I was talking to a potential financial advice client about handbags last week (yep, I deal with the big issues I know) and she told me how pleased she was that she didn’t have an expensive handbag addiction. She was quite comfortable with her $200-300 staples that she carries around.
Now, confession time, I cart around a luxury handbag that costs about 10 times more than that. But it’s my everyday handbag with one more back up bag in case I need something a little smaller. Based on past experience, this bag will last me around five years and I’ll use it daily except for say 30 days during the year. This means my luxury purchase that I use for roughly 1675 days has cost me around $1.49 per day.
Yes, I really am a numbers nerd.
But stick with me as to why that number of $1.49 is important. That’s because the cost per wear is how I make most of my purchasing decisions and it will help me decide how much I’m willing to spend on an item as a result.
It’s why, if I think something is a fad or a fleeting trend that I’ll be sick of in 12 months time I’ll had to Zara or similar to purchase. However, it’s why for most purchases I look for classic styles that will stand the test of time that I’ll be prepared to wear for potentially the next decade. It’s why I make good friends with a cobbler and a tailor so I can extend the life of those clothes and shoes because the price I paid for them and the quality of the garments warrants them being fixed.
That’s because while my client’s handbag may cost substantially less, if she’s turning them over every 12 months and like me, not using them for one month of the year then her cost per wear is $0.89 for her current bag. However, if she gave in and bought my luxury handbag and every year wanted to trade up to a new bag like she currently does, she’d be much better off sticking to her current spending patterns because it’s far cheaper for her.
Yet, if she’d just upgraded her handbag one day because she received a payrise, a bonus, had a bad day or simply bought into the hype that ‘she’s worth it’, popped the bag in the cupboard and brought it out on weekends when she went out with her girlfriends it could take over 15 years to get any type of similar return on her investment. That’s because the cost per wear is now through the roof. And if you think this is the only handbag purchase she’s going to make in that 15 year period then you’re a bigger fool than me which means the cost per wear for her ‘bags’ goes up further.
Can you see why we need to start thinking about our purchasing decisions and our purchasing habits?
I think when we’re making purchasing decisions we need to start asking ourselves, ‘what is the cost per wear’? That’s because if you’re spending $500 on a gorgeous dress for a wedding that you’ll wear once, you’re much better off spending $150 and hiring it. Or figuring out whether you can dress it down with pants or sneakers and wear it to the pub or dinner. That way, you can spend without guilt, knowing you’re either spending money by hiring or you have an outfit you can wear again and again and LOVE.
Cost per wear is the reason why I choose to wear ‘special’ items whenever I damn well feel like it. Because why would you spend oodles on something and wear it three times and $50 on something that you wear daily but hate? That has NEVER made either emotional or financial sense.
But there’s another question with my ‘cost per wear’ that goes beyond the financial and that’s the cost to our environment. That’s because if you’re buying a $50 piece of clothing every week because you can, wearing it a few times and tossing it, then does it really matter that you’re being super picky with your recycling habits for the rest of the time? We need to start appreciating that our spending behaviour has a cost that goes beyond the cost to our wallets.
It’s just one of the reasons why I’m about inspiring people to become mindful consumers. This means starting to question the cost per wear both to you and to the environment. That way, you won’t be hoodwinked by sales or fast fashion because you know the ‘cost per wear’ isn’t there. Or you’ll be super savvy when you do see a favourite item or designer go on sale because you know you’re going to wear the sh*t out of it!
Cost per wear. It’s a concept I hope every person starts to embrace as we start a trend towards unf*cking our finances, uncensoring money and becoming mindful consumers.
Tags: budget, cashflow, cost per wear, fast fashion, federal budget, finances, mindfulness, money, unf*ck your finances, vogue