YNAB BLOG

The Mont Blanc Effect: Your Fancy Purchase is Costing You More than You Realize

A boss of mine gave me a very nice gift about 11 years ago: a Mont Blanc pen.  Excuse me, I should have said writing instrument.

My 21-year old self was impressed. There are a few reasons a gift like that is so exciting:

1) I’d never buy myself one and

2) People would wonder how I ever afforded such a pen. It would add to my pre-married, still in the dating-market mystique.  That guy Jesse? I don’t really want to go out with him…but did you see his pen? My my…

I love that boss of mine–still stay in contact with him to this day–but he gave me a debt.

A month of using the pen, and I had to buy a refill.  A few months later, I had to buy another refill.  I didn’t know they even made pens that required refills. I was used to Bics, and Pilot Precise Point, Extra-Fine tipped pens that seemed to last years, and which you bought in packs of dozens.

This is the Mont Blanc Effect.  It’s the maintenance cost of that expensive item you bought.

And it can sometimes fly in the face of the “Buy Nice, or Buy Twice” adage. At least a little bit.

Mark, Chance and I all discussed the Mont Blanc effect, and came up with a few more examples, to get your gears turning.Remember the weight room, where I spent lavishly on mirrors from floor to ceiling, and had the walls all done with real brick? We had our hot water line to the kitchen spring a link, it soaked the ceiling of the weight room, and soaked the north wall where half of our mirrors were hung.  So we had to break the mirrors, tear down the wall, and weight room entry.  The entry way was the part done with a lot of brick, and that brick made the demolition a lot more difficult (costly).  Lesson: the mirrors and brick cost more to build, and cost more to demolish.

I used to want a BMW. So silly.  At any rate, you buy one of those and you’re committed to premium gasoline, lower miles per gallon, an increased likelihood of speeding tickets (I know I’d speed more…) and higher repair costs.

Just today, Julie sent me an email mentioning a cutting board that is highly recommended by one of her favorite cooking blogs.  Mark said, “You’re going to get that cutting board for her.” And yes, I likely will, because the woman wants nary a thing, so when she does, I get pretty excited about getting it for her for Christmas.  Anyway, on Amazon this fancy cutting board costs $158.  (Of course, using a service like CamelCamelCamel, probably named in a rush, just like this site, and you find out the average price is $132…I’ve placed a price watch on it.)  I digress.  What does Amazon suggest as a purchase alongside this fancy cutting board? Fourteen dollar mystery oil.

That fancy cutting board demands some fancy maintenance.

Update: Based on some reader comments, I could get very cheap mineral oil from my local hardware store and the maintenance costs on the fancy cutting board would be minimal.

TOYS are a classic on this.  Boats, snowmobiles, four-wheelers, etc. They’re costly to winterize, maintain, store, repair and operate.  The excited about-to-be-a-boat-owner has a tough time considering the ongoing costs.  A sudden windfall has provided the opportunity of a lavish purchase, but the sudden windfall will be suddenly gone, and the maintenance costs will remain.

What about you? What are some luxury items you’ve acquired that have come with their share of hidden maintenance costs? Where have you been bit by the Mont Blanc effect?

P.S. In my head is a post about Buy Nice, or Buy Twice. I LOVE the idea of purchasing something and having it last, instead of landing in a landfill.  This idea of maintenance may seem to go against this idea, but I think as long as maintenance costs are weighed as part of the purchase, everything works out :)

81 Responses to “The Mont Blanc Effect: Your Fancy Purchase is Costing You More than You Realize”

  1. Jim Wang

    This is a great term. Maintenance can really add to the lifetime cost of something. Sometimes it’s obvious, like with a car or even a printer, but I wouldn’t have thought about the same thing with a pen… I mean writing instrument.

  2. Ashley Blake

    I think that your house is the ultimate potential Mont Blanc purchase. If you own a modest home, you feel happy/comfortable making modest decisions in terms of furnishing it, landscaping, etc. If you buy a fancy home in a fancy neighborhood, you will often feel like you “have to” fill it with the nicest things. And you feel pressured to spend more on landscaping and yard maintenance so you don’t get dirty looks from the neighbors :)

    • creek chic

      This is also the case re: buying a bigger house. You need more furnishing. Utilities, taxes, etc. more. Just gets expensive all around.

