Treat Your $1 Belongings Like They Cost $700

by Katy on March 4, 2014 · 21 comments

Reading glasses

I started wearing reading glasses a few months ago. And me being me (i.e. cheap) I picked up a pair at The Dollar Tree store.

They work perfectly for my needs.

I briefly considered picking up a couple different pairs, as they were so bleeding cheap, but instead I decided to stick with the single pair and just be careful with them. I rescued a hard-shell glasses case from my older son’s room, (his prescription lenses always come with a new case) and have been very deliberate about where they’re kept and how they’re treated.

They’re still in perfect condition.

My neighbors recently hosted a lovely get together, and one of the partygoers got annoyed when her sister was rough housing and jostled her glasses. (Yes, “lovely get together and “rough housing” coexist in my world.)

“Careful with my $700 glasses” she screamed.

She then explained that her glasses had transition lenses, invisible bifocals and were featherweight. So yes, I can understand why she would want to treat them like the crown-freaking-jewels.

But the financial cost of your belongings should not guide how well you treat them. Some of my favorite household belongings were either free or damned close to it! Does that mean I should treat them poorly?

Hell, no!

William Morris’ quote of “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” comes to mind with this situation. Because there is nothing useful or beautiful of having multiple versions of a single item simply because they were cheap.

Whether your stuff cost $1, $700 or even $7000 dollars it still had to be manufactured from raw materials and will someday break beyond repair. Buying multiple versions of something just because it was cheap not only clutters your home but defeats the purpose.

Respect your belongings. All of them.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky L March 4, 2014 at 11:19 am

Thanks for this! We try to teach this to our sons, who are already minimalists of a sort, and now pay for most of their stuff beyond food and clothes. If something breaks, they know Mom and Dad aren’t running out to immediately replace it! We also try to teach them that people and living things in general need to be treated with respect and valued, regardless of their monetary “net worth.” (I’m reminded of your recent post about busing tables for the charity benefit and how some people treat those they regard as their “servants.”) I hope to see a change in our “throwaway culture” someday…


Rhonda March 4, 2014 at 12:26 pm

I think this is such a good point. I think it’s part of our “growth” fixation as a culture. When we measure business success as growth only, there is no incentive for producers to make things long-lasting. And this filters through the rest of society. We are constantly urged to buy more, consume more, fuel the growth. When we try to break the mold and become good stewards of fewer things we are fighting a lot of our current cultural norms, even though it’s so evident this needs to happen if we are to preserve our earth.


Auntie Karen March 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I LOVE that phrase, “. . . good stewards of fewer things . . .”


patti March 4, 2014 at 3:36 pm

I remember reading in one of the first simplicity books that you only need one of most things and then you know where it is at all times, such as: one pair of tweezers and keep them in your bathroom drawer. It really does make you keep up with your belongings and not treat them so badly when you know you just have ONE.


Renee March 4, 2014 at 4:48 pm

In principle, I agree with you. But in practice, I must admit that I have two pair of reading glasses. One is in my purse, and one is in my nightstand. That way, I always have them when I am out and about and confronted with tiny menu type (why do hey do that???), and I don’t have to go back downstairs to retrieve my readers if I want to read in bed before going to sleep. Come to think of it though, I usually use my regular glasses (with featherweight, anti-glare coating and progressive bifocals) in bed because by then I’ve taken off my contacts. Hmmm…


barb March 4, 2014 at 5:01 pm

i totally agree with you about treating our possessions with care. But I have about 5 pairs in various places where I primarily use them because I found that I was constantly looking for that one pair that I had originally bought.


Koliti March 4, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Absolutely! Whether one of my belongings cost 25 cents, $1, or more – I want to enjoy/use it for as long as I can/want and then hopefully be able to pass them on to someone else to enjoy/use since it would still be in good shape. I, too, am new to wearing reading glasses this year – I have also purchased a several pairs at the $1 Store. Why? Well, I find that I need “my eyeballs” wherever I go – one pair in my purse, one pair in my work bag, one pair on my craft table, one pair in my night stand, and one pair by the computer. With this multiple pair purchase, I only spent a total of $5 to have something I use every day where I use it every day. At this point, I am not fond of “clutter” around my neck – you know, one of those string things that would hold your glasses around your neck.


