we've learned

Consider Your Anchors // How We’ve Dodged the Lifestyle Inflation Bullet

hiya friends. we’re still working on a big post on obamacare and reverse engineering our post-retirement budget around health care subsidies, but it’s taking a bit of time to get right. hope to have it up here in the next week or two!

we’re not saying anything new by saying that lifestyle inflation is one of the biggest financial killers out there. lifestyle inflation leads to low savings rates, often to consumer debt, and that pit-of-your-stomach feeling that you can’t get off the endless work treadmill for fear of utter ruin. it’s such a tragedy that we don’t teach kids about the perils of lifestyle inflation, and instead glorify consumer culture and the continual upsizing of our lifestyles, and the result is that so many of us feel trapped in cycles of debt and spending and stresss and hopelessness. we feel quite certain that we could show our nation’s rising health care costs if we could just give people better financial education, and seriously reduce the toll that stress takes on everyone’s health!

we are as guilty as anyone of upsizing our spending at various times (just read about our baller days for a little flavor), mainly on restaurants and travel, but are thankful that several key factors have kept us from permanently inflating our lifestyle, despite the normal challenges that we’ve had to overcome in going from not naturally frugal to our now reformed state. we call these positive influences our anchors, named for the anchoring effect in psychology. in short, the anchoring effect or anchoring bias is the tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information you learn about something in making decisions.

here’s a hypothetical example: the first pair of shoes you ever bought for yourself cost you $30. you saved up for those shoes, or you got money from your parents but wanted to make it stretch farther, and so you passed on the $40 and $50 shoes and went with the $30 pair. (we are specifically remembering how we each, though a few years apart in age in the late 80s, passed on buying those sweet reebok pumps that we really wanted, because the cool kids had them, and instead bought lesser reeboks. though the mr. went on to buy the pumps after they were no longer cool, and learned through ridicule that it doesn’t pay to chase fashion.) now, because you paid $30 for shoes, $30 seems like a good price for a pair of shoes, and anything more seems expensive, anything less seems like a bargain. that is the anchoring effect. if someone presents you with $100 shoes, no matter how full-featured they are, they will seem too expensive.

in our case, because we’re fairly stubborn people, we have stuck to our anchors even as our incomes have increased. as we felt like we had more money to spend, we bought more of some things, but rarely did we jump up the price scale, except if we’re talking about restaurants. so even at our peak spending, i would still go to dsw if i needed a pair of shoes, and gravitate toward the $40-60 pairs instead of those costing more. if the mr. needed a pair of jeans, we’d still go to the gap, not bloomingdales, and would do our best to buy those jeans during a sale. (we’ve been validated in this tendency by all the info that has come out in recent years that even the most highly priced brands are produced in basically the same sweat shops as the ultra cheapo fast fashion brands — so you don’t necessarily get more quality when you pay more. but you often do get lower quality when you pay less, and that’s why we don’t generally buy clothes at h&m or the like, because we expect our clothes to survive more than one wash. and now that we’re in mega-savings mode, we buy very little at all, and seek out used first, which also suits our enviro-frugal values.)

once, when i was in college, i remember going shopping with a friend, and on that outing, we went into neiman marcus to buy some hair conditioner that you could only buy there that i’d read about in some magazine. i’m sure a lot of people can relate to this experience, but the staff definitely did not make me feel welcome in the store. i remember thinking, “i’m clearly a college student, which means i’m trying to qualify myself for a good career. don’t you think they’d want to be nice to me in hopes that i’ll make tons of cash one day and will then have warm feelings toward their high end store?” evidently not, because the staff did their best to out-snooty each other, and i left feeling like there was no way i’d ever be a regular neimans shopper. (thank god, right? they actually did me a favor!) the lesson that i took to heart from that was: i don’t need to aspire to shop at “better” stores or for “better” brands. i wouldn’t want to shop anywhere that makes some people feel unwelcome, anyway (why would i reward such snobbery?), so that seemed like such a foolish aspiration.

