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Have you ever had your eye on something that you felt like you just had to have? Maybe it was a new iPad or a piece of furniture. Literally, every part of you craves that item. Well, I’ve been there before. For me, it was coach handbags.
Ever since I was in college I wanted a Coach bag. I’d spend hours searching online gazing at the different coach handbags. I’d check out every pattern and decide which one I needed.
The problem? As a poor college kid, I simply couldn’t afford a Coach purse.
Because I didn’t have the money to buy a legit Coach purse, I did what any self-respecting 20-something would do…I bought a fake purse in the back room of a shady store.
I was thrilled to have my fake Coach bag hanging on my arm. Was the stitching as nice? Nope. But I still felt stylish and important.
However, deep down I knew my purse was a fake. A fraud.
My First Coach Purse
When I was newly engaged, I begged my fiance for a true Coach purse. I mean, he was rolling in the dough with his big, fancy job (have I mentioned he’s a middle school teacher?).
We found ourselves at the Coach outlet store on Black Friday and he reluctantly spent $150 on a new coach purse.
It smelled amazing. It felt luxurious.
And I promised him that I would use it forever. Yes, forever.
I bet you can guess what happened. I held that coach purse with pride and about two years later my style shifted. By this time I was pregnant with our first son, and we were trying to live on a budget so that we could pay off debt.
Suddenly the coach purse felt heavy on my arm. The brand screamed something about me that was no longer true. I no longer cared about fancy brands or expensive purses. I was focused more on saving money and spending less. (Also, I needed to start carrying a diaper bag soon!)
That year I retired my coach purse. I didn’t have the heart to throw it out because I once told my husband I would use it forever. So it found a new home way back in my closet among other discarded items.
Years later I found it buried deep in my closet.
And it hit me.This purse taught me 3 major lessons about money and life.
1. Patience is a skill I must learn.
Here’s where I admit something that I’m a little ashamed of: I’m a naturally impatient person.
It infuriates my husband and I don’t blame him.
Here’s the part of the story that I left out: Just days before my husband bought me my coach bag, I decided once again that I NEEDED this bag.
But I didn’t have the money. So what did I do?
I turned to my fiance who didn’t actually have the money either. I told him it could be my Christmas gift and just a few days later I found myself petting bags in the Coach store.
But what if I had been forced to wait?
And heaven forbid, what if I had been forced to budget for the purse myself? Wouldn’t that have been the “adult” thing to do?
Imagine if I had been forced to practice the art of patience! Imagine if I had developed the skill of saving money. As someone who LOVES to spend money, I desperately needed a lesson on saving money.
If I could go back in time, I would have told that 20-something girl to have patience, save up, and buy the purse yourself.
2. Material possessions will not bring me happiness.
I feel like every person has to learn this lesson sometime in their life. I’m just sad that it took me so many years to learn that more stuff doesn’t equal more happiness.
I think I always knew that I couldn’t make myself happy by buying things, but I didn’t believe it. So instead, I tried to prove that you COULD be happy if you spend money.
In fact, it wasn’t until I took a good look at our budget to see that I truly had a spending problem. And do you know where I was spending most of my money?
On FOOD! I know food isn’t a material possession, but just stick with me here. I was going out to eat ALL THE TIME. In fact, I was picking up dinner at least 3-4 nights each week. Did I mention that I was also enjoying brunch both Saturday and Sunday mornings. And let’s not forget about the 2-3 Starbucks I was picking up each week.
I used to get a thrill from finding a new brunch spot or dinner scene. And it was depleting my small teacher income fast.
I can admit now that my spending was pretty out of control. And when I had that coach purse in my hands, I felt 1,000% happy. I was the luckiest girl on earth. I knew without a doubt that nothing could bring me down from this coach purse high.
Until something did.
The thing about my fancy purse is that it’s just a purse.
The excitement wore off. Once the thrill was gone, all that was left was my sweet fiance who grew resentful because he felt forced to spend money on a bag.
Is Coach worth it? Not if it means I hurt my loved one in the process and make him feel like I used him for his money. This point brings me to the third lesson my Coach purse taught me.
3. “Happy wife, happy life” is a lie. A flat out lie.
I fully admit that I pushed Matt to buy me this bag. I told him all the lies I could to get him to pull out his wallet. Lies like “I need this purse.”
He saw right through my lies, but he thought that if I was happy, he would be happy too. He figured that a happy wife means a happy life. And that’s a flat out lie.
Looking back on the day he bought me my first coach purse, I was happy in that moment. But he was not. He was frustrated that I was asking him to spend his money on something that was unnecessary. He wasn’t making a ton of money and here I was taking it away for a bag that I just had to have.
Of course, I wasn’t able to see the frustration because I was too caught up in my own excitement. This was the first moment in our relationship where my husband and I had an issue with money.
This was the first time that I took advantage of our relationship by manipulating him to spend money that he honestly didn’t have. And that trust took years to fix because I continued down this path until I finally decided that enough was enough.
Are Coach Bags Worth It?
Now don’t get me wrong. Coach bags are high quality bags. And there’s a time and place for them in your life. However, coach handbags are NOT worth it if you cannot truly afford one.
Coach bags are NOT worth it if it means you have to pull out your credit card and go into debt to buy one.
Coach bags are NOT worth it if it means you’ll have to pull money out of your emergency fund to afford the purchase.
Before you take the plunge and buy a coach bag (or any luxury item), as yourself these 3 questions:
1. How many hours will I have to work to afford this item?
When it comes to making a large purchase (such as coach handbags), start by calculating how much time it will take you to buy the item. For instance, if you make $10 an hour, a $200 purse will take you 20 hours to buy. That’s half your work week!
If you make $200 in ONE hour, then it’s a no brainer! But if you don’t make as much money, then a coach handbag might not be worth it in terms of your income.
2. Can I save up for the purchase over time?
Just because there’s a sale going on doesn’t mean you need to make the purchase at this moment. Instead, find a way to save up money over time to buy the luxury item you want. For instance, even if you save up simply $50 each week, it will only take you 4 weeks to save $200.
Set up a savings goal for your coach purse if it’s important to you! Not only will you not go into debt for your new bag, but you’ll be proud of yourself for saving the money beforehand!
3. Who am I without coach handbags?
This one might seem odd, but just go with me here.
A coach purse does not define you. Advertisers and marketers want you to think that a coach purse wil mean that you are sophisticated and live a luxurious life.
But in the end, it’s simply a bag. It doesn’t define who you are or what you stand for.
So who would you be without the purse? Who would you be without the Coach label (or any label for that matter). You might be surprised to learn that you don’t even want the item you’ve been eyeing when you look at your purchases through this lens.
As it turns out…
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s odd how a simple coach purse can have such an affect on my life. What’s even crazier is that I kept my bag for so many years because of what it represented. I felt like I truly had to keep it forever.
The young 20-something would have never thought that this bag would have such an impact on how I now view money, possessions, and my marriage.
It turns out that the lessons I learned had nothing to do with a coach bag after all, and had more to do with my growing up and learning how to be responsible with my finances.