THE REAL COST OF BUYING HAPPINESS
Posted: Mar 05 2015
A little over a month ago, I wrote my first blog post on why I started a dress rental business, and why I am still in love with the dream today. Feel free to have a little recap here. Within the first couple of paragraphs I recalled how my dream store design (back in 2009), included a large quote printed on the back wall:
"People who say money can't buy happiness don't know where to shop."
I admitted to still loving this quote. Why? Because it's true. I genuinely feel happy when I find a pair of designer shoes on sale, and it's not rare to find me looking smug when I have put together a rocking outfit.
(Photo of me being smug in an outfit!)
But, it is very rare for fashion-lovers to admit to the "other" feelings. You know those ones that creep in as soon as you leave a store? My shopping experiences go something a little like this:
"I love it! It will be perfect for tonight. Plus, I will definitely wear it again with flats to work. I haven't bought myself something in ages. You have to splash out once in a while."
I then proceed to check my bank account and reason that I will hardly spend any money on eating out this week, and can definitely get by.
I walk to the register and pay. In this exact moment I am excited, but as I turn around to leave the store I instantly feel a pang of guilt. "I really shouldn't have bought that." The guilt though is fleeting. By the time I am getting ready for the party that evening, I am buoyant again. No staring into the wardrobe wondering what to wear, I have the perfect (brand new) outfit.
Compliments at the party - check!
No one else in the same outfit - check!
Great photo for Instagram - check!
Often, it's not until the end of the following week when I'm paying for food on my credit card, and wondering how I am going to possibly afford to pay rent that the guilt returns.
"I shouldn't have bought that dress last weekend. I really didn't need it. And who was I kidding, I'm never going to wear it to work. I really could use that $200 right now!
I have been caught in this cycle far too many times. In fact, it feels like over the past year its almost every time I go shopping. Right now, I can sit in front of my wardrobe and quite easily pick out the things that elicited the guilty spiral - the things I never should have bought.If you could return any piece of clothing to a store and get your money back, no questions asked. What would you return? It's interesting, isn't it. It's all the things you probably should have never bought in the first place, all the dresses and tops and skirts you've only ever worn once.
Money can buy happiness. But the happiness is momentary. Just like a sugar hit, happiness derived from consumption spikes and then leaves you feeling lethargic for the rest of the day. More and more we live our life in pursuit of fleeting pleasures. We double tap a photo on Instagram, head to the link in the profile, buy the shoes we "just had to have" and in that moment we are content. But for how long? How long before you scroll past another photo on Instagram and are captured by a sparkling new desire?
The average credit card debt in Australia is $4,200. I perform above average in this category (yay for me), and I would love to say that is because I have been bootstrapping a start up business, but it's not. I am in credit card debt because I made a last minute decision to fly to California in 2012 for Coachella Music Festival. I am in credit card debt because whilst I was overseas I fell in love with a pair of pink Bally flats. I am in credit card debt because when Christmas rolled around I hadn't saved any money for presents, but I still wanted to buy my family and friends beautiful gifts. I am in credit card debt because I continue to spend more than I earn.
So, I am starting to think this should be my new favourite quote:
"Just because you can pay for something, doesn't mean you can afford it."
Time and time again, we give into the social pressures that suggest we have to buy a new dress for every occasion. That to go with that dress we need a new pair of shoes, and don't get me started on finding a clutch to match the chautrese dress you just bought.
I will always love fashion, and I know that I will continue purchase it, but in the same breath I think it is time us young women step up and start making smarter financial decisions. Did you know, Australian women perform below average on every measure of financial literacy between the ages of 18-34? A stat that shocked me when I first heard it, and will not be solved simply by spending less. However, in order to start turning things around we do need to acknowledge our own individual spending habits and think about what big differences some small changes could make.
It can be hard for example to envision just how much money you could save overtime by renting instead of buying.
But there you have it. Quite a lot.
Going back to the confessions of my last blog post, if I had rented the 20 dresses I have hanging in the far corner of my wardrobe, I would have saved myself close to $5,000 and still had the same great photographs and memories. Why not save yourself $300 and rent a dress the next time you want something fabulous to wear? It's these little steps that can help to impact our financial situations.
If this post spoke to you/inspired you/shocked you please comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts! - Alex x