Thanksgiving weekend! A very short work week followed by tons of food, wine, family and kids. My husband and I do two Thanksgivings each year. We do Thursday with his family, which is a lot of people and kids gathered at his mother’s house. And then we do Friday with my family in Maine, which is much more calm and relaxed. This year my sister and her husband couldn’t find reasonable flights, and my grandmother didn’t want to leave the assisted living facility, so it was just four people splitting all kinds of awesome food. My mother’s favorite hobby is to feed us, and then to tell me I’m gaining weight. Mothers!
I always look forward to Thanksgiving. I tend to think of myself as “too good” for the Black Friday hubbub, but in practice, I end up spending quite a bit of money Thanksgiving weekend. Historically we go to Freeport and I drop several hundred dollars at stores like J.Crew Factory and Sperry and Brooks Brothers and Orvis.
This year, I steeled myself. We didn’t go to Freeport. I stayed off the J.Crew Factory website. The only store I “needed” to go to was my friend’s watch store in the Portland Old Port. My husband’s family does a gift exchange (I don’t participate). The guideline had been $200 but last year was lowered (thank goodness) to $100. He drew a sister-in-law, and we wanted to buy her a beautiful gold Skagen watch, as well as pick up the Swiss Army knives I had ordered for my nephews. It should have been a quick transaction.
But damn if those Hamilton watches aren’t gorgeous. I was drawn like a
fly to light to a delicate, beautiful watch which I immediately put on my wrist. I love gold, I love brown leather, and I love watches. My internal monologue went something like this:
You’ve been so good for the past two years. You deserve something nice. You haven’t bought a new watch in more than two years. This one is so classy and pretty – and high quality! It’s $645. That’s a lot. That’s alot-alot. That’s hard to justify. But Nicole – you never buy yourself “anything.” You work hard. You should have nice things. And you can afford it. It could be your Christmas present! In a few months, you’ll get that extra $600 from the TD Bank accounts. Why not use it for this watch?
At that point I had to drag myself away from the watch. My father was with us, and he wanted a coffee. We went next door to Bard Coffee, and as soon as I stepped out of that intoxicating watch shop, I started to come to my senses.
A $645 watch is nuts right now. We owe $240,000 on our mortgage, for God’s sake. And who knows what kind of unexpected bills will come over the next few months. We’ve been averaging hundreds of dollars a month in medical bills, and there’s no reason to think those will stop. Winter is always more expensive; the cars run less efficiently and the house needs to be heated.
Not to mention… I already own several [beautiful, high-quality] watches…
If you look closely, you can see that I haven’t even worn half these watches since daylight savings kicked in nearly a month ago.
Bottom line – much as I love the Hamilton model, I do not need another watch.
My next Black Friday weekend “challenge,” which has been ongoing, was the Allen Edmonds website. The Allen Edmonds brand first blipped on my radar a few months ago. My husband told me that he really liked his brother’s shoes, which were Allen Edmonds. I immediately went to the company’s website, saw the prices, and thought, “ain’t no way in hell my husband is ever gonna wear Allen Edmonds.”
The shoes are gorgeous, and look high quality… and run in the neighborhood of $400. But for yucks, I submitted my email address into the company’s database.
That was mid-August. I now receive emails from Allen Edmonds every few days. I’ve received 59 emails since I signed up. Allen Edmonds is pretty much always on my mind.
I’m now familiar with the styles and the rotating sales prices. So when the Black Friday prices came up, I didn’t question that they were much lower than the usual mid-week “bargain” prices. All of a sudden, the gorgeous shoes were in the “still-really-expensive-but-sort-of-justifiable” range.
The Sanford cap-toe derby in walnut leather, for example. A gorgeous shoe! Does my husband already have a brown dress shoe? Well yes, he does. But I hate that pair of shoes, and I know they don’t fit him well. They don’t look nice. I can order this pair in a size 14B, which is incredible. These shoes will last a lifetime.
OK, OK, so maybe he doesn’t need a brown dress shoe right this minute. But what about a pair of boots for the weekends? A nice pair of boots! The Long Branch Wingtips! Those would look amazing on him. Zexy. He doesn’t have anything exactly like this, and it could be his Christmas present.
But again… he just doesn’t need a pair of $300 boots. I’m not saying he’ll never own a pair of Allen Edmonds shoes. It just needs to wait until he actually needs a new pair, and then a little longer until the next Black Friday sale.
So no Allen Edmonds shoes. But maybe something more reasonable. For me. I looked at the www.craftsy.com sales – and there are many – but I stayed calm. I have several craft projects to get through (I quilt) before I can justify buying something new, even at a “bargain.” Nevertheless, I decided I “needed” a new cutting mat. The 24″x36″ Olfa mat for $38.40 plus shipping (normal price $64) seemed like a good deal. My old mat is still doing the trick, but it’s beat, and the fabric seems to be slipping, and my cutting accuracy suffers.
Truthfully, I didn’t really need this mat. I have one. The same one. And it’s older, but it’s fine. Luckily, but the time I tried to purchase it online this morning, Craftsy was plum outta stock.
See, that’s the thing about people like me. My husband and I don’t consider ourselves wealthy, we certainly don’t have “F-You” money. But we do have much, much more than we need. We both work. We don’t have kids or the associated expenses. We can afford to put a couple thousand extra bucks towards the mortgage each month. So taking some of that money and putting it towards a beautiful watch, it doesn’t really seem like all that big a deal.
The problem with the “Old Me” was that I tended to splurge at all levels. I would splurge on coffee, sure. And happy hour. And restaurants. And vacations. And Volkl skis. And hair salons. And Crossfit. And handbags. Splurging on something specific is one thing, but when you splurge in all areas of your life, you end up rocking 18% credit card interest debt and refinancing again and again to a new 30-year mortgage term.
At 35 years old I realized that while my husband and I were certainly doing OK, we could be doing so much better. The point wasn’t to buy things. The point should be for our income to buy us options.
Overall we did well this weekend. We bought some presents. We didn’t buy anything expensive and unnecessary just because it was a “deal.” Best of all, I anticipate that we will stay within the week’s budget. If I had purchased the things that I wanted, I could have quickly spent more than $1,500. I would have loved the stuff, but it wouldn’t have been worth the crazy spending hangover, and it would have derailed us for this month and next. We’re having a good November, budget-wise. I’m so happy we’re keeping it that way.