  3. Bugi

    The costs you mention are definitely there but there is even another tier to hidden costs. Assume this shiny mac you bought – it may have superior durability – but … some vacation booking sites e.g. _will_ have another price tag than for the average windows-user (based on your browser-useragent), believing mac-users have more money to spend, since macs aren’t cheap.

  4. Noah Vaile

    On the other one buy one and when, not if, it breaks down you have none. Buy two you always have a spare. One is none. So buy something that is as good as you can afford two of. This obviously isn’t for large purchases like cars but it serves for tools very well.

    • Dennis

      I hope auto-complete or your spell checker did that to your post.

  5. Strabo

    Watches. Mechanical watches are a beauty to behold. And expensive to buy. And expensive to maintain. Every few years you can put down another 10-20 % of the purchase value just for the service. Yeah, they last you a lifetime, but you also spend a lot of money on them to do so.

    BTW I bought a similar chopping block (head end oak not maple though) at Ikea a few years ago – lasts me still perfectly, but cost me less than 30 Euros. Any digestible mineral oil will do a fine job of keeping it by the way, no fancy 14 dollar oil required.

    • Lydia

      I’m not a luxury watches person, although from what I figure, owning a mechanical watch is a bit like a finance lease? I figured this cause people tell me they hold their value almost like collector’s items. So throughout the life of ownership, the owner pays maintenaince and eventually (if) they sell they could make back what they paid. Unlike a cheapo watch from walmart.

      Again, I’m not a watches person. Correct me guys if I’m wrong.

      • GiacomoL

        That might be true, but you have to consider the size of that market: how many people are looking into buying a second-hand mechanical watch? If you can’t find a buyer, the actual price of it is more like zero.

  6. Gooms

    I have a pearl bracelet that I love to wear. It seems I need to have it restrung every 1-2 years because I wear it so often. It costs nearly as much restring as it cost my husband to buy the bracelet.

    • mylotinmyworld

      Could you look into learning how to restring it yourself? Then you are only out the cost of materials. No labor and you don’t have to leave it at a shop or store? I may be wrong though. I have never owned true pearls before.

  7. Lydia

    My fancy, super powered, beastly computer for sure. I had a good idea of the cost/benefits at the time of paying a small fortune to build my own PC. No regrets on my end because I knew what the ongoing costs would be and accepted. But I know for sure I could have easily gotten by with a build 1/5th the price, saving me tenfold on depreciation and ongoing electricity costs. Not to mention if any single part broke down I would replace it with a equally fancy part as I don’t want to ‘bottle-neck’ the remainder. Computers are my weakness in the same way a car lovers weakness is cars. Definitely not a ‘buy nice or buy twice’ item.

    • Travis

      Computers also have the added misery of you knowing the price will be cut in half for the same parts in 6 months like clockwork. My problem is the “bottleneck” as you described. I’ll build a computer with lots of expansion room, but only stock it with components I know I actually need. By the time I decide to upgrade a single card or chip, too much time has passed and realistically I have to upgrade everything else to go with it.

    • Kenneth

      My son built a $1,200 SSD hard drive fast gaming PC recently. I bought a Dell Inspiron 660s Intel Core i3 machine a month later for $379 at Amazon. He loves his computer. I equally love my computer, Windows 8 is great and it is very reliable and fast enough for what I do. Win Win. I find that I can make do with cheaper houses, cars, computers. Every car I see has 4 wheels. If it’s motoring down the road, what difference does it make if someone paid $100,000 for it or $1,000 for it. Does a very similar job. I don’t have money to burn. One guy said it very well – I can afford Anything, I just can’t afford Everything!

  8. Daniel McDougall

    For me it is Crossfit Membership, yes I go their and have a great workout. But afterwards I need a protein shake or my muscles take 4 days to recover. Every 4 months is a new bucket of protein.

