What you can afford?

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Oct 9, 2014
I always use to say I can't afford whatever until a friend of mine asked why I always say I can't afford something when he knew I could, it got me thinking and in reality I could afford whatever we were talking about but the fact was I couldn't justify it.
This is the case so often. You could afford something but you say you can't because you can't justify the cost.

It's all about value judgments.

We give value judgments to loads of things, including money. Folk with more money generally value money lower than folk with less. But then you get the individual variance in judgment depending on preference. I was thinking about this recently since becoming more active on this site. I could afford a Woodlore knife, but right now there is no way I could justify spending that amount of money on one. But I'd be happy to spend a far larger sum of money on items for other 'hobbies' I participate in. But some folk would rather have a Woodlore (or 2!) than things I would buy. Vive le difference. But these things also develop over time, and maybe in a wee while I will be prepared to spend that kind of cash on a knife.

So it's about value judgments, and everyone has different things they value, even debt. Obviously there are limits to your freedom of choice which will be set by your prudence, earning capacity, credit record etc, but within those limits it's up to you. What do you value?


Jul 16, 2006
My theory is "never own anything you cannot afford to loose" this applies to everything not just possessions, it includes morals, dignity, emotions, relationships, I have had so much stolen or taken from me, now everything I have is easily replacable, buy cheap, if you use it and it breaks then replace it with better, otherwise the cheapest fullfils its role adequitely


Apr 19, 2018
I think of it like this. How much is a Woodlore ... say it is £500. How much is an affordable car? Say it is £5000.

I don't need another car. Which leaves me with £5000 to play with. Bring on the Woodlore.

... Not that I'd ever actually want one, mind. So maybe that Junghans watch I have been drooling over for the past ten years. :)

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
McBride, BC
I paid off all the big debts, I now own everything outright. Very different perspective.
I can afford any tools and toys I might want but 2 points stop me:

1. My house is full of stuff. Where will I keep the new stuff?
2. I have to admit that I'm old. I have all kinds of tools and toys and supplies already that I don't play with much at all.
So I ask me: "When, it the rest of your life, will you get to messing with this new thing?"
Answer: Mostly never, once the immediate novelty wears off.

Instead, I have begun to buy things of comfort.
a) Repairs and little additions to my house.
b) A house keeper and a gardener.
c) New dishes, pots and pans.
d) New clothes (good, old comfortable coats never die).
e) Several walking canes (that's a cruel joke with age).
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Full Member
Mar 1, 2009
northern ireland
My theory is "never own anything you cannot afford to loose" this applies to everything not just possessions, it includes morals, dignity, emotions, relationships, I have had so much stolen or taken from me, now everything I have is easily replacable, buy cheap, if you use it and it breaks then replace it with better, otherwise the cheapest fullfils its role adequitely
That's got to be one of the saddest post I've read.


Sep 9, 2003
Yvelines, north-west of Paris, France.
I was born into a poor family in a poor neighbourhood of a town in serious industrial decline. I've known poverty (though not of the extreme kind), unemployment, despair, violence personally and also observed it in those around me.

I've studied and worked hard, and still take every opportunity available to learn new skills, and so I now find myself in a much more financially comfortable position than my twenty year old self could have imagined.

But I still have a very frugal nature, and also a very critical nature when it comes to manufactured items. So I tend to spend so much time evaluating the worth of a product compared to its equivalents, that by the time I've made a decision, it's been discontinued. And this means that I quite often buy second-hand things, sold on by people who refuse to resist the impulse to buy the very latest gadget...

So, more money that my early life has conditioned me to use; access to as-new second hand toys, and I'm gaining the skills necessary to be able to make a lot of my own stuff.

That means that any other expenses for me would fall into the category of "necessities": food, shelter, transport, clothing, healthcare.

I cook from scratch, and waste nothing; that's food taken care of.

We have a loan for the house, with repayments well within our means; that's shelter taken care of.

We run only one car, supplied by my wife's employer, and I take public transport that is subsidised 50% by my employer; not out of generosity, but because it is a legal requirement. That's transport taken care of.

I don't care about fashion, prefer practicality and relatively timeless look. A proper shirt lasts me probably 12 to 15 years. A pair of jeans or trousers, likewise. That's clothing taken care of.

The healthcare system in France is similar in some ways to the NHS in the UK, but with more reliance of private providers. But with compulsory complementary health insurance, again subsidised by my employer (again, a legal requirement), even my recent problems requiring echograph, X rays, consultations with a physiotherapist (injured thumb), endocrinologist (type II diabetes), urologist (repeated infections of the prostate) have not left me seriously burdened.

