Don’t Waste Money By Buying Something You Already Have – that Still Works!

In my opinion, there are specific things that we should buy once every ten years or more. But first, have you ever felt the urge to spend some money? Like maybe it’s burning a hole in your pocket? Sometimes I feel like I need something to research and buy. I just like the process of today’s version of window shopping . . . the internet. I think, “What’s the next thing on the list that we “need”?” Then I start researching and comparing different brands of our next large purchase.

I enjoy doing this – especially if it happens to be a larger TV (you can always have a larger TV – right?)

But how often do we buy something because we think we “need” it? When we spend money either on an impulse or premeditated on things we don’t really need, this creates unnecessary stress on our budget. And it’s certainly not frugal.

Just in case you’re wondering what things might fall under this umbrella, I’ll give you a list of 5 things or categories of things you should only buy once every ten years or more.

Resist the urge to upgrade these items just because, “It’s been a while.”

Here are some things you should buy ONCE every ten years or more.


I know the newest model just came out (last time I checked – they come out every year). But if you buy a new car every couple of years, you are throwing money away. A car only loses value over time. Most people cannot afford this loss in depreciation every few years. A new car can easily last 10 years or more. I bought my first car in 2003 and sold it in 2010. It lost $2000 in value over that time.

Consider that the average person drives 12k – 15k miles per year. In 10 years you have 120k -150k miles on your car. This is not unreasonable. If you’ve done your research before purchasing your car, you will have purchased a reliable car that with maintenance can last 150k miles and more. Try to do without the newest bells and whistles in favor of driving a car with no payments.

We bought our second car in 2007 and still have it. Our third car was purchased in 2010, and we still have it too.

Buy and hold works for more than stocks. It can work in your favor for cars as well.


House hopping is a surefire way to the poor house. Stay put!

To get the maximum return on your new house purchase, you should plan to be in this house 10 years or more. Most houses are not purchased on impulse, so you should have researched your purchase well before you closed.

A house should increase in value over time (unlike a car) as long as you maintain it. Just remember that it is not an investment in the traditional sense. And every time you sell and purchase a house you have transaction costs (closing costs). Incurring these costs every few years is unwise in most situations, because you can’t recoup your closing costs with equity that quickly.

Also every time you move, you incur costs that can be, in a sense, hidden – like a moving truck, tools for the house, or house repairs. (Moving in general is draining – on your budget and your emotions)


This one might be little bit of a stretch. But, if you buy a good quality mattress, it should last 7-8 years at least. The point is to not buy a new mattress every 2 years – unless you really have problems with the one you currently own. It also makes a difference if you have a history of back or neck problems – a good mattress can be a life-saver.

My wife and I got about 10.5 years out of our first mattress – which I think is pretty good. We’re on our second mattress and hoping it lasts at least as long as our first one.


How fast does your dining room set wear out? Really? We’re still using the set we purchased 11 years ago. And if you purchased a decent quality table and chairs, they should easily last for more than 10 years as well.

Some of your other furniture can be categorized the same way – couches, dressers, and coffee tables. For example – our coffee table has been christened with teeth marks by our kids as they were growing up. It looks . . . gnawed on – by a dog. But we don’t have a dog. It must have seemed like the perfect place to try out their new chompers while they were crawling around. But that also means – at least to one adult in our house – that we can never get rid of it, no matter what condition it is in. It’s sentimental now.


These items can debated as well, but good quality appliances can easily last 10 years or more. My wife and I purchased a washer and dryer 11 years ago, and they are still both going strong . . . for now. The washer makes an odd squeaking sound during its cycle, but it still gets our clothes clean.

A hot water heater, stove, oven, or refrigerator can also be included in this list. Please don’t upgrade to stainless steel appliances because some store is having a sale.


Just remember: 10 years is a guideline. The point is to evaluate each large purchase. Impulse purchases can be the destruction of your well-planned budget. Don’t succumb to the desire to upgrade or replace something that you already have – especially if it’s working fine.

Be like Warren Buffet and don’t upgrade something just because you can. Wait until it actually needs to be replaced.

One of the quickest ways to waste money is to purchase items that you already have. Click To Tweet

Can you think of anything else you should only purchase once every 10 years or more? How frugal are you?

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Chris is the original Cash Dad. He's a father of 3 and a mechanical engineer by trade.


  1. I agree with all of these things. The only thing I might be willing to part with is the couch. It has way too many throw-up stains from the oldest. I am not feeling very sentimental towards that piece. 😉

    • Chris Reply

      Well, we could replace the couch . . . someday. After all it does still work. ?

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