap living, on the other hand, tends to conjure up images of subpar goods, less than ideal living conditions, and things that are constantly in need of repair. You can be frugal and still have quality things. In fact, a lot of fellow minimalists will tell you that making a quality purchase that may cost more in the beginning far outweighs buying cheap things that will need to be replaced more often. Not only is it better for your wallet, it’s better for the environment as well.

Except when it isn’t.

Folks, I honestly don’t think that anything is made to last these days – be it “quality” or otherwise – so we may just be better off going cheap. For example:

In 2015, we purchased a quality brand name sofa from a local furniture store. Around that same time, my mom bought one from Big Lots. Ours cost 4 times what hers did. We use ours daily to sit and read or watch TV but hers has been slept on, jumped on by toddlers, walked across by a teenager, and lounged on for hours on end by kids and grand-kids alike. Our cushions are as dead as the pet goldfish I had when I was 10. Her cushions are just now starting to sink a little when you sit down. But, hold on…I have an even better one for you. Our good friend has a sofa that has been moved to 4 different apartments in as many years. It has been slept on, jumped on, and is used for hours of gaming every single day and yet, it is still comfy. Did I mention that it was used when she bought it??

And then there are the socks…

About the same time that we were buying our quality sofa, we decided to switch to wool socks. We read that they were the best socks for hiking since they wick moisture better than other socks. We bought a few pairs at Dick’s Sporting Goods and they lasted for about 2 years, which I consider to be a good life for a sock that gets used all the time. When we went back for more, we found they no longer carried that brand, nor could we find it anywhere. So we bought a pair of SmartWool brand socks and a couple of pairs of Columbia. After a year, the SmartWool is starting to get a little ragged. Want to know where the Columbia socks are now? In our rag bin. They make excellent dusters. The Columbia socks did not even last a few months before they started getting holey (yet, they cost $15 a pair!).

If I had to guesstimate, I’d say we spent about $160 on brand name wool socks over 3 years time. You might be thinking, that’s not so bad, but I’ll beg to differ. A sock is designed to protect your feet from moisture, keep you warm, and stop your shoe from rubbing a hole in your foot. In an unintentional (and unscientific) quality test, we found that cheap socks do this job just as well, if not better, than expensive ones.

Our “everlasting” cheap socks – mismatched on purpose.

I purchased these socks BEFORE Angie and I met in 2011. In fact, I was still living in TN when I bought them (at Big Lots). I moved away in 2006, so they are at least 14 years old. They cost $5 for 6 pair back then. When we “upgraded” our wardrobe to wool socks, we moved these to my mom’s house so we could use them in the yard. We still wear them every week, at least twice a week, and they still have no holes in them!

We have applied our same unscientific method to dishcloths, bath towels, walking shoes, manual can openers and even underwear and found the results to be consistent. Cheap lasts just as long, or longer, than more expensive “quality” items. The $20 can opener we got as a gift lasted about 3 months before we had to replace it with one from the Dollar Tree (that one has been used daily for 4 years now). The $18/pair Ex-Officio undies that we thought we needed to have for travel are unraveling just the same as the $2/pair undies from Walmart. And the $10/3-pack of eco-friendly dishcloths we ordered online – well, they are in the rag bin with the Columbia socks, while the $4/6-pack from Target are still washing dishes every night.

So why do we wear cheap socks? Because there’s no financial benefit to buying more expensive ones. When the so-called quality socks wear out faster than the cheap ones, there’s no environmental benefit either. Being frugal is always good but being cheap might not be such a bad thing either. Just think, if we had back the money we wasted thinking we were buying quality items, oh the savings we could have banked!

Have you ever purchased something expensive only to find it did not last very long at all? What items to you routinely cheap out on?

The Sprouts Are Taking Over!

Okay, not really but it is kind of fun to look around our apartment and see things sprouting in almost every windowsill and on top of our dresser.

We are now under a “safer at home” directive in our county, which means that all non-essential businesses have been asked to close for at least 7 days. My Target gig sent out a memo saying that we were still being allowed to service our stores but could opt out without any repercussions if we did not feel safe going into them. Right now, I feel okay about it; however, my sister was sent by her employer to be tested yesterday. She works in a grocery store and they have reason to believe she may have been exposed (and she is exhibiting symptoms similar to bronchitis). The doctor advised her to stay home for 4 days while she awaits the test results. Right now, she’s in good spirits, just relaxing and watching Netflix. (In case you’re wondering, my sister lives an hour and a half away and we have not seen her since February 10th – so we’re good here.)

In a lot of ways, we aren’t really feeling the impact of having to stay home. We pretty much stay home anyway. But we are missing our niece and nephew. They are too little to understand what’s going on and just want Meme and Monkey (that’s what our niece calls Angie) to take them to the playground.

Why does she call Angie Monkey?? Because it was the first word Angie taught her so she has always associated the name with Angie. And also because Angie LOVES monkeys (and bananas). Plus, it probably didn’t help that we (the adults) all liked it so much that we started calling her Monkey too – just maybe not in public. 🙂

In the meantime, we’ve been building a playground of sorts in the backyard – a playground for plants that is. A few weeks ago, we built a raised bed next to our blackberry bushes and garlic. Over the weekend, we finished the space (or at least finished what we can right now).

A lot of the materials for this project were sourced from the creek. You see, last fall, Angie and I decided to clean up the creek that runs behind my mom’s house. The creek does not belong to us but we do have to look at it (and we figured that the factory that now owns the property probably cared less about it than we do) so we adopted it. We pulled out all sorts of trash, cut branches and barbed wire, and removed a lot of old cattle panels that had fallen across the creek bed and were collecting trash. We saved the cattle panels to use as trellises and we started removing some of the rocks to allow the water to flow better. The result – we now have a tiny waterfall!!

Our newly cleaned up creek.

We used the rocks as a border for our new garden area and filled in the walkways with mulch that we bought in “busted bags” for half price at Lowe’s. When the garlic is harvested in June, we plan to mulch the rest of the space and add a couple of tubs for growing potatoes. The area with the small trellis is for our peas.

If all goes well weather-wise tomorrow, we’re going to put our cool weather crops in the raised bed – onions, radishes, kale, and spinach.

Have you started your seeds or garden projects yet? How are you adjusting to staying home (if you are also under a safer at home advisory)?