Thel March 4, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Great Blog! Just had my eye exam yesterday and while my ‘script hadn’t changed significantly from my last check-up, I decided to order prescription sunglasses. Mostly because glare is tough for me while driving. That said, I am one who keeps reading glasses handy in several different spots in the house and often it is so I can tell who is calling. Hate to admit that my eyes are so bad that I can’t read the phone well enough to see who is calling. Aging is not for sissies …


momsav March 5, 2014 at 5:22 am

Just an FYI; I wear bifocals. We lost our insurance when my husband was “retired”. (Fancy word for fired.) When i wanted a change in my old prescription frames, i bought some of those cheap reading glasses. I started getting auras. I couldn’t see out of half my eyes. We’re talking crazy, black and white zig-zaggy moving lines going across my vision. I never got a migraine, which i used to get on a regular basis, but i ran for the aleeve, just in case. The only thing i was doing different was wearing those glasses. When i stopped wearing them the auras went away. I haven’t had a problem since. For me, my eyesight is now nonnegotiable. I spent 49.00 at Wallyworld for an exam and am currently looking for a deal on lenses. Like i said, just an FYI.


LazyretirementgirlJackie March 5, 2014 at 6:45 am

I got featherweight Ziess lenses bifocals etc at Walmart for 250 bucks. I am blind as a bat, so I would no more lose my glasses than I would misplace my right arm!


Tracy Stone March 5, 2014 at 7:03 am

I like this.


Sara S March 5, 2014 at 7:32 am

This semi-related to this topic, but something I find comforting about having inexpensive and/or free things is that while I strive to take really good care of my belongings, no matter what they cost, if they’re inexpensive I don’t feel like I have to worry or stress about something happening to them. I never want someone to feel uncomfortable borrowing or using something of mine. I want to be a generous person and having things that I bought used etc increases my ability to do that and it allows me to always be able to prioritize the people in my life over my things.

One example of what I’m talking about that you, Katy, brought up once on the blog had to do with your younger son. He had a tendency to lose his coats and lunch boxes, which was frustrating, but because you always bought them used for a few dollars, it wasn’t as stressful as it would’ve been if you’d spent $60 on every coat he lost.

Anyway, not sure if I explained myself very clearly, but it’s something I frequently think about as a bonus for buying used etc.


Katy March 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm

You explained yourself perfectly! 🙂



Marieann March 5, 2014 at 7:59 am

I love this post and it fits nicely with you other post about being a throwaway society. I don’t always buy the cheapest, these days I usually look for quality and items that will last, though that is getting really hard to find.If I do find a well made product I am liable to buy a few because I never know if I will find that quality again.
Being picky like that means when I do find a product I approve of, I look after it well…be it a $1 item or $100 item.
I’ve paid a lot for my reading glasses and I keep the old ones and use them around the house, but I’m going to check out the drugstore glasses the next time because I’m staring to think the whole optical business is becoming a scam.


Kristin March 5, 2014 at 11:05 am

A few weeks ago, I was about to leave my $8 thrift shop winter coat unattended, when someone who works where I was about to leave it cautioned me not to because people steal things from there all the time. At the time, I thought, well, it’s just an $8 coat. But then I thought about what it was REALLY worth to me, which is way more than $8. It has kept me warm during an especially cold winter, and looks great for just $8. I’d be hard pressed to replace it so economically, and to find another coat that I liked as much.


Amanda March 5, 2014 at 11:32 am

Another good reason to take care of your things is it makes you think twice about purchases. Do I really want to clean/put away/prep this once I get it home?


marie March 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm

I can feel for the woman with the $700 glasses. Mine were that much too.
They are my eyes to the world, if they were broken, I couldn’t even drive home. Lol
But with that being said, I’m not sure why she had to scream the amount out load. funny.
Ans Katy, my husband been using the same pair of dollar tree readers for 3 years!!!


Diane C March 6, 2014 at 11:22 am

I’m with you, Marie. My first thought when reading this was “I’ll bet she didn’t get them at Costco.”
Yes, I know that there are even better “deals” to be had via online companies, my eyes and the fit of my glasses are too important to me to buy without proper fitting. I get that plus all the bells and whistles my old eyes need for about half that amount at Costco.


Davey Pockets May 12, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Love this blog one of my favorites to read. Respect and value the belongings you have. Always.


Practical Parsimony May 22, 2014 at 10:47 pm

I know why the woman screamed out the cost of the glasses–it was a veiled threat about the rough houser paying for them. It was also to caution her about the importance of the glasses.

My frames are 16-yrs-old with lens being replaced as necessary. I treat my glasses like a king’s treasure. They stay on my face unless I am washing my hair or sleeping.

When I was a child, our cousins who had lots of money treated our furniture like outdoor toys, putting muddy feet on the sofa, kicking the coffee table around. Their parents never corrected them. They had the attitude that it was not very good furniture so should not be valued. It was the best we had. At their house, they kept their feet off the sofa and were well-behaved. They did not mind leaving our furniture shabbier but took care of their good furniture.

I cautioned a teen of a friend not to knock a vase over. She said, “Well, you said it was only $1 at a yard sale, so what difference does it make?” I told her it was my possession and to go home and abuse her mother’s WM purchases. My vase was worth much more, was an antique, and I could not just go out and replace it.


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