What does value mean to you? Does a £3 t-shirt lasting 6 washes feel like value? Does the word ‘value’ conjure up images of cheap beans and bottom shelf food items? For me value, when it comes to expenditure, is something I can rely on to fulfil its purpose for a long time, something dependable which represents a good investment – even if it is only a tin of beans. For the item to stand the test of time, last and seem like a good buy long after I’ve finished using it.

I bought an expensive pair of shoes from Jones the Bootmaker and expected them to really last, to see me through a life time and they simply did not. They cost (to me anyway) a small fortune, so I was really bitter when they gave up the ghost after 6 months. 2 years ago I bought a pair of tan Primark brogues (when I was caught in a sudden Manchester rainstorm in flip flops), which you may have seen on this blog a whole lot. They are only now, after wearing them 2-3 times a week, starting to show signs of wear and tear and are still going strong on the sole and heal. That’s value, really bloody good value for money.

This photo doesn’t really have a huge lot to do with anything but it IS colourful.

I’ve had many a highstreet handbag which has lasted for 6 weeks before the lining ripped or the zip broke meaning each one was essentially £30 down the Mersey but the designer handbag I was given for my 21st birthday is still going strong (and as deliciously soft) almost 9 years later. That represents good value to me.

Isn’t it strange where value crops up? I would never expect Primark to trump Jones the Bootmaker, never, it goes to show you never really can tell. When I find a good value brand however, I grip on to them and stay true to them for years. I’ll always buy my wellington boots from the same two companies – even if some people raise their eyebrows at the price. I always know I can trust a certain jeans brand to sell jeans which will last for years. I buy mid-range baked beans which are rarely reduced because expensive ones and low prices ones taste like acid to me and I don’t want them to sit in my cupboard while I fill myself with dread at the thought of eating them just because they were cheap. I always know which hairspray brand does a damn good job at an excellent price and I’ll always return to buy the same one. If I know a brand offers me value I’ll stick with them whether they’re expensive or budget – the budget ones are a real bonus though!

Sometimes ‘buy cheap buy twice’ is advice I really pay attention to and sometimes it isn’t. I’ll always try to seek out a cheap alternative to something but if I know (and as I mentioned above it can be hard to tell) an expensive item is durable, dependable and classic then I’m happy to spend more. I think buying good value is a strong element of thrift. If you buy something just because it is cheap then that is not thrifty but if you buy something knowing you can make it last for a really long time then to me that is thrifty, not to mention good value.


P.S. What is your idea of good value?

P.P.S Earlier today I posted about my love for Freecycle, so don’t forget to have a quick read of that post while you’re hear.

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  1. I definitely don’t think that cheap and good value should be considered the same thing, although they often seem to be thought of as so. I agree with you; to me, value is about something which does it’s job, and can be relied upon to last well, whatever that item may be.

  2. Le cruest frying pans, Dulit appliance, Clarks shoes (Bootleg kids ones) All worth the money and really hard wearing.

    Ikea – Cheap but usless a lot of the time
    laura ashley sofa – expensive but will last a life time (4 years on still looks new)
    Charity Shop (British Heart Foundation, Doves hospic) For Desks/Tables Chairs Great Value for solid items!

  3. My Bobbi Brown Gel liner. It’s £14 plus the cost of a good brush, but it lasts about a year. It is THE best eyeliner ever. I see no pint in spending £4-£5 on an eyeliner that won’t look as good or last as long, in the long run, I think I save money.
    That’s value.

    Great post.


  4. My Gran always said buy the best you can afford. That didn’t mean be snobby but do your research and get the best possible deal for the money you have. I know what you mean about shoes. We always had Clarks shoes and it is something I always intended to have for our kids. I love hand-me-down clothes and charity shop toys but making sure they have good shoes is important to me. However the last two times I have bought my eldest son Clarks shoes he has ended up with feet full of blisters so I will be looking elsewhere from now on!

