He Said She Said – $950 Glasses?!?

Kitty PoP napping in my $150 glasses, not Mr PoP’s new ones!

We know we’re not the most frugal kids on the pf-blog block, but this month we had a line item that is so luxurious that we both felt it might be worth mentioning before just dropping it on our upcoming July Income Statement post without noting its opulence.

The specific purchase – a pair of custom eyeglasses for Mr PoP for which we paid precisely $950. Here’s what we have to say about them.

He Said

No lie, I’m pretty happy with this purchase! This might sound strange coming from a guy who refuses to outsource his own electrical/plumbing/carpentry/drywall rough in/demolition/tile laying, but these glasses are kinda special for me…

-Design. I’m willing to pay more for the “Classics” at this point, and objects that are remarkably well designed and executed fall into that area. The glasses have a great design and material selection and are notable (for me) simply as an object of industrial design. Style is even more subjective than design, but some of my favorite authors/creators have worn similar lens/frame combinations in the last 100 years or so.

-Longevity. I’ve spoken to 3 different people over the last 8 years who have had their glasses for more than a decade, all of them still loved the frames. Personal items that are made to last for extraordinary amounts of time (watches, frames, maybe shoes) are fascinating and I’m happy to escape the circle of always buying another pair of X. See for example Vimes boots…

-Delayed Gratification. It’s been 8 years since I saw these glasses for the first time-if you’ve wanted something for that long and have the ability to pull the trigger, do it! At this point in our lives our frugality is pretty much ingrained and we have many (optional) years of high-income earning ahead of us.

Do your worst PF blogosphere….

Know what I regret? Not a damn thing.

She Said

I’m the numbers lover in the relationship here, so let me get a couple of numbers off my chest here. To us, these aren’t actually $950 glasses. Instead, because we found out exactly how much they cost and increased my FLEX spending account by that amount when my plan year reset in July, the entire purchase is tax-free to us. With our >35% marginal tax rate (28% income + 7+% FICA), these glasses are only a $617 after-tax purchase. On top of that, by making the purchase at the beginning of the FLEX year, we’ll be reimbursed from an account that we have not even funded yet for the year, in essence, getting an interest free loan from my employer to buy Mr PoP these fancy-pants glasses which we’ll “pay off” with deductions from my paychecks over next twelve months, letting us keep more of our money at work in investments in the meantime. While I’m not fooling myself that a $617 pair of glasses is anything but a luxury purchase, timing it this way at least softens the financial blow a bit.

MORAL OF ALL THAT – If you’re making an expensive purchase anyway, try and figure out a way to do it in a maximal manner.  

Numbers aside, this was a purchase that Mr PoP has wanted for a very long time.  The sales clerk noted it had been over eight years ago since he went into that store to look at them.  But I feel like we waited until it made sense for us to pull the trigger since it wouldn’t have made sense the other times Mr PoP has needed new glasses during this period.

Eight and a half years (and two pairs of glasses) ago, Mr PoP was unmarried and in his first J-O-B with benefits outside of college and he needed glasses urgently since he had left his buried in a wall while working a side-job running networking cable. Though he waited a week for his benefits to kick in (driving around more than he should have without glasses), it wasn’t a time for $850 (they were cheaper then!) glasses. Though he wouldn’t have had to justify the purchase to me since I was just his girlfriend then.

Five years ago (May 2010), the last time Mr PoP got new glasses prior to this:

  • We were smack in the middle of the worst cash crunch we’ve endured as a couple.  Mr PoP was working for minimum wage, we had just dumped a bunch of money into our house to make it livable after we bought it, my car had just died and we bought a replacement, but weren’t getting any bites on selling the old one.  Cash was so low that we were holding off on getting a new A/C in our house until getting our tax refund so our cash buffer didn’t dip too low with the A/C coming right after the car purchase (and before the other car sale).
  • According to our mint history, our net worth was $138.4K, ~15% of the $909.6K it was last month,
  • And our income was <40% of our 2014 income.

It wasn’t the time for luxury eyewear.

