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I know people with a specific habit of buying really good stuff, high end tools, high end wine, clothes, bicycles, sports equipment, etc, but rarely using them. They'll spend tons of money on the good high quality stuff but will almost always use cheaper equipment, cheaper clothes, cheaper tools, etc, only bringing out the good stuff for special occasions, as though it's vital to them to always have the good stuff but not to use it lest they scuff it up or something.

Is there a term to describe this sort of habit? I've been looking for one for years and never found something that really resonates. Frugal seems close but doesn't quite get the part about buying the expensive stuff and not using it.

Thoughts?

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  • @Lambie Plural of nouveau was nouveaux when I went to school.
    – WS2
    Dec 31, 2019 at 20:43
  • @WS2 Yes, it was a lapsus: nouveaux, and I should be ashamed as I actually speak French fluently.
    – Lambie
    Dec 31, 2019 at 22:35
  • Those people are nouveau(x) riche(s). Old money doesn't do that.
    – Lambie
    Dec 31, 2019 at 22:35
  • Possibly relevant - imgflip.com/i/tiq3q
    – Phil Sweet
    Jan 1, 2020 at 1:59

3 Answers 3

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They have good stuff that’s too good to use.

A few examples from gaming(!!!). See article at Too Awesome to Use which has a slightly relevant quote...

"We are certainly in great need," answered Caspian. "But it is hard to be sure we are at our greatest. Supposing there came an even worse need and we had already used it?" "By that argument," said Nikabrik, "your Majesty will never use it until it is too late."
— C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

and here on Reddit re. too good to use.

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  • 1
    I remember a Bible expositor (Bob Mumford) once saying "If your Bible's too good to make notes in, throw it away and get another one." Capital B because of association: what's in it and Whose teachings, not because of the paper and glue. Dec 31, 2019 at 17:01
  • 1
    Interesting take that pretty much nails at least the feeling of what I'm looking for. I wonder if there is an older phrase perhaps even a word in a different language for this concept. Jan 1, 2020 at 16:10
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Prudence?

A clue is in your words "usually choosing to use cheap things", "buying good things ... and rarely using them". You acknowledge that these people do use their good things on some occasions. If these are special occasions where using good things is appropriate, then what they are doing may be termed "keeping them for best" or "saving them for best". That might well apply to clothes, wine, dinnerware etc..

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"Hoarding" comes close to what you want, but probably not close enough. It certainly implies storing away items, usually valuable ones. Where it fails is that hoarding doesn't imply that the items are being kept for use on special occasions; most hoarders wouldn't consider ever bringing out any of their hoard so that it could be seen by others.

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