Some of us can’t fathom giving away our bags, even if we don’t use them. But this week’s confessional comes from an Army wife to a First Sergeant that has served and defended our country for 30+ years who loves designer bags and whose husband has treated her to some beautiful Chanel bags when leaving and returning from deployment. She believes that owning too many bags and keeping bags she isn’t using is a waste of hard earned money. The taboo topic? She does own an LV dupe that she uses for travel in case anyone tries to steal it she won’t feel as upset. Take a peek into the handbag habits of this week’s confessor below!

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The Basics

Age: 45
Gender Identity: Female
Race: Hispanic
Location: San Antonio, TX
Occupation: Business Consultant/Project Manager
Industry: Home Lending (for a nation-wide Financial Institution)
Salary: $165,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? No.

How many bags do you own? 16 Luxury Handbags

How much is your collection worth? $31,600

What is your most expensive bag? Chanel Large Shopping Fluffy CC in Black Lambskin (A98770/Y61382), valued $4,000.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? In my luxury handbag collection I have 6 Chanel pieces (2 handbags, 2 cross-body, and 2 WOCs), 4 Louis Vuitton (2 all leather, 2 signature LV canvas), 2 Gucci handbags, 1 Prada, and 3 Valentino.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? About 28 years ago when I was in high school, Liz Claiborne handbags were all the rage, then came Dooney and Bourke. For my high school graduation gift my parents purchased me a Dooney and Bourke equestrian style handbag with the matching wallet in a beautiful pebble green leather. I would see a few other girls in school carry that style my senior year and I would dream of owning it one day.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? My Chanel Large Shopping Fluffy CC in black lambskin leather holds the most sentimental value since it was a special gift from my husband for our 2nd wedding anniversary since we were spending it apart because he was on military orders for his 3rd deployment.

My husband has served in the US Army reserves for over 30 years and when we married, he said he always wanted one last hurrah to serve on another mission before he would retire. So with the extra income he was earning for being deployed, he granted my wish and purchased my very first handbag that began my Chanel collection, and after that I was hooked. I absolutely loved the size of it and it came with a pretty front flap pocket with the CC turn lock and a backside pocket. My favorite feature is the strap with a hook to clip my car keys on. I love it when I find handbags with that tiny little detail.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Yes, I think it’s both. I do notice a difference in treatment when I walk into some high end stores, but most especially in a small mom and pop designer store in my home town that is located in a rather affluent ‘old money’ community. When I make a shopping trip and happen to be using one of my Chanel bags I do notice the sales associates are more attentive and helpful.

Perception – I do believe it could be both good and bad. Good in a sense that some can think I’m doing well for myself to afford a luxury handbag, or that if I’m shopping in a high end store or boutique the staff will perceive I can afford to shop there if I’m carrying a designer bag. It may be bad because some may perceive I’m irresponsible with my money because I choose to spend it on expensive designer goods. But they don’t understand how I justify my purchase(s), or know my financial status.

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? I will purchase a new handbag about 1 – 2 times a year.

Which stores do you frequent the most? Neiman Marcus, SAKS, Nordstrom. In San Antonio I only have a Neiman’s that carries Chanel and LV, SAKS that carries LV only, therefore if I’m looking for anything in particular I have to reach out to the sales associates I have built relationships with at the Chanel Boutiques in California and Vegas, and a SAKS personal shopper in Virginia.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? I have not purchased a second hand bag. It’s not to say that I won’t one day if there is a particular style I’m looking for that I wasn’t able to purchase when it originally came out.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Yes, absolutely. Many times I will sell them to friends and family because they know I take very good care of them and they don’t show a lot of wear. They will always tell me to inform them first if and when I decide to sell the bag so they can purchase it. I’m able to earn more money off the bag in this manner. I typically will research what the online consignment shops are selling the same bag (in excellent condition) for and I will reduce it by about $100. I’ve taken a couple LV and Gucci handbags to a local consignment shop that works with me to get the amount I want for the handbag rather than only getting the 40% or 50% commission.