    • jesse

      Daniel, for recovery, you’ve got to do the hot/icy cold shower strategy. Get in there where the water’s nice and hot, then go as cold as you possibly can stand it for 1-2 minutes. Then go back hot for a minute or two…then back to icy cold. I try and actually shower during this time (so I’m not wasting water), but it can be tough when I’m screaming like a schoolgirl.

      If you’re starting your day with a shower, end on cold. If you’re headed to bed right after, end on hot.

      Also, make sure you’re using a foam roller for 5-7 minutes (at least) after your workout.

    • Noah Vaile

      Check out “zwow” on utube. Fabulous bodyweight (+) workouts for free. Like crossfit but more intense, shorter and no gym membership.
      And if you have to ave a protein drink after every workout you’re doing more than just something wrong.

      • jesse

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with drinking a protein drink after every workout. It’s a pretty convenient way to get your protein intake to an optimal level.

  9. Jeff Kirchoff

    Just buy mineral oil for the cutting board geez dude.

    Luxury items aren’t always more expensive. I shave with a safety razor and I can get a pack of a hundred blades for like 10-15 dollars. Cartridge razors cost that much for like six of them.

    • jesse

      Hey Jeff, are you saying the package of 100 safety blades is a luxury item AND cheaper? I didn’t follow that part.

  10. jessica T

    How about that timeshare, where even when it is paid off, you can still have hefty maintenance fees.

    • K-ro

      Good one — and worse, you can’t sell the dang thing!

    • Wendy

      True, but we have one we love and are so glad we have it. (It’s the Disney one…so awesome for us! But definitely not for everyone.)

      • jesse

        I want a membership in the secret disney club, with that secret restaurant, where there’s like a 7-year waiting list and it costs thousands upon thousands of dollars… :)

      • Wendy

        I don’t know about THAT one, but we belong to the “best kept Disney secret”. The one that’s advertised everywhere! LOL We really love it. We live close enough and have enough flexibility that we can go down for a few days whenever.

        I will say a Mont Blanc Effect for us is the annual passes to be able to go whenever we want. We do get a fantastic deal through DVC (Disney Vacation Club) but it’s still over $1000 for the passes, which is much less than buying tickets whenever we go.

        I did lots of number crunching before we made the decision to join and for us it really does end up being a long-term money saver. But as I said before, it is not fore everyone!

  11. Stepan

    I have had similar thinking for a way now (basicly 2 months in using YNAB). For this reason I have boen thinking of not owning stuff i use :), but renting it when needed. (this is unless i would be using the thing everyday).

    What made me think about it is owning a car. This for many users have hidden const which they don’t realize (YNAB users should, as it has been mentioned several times on the site). You have gas, maintenance, winter/summer tires, mandatory state checks, insurance, but then depreciation (cost for new car).

    Next for me is electronics. Hey new iphone! Ehmm i should by good case for it. And how about the docking station next to bed. How about one to work. Maintenance cost for the iphone is that in 3-4 years it will be obsolete, not usable in a way you want.

    In YNAB, what i do, is that i consider all these significant purchases as initial investment, which immediately follows up with maintenance/upkeep costs. For example, i think it is cheaper to buy every year now iphone, then every second, third year. This is because in a year you will damage the phone less, the battery will still be in perfect condition and therefore it will loose less year-value than in two years (for average year)

    Also on the example of maintenance cost: it is all the STUFF. Lots, lots of us have realy lot and lot of stuff, this takes space in our homes (if we did not have so many, we could have smaller houses/flats). We tend to stockpile, buy more and more and it not only cost us to purchase but also to store. How many things we have home but used like once, twice in a year. Do we really need it? What happens if not, what it does to cost of STUFF Maintenance?

    • Kenneth

      well said, sir. i look with amazement every time we pass by a complex of public storage units. i can see using one for two or three months to assist in a move situation, but many people store their stuff for years and then just abandon it – thus the hit series Storage Wars!

  12. Erin

    Living in a PUD or HOA is like this. You still have to pay your city taxes, which go to support road-plowing and parks, among other things, but then you have to pay additional money for those things in your own neighborhood. It is a whole other level of taxes, which can go up (and they always do!)