  5. Where do you get your jeans and wellies? We must be told! I hate hate hate buying anything, at any price point, that doesn’t work or falls apart after 5 minutes. Even if you don’t feel like it’s a waste of money, it’s still a waste of the time and materials to make and buy them. I’d definitely be prepared to save up for a designer handbag if I could be sure that I was paying for the quality and workmanship, not just a label. Like you say, price isn’t always an indicator of higher quality.

  6. Where do you get your jeans and wellies? We must be told! I hate hate hate buying anything, at any price point, that doesn’t work or falls apart after 5 minutes. Even if you don’t feel like it’s a waste of money, it’s still a waste of the time and materials to make and buy them. I’d definitely be prepared to save up for a designer handbag if I could be sure that I was paying for the quality and workmanship, not just a label. Like you say, price isn’t always an indicator of higher quality.

  7. I think buying what you love is a huge thing too, I buy items that I love and encompass who I am an be that Marks & Spencer or Primark.


  8. Very true. Sometimes it is luck, I have a Primark tee that must have been about £2 that I just wear to death, for example. But I have expensive items that just sit there. Price is def not an indicator of high quality, but it is also not an indicator in general of something that you might enjoy and get loads of use of. An item can be £1 or £100, but I need to think hard about wether I need and love it enough to buy! Top post xxx

  9. I completely agree with you. I have so many cheap things that have lasted forever and expensive things that have lasted a week. It is so hard to tell beforehand though what is going to last and what it isn’t.


  10. I totally agree! My hiking boots cost £80, but that was TEN years ago and they’ve done an unthinkable number of miles since then! (I pretty much wore them every day one year!) I love them with all my heart!

  11. Value to me is, say, a pair of Doc Martens. Expensive but will last years and years. Similarly my leather sofa was very expensive but is actually supportive and will look good as it ages.

  12. As I get older the more I care about quality and value for money.

    I second Hannahs comment about the charity shops for sourcing good value furniture. I was after a drop leaf table for my sewing machine and overlocker to go in the spare room and when I popped into my local Salvation Army they had exactly what I wanted. Solid oak drop leaf table with beautiful barley twist detailing – £20! If I had gone to IKEA and bought theirs I would have spent that £20 on petrol, meatballs and tealights before even getting to the table and shelling out another £80!

    On the other hand I have spent a small fortune on a solid light oak sideboard and bookcase. I’m actually a little sheepish if people ask how much they were, but really they represent fantastic value for money as they will accompany me wherever I go for the rest of my life. I love them now as much as I did when they were delivered and I look after them to keep them pristine. I cannot say the same for the 5 Ikea Expedit bookcases dotted around the house!

  13. Last winter I wanted long sleeve tshirts for everyday wear so bought 3 in M&S for £36 (£12 ea). Well after washing a couple of times they become mishapen and generally didn’t look great so when I was in primark I bought another 3 long sleeve “stretch” t shirts for £9 (£3 ea!!). Do I need to say how many times I wore them “loads and loads”, they wash great, are lovely and soft, have kept their shape and are still as bright and cheerful as when I bought them. In fact I went in an bought another 4 so that I had one for every day of the week. If you want good plain t shirts I would definately recommend although make sure you buy the “stretch” ones!
    To the other extreme I have a Radley handbag that I bought 9 years ago and cost me around £100, I use it everyday and it’s still going strong!!

  14. Great post. Just had an email off Lidl and this weekend their perfume like the Chanel one is reduced to £1.99, thats what I call value!

  15. When it comes to things that I want to last a long time, I will happily spend more to get something that will last, but if it’s a ‘fashion’ item I’m not too worried about investment, as my wardrobe cycles through clothes quite a lot! And I do sometimes find that those items actually do stand the test of time. I think sometimes you can tell whether something, be it cheap or expensive, is well made and good quality, but sometimes things do surprise you!

  16. To me value means exactly what you’ve said – something that is relatively cheap but that lasts a reasonable amount of time. If something is cheap but is going to fall apart within a few weeks of wearing it I don’t see the point in buying it – I’d much rather spend that little bit extra but have something that’s going to last so much longer.

    I also have several pairs of Primark brogues and I agree they are such good value – after 18 months my peach pair are still going strong!