It’s all about cost per wear. If I haven’t used the bag in over a year then I typically sell it. There is no sense in keeping something just so it can remain in my collection. To me that’s a waste of my own hard earned money. There are always newer and nicer designs that come out every season. If one appeals to me that can replace one I currently have because I prefer the color or size so I can fit a bit more in it, then I will absolutely sell one to use those funds to apply to a newer handbag. I recently utilized The Real Real consignment since they have a local representative that comes to your home to pick up the merchandise and ship it to the main store. It was by far more convenient then me trying to sell it online myself.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? I think many times it can be tempting because of the handbag sales ads featured in the magazines. I don’t purchase bags based on trend. It has to be functional for me. I’ve learned thru the years I love a one strap hobo style bag or a cross body with plenty of room for my wallet, keys, sunglasses and necessities. If stray away from these styles, the handbags get stored away until it’s eventually sold. I’ve learned the style that works best for me and I don’t steer away from that to avoid spending money on something I won’t love or get a good cost per wear use.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? I never did until I began my collection of Chanel’s, and over time I’ve learned which ones I won’t get great resale value from like Gucci or Valentino. These handbags tend to go on sale, so my opinion is that I can’t expect to get anything close to what I purchased it for when it was 40% off. I’ve learned this as I’ve tried to consign these pieces or research them thru the online consignment shops. Chanel and LV, these never go on sale, therefore their value holds much better, and every year the prices increase.

When my husband returned from his deployment, his Christmas gift to me was another beautiful Chanel caviar leather beige with black trim handbag and double CC on the front that I can double the strap or use as a cross-body. He purchased it for $3,200. My Neiman’s SA informed me the other day that bag has now increased to $4,000, and it’s not even considered a classic style. From what I’ve learned/heard, some may sell for more than the original price if there is demand or desire for a particular style.

Who influences your buying decisions? Honestly, it would by myself if I spot a new style I like, along with the help of my sales associates.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? ABSOLUTELY!!! They keep me advised of what has arrived. Especially if they know I’m looking for something in particular. Chanel is an egg hunt. Literally. I’ve learned I need to build relationships with SA’s on my travels because it’s rare for 2 stores to purchase the same thing. Neiman’s, Saks, Bergdorf and the Chanel boutiques all carry something different. Whether it’s a handbag, shoes, or jewelry, I have to ask my sales associate what they received. The Chanel boutique may not receive that bag in the same color you saw it in at Neiman’s, or even the style for that matter. I have one Chanel boutique associate in California, one in Nevada, a SA here at Neiman’s San Antonio, one in Bergdorf’s, and one SAKS associate in Virginia.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? On 2 occasions I’ve purchased an LV as retail therapy due to my stressful job. My other bags I’ve enjoyed shopping for them because they were Christmas, birthday or anniversary gifts from my husband, a birthday gift for myself, or my reward for receiving my annual bonus in which I used a portion of it for a handbag after I paid off certain bills or expenses we needed to make for the house.

I do love shopping for things that are different, or that I won’t see everyone having the same thing as me. Whether it be a bag, shoes, jewelry and even perfume. Honestly this is what started my appreciation for Chanel after my first handbag. I learned how exclusive most items are, and can be hard to find. If you see something you really like, you gotta get it before it’s gone. This is why my sales associates are instrumental. I like having a Chanel bag that I won’t see a ton of people with, especially if it’s not a classic. I love my LV’s, however so many people may have the same bag as me especially if it’s an LV signature canvas. That’s why I sold a couple of my bags to purchase an all leather Pontheiu style (in a army green shade of course), and my husband purchased for my birthday a navy leather Melie with red accent trim (‘very American!’ as my husband says). The odds of me seeing someone here carrying the same all leather LV handbag as myself is very very slim.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? I can’t say that I have.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? Myself and my husband for the ones he’s gifted to me. Because he is usually busy with his military obligations when he is home or even away, many times he will have me pick something out that my sales associates send me they have in stock to make it easier for him.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Sometimes I do set aside one if I’ve happened to take advantage of a promo the store offered for 0% financing at 6 or 12 months. If I sold a bag I will deposit that income and then save for a few months till I have the funds. I will purchase it using one of my dept store cards to earn points, and then pay it off within a few days. The average monthly budget would be about $350 if I did an interest free promo since I typically will pay for at least half of the bag up front.

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? When I was in high school I recall purchasing a counterfeit LV at a flea market. Since this is a confessional, I will admit to having one now (not accounted for in my handbag collection total), and I say this because I want to call this out to those reading as a precaution. I was looking for a crossbody bag I could utilize for vacations only that could fit my necessities and if in case I was mugged or the bag was lost I would not be devastated. And again cost per wear factor played a part if I would only use it one or twice a year.

