17 Old-School Items That Are Cheaper and Better Than Modern Alternatives

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By Darryl Henderson

While society has come a long way with superior amenities and modern items, some are just better when they’re simple, cheaper, and old-school. Traditional is sometimes the best, after all, just like these 17 old-school items that are better than their modern equivalents.

Fountain Pens

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We all have our pen preferences, but there’s no doubt that fountain pens have a timeless elegance that can make writing a more enjoyable pastime. They’re far superior to modern ballpoint pens, and the fact they’re refillable means you’re reducing waste – and cost. Maybe don’t go back to the quill, though!

Cast Iron Cookware

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Classic cast iron cookware has the potential to last for generations, and we all know how often we ruin non-stick pans! Cast iron cookware is much better than modern pans, being “incredibly durable and long-lasting,” as Healthline reminds us, so it’ll save you significant money from having to replace your cookware constantly!

Manual Coffee Grinders

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There are so many coffee machines and grinders out there these days, but when it comes to a simple grinder, a manual is the best compared to an electric one. It doesn’t need electricity, it’s far quieter, and it’s more durable because less can go wrong! Electric versions kind of feel like a scam!

Wool Blankets

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Another old-school item that’s better than the modern alternative is the wool blanket. It offers so much more warmth and insulation compared to today’s cheaper synthetic blankets! Wool blankets are also more breathable and flame-resistant, so they’re a safer option for the home. Why are we regressing like this!? 

Safety Razors

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When you’re shaving, you want to get as close of a shave as possible, which is why safety razors—named to distinguish them from sharp folding knives, reveals GQ—will always be superior to modern razors. Not only are they better blades, but they’re also cheaper and more eco-friendly than modern alternatives.

Hand Tools

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There’s no doubt power tools are sometimes needed for large jobs, but nothing beats the old-school hand tool for precision and affordability. They don’t require electricity to run, so you’re saving on utilities, and they don’t require a hefty cost to replace. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!

Wooden Furniture

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Modern flat-pack furniture is handy when you need something cheap and quick, but wooden furniture is always going to be the better choice. It’s more durable, of higher quality, and will last far longer without the need to be repaired. It may cost more, but it’s worth the investment in the long run!

Analog Watches

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Analog watches will always have their timeless charm (pardon the pun) because they’re simply more reliable and longer-lasting than their digital counterparts. You’ll also save money on them because you need to fix them less frequently, and unlike digital watches, they’ll look good with any outfit.

Film Cameras

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Digital cameras and editing tools are convenient and impressive, no doubt, but if you’re looking for retro charm, film cameras remain the winner. They have a unique aesthetic that can’t be matched by digital formats, and they often last longer. Even today’s fancy digital filters just can’t compare!

Vinyl Records

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Audiophiles will agree that vinyl records are among the best old-school items compared to modern alternatives. As the NIH explains, vinyl records offer a depth of sound that you physically cannot get from digital music, and they also offer a more rewarding and mindful listening experience without the temptations of the shuffle feature!

Cast Iron Stoves

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Just like with cookware, cast iron stoves are another old-school item that you simply can’t beat. They’re more efficient running and long-lasting than modern heating, providing reliable heat even during a power outage, not to mention their rustic charm! Trust us–you won’t miss your modern electric stove!

Canning Jars

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Canning jars are a great option for preserving food because of their versatility and durability. They are a far better option than disposable containers in terms of waste. They’re also cheaper in the long run because they’re reusable, so what’s the point of using unsustainable options instead!?

Paperback Books

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Avid readers will know that nothing beats holding a paperback book, even though digital formats are very handy on the go. Old-school paperbacks provide a more immersive reading experience, and they’ll save you money on replacing devices or paying for the electricity to charge them. Don’t forget that charming new book smell!

Cloth Diapers

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Another old-school item that’s cheaper and better than modern versions is the cloth diaper. You can reduce environmental waste by using cloth (over 300,000 disposable diapers are sent to landfills, according to the World Economic Forum), and you’ll save a ton of money without having to constantly buy bags of disposable ones.

Cloth Napkins

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Similar to diapers (don’t mix them up, though!) is the cloth napkin, which is far more cost-effective, effective, and environmentally friendly than disposable options. They also look far prettier for more formal occasions, making us wonder why we ever switched to disposable napkins in the first place!

Wooden Toys

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Our penultimate old-school item that’s a cheaper and better alternative is wooden toys. They are far more durable—and safe—than modern plastic toys; wooden toys are also a more sustainable option and a great way to support small businesses, which often make them. Trust us; your kid will love them, too!


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Finally, bicycles are an old-school item that will never go out of style, so if you can afford to ditch your car in favor of a bike, then you absolutely should! They’re more eco-friendly, and they’ll save you a substantial amount of money on gas and car maintenance while giving you plenty of exercise and freedom to explore.

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