but i’m grateful for that lesson, and have carried it with me ever since, keeping my anchors firmly entrenched on prices that correspond to products and brands that are “good enough.” when i see friends starting to venture into the realm of expensive handbags, i have no urge to follow them, because i know that my anchor for a purse is $50 or less (and purchased at most once a year, not on a regular basis), so they might as well be buying maseratis or maybachs for all the relevance these exotic handbags have to my life. and, oh yeah, i also don’t hang out with friends like that much anymore!

but the same rule applies to just about everything we have purchased or would consider purchasing — we never even thought about buying a lexus or a bmv when we knew that a honda would do just fine (even though all of our colleagues were driving much nicer cars than us) because anything above $25,000 is just too much to pay for a car in our view, or about buying that sweet new arcteryx backpack when kelty makes one that’s just as good (for non-backpackers, arcteryx is a swanky outdoor brand, and kelty is more workhorse), because even a very lightweight and technical backpack just shouldn’t cost more than $175. this is the power of anchors.

if you’re at that point in your career when your income is starting to increase to where you are no longer living paycheck to paycheck, and you get treat yo self itch, do yourself a huge favor and think about your anchors. if you’re accustomed to paying $60 for jeans, don’t go out and buy the $300 jeans, because then you’ll set a new anchor, and now $300 for a future pair won’t seem so expensive. instead, splurge on some experience that you wouldn’t do otherwise, and that won’t create a new anchor that you’ll fall back on for years to come.

just knowing about anchors is itself powerful, and helps you better determine if something is really the “deal” it appears to be, or is just a store’s trick to get you to buy more. but given that lifestyle inflation is the single biggest barrier to most people’s financial independence, it’s worth making every effort to keep your anchors low.

are you conscious of your price anchors? anyone found your anchor prices creeping up over time? or have you successfully adjusted your anchors downward? we’d love to know!

Don't miss a thing! Sign up for the eNewsletter.

Subscribe to get extra content 3 or 4 times a year, with tons of behind-the-scenes info that never appears on the blog.

No spam ever. Unsubscribe any time. Powered by ConvertKit

53 replies »

  1. Oh well this is just fantastic.

    As much as I’m all about the not-lifestyle-inflation, it’s always good to get this kind of reminder / gentle kick in the pants. I’ve always been in the $50-for-a-purse-is-great category, but recently, *even as I try to save more money* I’ve been wondering if getting a “nicer” bag would be worth it if it would last longer than my budget bags.

    No. The answer is for sure no. I know, because I have a beautiful leather bag that I got on vacation a few years ago and unless it’s a very specific circumstance, I default to my regular handbags because I’m not scared to actually use them. I am just not a $100+ handbag person.

    Plus, then I wouldn’t be able to brag about my one true superpower: always choosing the most classic-looking Aldo handbag that people end up thinking is way fancier than it really is. Seriously, I’ve rarely been more proud of a skill or more consistent in its application.

    Thank you for the stellar reminder!

    • That is a great superpower! :-) I’ve had a few bags that started above $100 but were in the bottom of the clearance bin at Macy’s, and those have gotten more than their fair share of attention! But now I’m still carrying the same purse I’ve had for over a year that’s made from recycled water bottles, has been on a million flights with me, and still looks great. I’m going to try to rock that thing for as long as I possibly can. Also, on the fancy handbag front, do you do flea markets? I’ve seen some pretty amazing deals on gently used designer bags at flea markets in the past, and think I would go that route if I cared about having an expensive looking bag. But if Aldo is working for you, go with it! :-)

