Pay For Quality – Birks for Dress and Keens for Play

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I may be Frugal…

But I am NOT Cheap!

Although I am always looking to cut costs, slash debt, boost savings, etc… I am always willing to pay good money for a high quality product!

Most recently… I just bought my first pair of Keens.  For those unfamiliar – from the Keen website:

“Keen began with a moment of pure vision with a simple design challenge:  Can a sandal protect the toes?  The answer was yes.  The answer was The Newport.
From the Newport, Keen created a company built on hybrid innovation, redefining the outdoors and giving back to the community.”

Basically Keen sandals are the bomb!  I have been wanting to get a pair for years, but just hadn’t gotten around to it… until yesterday.  I finally found the right style Keen in the right size in the right color in the right store for the right price.

I am also a huge fan of Birkenstock sandals… and am not such a noob when it comes to the German sandal powerhouse.

I have owned, wore, and swore by Birkenstock sandals for over 10 years now.  How many pair have I bought in that time?  ONE!  And that my friend is the meat of this post.

Pay For Quality!

Just as Solomon says in the awesome and motivating book of Ecclesiastes:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”  ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

Just as there is a time to save money… there is also a time to spend.  Paying for quality often saves you money in the long run.  As I mentioned earlier in the post I purchased a pair of Birkenstock sandals over ten years ago.  I paid around $75 for them and have not had to spend money on a pair of dress sandals since.

I paid $100 for the Keens and plan on having them for 10 years or more as well.  Granted the sandals will last different people different amounts of time based on usage, etc… but 10 years is an accurate projection based on my needs and my use.

If you divide the amounts paid over the length of 10 years you will find that I pay an average of $17.50/year for sandals ($175 spent divided by 10 years).  This amount is equivalent to or less than the amount I would have to pay for 2 different pairs of sandals every year or two.  If I were to buy a “cheap” pair of sandals — one for dress and one for play — I would likely pay upwards of $50+ every year or two.

Not only would “buying cheap” cost me just as much or more, it would also fail to deliver the comfort I receive from my Keens and Birkenstocks!

Though I am a indeed a very frugal man… I am not a cheap man!  I will always pay for quality.

What about you?

When it comes to quality… are you afraid to pay – or do you make it a habit to pay good money for good things?

Perhaps you have a testimony from your past that converted you from a cheapskate into a lover of quality… c’mon, don’t be afraid to share – spill the beans man!

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1 Paul @ FiscalGeek

Now don’t get me wrong I absolutely love Keen’s but 10 years, hmm not in my experience. I’ve owned 3 pairs of their sandals and 4 different varietiess of their shoes. We frequent the Pacific Ocean and over time they develop a funkiness that even bleach can’t kill. You’ll get good life out of them but not 10 years. And on the Birkenstocks, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore, but I’ll try and overlook it.

2 Matt Jabs

Ha ha… not sure what kind of funk you’ve got going on!

As for Birks, don’t knock ’em till you try ’em my friend. 😉

3 Peter

haha.. I can’t even imagine what those 10 yr old Birks look (and smell) like! 🙂

Point well taken though – quality will at times trump price. (depending on what you’re buying)

4 Jessica W

My husband and I buy spendy shoes and make them last also. He buys a particular brand of combat boots, but I can’t recall what they’re called. this his is preferred “work shoe” (and practically everything else). Once a year he coats them in wax and bakes them in the oven to re-waterproof (and clean) them. It grosses me out and I make him clean the oven. In the 14 years I’ve known him, he’s had the same boots and they look brand now, (and they don’t stink!). He replaces insoles once a year. Similarly, I’m a big fan of Dansko-type clogs. I’ve always gotten a Nordstrom house brand instead of the actual Dankso ones though–spending $120 instead of $200+. These last 8+ years, and look great, are lightweight and can be re-soled if needed.

For adults, shoes are absolutely worth buying high quality.

5 Chris R.

I agree with you on both counts. I’ve had a pair of Keen flip flops that were my everyday shoes for over two years. They still fit and look great. I just got a new pair that I also love. Not sure about the odor issue Paul mentioned. It must be a difference in body chemistry.
As for Birkenstock, the best shoe in the food industry is the Birkis Profi: one piece synthetic rubber with removable/replaceable inserts. The whole shoe is meant to be scrubbed and rinsed with a garden hose to clean it. I had a pair of those last over three years where even the best quality leather shoe would dissolve in six months. I still use my second pair to work in the yard. I’ve had those almost ten years.
Shoes, belts, luggage, tools- always buy quality.

6 Matt Jabs

Great points all…

@Jessica, thanks for bringing up “adults”. I suppose buying quality for kids is not always the best option considering they will most likely grow out of them quickly.