    Last year we bought a whole house humidifier (oh so nice to have in the winter). It needs a new filter every year. On the other hand, my skin doesn’t peel and crack like it used to (less lotion) and it makes illnesses less severe, so I do think it’s worth the expense, but it does cost.

    And having a car at all is like this, too. I wish we lived somewhere where we didn’t need one.

    • Jesse Mecham

      Erin, tell me more about the whole house humidifier! I read recently that an optimal humidity level can significantly cut down on sickness.

      • Jennifer

        We have a whole house humidifier and I can’t say whether it has affected the rate of sickness in our house but I do know for certain that it has helped with my husband and daughter who both have a propensity for bloody noses. Less dry air = fewer bloody noses. It has cut those significantly. It also makes the air feel a little warmer since there is more humidity in it. And, of course, the difference in skin and hair.

      • jesse

        Does the air feeling warmer allow one to lower the thermostat and save money on the heating bill? My wife likes it much toastier than I do, and I’d love to be able to lower it a few degrees.

      • Kenneth

        If she likes it at 72, pay the bill, Jesse! Remember what you have said, that she nary wants a thing!

      • CW

        There needs to be a careful balance of humidity in the air. Too much and you can get bacteria and mold to grow. Too many people use their humidifier and forget it, only to find really nasty stuff growing in there and spewing that into the air – causing illness.

        Also, in a basement, more people need to de-humidify. Very few do, but it is very important. We spent $1,190 on a Santa Fe Therma-stor (Boumatic) dehumidifier back in 2009, and it is one of the best purchases we ever made. It immediately got rid of condensation in our former house and took away all the moldy smell. In our current house, it keeps the moisture at bay – and that is with a dirt floor and leaky door! We have never had to make any repairs. We only replace the air filter when needed – and buy them in bulk, so very cheap.

      • CW

        Oops. I mean we bought the dehumidifier in 2003. Very good purchase. 10 years and no problems.

  13. Kevin

    Swimming pool in the backyard!
    When purchasing our home, we avoided homes with pools like the plague! Homes on the market with pools were selling at the same price as homes without. But we knew that the “free” (upfront) pool was anything but free long term.

    • 4happycaligirl

      This is so totally us! When we started looking for a home we had our wish list of the perfect home. The place we bought had everything we wanted in location, almost everything we wanted in the home itself (it was a foreclosure so it needed a lot of repairs, maintenance, and updating) and the only downside was the built-in pool and spa. During our inspection period we brought in pool contractors to evaluate the pool and give us estimates on repairs versus filling it up and having a lovely concrete pad for a backyard. While it would have been cheaper in the long run to just have a concrete backyard, we kept the pool, had it resurfaced and a new pump installed, rehabbed the rest of the still functional equipment, and have really enjoyed having it. DH learned all about pool maintenance and now does everything himself. The ongoing cost for chemicals, etc., is annoying, but we do enjoy the pool most of the year.

  14. Terri C

    Like others have commented re: cutting board. Upkeep is minimal, so it wasn’t a very good example. Here’s some info on the mineral oil to get for your wife’s board:

    USP-grade mineral oil is a popular choice as it is the cheapest pure food-grade oil you can buy (do not use vegetable or olive oils because they can turn rancid). Mineral oil remains safe throughout its life. There are various oils available for cutting boards and butcher blocks. Some are called “Butcher Block Finishes” or “Mystery Oil.” Save some money by visiting the local hardware or drug store and purchasing Mineral Oil. (not mineral spirits – this is paint thinner).
    citation: http://whatscookingamerica.net/CuttingBoards/AllAbout.htm

    The rest of the article makes sense, though.

    • Jesse Mecham

      This is why I love this blog! You guys are all a wealth of information, and I would have bought the $14 fancy stuff.

      So, is the cutting board worth it? Better than a plastic one that we’d chuck in a five years and replace?

      • heather

        I don’t think this is a financial decision that holds merit in a business case — if a cheap cutting board costs $10 and lasts 5 years, it will take you more than 50 years to see a return. But the smile on your wife’s face every time she uses it / looks at it is priceless. So, yes, the cutting board is definitely worth it.

