March 30, 2018

10 Things On My "Buy It For Life" List

I will probably never have to shop for leather hiking boots again.

When you have to buy something, choosing the quality and durable alternative means you may never have to buy that thing again. For those of us that don't like shopping much, that is a very attractive situation.

One of the best ways to make things last is to acquire quality things. It may cost more to begin with, but over the long run they outlast their cheaper counterparts. Also good would be buying items that you can repair if needed, which will also make things last a long time.

Good quality items, along with gentle use and proper maintenance, could conceivably last several lifetimes. A good set of hand tools, or a cast iron frying pan fall into this category.

Other items may not technically last a lifetime, but in a world of disposable this, and throw away that, having something that lasts a long time deserves an honorary inclusion. Sturdy clothing would fall under this category.

Here are 10 practical and durable items on my "Buy It For Life" list:
  1. Cast iron frying pan - we are using one handed down through 3 generations.
  2. Wood cutting board - cared for properly, it can last a lifetime
  3. Binoculars - essential bird watching tool that if cared for will bring birds into focus for many years.
  4. Sturdy furniture - cheap furniture is not worth buying. I prefer older, second hand sturdy stuff.
  5. Pots and pans - don't let them sit empty on a hot burner and everything will be fine.
  6. Stainless steel thermal mug - indestructible items that keep liquids hot or cold longer.
  7. Basic tools/garden tools - buy good stuff and enjoy a lifetime of gardening
  8. double-edged safety razor - bomb proof, and the blades are waaay cheaper than modern razors.
  9. Guitar - WIlly Nelson has had his guitar for over 45 years.
  10. Leather hiking boots - my first pair lasted decades, and the next will probably be my last.

These frugal choices are the opposite of the throw-away economy. They reduce waste, and save money in the long run. Plus, old things take on a personality, character, and beauty of their own, as in the Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi.

I have found that it is usually better to look for things like longevity, energy efficiency, repairability, and low total cost of ownership when making a purchase, instead of just what is least expensive. 

The frugal choice may not be the cheapest choice, but instead the more expensive option that may never have to be bought again. 

What are some things on your "Buy It For Life" list? 


  1. Anonymous3/30/2018

    I share many items on your list, and also have a stainless steel fountain pen. I expect it will see me out! Quality kitchen tools are definitely on the list too - a good knife, a mouli, vintage egg beater and coffee grinder, mortar and pestle.


    1. We have an antique silver pie lifter that Linda's mom passed on to us. It appears to be very old. We don't eat that much pie, but when we do, we serve it in style.

  2. Anonymous3/30/2018

    Great list I agree with everything on it.I have something similar to your boots, I've had them for 45years, North Star. They are looking a bit ratty now but still do the job.
    I love Birkenstocks, the pair I wear now have been resoled once, I've had them since the eighties.
    My furniture is from the seventies, Roxton maple, I recently had the table and chairs refinished and good to go for another thirty years.

    I wonder if the problem today is that most of the stuff out there is garbage. I don't know where one would go to buy any price.

    I shop the thrift stores looking for older small appliances but even there they are getting harder to find


    1. Marie,

      I love hearing about 45 year old boots that are still going. I agree that so much of what is in stores these days is of dubious quality, if not outright designed for a short life in order to assure future purchases.

  3. Anonymous3/30/2018

    I love this idea and have been slowly working towards this for several years. I used to buy cheaper disposable clothing but tired of the endless cycle and waste. The movie True Cost also showed me the impact that cheap clothing has on the communities that make all of that stuff for us. I've had great success buying used wooden furniture and refinishing if needed. I now only buy my clothing from companies that stand by their products. Duluth Trading is my favorite place to get clothing that will last for years. There are some great shoe companies out there that truly make their stuff to last.

    My favorite part is that overall I spend so much less time shopping than I used to. I don't need any new clothing for the coming summer. Everything from last year is still in great shape. I won't need anything new for next winter either. It makes my life better to buy fewer quality items and it has a positive impact on others as well.

    1. You mentioned an important goal of living simply with few, well made possessions - "spend less time shopping". That leaves more time and money to be used for a higher purpose.

  4. Hi there. I just came back to your blog. I did not intentionally leave but somehow I think technology had something to do with it. This is a great list! I wanted to let you know about a friend of mine who blogs at, Her recent posting over here was about using old school tools :)I thought it may resonate with you. Currently organising a Free Market at enjoying life in all of the simple ways one can :)

    1. Vicki,

      Hand tools are timeless. Good luck with your Free Market. Linda and I have been involved in several of these when we lived in the city.

      Welcome back to our blog! Thanks for the link.

  5. We have a saying around here that an item will "Do me out", meaning it is expected to last your lifetime. When we've had to make new purchases, often we say "This one will do me out"

    In my room I have a rocking chair that was owned by my great great grandmother. We are so fortunate to have many such items in our house. Not only are they of good quality, they have a wonderful history and a connection to the ancestors. Nothing purchased at Ikea could compare.

    1. Marla,

      I like that saying. Old things have a special energy. Old people, too!

  6. Anonymous3/30/2018

    Just remembered, linen sheets. I was lucky enough to buy some of these after our house fire, replacing very thin, worn organic cotton sheets. They were made in Australia and such beautiful quality. I feel fairly certain these will see us out if I look after them.


    1. Madeleine,

      I believe linen has been made in Australia since the beginning of European settlement. For ship sails, I think. It is a beautiful fabric.

  7. I love to think that everything we own is kept and bought with a view for it being for life. I’m sure something’s won’t last the distance, but as I hope to buy very little in the next 40 years, I’m optimistic.