  17. I totally agree. SO MANY people say “oh, Primark just falls apart” that it’s become a cliche now. It’s like the stereotypical thrifty comment and half the people who say it either BLATANTLY sneak into Primark every weekend so are fibbing, or have NEVER touched Primark so wouldn’t know. Some of it does – but like you, I have shoes that have lasted years, and £5 tops that have seen me through several summers, then as under vests in winter. You just need to check the quality with your hands in the shop.

    Oh, and Jones Bootmakers… totes overrated. :( Have had a similar experience to you. Also, recently my (real) Calvin Klein bag has started to get weird loose white threads which make it look fake. Ugh. So annoyed.

    My top places for ‘value’ are Matalan and George at Asda – their stuff seems to last longer than (for example) F&F at Tesco, has a decent fit and OK, it isn’t the trendiest but you can find nice items. I also love discount villages like Bicester or Clarks for brands, I like to inspect what I buy beforehand: brands like Le Creuset, Cath Kidston and Clarks are so timeless who cares if it’s last year’s design hence cheaper?

  18. i think it comes down to price per use/quality…
    if something costs more but will never run out ill have one of those please…:D

  19. I think value to me means longevity. I’m willing to pay above necessary for something that is going to last me beyond the call of duty. Saying that sometimes I will rely on the more lower priced markets because they do churn out better quality than anything a designer brand ever could.

    Great post! In love with this blog – such a great site!

    Helen xxx

  20. I’m of the impression that if it’s cheap and cheerful, you love it with every wear and you don’t feel slighted by the price when it falls apart then it was good value. And if it lasts out beyond your expectations then it’s a total bonus. Like your brogues, I’ve been wearing my Primark sandals for 3 years.

    I think if something’s longevity meets your expectations, like those brands you faithfully return to, or exceeds them, like the occasional Primark find, then you’re getting good value.

  21. Value means buying something that is just as good as something more expensive but at an reasonable price. Like value for money is like buying a primark t shirt instead of a topshop one because at the end of the day their the same thing and whats a label really? I think Tesco Value items are just as good as actual brands half the time and if the item is something as simple as beans,loo roll, tin foil. Whatever! If it works then something of a good value is worth it! Amazing post!

  22. I have found the same thing with my Primark brogues – 3 years on and they have only just developed a hole in the sole. And that was with wearing pretty much every day. Luckily, I bought 4 pairs at £5 each in a sale. BOOM!

    Clarkes shoes have never let me down, store branded mayo will never match up to the mighty Helmanns and 25p Asda Smart price tooth paste is excellent for spot annihilation AND has made my teeth whiter than anything else I have ever tried.

    I also have a Casio digital watch I found when I was 13 that has NEVER had to have it’s battery changed. (I have just realised that that was 18 years ago – and now I feel a bit sick about the ravage of time)

  23. I agree with you!

    Laura x ~

  24. Brilliant post! Dr martens offer good value to me I bought a pair of thier boots on my first day of uni, i’m 23 now and I’ve worn them every week they are perfect. I will spend more on jeans but I go cheap on dresses becasue I dont tend to wear them as much – i guess value is knowing how well a product works for you! xxx

  25. I agree. I suppose value means longevity for me. My Le Cruest kettle, total value for money, five years and still going strong. My Doc Martens are nearly twenty years old and have outlived nearly all my cheaper boots.
    A bag I paid £40.00 (quite a big spend for me) in Oasis nine years ago is in great nick. All the £3 vests I buy from Primark last ages and wash well.

  26. I have often said I would rather buy second hand quality than new rubbish. One of the best examples of this is two three-seater Multiyork sofas that I bought on Ebay for £175. They have fitted loose covers which admittedly are now looking a little worn and tired but they have had three kids, three dogs and two adults using and abusing them in this household for about 8 years and who knows before we owned them 9which was about 7 years I believe). The seat cushions are still firm and in shape and there isn’t a hint of sagging in the frames. I went onto the Multiyork site a year or two back to find out how much new loose covers would be – they STARTED at £750 each! ouch! I need a seamstress I think.

    Value is paying the right price for something that meets or exceeds expectations. Keep up the good work Mrs Thrifty.

