I admit to being completely out of the loop (thankfully) when it comes to designer anything. Fashionable clothing, jewelry and accessories are all lost on me. I happen to believe the only “accessories” a man should wear is a wedding ring, but I realize that is just so “1980s.”
Today my wife told me about visiting a Neiman Marcus store with a friend and seeing a $150 Marc Jacobs coin wallet on a sale table. My first reaction was, “Who the heck is Marc Jacobs, and why would anyone care to buy his coin wallet?” Apparently he is some high-fa-luting “designer.”
I began to ponder what would motivate a person to buy a $150 coin wallet to transport metal currency in denominations no greater than $0.25 each – I mean, am I the only one who sees the irony in that? The story did remind me of the three questions I ask myself before making a major purchase:
1. Is there a cheaper alternative? Sure, you may have to give up brand loyalties or favorite designers, but chances are you could find a suitable, cheaper product or service that meets your needs. In the case of our coin wallet there are thousands of alternatives to Mr. Jacobs’ accessory. A quick search of Amazon.com lists hundreds of similar products for a lot less money. In fact, a comparable leather coin wallet lists on Amazon.com for $14.00. Of course, far be it from me to advise others on fashion accessories. When it comes to carrying change anything from a Ziploc bag to a warm pocket suits my needs just fine.
2. Will my life really be improved by this purchase? In this case, it’s hard to make the argument that this purchase does anything to improve our place in this world. I guess a few of your friends may be impressed, depending on the type of friends you keep. My friends would probably think I’ve lost my mind to spend a week’s worth of gas and groceries on a change purse, errr…”coin wallet.”
3. What is my motivation for buying this item? When I am about to make a major purchase I always attempt to identify my true motivation for the purchase. Now that I am devoted to frugal living I try to only buy things that are an absolute necessity. If I was in the market for a “coin wallet” I might ask myself why I had to have a Marc Jacobs coin wallet, instead of a $14.00 Fossil change purse from Amazon.com. Both serve the same function, both are made of high-quality materials, and both are reputable brands. In the end it comes down to opportunity cost. The money spent on more high-priced items uses up the opportunities for putting those funds to better use in the future. In the end, that lost opportunity could be much more costly than the $150 price tag.