Ladies: Can someone tell me precisely why I’m out of touch on this point?

OK, so I’m reading the July, 2009, issue of U.S. News & World Report that my mother-in-law left the last time she visited, and I happen on an article called “Frugal Forever?” written by Kimberly Palmer, senior editor at U.S. News and blogger at Alpha Consumer.  (She had several articles in that issue.)

The gist of the article:  Frugality, borne of necessity, is now the in thing.  People don’t feel the pressure to spend, businesses are playing into frugality with their marketing campaigns.  Eating over at friends and doing your own nails is chic.

Overall, a perfectly solid article.

The last paragraph mentions that people will still want to splurge once in a while, especially when the repayment of their interest-free loan to the government known as a federal income tax refund hits their bank accounts.  This also is all well and good, but the example that was used … well, maybe it’s testosterone but I just don’t get it:

One consumer told us, “If I get $1,000 back [in tax refunds], I may buy a $300 purse.  If I don’t do it, I’ll go crazy … “

Am I completely out of touch by saying that $300 for a purse is crazy?

I very well might be.  Let me know in the comments. ;)

John Wedding

Husband. Father. Web publisher. Musician. John has blogged at Mighty Bargain Hunter since 2005, helping people to recognize life's good deals.

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  1. JB says

    I think it’s more like everyone values different things. To me a 300 dollar purse is crazy. But, I’d rather spend that money on a vacation or clothes. Some of my friends would rather spend it on video games/electronics. Other friends have expensive hobbies that are pricey.

    Most people have one or two items they spend on things that would be ‘frivolous’ to many.

  2. Jamie says

    To me, yes, it’s absolutely crazy. But I have 3 kids and an ordinary job that doesn’t leave a lot of cash left over for this kind of spending. And, I can find purses I love in the $30 – $60 range. But others probably think I’m crazy for spending $50/month on manicures. I think my husband is crazy for spending $40/month on alcohol. We’ve all got our thing, I guess.

  3. gime says

    I don’t think it is crazy, mostly because I do the same thing. I do it for several reasons. One it is a once in a while splurge, not a regular habit. Two, a high end bag will last a lot longer than a $50 purse. Three I believe that if I look good, good things will happen to me, mostly because a first impression can make or break a deal. I know that many will argue that a $50 purse can look as good as a $300 purse, but that is not true.

  4. says

    Replace purse with iPhone and you might get it. That’s the only way I can come close, because I really, really don’t get women like that (or men who do the same thing with watches or shoes). Like Jamie says, everyone has their thing- mine is portraits and photobooks of my son.

    I just hope she’s not in debt.

  5. says

    It depends on the purse. $300 for a trendy purse that will last one season is steep. But $300 for a well-made leather purse that can be used daily for three years is actually the same cost as a $50 purse that only last six months.

  6. Mneiae says

    If she receives a lot of gratification from spending those $300 on a purse, then more power to her. I’ve spent several thousand dollars on purses myself but I only use one purse at a time. What I’ve found is that I like getting a really classically styled leather purse and carrying it around with me. Getting this season’s must-haves means that your stuff will be “so last season” in a few months. If she absolutely has to have a nice purse, tell her to get an LV. They never go out of style.

  7. says

    $300 is insane….I can understand $50 or maybe even $100 for a very nice “name” purse, but $300! It looks like some people didn’t really learn anything

  8. says

    I’ll say it depends on the purse. $300 is too much for anything trendy but something well made of high quality materials that will last years can be worth it. I wouldn’t spend that much for a purse because I just don’t care much about purses and I put mine through a lot of abuse that even the best made purse isn’t likely to survive more than a year.

    However I totally understand wanting to splurge a little bit. I tend to do it with buying handmade stuff that I love. I bought this handmade plush trilobite that’s silly and cute and goes with the eclectic mad scientist decor I’ve been accumulating. Did I need to spend $45 on a pillow? Of course not but I wanted to celebrate a milestone in my business. I also sell jewelry so people wanting to splurge a little on themselves or others (none of my stuff is expensive) is my stock in trade.

  9. Nicole says

    I agree with Aryn. I received an expensive ($250) purse as a gift last Christmas. It still looks brand new, despite being used every day. I previously never spend more than $35 on a purse, and it would quickly wear, the “leather” on the straps would fray, the stitching would come out, the lining would rip, etc. I would still use it, but it was a problem when the strap would suddenly break on me and spill “my whole life” on the sidewalk. To me, one well-made, expensive purse is worth it. A $1,000 Ballenciaga? Definitely not, no matter how beautiful it is.

  10. Anette says

    I think the answer to this question depends on how many third world countries you have been to and how long you stayed there. I spent 2 1/2 years in one, so when I hear of a $300 purse, I think about how many people could eat for how many months on that amount. Once I start thinking about that, I just can’t justify buying it. If I forget what I’ve seen, then I can buy it!