      • Carrie

        I have both a plastic one and a wooden one. My wooden one I received as a wedding gift almost 30 years ago. It broke, but because it was wood my husband fixed it. The plastic one has its merits, too, since I can stick it in the dishwasher to sanitize it. Good for cutting chicken, etc. (DO NOT put your wood cutting board there!) SO, I agree that doing what makes your wife happy is definitely at the forefront of your decision, as long as you don’t have to go into debt to do so. Money is ours to control, not something that should control us.

      • Mistrblank

        I never really understood the appeal of wood cutting boards. They’re bad to use with cutting raw meat and you can’t put them in a dishwasher. My wife and I have two glass cutting boards that we use religiously. They resist all of the cutting in that wood and plastic have, they clean easily and they work as well as any other cutting surface. Is there a downside that I’m not aware of?

      • jesse

        I think one big advantage to using a wooden cutting board is that it’s easier on your knives, helping them hold their edge a lot longer.

      • CW

        I say it is worth it. Wood is a natural product – as is mineral oil. It will not contaminate your food. Plastic breaks, gets nicks, wears out, puts chemicals and pieces of plastic in your food, can melt, etc. So, if you are purely looking at long term cost and health, the wood one is a no-brainer.

        That being said, I have both. The wood ones are heavier – depending on what you get. I have thin plastic ones ones I use to easily fold and pour vegetables into a pot. But, they have a million nicks on them that I don’t like for the germ factor and the thought of chips getting into our food. I debate every time I use them if the ease of use is worth the health factor. I also have a beautiful green one with flex of flax in it that I got for the holidays last year. It is just the right size and is a nice decoration on my wall. But, it, too, has nicks in it and I melted the edge by leaving it on our stove top when I was using another burner. The wood ones just make me feel more holistic and natural.

        Go for what she wants!

      • CB

        A decent wood cutting board is definitely worth it to someone who cares about their kitchen equipment and uses it often. I love a good butcher’s block. Wood has its downsides such as having to oil it (not a big deal), being heavy for washing, being porous to odors and bacteria, and needed care when drying to avoid warping.

        For these reasons, an absolutely fantastic consideration is an Epicurean cutting board. They are basically pro chefs’ board of choice these days, and it is my go-to. This type linked below even has a well around the edge on one side for juices from meat or whatnot so they don’t spill off the board.

        http://www.epicureancs.com/gourmetseries.php

  15. Wendy

    Expensive cars are a great example! (My husband drives a Mercedes, so I know about this one!)

    We have a friend who was so excited that her dad gave her his (old, old) Mercedes. I heard about this from someone else and my first response was “Does she know how much it costs to keep those things up?” Four hundred dollar oil changes, Eighteen hundred dollar sets of tires…stuff like that. She didn’t keep it long. I think about that every time I see an add for the “cheap” Mercedes. Only $350 a month, but wait ’til you need a new set of tires. LOL

    • Christian

      No Kidding! When my wife landed a really nice job @ $80k/year that she drove 50 minutes each way she decided to get herself a nice Audi A6. Very comfy, quiet, and being in Minnesota the Quattro is a blessing in the winter. She also got the “extended+” warranty, all for about $10k.

      And then things started breaking around 80k … Air conditioner compressor, windshield wiper pump, rear transmission seal, heated seats, interior lights, steering column switch gear, ABS computer, etc. Each item required a trip to the Audi dealer 75 miles away, or in some cases a tow, a rental car, time, and the $50 deductible each time.

      The final straw came at about 95k when the check engine light came on to indicate an O2 sensor was out. This was an emissions device, not covered under warranty. The part was $250, but it was $1200 in labor to replace it because the exhaust to be removed and that requires dropping the transmission and lowering the engine cradle and the general wisdom is that once you’re in there, you should replace all four O2 sensors (4 x $250) and the catalytic converters ($1200) and probably the mufflers too … this repair was over $3000 to get that dang light on the dash to go out. Not worth it.

      And then the next scheduled maintenance item was $1500 for a new timing belt which required everything in front of the engine (bumpers, radiators, etc) to be removed.

      We sold the car instead – at for $6400. A year of ownership, $4000 lost value, many thousands of dollars in repairs. You’d think we would have learned out lesson with the A4 in our past, but we figured all the repair items on that car was just a fluke. Guess not.

