There is just something about a great bag. I’m pretty sure it’s because it takes ZERO effort to throw it over your shoulder and it’s something you use EVERYDAY. If I have a great bag, I’m unstoppable, it gives me a boost and while this may sound totally materialistic and superficial (and maybe it is): Carrying a great bag is just something that I LOVE. It makes me feel like I have at least one thing together when everything else (including my hair) is one.hot.mess.
I found early in my adulthood that trying to compensate for a great bag with something I found on sale, something trendy and seasonal from Target, or an “it’s ok for now bag” on a rack at a discount store awas costing me nearly as much as just biting the bullet and getting the bag I wanted. By the end of the year I had spent fifty dollars five times: once for a work bag, once for a summer bag, once for a beach bag, once for a winter bag, and then at least one ‘occasion bag’ (think going to a wedding or I need a black bag for this outfit). I was $250 in and I had nothing I loved, just a lot of clutter and a lot of ‘meh’ that propelled me right back to the “not so great bag section” every time I had somewhere to go or a few extra bucks to blow.
After realizing the dollars and cents of the situation, I just stopped. I vowed to myself I would buy one great bag a year and use it for everything (I now even throw my girls necessities into it in lieu of a diaper bag). My requirements were that it must be big enough to work for all things and versatile enough that I could grab it in my yoga pants on a Saturday, stick my laptop in it and head to work on a work day, or pair it with a dress for a special occasion.
My new solution to 'meh bags' was GREAT. I always had beautiful bags and I found that they lasted much longer than I expected (and many have lifetime warranties, no questions asked), so I could rotate them after a collecting for a few years which meant I had more than one fabulous bag.
Then I had kids….
It became hard to justify spending $200+ on a bag because there’s ALWAYS something else that should come first. And rightly so, what I wanted ended up last on the list. As a result, I have implemented the following and each year, no if’s, ands or but’s about it: I get a new bag for fifty dollars or less.
It’s really simple. How annoying are utilities? Really annoying. Of course we have to pay them but paying them on time doesn’t count towards your credit score (which I always thought was stupid) and you can’t even see the majority of stuff you pay for. For instance, trash pick-up, sure it’s good when you need your trash to be taken away and it would be ridiculous to opt for something else in lieu of trash pick-up... but if you told me I could have something fun (like a new bag) or my trash picked up….I’d legitimately give the fun thing a second thought knowing full well that it would be a horrible, irresponsible decision.
There's lots of things we pay for everyday in this 'not so fun but totally necessary category': Trash pick-up, gas, electric, internet, cell Phones, water, groceries etc. All things we have to pay for, not one of them I would consider 'fun'. My simple trick? I pay these not so fun payments on a rewards credit card – then pay it off. Each time I make a purchase (payment), I get points. At the end of the year – I have enough points to put towards a GREAT bag (which is fun) at a price point I don’t feel bad about. Additionally, many cards will also show you online how you spend your money (broad categories) so it allows you to identify trends that you may not have been aware of and areas where you can cut down. It also allows you to time your payments at the time of month that works best for you, ultimately, you get an extra thirty days at zero interest.
Now, you can do much more with this than just buy designer handbags. You can also take those rewards dollars an apply them to just about anything: home and garden, apparel, electronics, airfare, etc. You can even turn some of them into dollars to put towards you balance that month…but that’s not fun so I pretend like it’s not an option.
So here are the long awaited simple details on my purchase:
I had $300 in rewards dollars. I knew what bag I wanted and I knew they had it at Macy’s. So I ordered Macy’s gift cards, they arrived at my house 4 days later. I waited for an online sale that included that magical bag and once one popped up I ordered it. Because it was on sale I could afford to get a wallet too (that was also on sale).
So the moral of the story is: If you simply leverage the resources around you and put a little effort in the management of the "stuff" you have to do anyways, it can pay off. In my case it came in the form of a new Kate Spade bag and wallet for forty bucks.
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