Every shopper faces the familiar question of when to splurge and why.
Not being a model of self-restraint, I’m hardly a role model on this topic, but I’ve given it considerable thought.
Here’s what I’ve surmised about when it is appropriate to pay a little or a lot extra:
Splurges should be special. That means not daily or weekly, but rare. By definition you are going above and beyond with a splurge. If this is a regular occurrence you’re probably just out of control.
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• Need it. This is that category of purchase you abhor. You need a pair of khaki pants for a uniform. You have to buy a black blazer for your business meetings. You need to buy this or that for conformity’s sake, maybe a Polo shirt or red dress that’s required or strongly suggested for an event where people are dressing alike. If you buy something disposable that you’ll never wear again, guess what? You’ll probably never wear it again. So instead of grousing and grabbing the first thing that’s vaguely tolerable, consider making an investment. Just because it’s mandatory doesn’t mean it has to be perfunctory.
• Desire. This is a very large category of wish list items that is ever expanding. So many wants, so little cash. My suggestion is that splurges of desire should not be impetuous. You see it, you want it, but you should wait to buy it. Instant gratification can be a drug. It clouds your judgment. Interrogate yourself before you buy it. Do you already have something to wear with it? Shoes, accessories? Do you have anything that looks like it already in your closet? How many items in the same category as this object of desire do you own that you don’t wear? If you had to get rid of something you own to make room for it in your closet what would that be? Where would you wear it, and what could you wear that you already own?
• Wardrobe staples. Go for quality not quantity. If you buy things that don’t completely satisfy you, you’re always on the hunt for something else. I have a friend who has a denim addiction. She has a stack of more than 100 pairs of jeans. If you aim for the best fit and the best quality, you’ll find that a few clever splurges will save you money – and closet space – in the long run.
• Unicorns. Into every shopper’s life an unexpected surprise will come. This will either become the legendary item that elicits hundreds of compliments for years to come or the weird aqua albatross in the closet you’ll regret for years to come. This cannot always be predicted. It helps if you can imagine yourself wearing it somewhere specific in the near future. Now ask all the desire questions from above. And just be sure that your love for said item is unequivocal.
• Status item. A class of splurge requires careful planning, and this is the status item. The delicate Tiffany & Co. necklace, Prada sunglasses, Cartier watch, Gucci handbag, Jimmy Choo shoe. Most of us have some treasure we’ve been coveting, and this is not to be entered lightly. Do your research. Pay in cash. This is the type of item that should be purchased outright, not by installments. If you can’t afford it, the time is not right. Keep it on your dream board at Pinterest or tape a photo by your desk, but don’t buy it just because. Buy it when you’ve earned it, that’s what a splurge is really all about.