Frugal Trophies

If you’re reading a personal finance blog, you just might be someone who really likes getting value for money spent.  Perhaps this also includes buying things and using them for a long time, getting as much out them as possible without spending money on replacements.

Maybe, just maybe, you take particular pride in something specific you’ve bought for a deal and ended up getting a ton of use from it.  I’ll go ahead and call such things “Frugal Trophies”.

I thought of the concept of a frugal trophy when discussing some furniture I own and use. This furniture is actually a dining table set I bought brand new 17 years ago, before moving into an apartment for the 1st time.  The table set contains a table and 4 chairs. At the time, it was in style, and actually quite comfortable – and a pretty good deal as well! These days…well, it’s probably way, way out of style.  It’s a white/gray table, with chairs that are cushioned and have a back rest that is flexible and leans back. They’re comfortable to me, though I’m not sure they’d be too visually appealing to many others:)

Here’s a picture of one of the chairs:

This chair is so outdated, but what a deal it was!

It just hit me this weekend that this table set is not in tune with 2011, much less 2001. When I bought in the mid 1990’s, it was probably a little bit 80’s in style despite being brand new.

Something tells me that many folks couldn’t deal with having such set as a dining table. Frankly, I’d like us to get something new, and have considered spending on things at different points in the last 5 years.

However, this is a frugal trophy! It’s almost a point of pride, knowing that I’ve dealt with this table set for many years without succumbing to a new one.  There’s a history here, and the table and chairs have been there for different stages of my life.  At this point, I want to keep it all!

Don’t get me wrong, I do spend on things I want to spend on. Plus, I realize that sometimes we go through frugal fatigue. Experiences, travel, most importantly kids are areas where I’m likely to splurge a lot. But for many other things, I’m not too keen on spending if I don’t have to. Big surprise there:)

Anyway, I’ve had this thing for so long. It was a good buy then, and it’s cool to know that the investment from way back in the day is still providing value!

Yep…it’s a frugal trophy.

If I think about it enough, there are a few other things that have probably reached that status:) The one that comes to mind is the car I drove to over $220,000 miles. Yeah, I did get rid of it though. But that table….it’s still here!

My Question for You:

Do you own anything that you’ve kept for a long time and gotten way more than your money’s worth? In other words, do you have any frugal trophies?


  1. says

    Yep, that is 1980’s style. I grew up with that. My parents would have the chairs reupholstered every 6-8 years. I am trying to think if I have a “frugal trophies” but can’t really think of any off the top of my head. I do have a pair of Nike high top basketball shoes that I have had for 21 years. I just used them for church league basketball so only wore them 10 games per year and never outside. Haven’t played basketball in about 8 years due to being busy with the kids. Not sure if that counts.

  2. says

    Ahhhh my poor 1997 chevy cavalier. I LOVED that car; paid $1500 for it in cash, rode it for 6 years from PA to MD to FL to TX. It lasted me through college and into my first home purchase. It made it to around 220,000 miles, then I sold it for $400 on Craigslist because it had something big wrong wtih it. I even got backed into by a dump truck, which scratched off my emblem and gave me a minor dent in the hood and the company paid me $500 under the table for it! Ofcourse I didn’t have it fixed, so I pocketed that as well.

    What a car:).

    • Squirrelers says

      Amanda – that’s a fantastic value you got from that car. So, you paid $1500, got $500 to reimburse for damage never fixed, and then got $400 when selling it. So, essentially you spend $600 net for a 6-year vehicle. Very well done!

  3. says

    We threw out most of our “frugal trophies” when we moved to a smaller place. Most of the things left over from college went out at that point. Our little toaster oven is probably around 12 years old and we use it almost everyday.

    • Squirrelers says

      retirebyforty – yes, sometimes we do need to purge. No need to unnecessarily keep things unless they’re usable and not taking up space. I make sure I use this table/chair set…actually, I’m using it right now as I type!

  4. says

    I love that phrase ‘frugal trophy.’ I’m sure we’ll hold on to a few items for a looong time, but right now we have a frugal trophy in our laundry room. Our washer and dryer are over 20 years old and still working like a charm. We bought them used about 3 years ago and have had no problems since. I’m hoping to get another 5 years out of them :)

    • Squirrelers says

      Tim – so, doing the math, you bought a used washer/dryer that was 17 years old….and for the last 3 years you’ve had no problems. Well, I assume you got a really good deal in buying 17 year old machines, so 3 years of good use in that context is pretty good! Sounds like a frugal trophy.

  5. says

    I’d agree that looks like a chair from the ’80’s, but hey – it’s still in good condition! Our oldest furniture is our bedroom furniture that we still love. But it’s only about 6 years old, so it isn’t dated yet. However, I can see holding on to it for years – I love the design and light wood color. I’m sure someday I’ll look back and think it’s dated too.

    • Squirrelers says

      Little House – 6 years? Ah, child’s play there:) I actually have a dresser that’s been in the family since I was in high school…many years ago. It’s back in use! As for the chair, yeah I can see why you’d agree that it looks like an 80’s chair. You’re confirming what I’ve been thinking too.

  6. says

    Actually the chair looks pretty comfy to me! And it looks like it’s in great condition too! I’d call that a very smart purchase!

    I hope my car will become my frugal trophy! Nowhere close to 220K yet, but I’ll get there! :)

    • Squirrelers says

      MoneyCone – As far as kitchen table chairs go, it’s very comfortable. It’s a set with 4 chairs, all in pretty good condition and more comfortable than most chairs these days. Maybe not the most ergonomically friendly design but it’s done the job and has been a workhorse (as much as furniture can be, anyway!)

  7. says

    I have a drafting chair from 1982 that sits in my living room today! I did reupholster it but even that cost me next to nothing! I also bought a Dodge Omni for $150 and drove it into the ground over a 3 year period and currently my 16 yr old Toyota T100 has 285,000 (I love my truck!).

  8. says

    As I write this, I’m looking a Danish modern chair that we bought at a yard sale for $25 and had re-upholstered. Love that chair, I don’t think we’ll ever sell it. Come to think of it, most of the furniture in our house came from yard sales and thrift stores. If we got rid of it, we’d have to sit on the floor.

    • Squirrelers says

      101 Centavos – Was this one of the furniture items of which you posted pictures on your blog? That stuff looked pretty good.

      • says

        No, I haven’t posted photos of this one. I have posted a couple of times on how modern new furniture is so cheaply made. Maybe that’s the start of a new photo series….

  9. says

    I consider certain pieces of clothing “frugal trophies” and I like that you’ve given them a name I can use in my mind. Anytime I throw away a piece of clothing due to a hole, too small, out-of-style whatever..I think about how many times I wore it, how much I paid for it and if it was something I got a lot of use/value out of I give it a little salute before I put it in the “Donate” bag.

    A mental salute, not a real one.

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