  2. Ah, if only I had read this during college. :) I’m in the process of re-anchoring now. Throughout my 20s and early 30s, I definitely fell quite often into the trap of thinking, “I deserve this!” or “I’m an adult, and this is what adults do: they buy expensive stuff!” when considering a purchase, whether a $50 restaurant meal or a $120 pair of jeans (ok, once it was a $180 pair of jeans). I now firmly believe that it’s all about mindset: if someone had told me back then that I couldn’t or shouldn’t spend that much for jeans, I would have reacted pretty negatively. But today I’m at the point where it actually feels like a positive and empowering thing to throw down an anchor and use it to help guide my choices. Like you say, just knowing what anchors are is powerful. :)

    • Oh, I can relate to that thinking! Where I’ve been most guilty of thinking that being an adult equals buying more expensive stuff — of all places — is at Whole Foods! I think for a while I felt like having a $200 grocery trip meant I was an ethical shopper, which of course I now know is crazy. (I still shop there, of course, but am now much smarter about it.)

  3. I never heard of the anchor point – but it makes sense! I still cringe if I go out to eat lunch and it costs more than $10. But good quality work shoes, I won’t bat an eye at $100 – because that is what I always paid. I am trying to think of a personal anchor that has crept up — maybe wine. I used to always spend less than $5/bottle as a poor grad student, but now I don’t mind occasionally going up into the very low double digits.

    • Your wine anchor still seems pretty reasonable. :-) As for shoes, if you wear them every day and get your money’s worth, then $100 seems fine. We spend whatever we have to spend on things like running shoes, since they are so important to proper stride and avoiding injury. (And bike helmets!)

  4. I would say Mrs. SSC has an anchor at $20 for jeans… She cringes if she has to spend more than that, to which I just roll my eyes… lol
    When I was younger, at Christmas, we would get $100 from my granddad and the stipulation was that we had to use it for shoes first, and we could keep what was left over. My brother would spend all of his and usually have to chip in money to get the latest Air Jordans. I would go to shoe carnival and get 2 pairs, and have almost $60 left over. Sure they weren’t hip but they were knock offs of the popular styles. I still shop at DSW or other outlet type stores for work shoes and hate paying more than about $60 (with all the discounts). I did just get a pair of boots recently, and while they were spendy, I got them at a 20% off sale, and no tax weekend which saved another $18. Plus, I know they’ll last many, many, many, years, so I am fine with spending more in that category.
    Same with clothes, I just won’t pay full price for anything. I’ll hit Marshall’s, Kohl’s, Gap, and even if I shop Men’s Wearhouse or equivalent for nice fitted work shirts I’ll wait until they have the idiot sales where you buy 1 shirt for $60-$70 (ouch!) and get 3 free! Seriously, those sales rock. You get great quality and professional looking shirts for ~$15 each. Score!
    As far as outdoor gear, I’d wait until the “Sniagrab” sales in Spring/Summer and I got a new pair of Burton snowboard boots, bindings, nice snowboard, helmet, goggles, and gloves all for $180 before tax. Yeah offseason! Same with other backpacking gear. Buying offseason, and not North Face or Arcteryx when SO many other brands have just as good quality saves a TON.

    • What a great deal you got on that snowboard package! You know we have a major soft spot for ski equipment. :-) Reminding ourselves that we can’t get new skis ever other year has been one of our hardest adjustments!

      I like how you think about shoes and clothes. Once you realize that the more expensive stuff is made just as cheaply, and once you can stop caring about labels, you realize that there’s much better value to be had — and it sounds like you had that instinct from a very early age!

  5. Thank you Neiman Marcus Gods, for saving my friend from a life of fancy purchases!

    I don’t spend much these days, but I try to anchor my purchases. For example: Lunch or dinner out with Hubs is compared to Chipotle. We are always happy with Chipotle, is the price for variety worth going somewhere else? Typically, we max out around $20-25.

    One of my stronger anchors is jean. My parents bought me a $100 pair of Lucky jeans when I was in high school. Those jeans were the best. They fit like they pattern was made from my body and made me feel like $1mil bucks. I’ve never had a pair of jeans feel as good as those jeans, so clearly none of them are worth spending $100. For a while, I hovered between $40-60. Though, now that I’m into thrifting/consignment, $20 is my limit.