But today, it feels different. Getting the glasses now feels like much better timing.  Even though we’re still having an expensive year as we renovate our house, we can cash flow the expense much easier than we could five years ago.  That doesn’t mean I want to buy Mr PoP $1,000 glasses every year – I hope Mr PoP loves them so much that he keeps the frames forever*. He really does look adorable in them, and when I asked him if I looked better through the new glasses, he wholeheartedly said, “Absolutely!”  So they’re keepers.  =)


* And the frames should theoretically last forever, too! He should be able to run them over with a car or leave them in a canal overnight (actual occurrences with other glasses Mr PoP has owned!) and the frames should be fine. Though we’ll have to shell out for new lenses every once in a while.


Would you have pulled the trigger on a pair of $950 glasses?

55 comments to He Said She Said – $950 Glasses?!?

  • lucas

    When i was single and my company had given me FSA money to spend (and i had a bunch left over at the end of the year), i bought some $400 prescription sunglasses. So i can’t say i would never consider it :-)

    However right now with kids who knock stuff of your face, wrestle with you, and play with anything that is not out of their reach i don’t think there is anyway i would consider it right now. Plus it is actually a bit of a hassle to go to the store with all the kids and get my wifes opinion while i try on glasses. So Zenni Optical all the way for us! We have been happy with the quality of the frames/lenses, huge selection, the price is <$50 for a nice frame and lenses, and can "try" them on right from our bedroom at night after the kids go to bed.

    • You could go the opposite route and buy the really fancy glasses with the completely bendable frames. But I have heard good things about Zenni for budget glasses. My SIL gets her glasses from there and has several pairs she can change out depending on her mood and outfit.
      Leah recently posted..What I’ve learnedMy Profile

      • Debbie M

        I also use Zenni–and have learned not to get the frameless kinds.

        I wouldn’t spend that much on glasses. But I do spend a lot more than regular people on food ingredients just to have them be as humane as possible (no pesticides that endanger the farm workers, no prophalactic antibiotic use to breed superbugs, pasture-raising for chickens, grass-feed for cows, etc.) even if I don’t notice a difference in taste or my own health. Plus I pay more for whole grains.

        • Just out of curiosity – why not the frameless ones?

          • Debbie M

            They are much less durable! They end up breaking within a couple of years. The ones with even just basically half a frame (the top half) are lasting infinitely long (by which I mean until I lose them).

    • These frames are actually much less prone to damage than his previous ones, and he managed to keep those going (albeit with replacement screws nearly threadbare by the end) for 5 years.
      Maybe I’ll have to give Zenni or something like that a try for my next pair, though I often have a tough time finding glasses that fit because I have such a small head/face.

      • Debbie M

        Me, too–I do better with kids’ glasses. But the good thing is that if you do have some glasses that fit you, you can measure the frames and buy only glasses with the same measurements (or close).

      • Amy K (RelaxedGal on the MMM forums)

        For smaller heads, 2 bits of advice:

        Coastal is another online seller. They had petite frames (Jones New York brand, I think) that fit me really nicely. Coastal carries higher quality frames than Zenni and has wonderful customer service & return policy.

        Zenni allows you to search by measurements, which helps if you know exactly what you want. Downside: you can’t enter a range, only an exact number in millimeters, so I always feel like I’m missing out on the “could have been close enough” glasses.

        I bought my latest pair from Zenni, but might get new lenses in my Coastal pair from the eye doctor next round.

        • Thanks for the tips so I’ll definitely check them out. I actually have a really small face. (Luckily I have a small head and frame so it doesn’t look weird or anything – at least it’s not weird enough that anyone’s commented on it.) Some of the Jones NY ones I’ve tried on fit my face ok, but a lot of glasses I’ve found marked petite were actually still too big which is a big part of why I’ve never tried online glasses.

