Reading JLibourel's post got me thinking about how I approach shoe buying. This reminded me of earlier discussions about clothing budgets, which can be a nice way to force trade-offs. I have started doing this unconsciously since joining the board, and have found myself willing to pay a bit more to get exactly what I want, but being a lot more finicky about being sure that what I do buy meets my needs very well. I don't think I've saved much money in terms of outlay, but I do feel like I'm getting a bit more value out of my purchases in that I wear them more and am always really happy to do so. Part of this change has to do with having a fairly complete wardrobe, meaning no need to buy in bulk to cover the staple items. Part of it has to do with not having closet space to store it all. But an even bigger part is based on changing the way that I think about a 'deal'. Cost-benefit analysis on a case-by-case basis will tend to drive purchasing the less-expensive shoe at all times, but in the long run you end up with a collection that is less diverse and has fewer stand-out items than it might have been had you allocated that same budget differently. Ironically, if you do a cost-benefit for each individual purchase, you also may end up spending more than you intended (easy to justify each purchase at the time because they are objectively 'cheap' and the deals always seem to good to pass up - your credit card bills don't spike because the purchases aren't 'lumpy' and therefore you don't really call yourself to account for how much you are spending in aggregate). At the end of the spending period you don't ever decide to step up to a fancier item that can't be had at a discount even though you could have afforded it within the total amount you spent. The reason that JL's post got me started (and I say this with all due respect plus a little extra 'cuz I know that he knows his way around a gun) was that using an average price of $150 and a total of 23 pairs of shoes one gets a two-year 'shoe budget' of more than three grand, which can buy a lot of shoes. My guess is that each purchase wasn't thought of as a share of that budget, but rather as a 'one-off' deal. The proximity of the A-E outlet and the unbeatable prices allowed JLibourel to assemble an extensive collection of shoes, but likely also kept him more wedded to the line than he might have been had he consciously set out to allocate what turned out to be a fairly generous shoe budget. I wanted to do a 'thought experiment' around different options with the same money (again, purely for the sake of argument and not to say that every one of JL's purchases weren't perfect for him). This is also assuming that an individual is not an odd size, an assumption I make because I wouldn't guess that outlets have lots of 12AAAs lying around. So, to the task at hand - if one had the same budget, one could use it differently and still wind up with a nice collection of 14 shoes that included a lot of A-Es for day-to-day wear (JL mentioned a very reasonable concern about ruining nice shoes) but also mixed in some of the pricier fare that we all know and love. If I had that money and I liked A-Es for the price, I might get about 10 pairs of A-E at the average price of $150, which would more than cover the range of 'basic shoe' styles. This would leave plenty of extra money. I'd then mix in three pairs of 'better shoes' at an average price of $350 (these could include full-priced Alden, Martegani, or Gravati, discounted Polo C&Js - easy to find on Ebay for ~$200-$250 - or a pair of C&Js ordered from PLal) and a single pair of full-price, high-end shoes at $650-850 (Vass, Green, full price Grenson at Paul Stuart). This division would give a smaller collection - 14 pairs - but likely both a range of different styles as well as the chance to get a couple of really high-end shoes to mix in when needed. Obviously some people may simply prefer the styling (and comfort) of AEs to all other shoes, in which case you may as well get as many as your house can hold. I just thought that it might be useful to change the frame for cost-benefit to include one's whole shoe 'portfolio' rather than getting the efficiency curve for each pair.