    • Haha, yes, thank you Neimans and Saks and all those other snooty store gods! (By the way, where does that snootiness come from? It’s not like people working retail at those stores — the ones delivering the snobbery — are paid six figures for the privilege! We know someone who works in the corporate office for Tiffany, and even she barely makes six figures — for Tiffany’s!) That’s so admirable that you guys stick to Chipotle for dinner out! There are a few healthy-ish chains that I wish we had here, but don’t. My new favorite is Shophouse, which is like the Southeast Asian Chipotle. (Bonus: all gluten-free.) But we have either McDonald’s (no. just no.) or real sit-down restaurants, which cost significantly more after tip and everything than somewhere like Chipotle does, or like the take out places we had near us in the city. Oh well.

      That’s awesome that you’ve been able to shift your anchor price for jeans downward over time. The best pair of jeans I ever had was a basic pair from the Gap that cost $45. So in my mind, that’s perfection. I bought some seven jeans once at Nordstrom Rack, for still like $90 or something, and they didn’t fit well at all. So that taught me, once again, to stick to the basics.

  6. Ah yes, the anchoring bias! I never thought of applying this to price points & lifestyle inflation. Great analogy! For right now, I also like to think of my starting salary right after college as my ‘anchoring point.’ I’ve discovered how feasible it is to live at/below that salary, that anytime I receive a raise/bonus/unexpected windfall I don’t add it to the starting salary anchor. It gets put towards financial goals for future dates. It took a bit to learn how to manage, but now it will be interesting to see how time progresses and promotions start to occur to keep sticking to that anchor point. As far as price goes for items, this is incredibly important. Although, sometimes I always end up falling on the same anchor price point of $20 lol! This is because at some point in my life I have been able to find an item, pair of shoes, gadget, you name it at, or below this price point. Although, sometimes this can let me fall into a dangerous cycle of continuously replacing items because I gave up quality/value for price point. Very fascinating points!

    • I love that way of thinking about it — the salary anchor. And you can always control that as your salary goes up, by having more of your paycheck automatically go into savings or investments, so it never “feels” like you get a raise, but instead you supercharge your savings. And so true — anchors on small things can make it easier to spend, and even those little purchases add up!

  7. Good question. Hard to examine so much spending over the years. I think for the most part I have a solid anchor. Fancy stuff doesn’t impress me and I was always happy getting shoes and purses from Payles or Target. Same with a car. Practical and reliable are what I’m looking for. I think for me I just nickel and dimed myself to not being financially wise. All that little stuff adding up like eating out, volleyball classes, etc.

    • Oh we’re completely the same in that way! Just nickels and dimes out the door for years, without much thinking. Even if we didn’t buy expensive stuff, we still bought stuff. We’re big on the “no regrets” way of thinking, but do wonder often if we could be retired by now if we’d just become conscious of our spending sooner!

  8. I have a low anchor point for houses. I started scoping out real estate prices in a potential future city, and nearly crapped myself. Low end houses in the low end part of town are selling for twice the value of our current house.

    Also, I have a very low anchor point for ground beef- I used to get grass fed for $3/lb, now we don’t eat it.

    • Oh, houses are huge for anchors! When I was a kid, we moved a lot, and almost every house we bought was about the same price. So for years I thought that’s what a house cost, and had a similar reaction to you when I realized the awful truth.

  9. Interesting lesson. I would point out that it is possible to lower your anchor point. I used to only buy new name-brand clothing. Then, I discovered how much more clothing you can buy with the same amount of money at consignment stores. Finally, I realized that my wardrobe is enough and haven’t purchased more than $20 in clothing in the past two years. However, we are definitely in the minority in being able to undergo lifestyle deflation.

