I've always wanted to buy a Japanese wet stone but I've never had the $$$ available. After all this, I want to go buy more knives.
Naniwa stones aren't THAT expensive. Look on the straight razor sites and on eBay. The highest grits cost like $80 or $100, and lower grit costs $30ish.http://www.straightrazordesigns.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=37
it's $90 for a 3000/8000 grit combo stone.
Of course these are synthetic. If you're talking about JNAT, yeah you're gonna be shelling some cash out; mayhaps a Coticule instead, though I would probably go for a JNAT (only because I don't have the skill to take full advantage of a Coticule).
I learned early on that buying quality tools is more economical than buying cheap ones.
I didn't. My parents are full in the Wal-Mart scam, buy the cheapest crap they can (if it looks the same, it's the same thing), except for my mom's Keureg coffee machine (so-so coffee, expensive machine; I recommended a $40 Bordin french press and a $20 grinder instead of this $200 monster) and the endless amounts of organic Whole Foods fruit she juices in $60 machines that break every 3 months (I recommend a $200 juice machine, and what do they do? Spend $200/year on machines that keep breaking).
I've turned into the rich boy of the family, and they complain I get paid like a pauper but try to live like a king. So far I have a $450 bicycle (mom just got another $60 Wal-Mart bike; I need to buy chain lube), $150 pair of Bellville Boots, $100 pair of New Balance shoes, hell I spent $50 on a cast iron tea pot.... The bike I can sell for $200-ish in a few years if I want a new one, and I'll keep it well maintained (might be able to get $350; I got it on clearance, it's $600 normally and $850 MSRP). The boots will probably last forever, and the shoes... every pair of shoes my parents ever bought me had the soles falling off by now, but they were canvas etc and I've been going with leather lately (and polishing the damn things at least once a month).
I spend a lot of money to avoid the stupid revolving door syndrome. Sometimes I spend a little more to satisfy a desire for a little luxury (my boots aren't exactly baseline, either; they're Belleville 770). When I started buying expensive toys, I suddenly stopped living paycheck to paycheck.
going out and dropping a wad of cash on a "name brand", professional-grade knife isn't necessary at all. I totally agree that there's "pennywise and pound foolish" - that cheap tools will last for the job and good tools last a lifetime - but I also believe you rapidly hit a point of diminishing returns when you buy professional equipment for home use.
I do like my Japanese (and Swedish!) steel, though.