    • I agree, I like to buy good shoes and good bras. You wear them everyday and they contribute a lot to posture etc no point scrimping on those. I don’t mind a cheap/not so good quality dress for an event if I’m only going to wear it a handful of times x

  27. My approach is kind of like yours, some things cheap, some expensive. I have a Primark skirt that looks like Missoni, cost me £5 in the sale about 8 years ago. My two favourite T’s are black, long sleeved Dotty P’s – 2 for a tenner. Years old.

    On the other hand, I have a pair of eye wateringly expensive Acne black ankle boots but I wear them constantly and I could afford them. Also a classic leather bag from Modalu that cost a bit but I’ve used it nearly every day this year. Having said that, I love it when something inexpensive turns out to be great, like 17 or MUA cosmetics or Simple face wash!

    Thankfully I have a lovely generous Mum who will always buy me something she considers to be ‘an investment’ bit of clothing, like a Jasper Conran or Whistles coat. Again, these last for years. However, the coat that gets me most comments about how lovely and stylish it is, was £25 from H and M!

    Top tip for long term money saving – Its vital to know a good shoe repair place and tailors (for getting jackets etc relined).

  28. I’ve started a spreadsheet where I’m adding clothes and footwear that I’ve bought, how much they were and then record each time I wear them so I have a cost per wear, trying to see what I like wearing best and how the costs work out. I have some more expensive things but going to see how much the cost per wear ends up. I had bad experiences with Jones the Bootmaker shoes too.

    • This is such a great post. I often go with friends to Primark and they spend over a hundred pounds on stuff that will only last them a few weeks. I tend to spend my money on one item and know it will last me. Especially with costume jewellery etc I tend to buy proper sterling silver that I know will last me years :) x

  29. Great post – I always have this problem in Winter with boots. Obviously in the UK it rains a lot in Winter so my number 1 priority (after being gorgeous, obviously) is that they are waterproof. I bought several pairs of boots from New Look around the £20/£25 mark and they were terrible. Feet soaking after a few wears. I mentioned it on Twitter but obviously the person manning their Twitter account hasn’t heard of good customer service as they didn’t reply (funnily enough they always RTed good tweets though). Anyway – I didn’t take it further, but maybe I should have.

    So last Winter I realised I was going to have to fork out for a decent pair of boots. I found some great ones in Next and they were £80. In terms of style they were very similar to the New Look ones. So I wore them maybe 2 or 3 times a week for about 3 months and then my feet started getting wet and there were holes in the back of them! So I decided to take them back as for £80 I’d expect at least 6 months wear?! I was all ready for the fight but Next couldn’t have been nicer. They agreed they should have lasted longer. The boots I’d bought had been discontinued (surprise surprise) but they offered me an exchange if there were any boots in the shop I liked. Sadly there wasn’t, so they gave me a full refund!

    Great customer service but seriously – can someone make a decent pair of boots please!

  30. Thank you so much for this brilliant post – I really needed to be reminded that spending a little bit extra sometimes can be more cost-effective!

    While I was secondary school, we had very strict rules on what shoes we were allowed to wear, and were forced to buy a pair of ballet flats each month, so that’s £15-30 x 12 = £180-360 each year. Even if I bought a pair of higher-priced flats from a place like Clarks which would usually be associated with higher quality, they would be worn out by the end of the month. Also, ballet flats cannot be re-heeled. The solution? For a birthday I asked for a pair of leather Russell & Bromley loafers. Yes, they cost an eye-watering £120, but they lasted for two years, only had to be re-heeled a few times, and are a classic style which will never go out of date.

    Now for a horror story: one of my school friends told me that while on her gap year, her older sister would buy several costly high street dresses each month and then simply bin them after she’d been ‘seen’ in them! Apart from the fact that she could easily have donated them to a charity shop so that they raised some money for someone less fortunate, why on earth would anyone spend £200-300 a month on clothes they were only going to wear once?

  31. It is funny the places you can find value! A few times I’ve splashed out on products that are supposed to be better quality, only for them to die after a few uses. And then, I’ve bought things for a pittance that have lasted me forever!

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