    And those designer puses? My friend gave me a small, basic, black Coach purse over five years ago and it still works just fine for special occasions :)

    • I so completely agree with you! We once had quite a high anchor for restaurant meals, but have successfully re-trained ourselves to think of what we once spent as C-R-A-Z-Y. So great that you’ve been able to transition to consignment shopping. I completely believe it in, but get overwhelmed having to go through all the racks. Instead, I just mostly don’t buy clothes. :-)

  10. Research! Right up my alley! I love this, but it’s ironic that I’m also struggling right now because I’m a jeans and long-sleeve shirt gal and both of my jeans just got holes in the knee. My anchor is a $10 on sale Old Navy jean… but those clearly get holes in them quickly these days (they used to be stronger… I can attest because my older jeans that don’t fit me anymore are also old navy jeans and I wore them for years and continue to wear them for projects and they are way thicker!). So now I have an anchor of $10 jeans and I can’t figure out if I should just keep buying them or move up the scale to a better pair. If that… what would that even be?! Tough call.

    • I was thinking of you when writing this. :-) I agree with you — Old Navy jeans have gotten worse for sure. I’m a fan of Gap jeans, which seem to be a bit more substantial and predictable, and last a long time… but I only buy them when I can get them on big sale!

      • The husband has moved over… I just struggle to make that jump! And have they diminished in quality as of late as well? Even on super good sale, they seem expensive! Dumb anchors! :)

      • I can’t speak to the last year or so, but they were still good (enough) quality on my last pair! But I will confess that I’m rocking some piece-of-crap Old Navy jeans these days. :-)

  11. This is very relevant to a recent post of mine, where I talked about getting a raise and going a little spending happy. I sat and thought for a while after reading this post, and realized that I actually have a reverse problem – I lived on very little money for a very long time, because I was funneling 75% of my income into paying off student loan debt. Thus, I always bought the cheapest possible thing available, regardless of quality. Price was the only thing that mattered.

    As I now have much more disposable income, I am having to retrain myself and think more about quality. Food is a great example of this. The more I educate myself, the more I realize that I believe in high quality, organic, whole foods. It’s hard to spend $8 on a bag of organic apples when you’re used to buying the cheapo ones for $3. But, it aligns with my values. I’ve noticed though, as you point out, if I buy the organic bag a few times, I have created a new anchor for myself … and now, having experienced the quality difference, could never think about going back to the cheapo bag.

    Either way, thinking about your spending anchors is a great way to examine your values and align them with your spending habits.

    • All so true. I think the price vs value tension is an important one to sort out, and it for sure makes sense to focus more on value once you’re able to afford buying a little more than the bare minimum. On food, we agree with you 100%. What’s so disheartening, though, is realizing that quality is often quite poor even on expensive clothing or expensive furniture. Expensive cars are often notorious, for example, for breaking down often. Then what’s the point of buying that car?! They’re status symbols, of course, though, and that seems to supercede all. Now we just try to be smarter and find that ideal intersection of price and value, and not spend a penny more than we have to to get something decent, or which aligns to our values.

  12. My anchor is cars. My first car out of college was a 2001 Chevy cavalier for $5,000. 11 years later and about 150,000 miles later I still drive it. I think my anchor started with my parents who always had used cars that were beaters. The thought of spending more than $10,000 on a car just makes my heart palpitate!

  13. Don’t think I heard an anchor point described before, but I like it. A good way to keep a mental note of your spending threshold. OUur food anchor is a wildcard, three teenagers tend to eat a lot.

  14. Ahh, good old anchors. I’m drawn to anything psychology-related, and I love what you’ve laid out here. This is incredibly important, and it can impact the way we manage money for our entire lives. I really appreciate the examples you’ve given too (like with the shoes and car). My entire life I’ve driven beater cars. My first car was $1,200 and my dad bought it for me. It was a piece of crap. My next car was about $900. I grew up thinking this is what it cost to get a car good enough to get you from A-to-B. Last year I finally traded in my 2000 Saturn LS, as it was on it’s last leg. I got a new car for the first time in my life – and I went with the absolute cheapest one – a Honda Fit. I pre-negotiated the price down as far as they would go, and compared offers with 20+ dealers. Trust me, I got the best price possible. Even then, spending that kind of money on a car hurt me – but I figured I’ll drive this car into the ground like all my other ones and it’ll last me a very long time. Oh yeah, my car before the Saturn…a 1999 Jeep Cherokee with 203,000 miles!

