The Price of Happiness

How much is too much to spend on a handbag? A pair of shoes? A dress?  A suit?  . . . We all have different thresholds based on our own incomes, lifestyles and paradigms. That said, regardless of your income-bracket, it’s sometimes difficult to justify spending what seems like an ungodly amount of money on a pair of shoes(my ungodly amount might be different from yours and yours might be different from your best friend’s, but you get my point here).  However, all of us engage in a little Retail Therapy from time-to-time.  Feeling a little down, frustrated because you have to work the weekend yet again, wading your way through a horrible break-up? It happens to all of us.  Before you know it, your fingers just start dancing all over the keyboard as you participate on that conference call and peruse Zappos, Amazonor Bluefly to find your “fix”; you know, that item that once you have  it in your possession will make you feel soooooooo much better!  A little retail therapy never hurt anyone and it’s certainly helped keep the economy afloat, but how many of those purchases have really given you more than a momentary high?

There’s a FAB pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on, but they’re really really expensive.  So, you pass on them and buy 3 other items that you like but don’t love. Duh!?!?!?!  You coulda had the FAB pair of shoes and been really happy.  Your high would come back each time you wear them!  Instead, you’ve got 3 new items that in all likelihood are going to be relegated to the back of the closet or to The Salvation Army once the shine of having something new wanes.

Lesson learned here?  We ultimately end up spending more money not buying that expensive handbag, pair of shoes, or beautiful suit because we buy to fill the void we feel by not having the item we really wanted.  Sounds crazy, right? Maybe so. Pay attention as you clean out your closet this Spring, what are you purging?  Rarely is it those coveted items that you treated yourself to (unless one’s gone beyond its shelf-life), it’s the things you bought instead of that coveted item.

I’m not advocating that you go out and spend a paycheck on a handbag.  Far from it.  My point here is, think about your Rate of Return and spend wisely rather than spending to spend.  There’s always a first time, but to date, I’ve never regretted purchasing something I really really wanted.  Spending the money is always hard for me but each time I pull out my YSL Tribute shoes, for example, they take my breath away. On the other hand, when I purge my closet each season and get rid of those filler items the regret is palpable.

[image courtesy of Chanel]

6 Responses to “The Price of Happiness”


  • I love your concept of Rate of Return, especially in these difficult economic times. The classic Chanel bag illustrates your point perfectly. Investing in expensive trends may make you happy in the short term but investing in classic pieces will make you and your wardrobe happy forever! These are the pieces that become treasured heirlooms when passed on to family and friends.

  • This is so true and it’s great advice. I don’t know how many times I’ve bought something that was “cheaper” than what I really wanted only to never wear it as much as I had planned. What an expensive lesson to learn!

  • As the proud owner of that Chanel bag above, I am happy I splurged on it and did not buy several other less expensive bags. That’s because when there’s a new “It” bag each season, I can ignore them and know I’ve got my trusty black chain-strap bag – and it’s the real deal. It was $$, but it’s something that will never go out of style and will chic in Paris, New York or Chicago. On the other hand, I have also done what you point out in the story and keep meaning to clean out my closet and get rid of those second-choice items.

  • Just took a box to the “SAL” yesterday. Some stuff still had tags. Great post.

  • Very astute — with Kalyn’s guidance I modified my approach to making purchases years ago and have never regretted it.

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