So what can I afford? Just about anything I want... with the added advantage of really not wanting very much at all, beyond what I already have, and they are practically all for my hobbies and pastimes.

Latest purchases (over the past six months) have been:
  • an old anvil, €70 (I found my rounding hammer maybe five years ago)
  • a new belt grinder, €500 (without a motor, because I already have one) and some belts to go with it
  • an old Sheffield made half-round knife for leather working, €40
  • a new helmet for horse riding, €120
  • a new four-man tent, €120 and a big Belgian army surplus rucksack, €60
  • a second hand Canon EOS100D, €100 (or thereabouts).
From now until the end of the summer, I'll probably not spend any more on gear, other than consumables and materials, and maybe get back that investment by selling what I make. And if I don't sell it, then it will have been an investment in improving my skills as a maker.
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Full Member
Feb 10, 2019
Maybe this comes down to a definition of need and want.

We don't need to be on the internet yet we are....
My internet cost me £45 three years ago, nothing more. A luxury I can afford.
Unfortunately I have to be contactable via the internet, so it's not through choice.


Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
This is really complicated.

I have lots of stuff. But most of it is second hand. I could not afford it new.

My Uni bag for example is a North Face surge. Brand new, but Dad got it for me as a combined Xmas/Birthday present (Something I normaly dont allow).

It was a little more than most, we went to Cotswold outdoors "Not cheap but they will pick EXACTLY the right bag" I told him. The Bag is perfect and no doubt I will be using it long after Dad is gone.

(I dont want to think on this but he is 82).

Mum (Who is long gone) was a firm believer in having the Best. She always had nice clothes and to my mind looked very glamourous. (I am a natural born scruff)

But I look like the person who Knows stuff. I dont need glamour.

I have lots of stuff but bear in mind that most of it is functional. Its tools and hobby materials. Most of my books are `reference` or directly related to my studies (Bear in mind there is a big crossover with my work and play).

I own very little that is just decorative. Some of it is sentimental value (something I dont go for) such as my Great Grandmothers Buddha, (Not that fat funny guy but a serene medatative one) Others is just stuff, like my vast collection of plastic vines and grapes...an odd thing for me, you might think...I got them for a Roman exhibition. We filled odd corners and covered irrelevant things in the hall with my `vinyard` it worked very well.

(No doubt it might be redeployed in future exhibitions).

And if I have something that is not functional, I get rid of it. I give it to a friend, or to charity, or it gets recycled. I activley throw away very little. I am always very cross at the waste I see.

(But then I might well grab it for my own use).

Today I went to the car boot. I got a Australian leather hat and a Tatonka rucksack. (And a few things for your Moot delection but that is a suprise...)

I then went beachcoming. Marazion beach is one of the finest in the country for pretty stones. (I dont rate it well for shells or sea glass) I have had an exceptional haul of agates today, decent sized stripy ones.

I am so lucky.

Duggie Bravo

Jul 27, 2013
I think there can be a real difference between cheap and quality.
Sometimes if I need something for perhaps one or two jobs I’ll buy cheap, if I need it for longer then I will spend more.

Eg. I needed to swap the tow ball on my disco, so bought the appropriate size wrench from an A to Z shop, for a couple of quid. It was effectively single use as it was a one off job. But the drill for house renovation was going to get more use so I bought a Bosch.

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Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Not if you buy quality things made in the west. Western manufacturers of rubbish stuff would disappear, or be forced to change production.

Nobody can really afford to buy cheap quality.


Full Member
Feb 10, 2019
If you happen to be watching anything about well heeled westerners paying thousands to go on Himalayan treks, pay close attention to their low paid "sherpas" attire.


Full Member
Feb 18, 2010
‘Never a borrower or lender be’

Was the advice my dad gave me.

That and I live with cash. I draw out my budget for the week and that’s what I live on. If I need to buy something online etc I deduct that from my cash withdrawal next week.

If I haven’t got the cash to eat out/buy something random I don’t.

I used to be awful with money, credit and such, all paid off now but I am convinced all this contactless and such is dangerous for those that can’t control themselves as there is no ‘reference point’ (empty wallet) to rein in the spending


Full Member
Feb 10, 2019
I am convinced all this contactless and such is dangerous for those that can’t control themselves as there is no ‘reference point’ (empty wallet) to rein in the spending
It's dangerous for those who can. I really don't like it. I carry a notebook and write in the amount when I spend "cashless" otherwise I forget. I mentioned before, a cafe I frequented when out and about, is cashless only, because the nearest bank is now around a 70 mile round trip to pay in their takings. Apparently cashless (and no high street banks) is what the customer wants, yet my email asking how many emails and letter's have been received asking the worst culprit, remains unanswered.
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