      Bought a used Honda with 130k miles on it for $7k and in the past three years I’ve replaced a power steering pump ($350) and an O2 sensor ($25). No more luxury German cars for us.

  16. cambriaaaa

    I received a beautiful, handmade cutting board from my grandparents that they got at a little boutique in Sedona, AZ. They saw me eyeing it one day and saved it for my birthday.

    HOWEVER, it’s so beautiful (and expensive) that I am now afraid to use it as an actual cutting board because I am afraid I will ruin it. So there’s that. I make no sense. :(

  17. spaceamoeba

    I think the effect is poorly named. I’ve never owned a Mont Blanc, but I do have a lovely Sailor fountain pen, and it came with a refillable cartridge. I bought an ink well for it for 6 bucks and I’ve yet to run out of ink years later. Compare this to the crappy disposables (to say nothing of the environmental impact of plastic pens being thoughtlessly discarded wholesale for others on a regular basis, and that pen is pretty darned frugal and extremely lovely to write with.

    Of course, I know that’s not the point of this, and I know what you’re getting at, and you’re absolutely right–consider the ancillary costs of anything before you buy it. I just need to defend my love of fine writing. ;)

    • Absotively

      Mark’s pen might be a very expensive ballpoint pen. As another fountain pen owner, I don’t really understand why anyone would spend a huge amount of money on any ballpoint pen, but apparently people do.

      • Absotively

        Oops, I meant Jesse’s pen! I’m so used to blog posts being from Mark now, I didn’t even check. Sorry!

      • spaceamoeba

        Yep, I don’t get it either. My pen use has gone way down since computers have changed everything about the way I communicate these days, but when I write, I like to write with class. Nothing tops a good fountain pen. :)

      • S

        I’ve got a small collection of beautiful fountain pens. I absolutely love them. I like to handwrite letters to friends, so it always makes it feel like a special experience writing with one of them. But I bought one of those big ink wells for cheap and I’ve never had to buy another one for refills. I can see how a ballpoint would be a drain though having to restock all the time.

      • Absotively

        Mine’s actually a relatively cheap fountain pen, but it still beats every ballpoint I’ve ever used. I’m considering buying a nicer one, but I haven’t talked myself into it just yet.

      • jesse

        It’s obvious that you all have a love for what a lovely, luxurious pen offers. In THAT case, the cost is worth it (even setting aside the environmental impact of Bics in landfills).

        I love when people are passionate about things.

      • Absotively

        My pen is a Lamy Safari. You can find them for less than $30 online, though I paid more at a local business. Mine came with a converter, and I bought a bottle of ink that’s looking like it’ll last me a decade or so for maybe $16. I could probably have found that cheaper online, too.

        The cost is worth it, but it’s also not actually that high. The cost in time is very slightly higher – filling it takes a minute or two, and cleaning it every few months takes a little longer.

        If you wanted to try out a fountain pen for really cheap, Pilot makes some disposable ones that are under $5 and can sometimes be found in stores like Staples. And I still find them nicer to write with than any ballpoint I’ve ever encountered, though I admit I’ve never used a Mont Blanc.

    • CW

      Glad for this alternative line of thought. My DD has wanted a fine pen, but I didn’t even think about the difference between a fountain and ball point. Thank you for saving us from a potential future mistake! I do think the experience of a fountain pen would be different and worth it for her when it is possible in the budget.

      • Absotively

        You might want to get her a cheaper fountain pen first, to see if she likes them. There exist fountain pens at a very wide range of prices, including disposable ones for less than $5.

      • Ruth

        It is also important that you get here one for lefties if she is lefthanded. It really does make a difference. I have tried to ise fountain pens for rightt handed people, and they don’t write as smoothly for me.

