In 2014, I bought my first Chanel bag for $4,900 plus tax. The experience was memorable. I remember entering the beautifully lit store, with sweet smells and smiling salespeople. It was, from the start, a very pleasant experience. I gazed at the wide wall of bags, all perfectly organized by shape, size and color, and finally chose the one I wanted: the white caviar leather 2.55 Chanel.
“A classic,” the salesperson said as she slid on her black velvet gloves and proceeded to show me the craftsmanship and features of the bag, the pockets that would hold all my essentials and the different ways the bag could be worn.
Without hesitation, I said, “I’ll take it.” Shortly after that, my new Chanel was boxed and bagged, adorned beautifully with the signature white Chanel flower. After finishing a few remaining sips of my perfectly chilled sparkling water (compliments of the store), I excitedly left. But was my splurge a mistake?
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I now had my first Chanel bag, but I also had $4,900 plus tax in credit card debt. When I got back to my not-so-brightly lit and not-so-sweet-smelling home, with no one around to reassure me, reality kicked in. Could I afford this purchase? Was I in way over my head? Did I need the bag?
Do You Have the Money?
In truth, yes. I had the money, and I wanted the bag for a long time — hell, I worked really hard and I deserved it. I simply had buyer’s remorse. We all go through it at some point or another; we want something expensive and, at times, the purchase can be very hard to justify. Sometimes we simply can’t afford it, and other times we can afford it but still battle with the question of needing it versus wanting it.
I eventually felt good about my decision for one reason: The splurge helped me understand the value of a dollar, which in turn helped me get both my money and my mind right.
Thinking It Over
When should you buy and when should you save? Though there’s an obvious time to save (when there’s no money to spend), it’s not always a simple science.
If I want to make a frivolous purchase, I base my decision on the amount of time I have wanted it. Is this a fleeting want or one that I truly want to see through? The ones that aren’t fleeting, I generally appreciate more, and when I make the eventual purchases, they don’t turn into buyer’s remorse.
What Does Your Splurge Really Cost?
I then analyze what the payment for the item will be, because after I move forward with the purchase, I might continue to see that charge on my credit card bill for months. Will I still appreciate that splurge and enjoy it just as much as I did when I initially swiped my card?
What Will Your Finances Look Like After the Purchase?
Finally, I consider the affordability of it. Can I afford it today and still have money to potentially buy other items? Although having a beautiful Chanel bag is amazing, it’s definitely less so if the bag is only going to hold an empty wallet. In this particular case, I devoted $500 per month to credit card payments that had zero percent interest for 12 months. Every time I paid my $500, I remembered how much I wanted the bag and enjoyed the bag, and was kindly reminded that this couldn’t be a regular occurrence.
Cutting Back Elsewhere
By making that purchase, I truly appreciated the hours of hard work and hustle I had to put in each week to make that money. It also made me realize that if I wanted to have nice things like that bag and still maintain my savings, I needed to cut down in other places. If I spent thousands on a bag, I had to spend much, much less on clothing, for instance — something I was OK with, considering that styles change, sizes fluctuate and clothing can wear. To this day, with much more money in my bank account, I still live by the same rule. I occasionally buy the expensive dress or business attire, but for the most part, you can find me in H&M, Zara and other less expensive clothing stores.
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If I was going to invest in a luxury product, I wanted to make sure it would last me a lifetime. And, yes, a Chanel bag is an investment. Not like a house — it’s more like a boat or a car. I spent thousands on the “name,” but I also spent those thousands on the quality and craftsmanship of the product. It might not make me money over time, but if I take care of it, it will take care of me. The bag could last me decades, allowing me to wear it over and over again. Plus, if I sell it, I will be able to recoup a certain amount because of the quality and timeless nature of the product. The same “investment purchase” I made in 2014 is still paying me back every day that I continue to wear it.
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