    Thanks for sharing this guys :) I love it!

    • Thanks Chris! Haha — I believe you got the best deal on your Honda. We did the same thing when we bought our Subaru — shopped a quote around to the fleet departments of a bunch of dealers to see who gave the best counteroffer, then shopped that one around, then did the same thing again! What a gift that you started with such a low anchor point for cars, so that you didn’t end up overspending on them over the years like *someone* we know (cough, Steve, cough). ;-) And 200K miles… you’re basically our hero for that! We love any car over 100K, and we’re almost there with our Subi!

  15. Something I’ve found about my car is that the older it gets, the more I enjoy it. I don’t feel any need to have a shiny car, even when we’ve ended up renting some. We actually rented a several year old car (one older than mine!) when we were in NZ and that was really perfect. We accidentally ended up with a BMW while renting (at economy rates, don’t worry) a car the last time and it was so unnecessary! So perhaps I’ll buy used next time…whenever that may be. I plan on holding on to this car for many years to come.

    It’s funny you mention jeans because I’ve had terrible luck with Gap jeans, for example. I find the denim color fades quickly and they stretch out a ton. So I try to buy my jeans from Nordstrom Rack and if I can’t find any, I’ll go to Nordstrom. But I only have 2-3 pairs of jeans. And the ones I do buy are all made in the US! I’m a huge fan of buying nice items…in moderation. I’ve also changed sizes a LOT in the last few years and keeping my closet full of clothes that don’t fit is a bit disheartening. For example, I was getting ready to go to a classy dinner a few weeks ago and the dress I had planned on wearing turned out to not fit anymore. It can be so frustrating and time consuming to find clothes that fit right sometimes that I am more willing to spend the money to do so to reduce that stress.

    • Jeans are so personal! Just because I found a brand that works for me and is at an acceptable price point doesn’t mean they’re for everyone! :-) And I definitely understand the clothing size issue… you just gotta do what you gotta do on that one. I’m the same way about our cars, too. I love our Subaru more now that it’s banged up a bit, and I have all kinds of love for my old Honda Civic, which is still mostly running fine with over 100K miles on it… I view its new electrical issues as charming, which of course they aren’t actually. :-)

  16. The only anchor that has increased for me is food. I pretty much don’t care how much the best quality food that I have access to costs, which is a huge lifestyle inflation for me since my food budget can be more than my rent. But I also rarely eat out. I’m not the best cook but I’ve gotten better over the years, and I much prefer my own cooking to going out to eat.

    I do drive a BMW though. It’s definitely not an anchor but is lifestyle inflation, and actually embarrasses me because it doesn’t align with my goals. But alas, when in Germany… 😎

    • I think you get a pass on the BMW given where you live. :-) We’re pretty similar in letting our food budget inflate over the years, even though we’ve cut way back on restaurant dining. We just don’t want to eat that cheap, processed crap that is the most “affordable” way to eat (if you don’t factor in lost quality of life and future health care costs from eating garbage!). We see healthy, high quality food as an investment in our future health, so feel like that expense is totally justifiable. I’m sure you agree!

  17. I don’t really buy much so I think my anchors are stuck at early 2000s prices! I’ve been rocking the same two pairs of Dickies shorts for 10 years and they’re still going strong. Our Hondas do a great job as well.

    That being said, $100 for a good pair of running shoes is perfectly acceptable.

    • Haha — I think our anchors are stuck in about the same place, if not earlier! And so true — running shoes, bike helmets and safety equipment generally are things we shell out for.