I’ve learned there are bags called ‘clones’. I was sold an LV Lorette in which looks and feels like the exact same thing. I can’t even tell the difference. Even my Neiman’s SA thought it was real. The seller informed me she had a client a few years ago that would buy these LV clones, then after a few months she would tire of it and take it to a pawn shop and get all her money back if not more because they were fooled into thinking it was an authentic LV. Apparently this client did it several times, until the ‘Clone’ seller stopped selling bags to her because she knew this was totally wrong. Please use caution if you ever consider purchasing one online or at a pawnshop. They are so well made it’s scary.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? No never. He knows what I purchase. I manage the finances so he knows I will never put us in a position where we can’t pay bills. I keep a monthly budget sheet to track all our income and expenses so he can easily see what goes where.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Craziest thing regarding affordability would be to save on sales tax.

Yep, I admit it.

Hey, Chanel and LV never goes on sale so if I can save a little chunk of change I sure as heck will do it. If I’m shopping for a bag and happen to have an upcoming trip, or sometimes it’s my souvenir from a trip I take, I will look to see if they have an LV or Chanel store and if so, then I will research what the sales tax is in that state, island or country. CA, FL and VA have a lower sales tax than TX and Aruba has a 3% tax. I’ve purchased LV bags or accessories in California, Aruba and Virginia during trips, and my all time craziest one was on an Eastern Caribbean cruise. St. Thomas was one of the ports that had an LV shop and when I researched the island there was NO sales tax. They had just come out with the LV Retiro style in the LV canvas with Poppy colored leather trim. I called customer service and asked them if the boutique on the island had the bag. They said they will have it for you the day you arrive on the island. Sure enough, the day before we left for the trip the associate from the island boutique called to tell me she got it in and confirmed the day we would be in port. She said, ‘I will have it ready. Go do all your excursions and make this your last stop before you head back to the ship so you don’t have to worry about carrying it around.’ My husband and I did just that. I saved probably a good $200, but it was at least something.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? No, and this is my own personal justification.

I like nice things and because I have the means to purchase them while I can I will. If I didn’t sell many of the bags I’ve owned in the past to purchase a new one and just acquired and acquired more, then yes, I would totally feel I have an issue. I recently did a search for an LV bag I was considering buying and came across a review on YouTube, which then led me to find women with YouTube channels where they show all these luxury designer bags and accessories they purchase and do box unveilings for their new treasures, then they do yearly videos of the bags they purchased, how they store them and so on and so forth. If they sell some off I guess to buy new ones that’s great, but some looked to keep quite a bit of them.

Maybe I’m delusional, but seeing all the video clips especially from one particular person was enough to make me think I’m not the one with a problem. Personally, I can’t imagine having more than 25 – 30 handbags or more at a time. My cost per wear rationale would totally be off.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I love designer shoes, and when I can find a pair of Valentino, Stuart Weitzman, Choo, Gucci or Chanel on sale 40% or more I feel like I’ve struck gold.

I love being an Army wife to a First Sergeant that has served and defended our country for 30+ years. We both found love later in life and he spoils me when he can. Before we met he was used to only traveling for the military here in the US or abroad, and wasn’t accustomed to taking annual vacations. I on the other hand have always loved to travel, so every year I would make it appoint to visit someplace new. My husband is a huge beach lover so his idea of a vacation prior to meeting me was heading down to the Texas coast and literally camping out on the beach. That was the only beach or coast line he was ever exposed to (Bless His Heart).

I’m so appreciative for all he does for me that it’s truly become my passion to plan an awesome vacation for him every year. I enjoy planning an annual 10 – 14 day vacation to different islands so he can experience a new culture, lay out on the beach all day and smoke his cigars. Before we leave we collect a bag of sand from the beach and when we return home we add it to the other layers and layers of sands from other islands we keep in a tall apothecary jar. It’s beautiful to see the different colored layers of sand from our travels. The trip can be expensive, but that’s why I save for it all year long because he deserves it.

Anything else you would like to include? My rule is to pay myself first. I invest in both of my 401K and IRA retirement accounts every paycheck, several savings accounts, I own a free and clear rental property and I save that money in a separate account that I will touch on occasion. I keep an additional savings account where I set aside money for our annual vacation because my husband deserves a good few weeks off every year to unwind from his FT job and his military obligations. We have not been blessed with children as of yet and our household mtg/expenses are extremely reasonable. If one day God willing we are blessed to start a family and/or purchase a larger home, my handbag indulgences will totally be decreased.

Right now while I have the means to afford these beautiful handbags and finding designer shoes on sale or indulging on an occasional Chanel piece of jewelry or pair of shoes, I will. Hopefully one day I will be able to pass down my sentimental bags to my children.

Cozy Season

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