Sometimes it’s hard to tell when I’m being frugal and when I’m just being cheap.

One side effect of losing weight — a positive one, mind you — is that I don’t fit into some of my favorite clothes anymore. Like most people, I have certain garments that I love more than others. For example, my favorite pair of pants are these lightweight dark-green things with a zillion pockets that I purchased for $6 at an REI “garage sale”. (REI is a local recreational outfitter — they hold used gear sales to ditch returned and damaged merchandise at bargain prices.)

These pants are perfect for summer. They’re lightweight. They breathe well. And the legs zip off mid-thigh, allowing them to convert to shorts. I call them my “zip-off pants”, and they’ve become a sort of running joke among friends and family. For the past three years, these pants have a part of my daily uniform during the summer months.

Now, though, they don’t fit. They’re too loose. They want to slip down my waist. I’m faced with the prospect of replacing them.

At first, I wasn’t going to buy another pair. When I do the math, I figure I’ve paid four cents for every time I’ve worn them. What are the odds that I can find zip-off pants in my size for $6 again? A new pair costs $55. I’d need to wear them every summer for the next 25 years to get the same sort of value out of a them!

I was going to leave it at that, too, before I realized I was being ridiculous. I wear these pants all the time. Even if I only get five years of use from a new pair, I’ll only be paying $10 a year, or about twenty cents a use. Compare that to most of my other clothes. I have several pairs of slacks from Costco that cost me about $20 each. I wear them a couple of times a month. Not such a bargain.

I’m going to stop being a cheap bastard and just order myself a new pair of zip-off pants.

Addendum: For a more pronounced version of my situation, check out Jordan’s dilemma in the comments. I’ve only lost fifteen pounds. He’s lost sixty. What advice would you give him?

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