  11. says

    I will never understand spending $300 for a purse or a pair of shoes, or $1000 for a dress. In the larger scheme of things (the world) and my quest to live more simply and to make a smaller footprint, it simply boggles my mind. Even if I had that kind of money to blow, I would use it more frugally, or help someone with it after I bought my $25 bag or $60 walking shoes (the most I’ve ever spent). Just me.

  12. says

    Not a “lady,” but I’d say that $300 for a handbag is stone-cold crazy; OTOH, $300 for a couple San Diego Chargers tickets is money well spent. Just saying.

  13. Lisa says

    I have never been to a third world country, and I have never wanted for much, but it really hurts my feelings to even think of paying $300 for a purse. Paying for quality is one thing, but paying just for a name brand is another thing altogether. I call it stupidity…

  14. says

    I don’t get it, either. Then again, I don’t often use a purse and when I do need one, I tend to get it from a thrift store.
    Although women may need to carry *some* things that men don’t, I think this whole purse thing is part of the fashion conspiracy. Women are told that they need all these items to be fashionable and that they may even need to be *seasonal* items. If a man carries a briefcase, he doesn’t feel the burning need to make sure it matches his shoes and his belt, and he doesn’t worry about whether that it not be a white briefcase after Labor Day. Men don’t have to buy a dozen different colors and designs of shoes to be considered well-dressed or stylish, and they can get by with a few nicely made suits. Women, by contrast, are socialized to spend many off-hours shopping, shopping, shopping for the latest everything.
    That said: It’s your money. Spend it all on scratch tickets and Snickers bars if you want. But I find it perplexing, myself.

  15. says

    Just change the wording a bit
    One consumer told us, “If I get $1,000 back [in tax refunds], I may buy a $300 (piece of electronics). If I don’t do it, I’ll go crazy …

    It is all in what you see as important in your life, what your needs are – world of warcraft, second life, HD tv, Upgrades on the motorcycle, etc.

  16. says

    I think it’s that need to feel decadent every once in a while. If you feel like you’re working for just the basics in life it can be a little demoralizing, I think both men and women need to treat themselves with a touch of luxury every once in a while.

  17. says

    It isn’t any more crazy than the billions spent on porn, video game consoles, HD TV’s, Super Bowl tickets, organic produce, a new video card or gambling.

    It’s self-gratification and nothing more. We feel better when we get what we want and those values differ with our personal experiences.

  18. says

    This woman will buy this purse; confusing luxury with necessity, selfishness over giving. Then, in about 6 months, she’ll get sick of it, donate it to Goodwill where someone will pick it up for about $3. Meanwhile the original purse buyers neighbor will have lost their house and her cousins kids will have gone to bed hungry. IMHO that is the sort of thinking that got us as a country into this current financial mess. Greed and thoughtless spending. Take the $300 to meet you true needs and see if you can help someone out who’s going through a tough time w/the rest.

  19. says

    Yes, because it’s less crazy to have to spend $50-100 every few months because your purse is low quality and keeps breaking. :P

    I would much rather spend a lot on a classic piece, and keep that piece for 10 years.

    I also feel more confident when I have a nice purse on my arm. I can be in my pajamas and still feel like a million bucks. Of course, I have inner confidence, but that purse just contributes to it. The same thing goes with a perfectly fitted suit.

  20. says

    YES, buying a $300 purse is crazy. I am a young, somewhat in style, woman and have been perfectly happy using my $50 purse for the last two years! I don’t have the luxury of flagrantly spending anymore since I am still paying down the debt I amassed after becoming an “adult”. So whatever extra cash I get goes to VISA.

  21. says

    IMO it’s definitely crazy to spend that much on a purse. Partly for the reasons delineated in several of the comments above – people are starving in the world and you can do better things with your money, and anyway in most cases you’re paying for a brand name and not for the ‘quality’ (I hope people realize that a lot of brand name items, if produced in China, are made at the same factories on the same machines using the same materials as the non-brand items … just by the day shift workers instead of the night shift ;-). But also for the more personal reason that I think brand name high-end purses are ugly as heck.

  22. says

    Some people justify the crazy price by high quality, durability etc., but in fact they are only paying for the brand name and the false sense of exclusivity. If you really prefer top quality, you can get it for half that price easily.

  23. MERMAIDS614 says

    People spend their hard earned money on what they want. Who are some of you to say “oh, that money could have went to charity”? So someone who works hard, maybe working 2 jobs, put themselves through college or whatever the case may be, is obligated to give any additional money they have to charity? That person isn’t allowed to buy something for themselves, just because? Also, it’s easy to say, “even if I had that type of money, I wouldn’t spend that much”……, you probably would splurge on something. I spend my money on what I want. I do give to charity. I don’t make a lot of money. But I work hard, have experienced a lot of hardships in my life, I pay for everything I do have, so yes, if I want to spend $700.00 on a purse, which is typically what the cheapest Louis Vuitton bags start at, that is my right.

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