Saving on the Purchase, Care and Repair of Shoes

by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

1. When considering buying a pair of shoes, ask yourself, "Do I really need another pair of shoes?" For example, "Do I really need a new pair of black shoes, since I already have four pairs of good, black shoes in the closet?" Answering "no" to such questions could save you a sizable amount of money.

2. If possible, wait until needed shoes are on sale–preferably at 50 to 75 percent or more off. My favorite pair of high-heel shoes was regularly priced at $56. I bought them on a closeout table for $3.00. Nearly all shoes (men’s, women’s, and children’s) will eventually be put on sale. Rare should be the case when you would need to pay full price for a pair of shoes.

3. If you really do need a pair of new shoes and you cannot find them on sale, shop around for the best full price. For example, the price of an identical style and brand of shoe can vary from store to store.

4. Check out the garage sales. Shoes, especially ones still in very good condition, are usually rare, but not impossible to find, at garage sales. I have purchased some in like-new condition, so be on the lookout. Spray the insides of all secondhand shoes with a commercial fungicide to avoid the chance of getting athlete’s foot.

5. Check factory outlets.

6. Consider "seconds" and "irregulars" if the flaws are so minor that it really doesn’t matter, and if they don’t affect the comfort or fit. "Seconds" and "irregulars" will be cheaper than the same "first-quality" shoes.

7. Consider "samples." Watch the newspaper for advertisements of sales on shoe "samples." You can usually get them at considerable savings.

8. Buy shoes which will stay in style beyond one season. Choose simple, basic, classic, conservative, and traditional styles. Such shoes should be stylish for many years and, thus, should decrease the need to buy additional shoes as {oon.

9. Avoid (or drastically limit) the purchase of "fad" shoes, which are in style for very short periods. If you do buy fad shoes, pay as little as possible for them. If you do pay more than a small amount for them, you will have more to lose when the shoes are no longer stylish.

10. Buy a pair of shoes in a color and style which can be worn with many of your clothes, not just one particular garment. The more clothes with which you can wear a pair of shoes, the fewer pairs of shoes you should need.

11. Buy children’s shoes slightly larger than needed so that the children can wear the shoes longer. Of course, you don’t want to buy shoes which are uncomfortably large or damaging to your children’s feet. Use your good judgement. The children could wear thick socks and switch to thinner socks as their feet grow.

12. Be careful about buying shoes on impulse. Make a list of the styles and colors of shoes you need and try to stick to it. Otherwise, you could end up with a closet full of shoes which match very few of your clothes. In addition, the more shoes you buy, of course, the less money you have left to use elsewhere or put in your savings account.

13. When you are buying shoes, buy ones which can be worn for several occasions, if possible. For example, a pair of office shoes may be comfortable enough for a day of shopping and dressy enough for dinner out. The more occasions on which you can wear a pair of shoes, the fewer pairs you should need.

14. Buy shoes in which you feel "good." If you don’t like the shoes a great deal in the store, you probably won’t like them any better when you get them home; and your money investment will spend most of its time on the shoe rack in your closet.

15. Buy shoes that are comfortable. If they are not comfortable during the five minutes you wear them in the store, they probably won’t be comfortable after you have worn them for hours in the office or on shopping trips. Thus, you will probably end up not wearing them; and you will have wasted your money.

16. If possible, try on shoes before you buy them. A size 6AA in one brand or style may not fit the same as a size 6AA in another brand or style. Once you have scuffed the soles, you usually can’t return or exchange them for another size. Also, if you bought them on sale, you may not be able to return them or exchange them anyway. Your money will be lost.

17. Limit your purchase of light-colored shoes which might not look as good for as long a time as darker-colored ones. Lighter colors have more tendency to show scratches, stains, and evidence of having been repaired.

18. Have shoes repaired rather than buy new ones. For example, have the shoe shop replace worn heels and soles, resew straps, and make various other repairs. However, use your good judgement. For example, it probably would be a poor investment to put new heels and soles on a pair of men’s shoes which are practically worn out in all other places.

19. Replace broken or badly worn shoe laces to extend the lives of the shoes instead of discarding the shoes. New laces could also perk up the look of older shoes. New laces certainly will cost less than a new pair of shoes.

20. Insert pads inside of shoes, wear socks, or wear thicker socks than you’ve been wearing for a better fit, instead of discarding shoes which have stretched. Continuing to wear the shoes will decrease the need for buying additional ones.

21. Launder washable shoes by hand in the bathroom lavatory, bathtub, laundry room sink, or a bucket or other container of water rather than run them through the cycles in the washing machine. Washing them in the washing machine could shorten their lives, and you will have to buy new ones sooner.

22. Keep your shoes clean and polished to extend their lives.

23. Wear rubber or plastic overshoes or galoshes in rainy and snowy weather to protect your shoes.

24. Protect your leather shoes from mildew. If you detect mildew on shoes in the closet, leave the shoes outside the closet after you have cleaned off the mildew so that they can get light and air, or lay a package of chemical moisture absorber in the shoes when they are in the closet–one or both of these suggestions could remedy the problem. Mildew could damage shoes and cause you to have to buy new ones.

25. Have children to change from "good" shoes to "play" shoes if they are going to "play." Adults should do likewise. Changing shoes will help "good" shoes to stay in that category for a longer period of time.

About the Author
Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System. She is the author of The Frugal Mind, The Little Book of Living Frugal, and Speak for Yourself.

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