Sep 05

Good Quality Shoes vs. Cheap, Crummy Quality Shoes

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I won’t buy crummy quality shoes. Sure, you may think those flimsy shoes are a bargain at $12.99, but I can assure you that you are wrong.  You are being drawn towards the “False Value Trap” and I advise you to run away in whatever shoes you are wearing and to not look back.  Don’t let the price sticker blind you to the reality that crummy shoes are something you should never buy (especially if you are a frugal minded shoe shopper).

A Frugal Man Buying Good Shoes?  Huh?

Don’t act all surprised.  Yes, I am frugal.  Yes, I buy good quality shoes.  That’s part of the reason that I am frugal; so that I can afford to buy good quality shoes.  I buy no name white vinegar instead of brand name vinegar so that I can buy comfortable, good quality shoes. Good shoes are important to me.  Cleaning with brand name white vinegar is not.

What’s Wrong With Buying Cheap, Crummy Quality Shoes?

Well, any reason you can think of really.


First, cheap shoes are very uncomfortable.  Sure they might fit great in the store when you first put them on, and their cheapness might make you think you are getting a great bargain, but don’t be fooled.  Once you take those shoes home and walk around in them for an hour or two they will start to squeak and you foot will start rubbing around in them.  You keep telling yourself that they just ‘need to stretch’ or ‘fit to my foot’ and that this takes a few wearings.  Deep down you know you have made a bad purchase, but you are in denial.


Next you discover huge blisters where that pair of cheap shoe were rubbing against your feet.  If you think they hurt now, just wait until they pop and you have a open wounds rubbing against your shoes.  Bandages don’t really help.  You eventually end up wearing your good quality shoes anyway so that your blisters can heal properly (so why not just wear good shoes in the first place?)

Poor Construction

Not that you would ever want to wear that crummy pair of shoes again, but if you are still in denial and do choose to wear them again, they will start to fall apart immediately.  First, the toe will start to lift, just a bit at first. Next the heel will start to separate from the rest of the shoe, again slowly at first.  Once these first signs of falling apart happen, however, cheap quality shoes tend to fall apart within a few wearings (oftentimes at the most inopportune of times).

Cheap shoes are a classic “false value trap”.  I have written in depth about the “false value trap” using two previous case studies: Green Giant Frozen Vegetables and Kraft Cheese Slices.

The Case For Good Quality Shoes

The ASICS GT-2170 - A Good Running Shoe

The ASICS GT-2170 – A Good Value Running Shoe Worth Paying More For (at least for my feet)

Good quality shoes are well worth paying more for (especially if you are on your feet all day like I am).  You don’t necessarily need to buy the most expensive shoes, but I generally tend to target the upper mid-price to lower high-priced range.  Of course a sale can get you a better quality shoes for a better price.

Fit and Comfort

A good quality shoe needs to fit your foot.  It is best to go into the store and try them on.  Try on a whole bunch of them and make sure to walk, jump, and run around. Remember not to care at all about what people might think as you run around the aisles and leap high into the air (just be careful of small children).  Buy the pair that fits your unique feet the best (the ASICS GT-2170 Running Shoe, for example, fits my foot like a glove and is a good choice for me).

Good quality shoes are designed to just fit better and better as you wear them and they gradually contour to the shape of your foot.  A good fit = superior comfort.


I have a few pairs of good shoes and I rotate wearing them.  This evens out the wear and allows them to dry out between wearings.  Using this method, it is not uncommon for a pair of good quality running shoes to last me four to five years.  Dress shoes can last even longer because I wear them less frequently.  Good quality shoes can last you a long time if they are treated properly (using a shoe horn is also an important way to add longevity to your shoes).


Cheap quality shoes are not a good choice for the frugal minded shopper because they represent “false value”. Good quality shoes may cost more up front, but they offer far superior value in terms of comfort and durability.

Thanks for dropping by.  I hope you visit again very soon.

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 Author: Jason Milburn Google

Frugal dad – focusing my money and energy towards happiness and the things that matter most since around 1985.

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  1. James Molet (SavvyJames)

    All your points were well stated. As a runner – or perhaps more accurately, as someone that runs a little to try and stay fit – good shoes are a must, even when less expensive shoes can be found. As you have noted previously, being frugal is not the same as being cheap. Too often if you simply go cheap, you end up spending more because the item wears out sooner or you pay in other ways (e.g. foot problems with cheap running shoes).

  2. Jason

    Hi James,

    You make a good point about having to “pay in other ways” with cheap shoes. Foot problems and a sore back are simply not worth it. I wear good quality running shoes whenever I can (running or not) as they seem to make my feet the most comfortable. My frugal lifestyle allows me to pay for good quality shoes without batting an eyelash. Ahhh … it sure is wonderful being frugal. Thanks for your comment, James.

    Cheers, Jason (froogalist)

  3. Peter

    I learned the lesson on shoes the hard way. I usually buy Asics as well, a bit more expensive, but they usually last quite a while. The last time I bought shoes I bought a pair that were like $20 at a local discount store. The shoes were poorly made, and started becoming uncomfortable almost right away. I ended up tossing the shoes after a month or two. Back to my Asics!

  4. Jason

    Hello Peter,

    I too have bought that same pair of $20 shoes at the local discount store. You are right on about how they became uncomfortable almost immediately. Cheap shoes are simply not worth it. Good choice in shoes, by the way.

    Cheers, Jason (froogalist)

  5. Eva

    I normally have great luck with cheap shoes – but just last week I had a pair of cute sandals completely fall apart on me after only having them for a month. They were only $10 – but still! I definitely need my shoes to last longer than a month!

  6. Jason

    Wonderful to hear from you, Eva.

    You’re very lucky if you can wear cheap shoes. I just find that they hurt my feet and fall apart and it’s not worth any ‘savings’ that I might get by buying cheap. They are a priority for me, so I don’t mind spending good money on them.

    Your $10 a month cheap shoes could all of a sudden become very expensive $120 a year ‘expensive cheap’ shoes if you’re having to replace them each month, so be careful.

    PS Your website looks terrific and I enjoy your writing. I look forward to reading more.

    Cheers, Jason (froogalist)

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