By now, we have all heard of the core principles of being good with money: cut costs, save more, and separate your needs from your wants. These financial fundamentals are usually echoed to us by relatives, teachers, banking professionals, or whomever the most popular financial guru is at the given moment. They all parrot the same points, constantly reminding us of the absolute importance of keeping our financial life in order. Of course, I do agree with this advice, but still, I have always felt that they all omit one equally meaningful point: meeting our needs keeps us alive but securing our wants helps make our lives more enjoyable.

These wants could be as modest as wanting enough outdoor space to grow a vegetable garden or as exorbitant and fanciful as a too-expensive limited-edition handbag. No matter the caliber of our desires, obtaining them helps us feel more fulfilled in some way and it is for this very reason that I find it important to not only focus on how we spend our money but on what factors about a purchase we should consider long before pulling the trigger and handing over our credit card information. This post isn’t about me wagging my finger and telling you what to do with your own money, but it is about a few things I think we could all stand to remember the next time we are planning out a budget for our next purchase. 

Everyday vs Special Occasion

While still in the planning stage we should first and foremost know if this new bag is intended to be an everyday bag or one reserved for special occasions. Some purse lovers prefer to spend more on special pieces while others do so on their handy dandy daily shopping tote, but thinking a step beyond “It’s cute and I want it,” will help us realistically judge how often we will actually use the bag and in turn, help us determine how much we are willing to pay for it.

Here’s an example: I love the look of high-end beach bags but when I consider the fact that (A.) I live in a land-locked area and (B.) I can’t swim and feel uncomfortable around large bodies of water, I remember that I don’t hang out on the beach more than once a year. As beautiful as I find the Loewe Basket Bag, I simply can’t justify the cost and therefore, have a lower budget for a beach bag than I do a travel carry-all that I would use much more frequently. So for now, I will stick to a super cute and affordable Cult Gaia bag.

Does it Fit Your Personal Style (and for How Many Years to Come?)

Growth is a part of life. We all go through periods of change where we outgrow certain things in favor of others and this change happens on all levels ﹘ physically, mentally, emotionally ﹘ but it also happens stylistically, so before deciding how many funds to allocate towards something we are drooling over, we need to be able to recognize if the style of the bag actually fits our personal style not just right now but also for many years to come. It’s probably better to have a lower budget for something that you would deem a novelty purchase.

Seriously, take it from someone who went from a colorful punk aesthetic to dreamy boho hippie then to corporate power dressing all in under ten years (UGH.)  Thankfully, despite my flip-flopping between metal chains, fringe, and patent leather, I could always find certain aspects of my style that remained consistent over time and have now become the nonnegotiables I look for when picking out my next designer piece. Try to take a moment to think deeply about your own style so any big purchase you make is guaranteed to be one that you can carry through life.

Resale Value

Sometimes the allure of the trendy novelty purchase is just too strong and we ignore the last point and just buy it anyway. Don’t worry, we have all done it, but it is always a bit of a bummer when we find out we don’t love a purchase as much as we thought we would. The new-handbag high wears off and we find ourselves trying to work it into outfits enough times before finally swallowing the bitter pill of realization that what we once obsessed over doesn’t really fit us. We are then left with three options: keep it for closet display, pass it on to someone we love, or sell it. And finally getting to the point of selling something is never fun (but it can be easy if you are selling one of these hot resale market items.) 

Case in point: it took me ten years to finally sell a pair of Christian Louboutin heels that I had only worn twice. Sure, I got a good enough deal because the rouge enamel had barely rubbed off, but I still lost a good chunk of money on something that I had previously been convinced would make me look like a leggy A-lister. Trust me, it is always a good idea to think about the potential resale value of something you are building a budget for IF you are the type that would be willing to potentially sell it.

Hopefully, some of these points pop into your mind next time you are thinking about how to budget for your next purse purchase. Remember, budgeting shouldn’t be about restricting yourself just to take the fun out of it but about how you can best manage the weight of the expense so you can feel confident about your buying decision when it’s finally time to click ‘Add To Cart.’

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