Coached In Personal Finance Matters by "Coach"?

In my mid-thirties, I confessed to my husband that I wanted a Coach handbag for my 40th birthday. I don't have many designer brand clothes or accessories, but I do like having some nice things, and a Coach handbag was just one of those things. 

Why a Coach handbag?

While in my twenties, I spent years going to New York on business. There, I would see all the pretty purses and designer bags (as well as the knockoffs, of course) and I noted the exorbitant prices associated with the various designer labels. Apparently going up to and beyond four figures is not unusual in the handbag market!

Despite the price tag, I knew then that I would end up with a designer bag at some point because of the potential for longevity and classic lines many of these handbags feature. Then, in mid-2012, Coach opened a retail outlet in my city. That was it. I had selected the brand based on the first of the designers I coveted establishing a presence in my city. I visited the store many times after it opened, popping in every time I found myself at that mall but I could never get over the prices!  

I've mostly purchased good quality leather bags over the years, but they were usually chosen for practicality and durability, not so much for the brand name associated with it. So for me to declare I was going forward with the request for a designer bag was a marked change from my usual behaviour.

So why was this important to me? It would make me feel I had "arrived". If someone can spend $300 - $500 on a handbag, one would think they can afford anything. It's a declaration to the world and to yourself that you're at least a member of the middle class that's got it made! Right? ...Right?!

Nope. Keep reading.

Well, I ended up getting my handbag three years early. We were at an outlet mall that enabled us to get a beautiful bag at less than 40% of what it would cost at home. I carefully made my selection by working my way through the entire Coach store's displayed inventory. Twice.

The whole experience took over an hour. They had all the colours and designs imaginable. What did I end up selecting? A traditional Coach bag made of black leather with a single simple clasp on the front. No labels, no bling, nothing flashy. One could say my selection was downright bland.  

Am I happy I purchased the bag? Absolutely.

Was it worth it? Yes!

Why? That purchase made me realise a few things about myself that I was more than pleased to discover and they had little to nothing to do with my initial motivations:

  • I didn't make this significant purchase on impulse. It was planned well in advance and we took advantage of the opportunity to save money when it presented itself. My hubby actually insisted I go for it because the prices were so good and he doesn't often think anything is a good deal.
  • Just because it was at a deep discount, I didn't select a style and colour that would make me wish I had more than one. Black and traditional goes a long way and will never look dated. I even pictured this purse on my arm at 70+ years old and I could definitely see it.
  • I sought quality and durability (some things never change I guess) and demanded as much from this brand as I would any other, if not more.
  • Despite the deep discount, I wasn't tempted to purchase a higher priced bag nor to purchase more than one. The regular retail limit I had established for myself was $300 and that was the regular price tag for that bag.  
  • I didn't care for others to know I was sporting a Coach bag (unless they were really into Coach bags and figured it out on their own, I guess). I actually found I was a bit embarrassed about the purchase. I can't put my finger on why. Maybe because I think it's a ridiculous price to pay for a handbag. So, I chose a bag that was discreet about its origins (the label only appears inside the bag). 
  • I felt this was a special treat for me to enjoy for decades to come and almost two years later, I still feel the same way. 

Delayed gratification at its best.

So yes. I'm very happy with the purchase and I appreciate it every time I use it. I'm even more pleased with what the purchase represents for me, even though it's not what I initially thought it would be. To me, as strange as it may seem, this bag is not about designer labels. It's about wanting to fulfill a long-held wish and doing so while at the same time holding true to myself and to my values. 

I'm happy I waited until recently to purchase it because I think that, had I purchased a similar bag earlier in my life, in New York perhaps, I would likely have a 1/2-dozen of them in my closet by now and they would not mean as much as this nondescript selection does to me now. It's the one and only designer bag I will own and it's fine by me. It brings a smile to my face every time I have it with me or see it in my closet because it represents a choice to buy something of quality that I considered purchasing for over ten years. I don't care that no one knows what I'm carrying on my shoulder, all I care about it the story behind the purchase.

Ok, so I realise I am blogging about it now, but how else am I supposed to share the story!

I sincerely hope I don't forget the insights that purchase afforded me. I hope I take as much care in making future purchases as I did this one. It's OK to want nice things but for me, it's not about getting them quickly. It's about making a good purchase decision that makes me enjoy what I chose to buy and that translates into feeling that having only one of something is "enough".

What's on your ultimate wish list? How long do you think about a significant purchase before dropping the cash for it? How do you make the decision about what it is that you really want to own?