Putting that perfect $80 faux suede jacket back on the rack is truly a test of self-discipline. It takes even more strength not to snatch it right back up and run to the counter, ready to deplete your bank account once again. Don’t get us wrong, sometimes treating yourself to higher-end fashion is totally worth it! But, too much splurging can do much more harm than good. How do you know when the big price tag is actually worth it? Here are nine questions you’ve gotta ask yourself before shelling out on expensive fashion!
1. Why do you need this item?
There are tons of reasons to fall in love with a certain item, but are those reasons enough to justify splurging on it? If you find the most luxurious pair of Calvin Klein heels and you’re dying to buy them, simply ask yourself why you need them (not just why you want them). Ultimately, why does this item HAVE to be in your closet? If your answers sound like something along the lines of “but I just love the color” or “I don’t have them in this specific design,” then chances are you don’t actually need it. If you’re gonna spend more, then you better have a good reason beyond just “loving” the item.
Tasmiyah Randeree, a junior at the University of Toronto, weighs her needs and wants when she wants to splurge. She usually asks herself, “Do I really NEED that sports bra when I have three sitting in my closet?” and says. “It’s easy to get caught up with shopping in general but taking a step back and assessing if I’m being excessive or not is always a crucial step in my shopping process.” Every clothing purchase is an investment in your wardrobe, so make sure you know why it’s worth it!
2. How much do you want it?
How much you want an item is one of the toughest questions to ask before splurging. Do you want this item so badly you have to have it now, even when you don’t have the funds for it? Are you willing to sacrifice a couple (or a month’s worth) of Starbucks trips for this one item?
Marisa Pieper, a junior at Arizona State University, makes sure to estimate how financially sound her splurges are. “I deal with this all the time since I’m such a shopaholic, but I will usually try to remember the last time I bought an expensive piece and if it’s been a while I’ll treat myself. I’ll also calculate my financial recovery to make sure I can still pay bills, have coffee money, etc,” Marisa says. If you want this expensive item so much, be sure you can handle the financial blow. But like Marisa says, if you don’t treat yourself often, aka more than once or twice a month, then go for it (you’re worth it, ladies).
3. Do you need this item immediately?
Sometimes if you wait it out, that high-priced treasure you’ve found will go on sale later on. Or, when you’re in better financial shape in the future, buying that expensive item won’t take such a toll on you. Question is, are you willing to wait? Sometimes allowing yourself time before splurging can help you really figure out if you want to dish out on those items.
Makena Gera, a sophomore at Marist College, stalls her purchases to give herself that extra time to consider. “I definitely try to stop myself in any way I can when it comes to splurging,” she says. “I do all of my shopping online, so one way I try to prevent myself from impulse-buying things I don’t need is by leaving them in my cart for a few days and then coming back to them. If I’m still thinking about the clothes a few days later then I know that I really do want them and it’s worth the splurge,” Makena says. Time is money they say, and maybe that extra time to consider can save you from spending on an unnecessary splurge.
4. How often do you splurge?
If you want to keep your college student income alive, then you probably shouldn’t splurge on clothes and shoes and bags too often. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every once in a while. However, if this is your third splurge this month, then you may need to cut back.
Whether you’re on a tight budget or have more money than you know what to do with, spending too much too often isn’t a financially smart move, so check yourself before splurging! If you already spent a lot of money last time you went online shopping or at the mall, then calm it down this time. Recover from one splurge first and focus on keeping your budget steady for a while. When you’re in a good place and it’s been a while since you’ve treated yourself, then, by all means, splurge away!
5. How many places will you wear this item/these items to?
The more you wear said expensive item, the more it’s worth the price! Of course, when we think of a $200 dress, we’re not exactly buying it to wear to work every day. However, if it is a beautiful, quality item that you’ll wear for more than just one or two special occasions, it’s worth the splurge.
Maci Garcia, a junior at Cal State University, Northridge, lists out places where the item would get a good use before splurging on it. “I usually make a list of events/places where I would wear that outfit or piece of clothing and what I can wear it with. If I can’t think of at least five events/places, I won’t buy it,” Maci says.
You can even take it a step further and calculate the “price per wear” like Madeline McInnis, a senior at the Wilfrid Laurier University usually does. “I am cheap AF, especially when it comes to clothes, so splurging is not something I do often. When I do, I try to imagine how many times I'll be wearing the item, and I'll do a price-per-wear. Let's say there's a dress for a formal event and it's $100. If I plan to wear it four times, that's $25 per wear. I see if I can justify that amount to myself, and if I can, I buy it,” Madeline says. By evaluating usage with the price, you can figure out if the pricey item is worth the splurge before buying it!
6. Is the price worth the quality?
Just because something costs more doesn’t mean it’s the best quality for you. When something is name brand, and/or a brand you trust, then chances are the quality is great. However, sometimes you’ll run into pieces that are absolutely gorgeous, but you don’t know the brand well or have a great idea about the quality. No matter how cute something is, really think about the quality and longevity of the item.
Madison Hendriks, a senior at the University of Ottawa, believes in splurging on items that are classic and will last long. “I ask myself [about] the longevity of the piece and wearability. I most often splurge on pieces that are timeless, will last, and be dressed up or down depending on the outfit. The pieces I most often splurge on are a handbag, shoes or an accessory that can be worn a variety of ways and all year round,” Madison says. Pieces that are high quality, versatile, and used generously are more worth the splurge than something you won’t get a lot of use out of.
7. Can you find something similar for cheaper?
Dupes are our lifesavers nowadays. All it takes is for one high-end item to get popular on social media, and within months you’ll see cheaper versions of it at your local Forever 21. In the end, it really comes down to what you want: the real thing or a knockoff.
There’s no question that the name-brand items are higher quality and have a cleaner, more luxurious look to them. However, do you need all that, or will a nice quality dupe be enough for you? You’ll often find that the dupe versions are easier to wear every day since you’re not trying to keep them pristine like you would for higher-end items. Before splurging on an item, consider if you could find something like it on the cheap. If you really want to invest in the quality and look of the name-brand item, then it’s more worth the splurge.
8. When you're buying multiple things at once, is it worth the total?
The sneakiest of splurges are when you’re buying many seemingly affordable things, but that grand total is outrageously steep. If the total is clearly too high for you, then be willing to compromise. Take all the above steps into account for each item you’ve thrown in your cart (both the IRL and online ones). Look out for frivolous items you’ve thrown in and consider dropping them to “diminish” your splurge.
Sometimes it’s the added-on costs that are hiking up your total, and then you have to consider if those extra costs still make your items worth buying. Tasmiyah shops online frequently, so when the shipping costs get exuberant, she reconsiders splurging. “This is more specific to online shopping and that is that final stage when tax and shipping costs get added to your total. Most of the time, this is when I click exit on my browser because I refuse to pay ridiculous shipping costs,” Tasmiyah says. It’s okay to splurge but make every dollar worth it before you do.
9. Can I really afford this item/these items?
At the end of your splurge debate, you should ask yourself one last time: can I really afford this? It’s very easy to get blinded by your desires and just swipe that credit card away at the counter, so make sure you clear your head and think about it first. Most of the time it’s not that you don’t have the money for it, but whether you should spend so much money all at once. Especially as college students, it’s important to remind yourself of the budget you have and how a splurge will affect it. Be realistic and compromising with your shopping! You don’t want to end up with a pang of regret every time you look at that $200 coat that made you replace real meals with candy bars for a week.
There’s a lot to think about when you want to splurge. Splurges are essentially investments in your wardrobe though, and like with any investment, you’ve got to think before you spend. Ask yourself these questions honestly, and ultimately spend the way you feel most comfortable!