          Checking out Zenni now – Maybe I’m not entering the right numbers, but when I add up the lens and bridge dimensions of my most recent glasses – the ones Kitty PoP is wearing in the picture – I get 115 for 2*lens + bridge. Maybe I add another 10mm for plastic on the sides of the frame to get 125? And these glasses are actually borderline too wide for my face – just kindof works because of the style. My other two pair of Rx glasses so far were narrower by probably 5mm or even more.
          Going to that frame width on Zenni looks like the only options are technically “kids”, which definitely limits selection and I’m not really a fan of having flowers or soccer balls screen printed on my frames. =) Sadly, even the ones at Zenni labeled for pre-teen girls seem to have measurements that are bigger than most of the glasses I’ve had so far. *hangs [freakishly small] head in shame*
          Or maybe I just need to embrace the “New Girl” look and get “normal” sized glasses that just look insanely huge on my face. =P
          Really what I hope is that my Rx hasn’t changed much when I go in for my eye appointment later this month and I can put off buying new glasses for a while since finding a pair that fits is so stressful. But if I do need new ones, I’ll definitely add Zenni and Coastal to the places I check!

        • Debbie M

          Thanks, Amy, for the recommendation. I will also check out Coastal next time I am in the market.

          Mrs. Pop, in case it helps, here are some glasses I have gotten that might be a good size for you. (Not sure if they’re still available or prices have changed.)
          * frames – 319211 bendable (memory) titanium half-rim frame glasses
          bridge 18
          lens width 42
          frame width 118

          * frames – 496216 (blue with interesting design on ear piece) children’s stainless steel half rim frame with spring hinges
          bridge 16
          lens width 45
          frame width 119

          * 293818 (red; available in green) – flexible plastic with spring hinges for added comfort. The hinges are made of stainless steel for added durability.
          bridge 17
          lens width 42
          frame width 117

  • Sometimes we’re not the most frugal either. I do agree that if it’s something you love and use and can afford, go for it. Mr. Crackin’ gifted me with a very expensive pair of earrings a few years back. I wear them every single day and I love them. Outside of that I only own one cheap pair that I wear when I’m outside of my comfort zone; ie. New Orleans during Mardi Gras or Cancun.

    I do think you should know that you are 99.9% percent responsible for my Roomba purchase last month. :) I would have been none the wiser. Ignorance is bliss sometimes, right? That is, until you gave it your seal of approval! After months of debating I even went back to your original post to see if you had listed which model you bought :) Regardless, Roomba and I are very happy together. Happy Friday!
    Mrs. Crackin’ the Whip recently posted..The Budget – Stay Hungry, Stay TrueMy Profile

    • ooh, romba! That’s on the someday list. We have a pretty tiny place right now, but I think our toddler would get a kick out of a roomba.
      Leah recently posted..What I’ve learnedMy Profile

    • Yay for Roomba! I’m not going to apologize for influencing that purchase. I’ve come to think of Roomba like I would a dishwasher. Sure, it’s possible to live without one, but why would you? =)

  • Last time I planned on buying new glasses they were going to charge me nearly $500, and for frames much less awesome than what Mr. PoP seems to be getting. I ended up just getting my lenses replaced on my old frames, which are a little askew from having stepped on them a few times, but I’m still at that age where my vision is changing year-after-year so I’ll probably get new frames soon enough.
    Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents recently posted..July 2015 Spending UpdateMy Profile

    • The pair Mr PoP got were custom made just for him, so very different than walking into Lenscrafters and having them charge $500 for a pair that doesn’t really require anything custom.

  • “Know what I regret? Not a damn thing.” <—– this is all I needed to read. Life is short. That's not an invitation to be awful with money, but it is okay to splurge out on good things.

    My current pair of glasses is a designer pair on sidewalk sale for $300ish all-in (lenses, coatings, etc). I've worn them for the past 8 years. Honestly, I'd be happy to wear them for another 8. My prescription hasn't changed in 20 years. My doctor did recommend new glasses because technology has changed in the past decade. My frames are chunky plastic (but high quality!), so changing the lenses would be challenging.

    I'm taking my time to slowly look around and find something I love. I have pre-tax money in my HSA, and that's what I'll use to buy these. I fully anticipate spending $3-400 and getting something I'll wear for another decade at a minimum.

    All that to say, go Mr. Pop! Glad you got something you love for yourself. The perk of DIY-ing most things is that you can splurge when you want to. Plus, quality over quantity.
    Leah recently posted..What I’ve learnedMy Profile

    • Mr PoP is definitely a quality over quantity kind of guy. He doesn’t buy many things, but when he does he wants to love them.

