$Monday: Boots Theory

Fans of author Terry Pratchett understand the importance of investing in good footwear. Pictured here are my husband's work boots and some of my "work boots" (for the office, heh). In both categories are shoes that are over 15 years old.

In Terry Pratchett's 1993 novel Men at Arms, one of the characters realizes:

The reason that the rich were so rich...was because they managed to spend less money. 

He goes on to explain, "Take boots, for example. ...A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. ...But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet."

This is yet another illustration of the idea that sometimes it's expensive to be poor. The other side of that coin is that sometimes you can spend your way out of poverty by investing carefully. More specifically, by shoe shopping! What fun.

Of course, there are people who truly don't have the choice to throw down hundreds of bucks on a pair of boots or shoes at any given moment. That stinks and isn't fair. Fortunately, being broke is not an incurable condition. And the truth is that there are a lot of people who do have the opportunity to save up or use a flush moment to spring for a nice set of hoof covers, but fear holds them back--the fear of being judged for making an "irresponsible" purchase, perhaps one they don't "deserve," or the fear of buying something made from the skin of a living creature. Yeah, it can seem deceptively cruel. But what's truly cruel are the tragic misunderstandings that dig us deeper into financial trouble, ill health, and environmental degradation.

I know people who avoid buying leather to avoid harm to animals. Sadly, I don't think it works that way. There are dire environmental consequences to mass-producing junky plastic things, which cause the mass suffering and death of animals, while the leather used to make shoes is almost always a byproduct of the beef and dairy industries--in other words, made from a material that wasn't produced for the purpose of making shoes (rather, for the purpose of feeding the insatiable maw of the tragically destructive keto craze) and would otherwise go to waste. Therefore, I have very smart vegan friends who prefer to purchase shoes and bags and other accessories that are made of durable leather.

Leather and other high-quality materials can be repaired, extending the life of an item even further. My husband and I both use shoe repair services to maintain and fix up our leather footwear every once in a while. As a karmic bonus, using these services supports local tradespeople and the small business economy without the consumption of more junk.

Good shoes keep your feet good, too. Investing in the purchase and maintenance of good shoes is a lot easier, less painful, less expensive, and more beneficial in every possible way than finding yourself in need of fixing your feet (and ankles and knees and back and neck, etc.) after years of wearing junky shoes.

I've come to accept that there really is no such thing as ethical consumerism apart from reduced consumerism. We have to buy less stuff, less often, period. Filling ourselves and our homes and our closets with near-future-trash in an effort to save money or in a misguided attempt to save the animals is futile. The sooner each person can find a way to quit doing that, the better.

The great thing about Boots Theory is that over time, we get to end up with nicer things--and stronger bodies--for less money.

It's impossible to pull yourself up by the bootstraps if you don't have any sturdy bootstraps. So get 'em as soon as possible. Blow a stack of cash on some nice shoes that feel as good as they look! It's time-tested financial advice.


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