Before we were married my soon-to-be-husband and I had an argument when I purchased a pair of jeans that were $150. This isn’t a revolutionary argument in the world of mates. In fact, it is pretty cliched.
At the time I was irritated at his uncharacteristic outburst about my purchase. And ashamed because I knew he was right: I shouldn’t have bought the jeans. Not because they were so expensive but because at the time I a) didn’t have a job and b) we had a wedding to pay for and c) did I mention I was unemployed at the time?
On a side note my husband has a great acceptance for the cost of electronics, particularly from Apple, fine dining and jewelery but not so much on the clothing front. He bought me a winter coat one year from Banana Republic for my birthday. We shopped for it together and he got very quiet when looking at the $200 price tag. $200 for a coat? Crazy. But $2000 for a laptop is de rigueur.
$150 for jeans was ridiculous in his mind and doubly ridiculous because I didn’t have a job. Weren’t there $50 jeans at Walmart?
Yes, there are $50 jeans out there. And no, I do not want to wear them. I bought some American Eagle jeans to see me through my post-baby days. I wore them a lot and they quickly went nappy and fuzzy in the thigh area. They were a dark rinse and never stopped leaving dye marks on my nails. They stretched out quickly and I had to wear them with a belt after a few hours. I was happy to send them to donation once they were too big. I would rather just own one pair of jeans I feel great in, that fit and are of good quality, than three pairs of jeans I feel fugly in.
Quite a few friends read this blog and in my daily life I get interesting reactions to it. People are embarrassed to talk about shopping in front of me, or spending, or acquiring things. And I realize at first glance it may appear that I’m not interested in those things anymore. But I am. Probably more so now.
While I have tossed the items we don’t use or wear I am quite interested in only acquiring quality items in the future. I recently purchased two sweaters. I could’ve spent $30 on each of them, bought acrylic and itched my way through one winter before they fell apart. Instead I went with natural fibers that will hold up and spent an average of $80 on each of them. That was $80 after discount because they were on sale but I didn’t find this out until I went to the cash register. I would have bought them at the regular price which is a mantra I am trying to live by. A good deal is no deal if you end up never wearing it.
I came across this post at Get Rich Slowly the other day that reiterated this. As J.D. Roth writes, cheap things you never use are no bargain. There is value in spending money on what you actually use. Like J.D., I feel that the $176 I pay each month for Crossfit is value because I go to the workouts and I love them. I feel like I am in the best shape I have been in since I was seeing a personal trainer three times a week. My son’s $14 a month membership at the YMCA is not a good value because he naps during class times so we miss them. I am going to cancel the membership this week. If his nap time changes, as I am sure it will, I’ll consider renewing the membership.
How do you value shop and not get swayed by sale signs?
Here’s my other problem with bargain shopping in stores: I lose my focus. If I go into a store I am more likely to buy things I wasn’t intending to buy or feel pressured into buying things that aren’t quite right. That’s why I do most of my shopping online these days. I like using things like google shopping app to compare prices from different retailers and review customer feedback. I find it far easier to find things that work for me and my price point online than in stores.
My other trick is that I often order clothing in multiple sizes and styles, try it on at home, and then return whatever isn’t perfect. So many online retailers offer free returns these days so it doesn’t cost me anything to order, try on and then return. When I try clothing on at home I can also test it out with my existing wardrobe and find out if it is going to be a value buy for me. Win, win, win.
Value for items can be hard to understand before you actually own them. We initially bought a $40 baby monitor and quickly found out why it was $40. It was difficult to differentiate the static from any noise my son would make. My husband then went out and bought a $200 baby monitor. It was, as expected, quite fancy and I could play my iPod on it. I told him to return it because $200 was too much. So what monitor did we settle on? None. We live in an 1100 square foot condo. Our son’s room is right next to ours. If he is cooing and making nice noises we don’t really hear it. If he is upset we hear him just fine without a monitor.
Sometimes it makes sense to spend more and sometimes it makes sense to spend nothing.