  • Sounds like this purchase was not made lightly, and with that much waiting and effort to save, I would probably have gone ahead and made the purchase too. Glasses fall under the “health” category to me, and are definitely an area worth spending money in.
    Ali @ Anything You Want recently posted..Five Friday FavoritesMy Profile

    • Yeah, we’ll classify this as “health” on the income statement, but I’d say about $800 of the purchase price had nothing to do with Mr PoP’s health. =)

  • Sorry I can’t relate. Real frugal people never buy glasses because we already have perfect eyesight. :)

    But really, I see the appeal of cool glasses. Just maybe not $950 cool. I got Marge some Warby Parkers for Christmas a few years ago that she/I love.
    Norm recently posted..January’s Goals RevisitedMy Profile

  • Not to get picky, but wouldn’t the “after-tax” cost of the glasses only back out your income tax, not FICA? Usually flex spending, HSA, and retirement contributions are still subject to FICA.

    At any rate, for some (including me), $950 for glasses is a pretty terrible purchase. However, I’m sure I make purchases every day that are just as terrible in your eyes. To each his own, as long as you’re still saving, the rest is just gravy to do with as you please.

    Retire29 recently posted..Humorous Consumerism TodayMy Profile

  • Yay! I thought my glasses that were $180 after insurance were expensive 😉 Those glasses were 0.1% of your net worth. I think that’s a perfectly reasonable one-off expense!

    I’m a huge fan of (when you have the funds to do so) splurging on things that you use all the time, but only having one, maybe two of the items and keeping them until they wear out. I have a few pairs of nice jeans, a couple nice purses (though those were gifts from my parents), and a really nice condo. After all the housing situations I hated in college, this is a really nice change.
    Leigh recently posted..Reining in the why behind my clothing spendingMy Profile

    • Yup! 0.1% feels fine. His glasses from 5 years ago were pretty close to the same percentage of our net worth at that time, oddly enough. =)

  • Glasses are so expensive, especially when you have high prescription and need to get the thinner type so you don’t look like a dork. :)

    I think my current pair cost about the same as Mr. PoP’s but they have lasted for 9+ years now. Having said that, I do wear contacts so that’s another added cost.

    You need glasses and you got something that you are happy with. No problem with that.
    Tawcan recently posted..Weekend Reading – insane work hours editionMy Profile

  • Do these glasses give you X-ray vision? $950 is A LOT! However, I have seen a $1,000 purse that I really really want. To each his own…

  • Tre

    I guess the question is how long will they last and how much will it cost to replace the lenses if his prescription changes? I bought a pair of $500 frames 8 years ago that I still love. They are the only glasses that have lasted more than a year. I’m with Mr PoPs – worth the cost

    • Replacing the lenses will be $2-300, but and his prescription seems to have settled with only mild changes every 5 years or so. So “ongoing” glasses expenses will be an average of $50 or so per year as long as the frames last (which could be 20+ years) if that pattern holds.

  • Heck no! But that’s just me. I probably spend that on stupid things that you wouldn’t even consider. So no judgement here, to each his own! I bet he looks stylish and feels like Beyonce though 😉
    Fervent Finance recently posted..Interview with Even Steven Money (My First!)My Profile

  • As a contact lenses wearer, I could never spend that kind of money on glasses. But if you can reuse the frames and get multiple years out of them, sounds like it might be worth it over the long run.
    Brian @DebtDiscipline recently posted..Vacation RamblingsMy Profile

  • The entire eyeglass industry is designed to rip you off.

    • That’s an interesting segment. How old is it?

    • Wow, I knew they were big, but I didn’t realize they were that big and dominated that much of the market. Admittedly I do own a pair of Ray Ban prescription sunglasses, BUT I did order them online for half the price of what Sunglass Hut was selling them for! My normal glasses are Barton Perreira which I was told was a Japanese designer, but I’m not really sure if that’s true. They were $650 but fully covered by my benefits at the time. Either way, glasses are incredibly expensive, especially the frames. High quality lenses I can understand can be expensive to make (e.g., super thin progressive lens), but frames are just a plain rip off. I just wish the cheaper brands weren’t so ugly!
      Mr. Nerd recently posted..Saving Money Through a ‘Bro Deal’ Out of the Back of a VanMy Profile