  18. Susan C.

    Very good message here. It was the first thing I thought of when a co-worker appeared at work in her shiny new BMW. And she makes around 40K/year, her husband is a sub-contractor for her father’s business (read: otherwise he’d had limited business) and they have three kids to boot. They got the car at a “really good deal since they new the dealer worker.” So what, I thought. The maintenance will drag you down, and that you can’t get a really good deal on. I’m 50 and it still ceases to amaze me how people have to “own” the name brand, fancy cars and what nots – what to have that car sit in the parking garage 40 hours each week while the person is making 40K/year, gross? To me, that is money that could be sitting in the bank. Again, Americans spend more on their cars then they do on their children’s education.

  19. Momo

    I once bought a Swiss Army sofa. It had heat and massage and a pull down table with cup holders and storage in the arms and it reclined and even had a wonderful drawer in the bottom center. This sofa was about $1000 and after a few months owning it I realized that I hated it (except for that cool drawer!) and I never used the arm storage, the massage, the pull down table or the cup holders inside the arms etc.

    When I was a teenager I lived on a block with a kid whose family had a pool in their backyard. We did not have a pool. This kid was a very punky little snoot who once asked me snidely, “Don’t you wish YOU had a pool?” I had a hard time making her understand the words “can’t swim” and “hydrophobia” as reasons why no, I wasn’t wishing for a pool anytime soon.

    A $158 cutting board should cut your food FOR YOU!:)

    I checked the Mont Blanc website and got a kick out the bar at the bottom showing off all the hoity toity names…listen to how mellifluous these sound:

    Meisterstück… Starwalker….Etoile de Montblanc …Boheme….Refills… wait, WHAT? Maybe they should have written “Réfill” or “Recharge pour instrument d’écriture” to make it sound less…working class.

  20. Stephanie

    I totally agree with the spirit of this post, but I feel like it’s important to evaluate the impact of higher quality items in your life. For example I own a Lamy fountain pen ($26), a converter cartridge for ($3), and a bottle of ink ($14). Easily the most expensive pen I’ve ever owned, but I’ve held onto it for over a year, and I no longer feel like pens are disposable thus making me feel a little better about my impact on the environment. Yes I have to buy a new bottle of ink occasionally (I’m still on that first bottle) but the bottle is glass, so easily recyclable. Instead of having a throw away mentality towards something I use constantly I have a not terribly costly well made tool.

  21. MGG

    Another great post Jesse. On a separate topic, thank you so much for the link to your wife’s favorite cooking blog!! Our biggest cost is eating out. Although I’m a good cook, not enough of my meals take less than half an hour and my husband is a very big eater. (He works a very physically demanding job.) The blog had a section on 16-minute meals and another section on freezer cooking. Those are going to be such a god-send to me. Thank you again!

  22. Shawn Davis

    Great article. Are you still working on the iPad app?

      • Kenneth

        I’m so cheap I print in black and white when I can, at draft quality

  23. CB

    This makes me think of a similar type of situation where you may think an item of higher quality will last you years longer than an economical version, upholding the “you get what you pay for” adage, but is actually just a luxury that will end up costing you more over time like the Mont Blanc Effect.

    For example, bedding and bath linens. You can get quite fancy with these simple soft goods. A higher-quality towel will surely hold up better over time. It’s more durable, it’s thicker, it’s more tightly woven. But what happens as soon as it gets a stain, gets inexplicably bleached in the washer, or is no longer your color of choice? When that happens, you’ll have your eye on new ones, even if it’s only two years after you bought them.

    In a situation like that, you may get what you pay for in terms of quality and durability, but that doesn’t mean it will actually last longer than its economical counterpart. So, by no means is it a guarantee that you’ll save money in the long run or break even by buying those fancy towels – a justification you used to convince yourself that they were a smart buy to begin with.

  24. Sarah Thompson

    We are in the process of buying a house. The house is one of the cheapest in the neighborhood – which makes it a reasonable investment. However, the neighborhood is known for elaborate Christmas lawn displays (with many lights). I will be announcing early on that I am Jewish (and I actually am) so that I don’t have to participate in this wasteful tradition.

  25. Jack Hudson

    Hey Admin,
    Can you please get in touch. I had a few queries about your site youneedabudget.com

    Regards,
    Jack.

      • Jack Hudson

        Hi Mark,
        Thanks for the reply.
        My queries are that do you accept guest article? If yes then what is your guidelines?

        Jack.

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