    1. Franny and Danny,

      I like your attitude.

  8. Anonymous3/31/2018

    What a great list you have. Mine includes:
    My Birkenstock sandals - I wear them every day for nine months out of the year. They are now four years old and going strong. I was happy to read about re-soling!
    We have a beautiful cherrywood mixing spoon and spatula that were wedding gifts from an aunt - eleven years in, with daily use, and they are still beautiful and very special. I expect them to last for decades.
    My sterling silver and gold jewelry will certainly last me a long lifetime. I really like having a few pieces and wearing them a lot - it gives one a style that can't be bought in a fast-fashion world.
    And, as I type I am resting on our couch, which was my grandparent's. It couldn't be comfier and more comforting. :)

    I, too, find that most things last for a very long time. And I am happy to say that even the coffee table and couch we purchased from IKEA when we got married (we had little money and were not as aware) over a decade ago are still in very good shape. I wouldn't choose to shop there now, but it only makes sense to keep what we have and use it with gratitude. -Erin

    1. Erin, totally agree about not throwing anything out that is useful even if it was bought somewhere that you wouldn't shop at now. I have a number of items like that. Very nice that your IKEA coffee table and couch are still in good shape. I've read somewhere that IKEA intentionally designs items to last no more than 10 years. I think I read that about IKEA on Wikipedia. I've also heard that IKEA feels they have worn the public out on buying home decor items and were going to shift their focus. That place overwhelms me terribly. I used to have to go there as a part of a job I had. Terri

    2. Erin,

      There isn't really a lot that one needs to live a satisfying simple life. If we use things for as long as we can (as you are doing), it does them justice, reduces waste, and saves us money. Gratitude for what one already has is an excellent thing to cultivate.

      Terri z,

      That is interesting information about IKEA. It indicates that perhaps their model is floundering. I am sure they hope to pioneer the next great consumer thing. I have heard there operations sometimes depend on wood from old growth forests.

      I also like to keep away from big box stores such as IKEA. It's Crap Overload.

  9. Anonymous4/01/2018

    My (push) lawnmower and my 1972 Raleigh Tourist bicycle! My brother-in-law bought me my lawnmower in 2005 to replace my late father's fifteen year old one. My son and I do regular maintenance on our mower to help keep it going strong. I bought my bike from a friend who used to have a roadside bike shop back in 2012. I love this bike - it is built from good British steel and rides like a tank! I also have a pair of Birkenstocks that are the best. In fact, most of my stuff is pretty old (bought at flea markets, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and happily inherited from relatives who were happy to unload their old stuff on me.) Gardening tools, old furniture, basic tools - good thing my father liked to save good stuff!


    1. Sophie,

      Hooray for push lawnmowers. And bomb proof British bikes. Frugal fathers are fine, too.

  10. Coffee mugs and most dishes/kitchen utensils last forever. I'm currently drinking coffee out of a mug my daughter gave me 23 years ago. I'm using the same silverware my mom bought me when I left home to go to college in 1975, 43 years ago! I still have a casserole dish she bought me way back then. Still in use...

    Camping gear (most of it never needs replacing if you take care of it. Most of my gear is decades old. I don't camp much anymore but my gear is a staple to keep around. You never know when that might come in handy like during storms like hurricanes, ice storms.)

    Most furniture and wall hangings (I have a few things hanging on the walls that I'll never replace and not likely to purchase any more.)

    Tools (screwdriver, hammer, and garden tools)

    A car/vehicle at some point in our lives, we are driving the last car we will ever buy. If we don't drive much like in my case, the car can last the rest of my life.

    Fleece winter scarves Though I wouldn't buy a new fleece scarf because of the micro fibers, the couple I own have been used for many winters. I see no need to replace.

    I loved seeing a razor on your list Gregg. I have one too! Though I don't use it often. It would be fun to see what people who comment on NBA have learned to make last much longer than the instructions say it is to be used. Dental floss comes to mind on my end. I have a drawer I store dental floss in. I use the same string every night for months! I do rinse it off after each use. No telling how many containers of dental floss I have NOT bought because I reuse it for so long. Dish soap is another thing I stretch way out. I only use a couple of drops and very little water with it. It soaps up my dish cloth or brush I use and washes quite a few dishes. If the dishes don't have oil on them, then my brush with water cleans them just fine. Simple. I just got my bottle of dish soap out and looked at the date I wrote on the bottom of the bottle when I began using it. November 27, 2016. It's a 16 oz bottle. It has about 1/4 left in it. So 3/4 bottle of dish soap has lasted for 16 months. (The brand I use might be slightly more concentrated than the dish soap on store shelves, but still this is frugal use of it.)

    1. Terri z,

      No way! I have often thought about dental floss. I suppose if it isn't frayed, then rinsed, it could be used over and over. Now that is extreme frugal living. I love it.

    2. More information on reusing dental floss. I use the plastic type. It's like a ribbon. (I don't buy it, someone gave it to me.) It takes a lot to fray it. Yes, once it frays, best to toss it as it gets stuck and pieces come off in between teeth, yuck, that is uncomfortable. Yes rinse it each time you use it. I have a drawer that I lay it in on a wash cloth for airing out and drying. So far, so good. No bad results from reusing. Thank you for your interest!

  11. I floss so often that I use the same string all day and sometimes longer. I store on piece on friend's ASA shoes are indestructible, cast iron, old appliances! I bought my vacuum in 1985 and it works like a charm!


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