FRUGAL QUESTION: IS IT WORTH BUYING EXPENSIVE SHOES?

Well, I’ve been postponing the inevitable for a few months now.  The old, cheap shoes that I wear 7 days a week is in bad shape.  Shoe replacement is down in my priority, but these old shoes are finished.

So, here’s the question that I have for the frugal person who lives below his/her means:   Should I replace my worn-out shoes with another pair or cheap shoes or more expensive shoes and why?  I’m wondering if affordable shoes can be comfortable?  Please help!

$5 REWARD FOR MY FAVORITE ANSWER

$6 REWARD FOR MY FAVORITE ANSWER  (Increased to $6 on 01/29/2010)

If I get any answers, I will give a $5 $6 reward to my favorite answer.  If I find that multiple answers that I like, I will do a drawing.   I will send the reward as a money order or cashier’s check.  I will not send a personal check.  The winner winner will be notified by email.  It’s not much, but it’s all I can afford for an important and frugal shoe decision. :)

(Don’t include your email in your response below.  I will be able to email you.)

———————DECISION MADE:

I have decided to try more expensive shoes.  I found a pair of Rockport (I have a friend who swears by them) for $70 yesterday.  I will report my experience here in the future.

THE WINNER: I wrote down the names of the authors whose replies I liked and drew a name.  I cut out papers with names, shuffled them without looking and pulled a name.  The feedback I received here helped me make a decision.  This is the first time that I don’t buy the cheapest shoes possible!

And the winner of the $6 was… Elysia.  I will be emailing Elysia now.

CONTEST CLOSED!

Thanks!

Charlie.

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11 Responses to “FRUGAL QUESTION: IS IT WORTH BUYING EXPENSIVE SHOES?”

  1. Elysia Says:

    I think it depends. If you’re on your feet a lot or have wide feet or high arches, good shoes can make all the difference. I personally have terrible experience with Payless shoes. Generally I go to DSW and check the discount racks first. Often I can get an expensive/high quality shoe that lasts me a long time at a very reasonable price.
    If you know your size and fit, you can often find good prices at online stores as well (zappos.com or shoebuy.com), and then search for a coupon.
    I very rarely need to replace my shoes, and quality shoes can be resoled (yes, people who repair shoes do still exist!).
    Good luck, I hope you find the perfect new shoes.

  2. Steve Says:

    What kind of shoes do you wear? Dress shoes, biz casual, sneakers, steel toed construction boots?

    I think there is a minimum price for decent shoes. You can save money by looking for clearance/discount/coupons/etc, just like anything else, of course, but that’s not my point. My point is that cheap shoes will likely not be comfortable, and not last very long. I would buy dress shoes I wear once a year at Payless, but for my daily shoes, no way!

    I have some friends that swear by Nike shoes, they claim they last two years where “normal” shoes last like 1. However I have not found that to be the case personally. Still, I think that a decent pair of shoes will last longer than a cheap pair of shoes. And it’s effort (as you hint) to find a pair of shoes – my time is worth something, I want to spend as little as possible of it trying on shoes in the clearance section.

    I have actually been struggling with this over the past few years myself. I keep trying to find shoes on clearance, but it’s so much effort and they only last a year and aren’t always comfortable (since it’s going by what’s available cheaply vs. something I know will work for me. I have a friend who does the opposite – he found a particular brand + model of shoe he finds comfortable, and he just keeps buying a new pair online every year or so. Recently he ordered three pairs at once, however, I would not recommend this as the materials in the shoe will break down over time whether you are wearing it or not.

    • solidpersonalfinance Says:

      Steve,

      My shoes are 9.5. I want to wear them as casual and dress shoes if possible. Or maybe that’s expecting too much?

      My wife also believes that better (more expensive) shoes last longer for the kids. But, if they cost double, will they actually last twice as long?

      As for buying shoes online, I don’t like the idea. Well, perhaps if it’s always the same brand like your friend does. But it’s not my case for now.

      Thanks for your reply!

  3. Elysia Says:

    I’ve found that the more expensive shoes (striderite) work for my kids, they do seem to last longer and actually fit their wide little feet. I just try to shop when there are sales (this doesn’t always work, kids feet keep growing).
    I think you could find some shoes that are casual and comfortable and would work reasonably well. I actually have wide feet and there are a few brands that I trust to fit me well. I will order those online. I hate shoe shopping and it’s worth it to me to not waste my time in clearance unless I have a phenomenal coupon.
    Clarks fit me very well and might have something you could wear for both. At least you don’t need to worry about high heels!

  4. Steve Says:

    Kids brings up a point I started to write, but deleted, but now I’ll write it. My wife has a bump on her heel that wears through shoes in less than 6 months, regardless of the brand. Similarly, kids’ shoes have an end of life date, regardless of how good of a quality they are. In either case you would likely not get enough usage out of quality shoes to earn back their worth.

    I would say that shoes twice as cheap as the cheapest possible shoes, will probably last twice as long, and be 50% to 100% more comfortable to boot. And maybe 50% and 25% for twice as much as that. But of course there’s a point of diminishing returns. Some part of what you pay for shoes will go to marketing, embellishments, whatever… and not to longevity and comfort. I think it would definitely be worth it (especially if you value your own time) to get some medium priced, good quality shoes.

    I bought my most recent shoes online at zappos. They do offer free shipping, both ways so you can get mailed some shoes just to try them on. However I wasn’t actually that impressed with the process, and naturally the shoes are a bit pricier than other sellers to cover all that “free” shipping. I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t gotten a free gift card through a credit card point program.

  5. Elysia Says:

    My kids cry and won’t put on the shoes unless they’re wide enough… I don’t know, I don’t think I can get them anything else. But I’m sure that’s not true for everyone. I’d love to buy them cheaper shoes — I keep trying! And for sandals (adjustable) they get whatever is cheapest.

    I don’t know about Zappos but I do know that I find it really hard to find wide shoes in my size when I’m looking. I have only once bought shoes online (winter boots) and they did fit and were reasonably comfortable. I’d definitely try an online store. I mean look, you can limit by color, price, size, style, brand, sale, etc.

    http://www.shoebuy.com/discount-size-9.5-extra-wide-$35-$65-mens-casual-comfortable-shoes.htm

    I don’t know that brand (Propet), Rockport is usually good though, in the next range.

  6. Chris Says:

    I personally find that expensive shoes last longer than cheap ones. Obviously it depends on the make, but I wear Ecco shoes that last me about 11 months. Other, good makes of shoes, only seem to last me about 6 months. (I do a lot of walking around each day!)

    Also the more expensive shoes are far more comfortable. I think that makes a big difference if you are on your feet for a long time each day.

  7. Daddy Paul Says:

    You bet it is worth it to buy expensive shoes. A good pair of shoes will last 5 years or so a cheap paid 6 months. I had trouble walking for ten years. For the last year I can even run.

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