Sometimes Coupon Queens can get sucked into a trap of thinking the lower the price, the better the deal. Yes, it is great to get things for FREE or cheap! However, it pays to look at the “cost per use” of certain purchases. Some things you buy, you want to have for a while, and it does pay off in the long run to invest in quality. Let’s look at an example.
After Christmas, I was looking for a new winter dress coat. My old winter coat had served me well for six years, but was looking worn and beginning to detract from (rather than enhance) my professional appearance. Looking at my budget, I decided that I would be willing to pay up to $150 for new classically-styled winter coat, since I plan to wear it for five to six years. Rather than go to the mall and find a mediocre coat marked down on clearance for $50 or $60, I decided to hold out for a real gem of a coat. Several weeks into my search, I found what I was looking for on the discount designer website, Ideeli. I purchased a gorgeous red wool Calvin Klein coat, originally $350, for $120 delivered. I came in $30 under budget and purchased a great quality coat that I receive plenty of compliments on!
This is an example of what I refer to as “Buying Up”. When I shop at designer outlet stores or on-line, I can buy great quality clothes, shoes, and jewelry that I would normally not be able to afford, and still stay within my budget. I can look like a million bucks, while saving 50 to 90% off of the retail price! How do you know when should you invest by “Buying Up” on an item?
First, consider the cost per use. Let’s consider my red Calvin Klein coat. If I wear it every winter (November through February) for the next six years, three times per week, my cost per use for the coat is less than 42 cents! ($20 per year/ 48 wears per winter) If the $60 coat only lasted me two years, because it’s cheaply made, my cost per use would be 63 cents. (And it certainly wouldn’t make me look like a million bucks, like the red Calvin Klein coat!)
Second, if you’re going to spend more, make sure it is an item of quality. Just because something has a fancy brand name doesn’t necessarily mean the item is well-made. If you’re buying on-line, make sure you’re buying a brand name that you know is high quality.
Third, invest in classics, not trends. Here are the items that I personally have invested in within the last year: dress coat, leather jacket, classic watch, cashmere sweater, and a gray sheath dress for work. All of these items I will wear for multiple years and many occasions. Look for classic designs and colors. Orange may be in style this year, out the next. I’m not against trying out the trends - I just don’t drop a lot of cash on them. Floral print shirts are in style this spring, but I think they’ll be a passing fad. So I picked one up at Old Navy for $12.
Lastly, if you are going to invest in an item, make sure you LOVE it!! If you are feeling lukewarm or wishy-washy AT ALL about the purchase you’re about to make – PUT IT BACK! Follow this rule whether you’re spending a little or a lot. There’s nothing worse than looking at something in your closet or jewelry box that fills you with regret every time to see it. Of course, it’s a little easier to swallow if you didn’t pay too much for it.
Check to see if your favorite designer brands have outlet stores close to you. I’m fortunate enough to have a great outlet mall about 45 minutes away with my favorite brands: Coach, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Ann Taylor, and Michael Kors. Here are some of my favorite websites for “buying up”:
· Ideeli – You need to be “invited” to join, so here’s the invitation link: www.ideeli.com/invite/christineluken
· Haute Look – Here’s the invitation link for this site: http://www.hautelook.com/invite/CLuken225
· Gilt.com – You’ll need to send me an email so I can get you “invited” to shop here: Strongtower.email@example.com