Budgeting Tip: Use What You Buy

A columnist at Get Rich Slowly describes how her family learned to focus on getting the most use out of the things they purchase, rather than using them once or twice and then moving on to the next new thing. While it sounds like an obvious tip, it can be a little harder to practice in real life—but, she writes, the results can be eye-opening.

Take, for example, a couple of hiking packs they splurged on this summer:

We might have left those packs in our garage, next to the tennis rackets, roller blades, picnic baskets, etc. But changing our perspective on money has made us get off our butts and get back to nature. Changing the way we think has also causing us to expose our kids and ourselves to things we missed out on as children because our parents ignored the amazing opportunities in our own backyard. We’re learning to use what we pay for and in the process enriching our lives through experiences rather than things.

A response on the Get Rich Slowly page offers another useful tip: “I had a friend that would calculate how much something would cost per use. Worked especially well for dressy clothes, sports equipment and fancy kitchen gadgets.”

“Use it or Lose It: Getting Value from the Things You Own” [Get Rich Slowly]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    prime example: bought a nice coleman tent 4 years ago. amount of times i went camping in last 4 years, 0. i need to read this “get rich slowly” sounds like its right up my ally.

  2. Anonymous says:

    can’t see my posts ugh!!!!!!

  3. JayXJ says:

    Tools are a good investment with this logic. Not only do you get more tools (tools are always good) you start looking for ways to use them. This encourages you to learn new skills, which saves boatloads of money avoiding mechanics and contractors.

  4. TechnoDestructo says:


    Set it up in your bedroom, and you can go camping EVERY NIGHT!

    Having things you don’t use but can’t let go of isn’t just a lack of enjoyment, it’s a burden.

    My mom is a hoarder. She has so much stuff in her house, the stuff she’d NEVER use actually prevents her from using the stuff she might use. It’s something you can’t fully comprehend until you’ve seen it. She has a 100 dollar a month storage unit for the shit, too.

    I’ve got a little bit of that tendency, myself…I hoard books…never get around to reading more than maybe a third of them.

    At least I do play with my hot wheels cars.

  5. TechnoDestructo says:


    Tools are not always good. If you buy a tool because it’s on sale “and it’s a good deal!” you may end up having it just sit there. Buy tools as you need them…when you find yourself on a project where you aren’t properly equipped. You’ll be forced to learn how to use it then, and then you’re assured the payoff of which you speak.

  6. ludwigk says:

    I’m always calculating cost per utilization on everything I buy, from furniture to snack foods. Like for instance, those paper towels that rip into half sheets. When I have the whole sheets, it’s either too much, or I tear off some of it and the rest gets eaten by gremlins or something (can’t explain it, but it seems to disappear). So my cost per utilization is less for half sheets even if the roll costs more.

  7. Anonymous says:

    @ludwigk: calculating the cost per use is an excellent defense for my buying my video games! i play at least 2-4 hours per day! (i know that may be too much) but its just as addicting as anything else (if you have a good game). all at once 200-300 dollars for a system seems alot, but over years of play, it pays for itself.

  8. UpsetPanda says:

    I love the half sheet paper towel rolls. Also, it’s important to consider quality. It’s overall cheaper to spend $2.50 per roll of good, quality paper towels than to spend $1.50 but have to buy 3 extra because the roll is thin and crappy.

    I’d say one thing though – you can go generic (if there is such a thing) on hammers, screwdrivers, such, but never, ever go generic on anything involving blades or mechanics. Misuse is one thing, but poor manufacturing is often also to blame.

  9. Lynn12 says:

    My sister has this problem, buys the latest gadget, uses it once and then forgets about it. Her problem is currently stored in my basement since she ran out of room in her own house.