@Chris, I don’t have a problem w/odor either – if they do get funky at all I either throw them in the washer or put some baking soda on them to clear things up. Thanks for bringing up these other items that we should also buy quality.


Totally agree about quality! What’s even better is when you can get quality at a discount. I remember seeing Keens at Nordstron off the Rack (discount Nordstrom’s). I might have to keep an eye out for a pair since my trusty sandals are starting to split in the sole.

I think a lot of people go for the cheaper item without realizing how many times they will replace it when it breaks down or wears out. Many times in the end you are better off with quality for a little more cost.

8 Ashley

I totally agree with your philosophy of spending money for quality. Another big advantage of purchasing quality items is helping save resources and reducing the strain on our landfills. As a nation we throw away a ridiculous amount of clothing, shoes, and accessories every year that were cheaply made. If we all went back to the way things used to be, and started buying items we planned on having around for the long haul, we would reduce our waste output considerably.

9 Kevin@OutOfYourRut

Matt, this is well said. There are things you can buy where you can save money by paying more up front, and footware is a big one for me too.

I’d rather pay more money for name brand sneekers or shoes at mid-level department stores that I can wear for a couple of years, than to go to Payless or a discount outlet and buy an off brand for half the price but they fall apart in six months. (They also don’t look too good or wear well in the process!)

10 ArtVandelay

Which kind/color of Keens did you buy?

11 Tamara

The great thing about Birks is that you can keep them going forever by replacing the soles, cork and/or insole as needed. I am still wearing mine after more than 15 years. After they were repaired with new soles year before last they felt like new. I really think I can wear them for the rest of my life, with proper care.

12 Matt Jabs

@Ashley: Simplifying life & returning to “the old ways” is always appealing to me and always seems to leave us better off! Go figure… 🙂

@Art: The ones in the pic are mine. Newport H2’s – the leather ones… I LOVE EM.

@Tamara: I want to do this, my Birks are about due. Any suggestions on the best way to ship them over, etc??

13 Karen Joy

You can also save money by doing a search on eBay and having them send you alerts when the price is only “x” dollars. I have a similar search going (because I want to pay $15 or less including shipping for a pair of leather fisherman-style sandals for my oldest son), and I have seen a couple of pairs of Keens pop in. You have to wade through the listings, of course, because people put used shoes on there, too, which I’m not… keen to buy. But, if you’re not pressed for time, searches/alerts are worth it.

14 Matt Jabs

Good point Karen, I like what you say about “alerts.” I would definitely not have the time to do it all manually, but if I could get simply set email alerts for when a good deal strikes – now you’re talkin! 🙂

15 Veronica

I am a fan of Birks and Keens and have been wearing both for years. I try to encourage my friends to purchase more wisely in this area as well. It’s hard getting them off of the Target train, but those who have seen the light have not been disappointed. Quality items are an investment and so worth it for personal and environmental reasons.

Glad to have learned about your blog and funny that the first post I came across is one that I can relate to. I look forward to reading more.


16 Matt Jabs

Ha ha… the Target train – I like that.

I think we’re all on the TT for some things but like you say Veronica – “Quality items are an investment and so worth it for personal and environmental reasons.” 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

17 Craig @ Money Help For Christians

I was at a Salvation Army over the weekend and thought of you! I saw a brand new looking pair of Keen sandals for $9.95. They were size 9 so they were too small for me. I thought I should buy them and send them to you, but I didn’t know your size :(. I guess at times you can get your cake and eat it too – quality and a huge discount.

18 Matt Jabs

ha ha… you should have bought them just to give them away to someone you do know! That’s a great deal. For future reference, I wear an 11.5 shoe. 🙂

19 Dana

Don’t completely discount the idea of getting quality shoes for kids. Sometimes they are needed. My daughter’s feet do something called “pronating” where they kind of roll inward onto their arches. It’s a natural variation and she’s got feet like her dad’s, which had the same problem when he was her age, only problem is that she might wind up with knee problems later. The only real fix is to get shoes with good arch and ankle support. Believe it or not, Keens fit the bill. When they’re fastened properly her ankles are straight like they’re supposed to be.

I wouldn’t be as bothered about it if she didn’t have the structural problem, but getting Keens for her is actually cheaper than buying orthotics, which wouldn’t have done her that much good anyway.

20 Dana

And I just said “problem” way too many times in one sentence. Clearly, I need to go to bed now. >.<

21 Matt Jabs

ha ha that is a “problem!” 🙂

I LOVE the point you raise about Keens being cheaper than orthotics shoes, great insight.

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