We grew up frugal. Not to the point of obsession, but to the point of a balanced family budget, including some savings. Dad was career Army and in those days, debt was a career-ender. We always had what we needed, but not always what we wanted, which is fine because kids always want everything. Growing up was fun. Whether we lived on or off post, there was usually a wooded area or pond nearby where we could learn and play simultaneously.
So what does this have to do with the title? Part of our basic civility training as children was that we did not 'appear' in the morning before we had brushed our hair and teeth, washed our faces (easy to fake!) and put on our socks and shoes. No fancy slippers, just socks and usually Keds. We could still be in our pajamas. Other than flip-flops, if we appeared without socks, we were sent back to our rooms for them.
So what's the big deal about socks? The right socks cushion your feet and absorb perspiration. Not only does this help keep your feet in shape (Dad was infantry), and reduce shoe odor, but can help extend the life of your shoes. Ahhh, here's the frugal part!
Have you ever thrown out a pair of otherwise OK shoes due to their odor? Do your shoes seem to melt after several wears, to the point you either sideline them or get rid of them? Do you buy cheap shoes because of this problem? Maybe it's not just the shoes. My feet are shoe-destroyers. If I don't wear socks or stockings the leather seems to wilt. I have a few pairs of shoes that are more than 20 years old. I can still wear them, especially a really nice pair of Timberline moccasins with vibram soles, in part because I always have worn socks with them.
What's your shoe behavior? Buy cheap and toss or buy better and take care of them? How about socks? My default footwear includes a pair of Smartwool socks and Teva sandals, year round. I purchase both at Sierra Trading Post. Yes, I signed up for the annoying e-mails, but they often include notices of extra savings. I pay about $5 a pair for what are normally $18 socks. I usually buy the Teva sandals when they are $20 or less. I can toss them in the washer (not the dryer!) when they get filthy and they're ready to go after a few hours of air drying. I wear them out -- literally wear the treads to nubs.
I buy the best boots I can afford from STP. Right now I'm wearing Lowa's that cost me less than $70 on special, but were originally several hundred. These have lasted 3 years thus far, and will probably outlive me, in part because I wear socks with every use.
Even good socks are cheap when compared to the cost of quality shoes and boots. You can toss them if they get a hole or wear excessively in one spot. Don't stop wearing socks due to their cost. They'll save you and your feet a bundle in the long run. Pun intended!