  18. I’m in the process of transferring my wardrobe out of my ‘american eagle’ stage into my ‘adult stage’ and the Gap seems like such a fancy upgrade! My anchors are so low because I try and shop at thrift stores for the names brands. When I see how much Banana Republic actually charges my jaw hits the floor! But I’ve gotten rid of so many clothes this year I may need to open the wallet and spend at some actual stores and up my anchor just a little bit.

    • If you can handle thrift store shopping, keep doing that! There is no need to shift your anchors up to brands like BR if you’re finding good stuff secondhand, because the higher prices rarely equate to higher quality. I think with clothes the quality is much more important than the price!

      • thrifting just takes so much time and energy. I’m not a big shopper, I don’t enjoy it so while I want to save I also want to do other things with my time. I’m aiming for a mostly thrifted closet with more choice pieces store bought. (on sale of course!)

  19. Working with anchor points is a super idea. After some thought, indo think i have tem as wellnfor various products and services.

    Some examples include restaurant costs for family out vs just me and ly wife. I am willing to pay more per person when it is just with my wife. The seating, experience and atmosphere need to ve perfect.,does not mean that i pay no matter what. When the kids are with us, we have another anchor point. Not that we gongor low qualitybfood, but the setting will be totally different.

    I do even think i have a minimum anchor point: some standards we will not go below, unless really, really forced to. Some time ago we ate in a dining place really cheap, but it was a bad experience. I now no longer consider this an option: there is a minimum level of quality and atmosphere we need

  20. This is an excellent post.

    A few months, ago, I was in between jobs with a lot of spare time on my hands. In this period, I got obsessed with luxury bags. I couldn’t justify fancy pants or fancy shoes that clearly rapidly depreciate, but I just felt that bags were different. I told myself that a good bag lasts forever, upgrades a dingy outfit, and signifies my social status to the world.

    Well, I’m really happy I held out on that purchase. I wasn’t thinking about how a bag could literally cost 6 months (or more) of rent. But more importantly, I wasn’t thinking of how little it matters. I work with plenty of women who wear their fancy bags, and there is no difference between us in the workplace. The only difference is that I have more $ in the bank because I’m not spending it on bags.

    Again, great post!

    • Good job resisting the siren song of the luxury bag! There was definitely a time in my life when I thought, “I should own a Coach bag in my life” (I know that doesn’t quite qualify as luxury, but I’ve always been more of the DSW type for shoes and bags!), and I bought this tiny Coach wristlet on eBay… and then proceeded to never use it, because I didn’t want to “ruin it.” So yeah, important lesson learned. And I used to buy cheap bags, but now try to buy inexpensive but durable bags, preferably made of recycled materials, usually only one a year or fewer. After giving away enough bags over the years, I’ve realized that buying new ones doesn’t make me happy!

  21. Love this one too. When I see $300-$400 price tags on shoes or handbags (and that’s rare cuz I hate shopping), I get so puzzled. I work so darn hard for my paycheck (and not that other people don’t) that I could never bring myself to spend that much on items like that knowing I can get perfectly acceptable alternatives at TJ Maxx for $60 or less. Part of me wonders if the psychology behind it has more to do with not valuing yourself or to steal YMOYL themes, your life energy. Instead of the I deserve it attitude, I somehow adopted a I respect myself too much to spend money like that.

  22. I realise this post is a little old, but I just found it, so it’s new to me.
    Back in 2005-6 my wife and I taught English in Taiwan where I could get a T-shirt for $4 and she got pants for $5.
    Other than steel toe boots for work I don’t think we’ve spent more than $1,000 TOTAL on clothing since.
    Those anchors are so deep I only get replacement T-shirts when we go on vacation to some other country.

    • I love being reminded of old posts, so thank you for chiming in! :-) That’s truly impressive how little you’ve managed to spend. Another way to get way more free t-shirts than you’ll ever need is to attend financial blogger events. Hahaha.