My boss once was talking about the frugality of the generation before ours, saying that, "you know, they got their shoes repaired..."
I get my shoes repaired all the time. (I didn't say this then). In fact, I am in the shoe repair place at least once every couple months. Here's my rundown on how to keep shoes maintained:
1. Only buy good quality shoes that you love and that fit perfectly (and only buy smooth leather- suede does not last). When they are still new, before you have worn them, spray them with a leather protector (spot test them first).
2. Keep those good quality shoes that you love in good condition by periodically taking them to a shoe repair place to have them cleaned, conditioned, and polished. (You can also do this yourself. There are lots of products out there, but I love the pop-up containers of wipes with leather cleaner on them. They make it so easy to clean dirty shoes, bags, and other things made of leather. The conditioning and polishing is a dirty job and I think it's worth the $5 to have someone else do it.) I like to find a small place where I actually speak to the person who is doing the repairs.
3. The heel of a shoe (especially on high-heels) will wear down and need to be replaced from time to time.
4. If your shoes are pointy, the shoe-repair guy can put taps on them to extend their life.
5. If you get a little nick or tear in the leather, this can usually be fixed.
6. Shoe repair guys can do amazing things sometimes. If your shoes have issues, take them in to the repair place and explain what the problem is, and ask if they know of any solutions. From slippery shoes to wrong-size shoes, there is often a solution to the problem.
7. I like to store my shoes in the box they came in. It protects the shoes from dirt, dust, and deformation, with the added benefit that you can stack them all in a neat little pile on a shelf or so.
8. A word on athletic shoes: shoes that are not leather, such as most running shoes, can be machine washed. I have washed many, many pairs of running shoes and haven't had a disaster yet (although I can't make any guarantees...). Just throw them in the washing machine with some detergent on a warm water cycle and when they are done, put them in a warm place, such as next to a heater, to dry. DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE DRYER.
Oh, and one last thing, I always ask what the cost of any service is before I request it to avoid any bad surprises.
Here is a link to an article by Martha Stewart titled, Tips and tricks for keeping your shoes shipshape.