  • Knowing me, if I spent that much on glasses I would lose them right off. It’s what I do. Either I never use or I immediately lose expensive things. (Or I accidentally kill them if they’re trees or I end up not doing all the treatments if they’re laser hair removal.) Basically I am why my family can’t have nice things.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Ask the grumpies: How to play with little kidsMy Profile

    • haha. I’ve joked with Mr PoP about how he managed to destroy/lose a couple of pair of glasses in pretty epic fashion, but he really proved with his most recent pair that he can keep them (and keep a very cheap pair going!) for a long time. So I can’t tease him about it anymore. =)

  • Is that a kinkajou in the picture?
    Leah recently posted..What I’ve learnedMy Profile

  • Those are some BIG BUCKS for glasses! I just got a new pair myself after only 5 years though, b/c my lenses were all scratched up. They cost $248, surprisingly. originally I spend around $450-$500… but these frames were only $100 and the featherweight lenses with all the goodies was $148. Donno, hope they last. Use a microfiber cloth to clean and not your shirt!

    How about showing a pic of what the glasses look like? :)
    Financial Samurai recently posted..The Property Assessor Always Wins In A Bull Market – Filing An Appeal Is UselessMy Profile

    • Mr PoP didn’t want to post a picture of his glasses or name the brand, but I think they’re lovely and they are truly custom made for his face. And they’re definitely lightweight – I think the frames weigh 2grams?

  • Soooo I want to see a picture of this $1k pair of glasses!

    I spent $5k on LASIK 5 years ago so I def understand this money item!
    Maria recently posted..July 2015: Budget Wrap-UpMy Profile

  • jestjack

    $950….YIKES!!!! DW needs to get glasses soon….last time we spent around $300-400…MAN I hope we don’t have to pay $950….

  • Now I don’t feel so bad about the $750 pair.

    BUT…it must be said that while it IS TRUE that expensive glasses are a vanity purchase, it’s also true that you get what you pay for. The outrageously ridiculously expensive almost invisible no-rim fancy titanium wire frames have now been refitted THREE TIMES with new prescriptions. A plastic pair might have been good for one change, but it surely wouldn’t have lasted for the number of years I’ve had these things.

    And I paid $400 for a plastic pair, anyway. When you get into that stratospheric range, what’s another three hundred bucks, eh?

    The other get-what-you-pay-for element has to do with the dispensary itself: I’d tried progressive lenses twice before the optometri$t in question came up with the pair I have. And, unlike his cheaper competitors’ products, his pair was the first that actually WORKED to allow me to see far enough down the road to drive and also to read the fine print on the label of a bottle of spaghetti sauce. His contract ophthalmologist was the first, ever, to note that I needed a special type of contact lens to accommodate the astigmatism. I’ll never go back to Costco’s glasses dispenser!
    Funny about Money recently posted..Time Suck: You CAN’T avoid it!My Profile

  • I would not pay that for glasses, but I would be able to buy at cost, so I wouldn’t have to! I have seen a zillion pairs of glasses over the last decade and a half, and you do truly get what you pay for. Yes, you can get a pair online for $20, but if you have a high prescription or astigmatism, the odds are that the optics are not going to be great and the quality would be like buying shoes at the Dollar Store. I have seen many people keep high quality frames for over a decade. I think investing in good eyewear is never a bad idea.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Can You Help People Who Don’t Want to Help Themselves?My Profile

  • Well, if it’s an item you’ve wanted for 8 years, sounds like a good purchase to me!
    Stockbeard recently posted..Wealth tax vs Income tax: Why rich people pay less taxes than youMy Profile

  • Lamont Cranston

    No way, I buy my glases at the dollar store, 10 pairs at a time.
    Also, if I waited 8 years for a purchase, I would have started negogiating the price 3 years ago. At $950 there was probably $400 dollars profit.
    Oh well, it’s your money, your decision.

  • CT

    They sound nice and hopefully will last a long time. I definitely wouldn’t buy from a dollar store. You get what you pay for. Quality over quantity is generally better. If you love them then you will use them.

    Are they rimless? Are they plastic or metal?