The Games I Play

I was shopping for an interview with a friend and found a jacket  I loved but a price tag I didn’t. In that moment she gave me some of the best and worst advice I’ve gotten to date.

“How often will you wear it?” Was how she began.

I looked at the jacket, “It’s too fancy to wear often, don’t you think?

“No, you could wear that with jeans or those cute summer dresses. If you’re only going to wear it 3 times it’s too much but if you can wear it a dozen times then it’s a good price.”

I bought the jacket, took it home and found a host of things I could pair it with. I’ve never regretted the purchase and 10 years later it still gets use.

I began using that rule whenever I saw something that was a bit pricey or was not essential. It helped me turn down certain things, jewelery being a big one, that I knew that I wouldn’t wear often and also forced me to use things more often.

The downfall is when I overestimate how often I’m going to use something. I was going to have chocolate fondue at every dinner if I got the fondue set. It was a great idea but I didn’t have anyone over for a bit and quietly the set sat on a shelf in it’s package gathering dust. That was 8 years ago.

The second problem is that it’s artificial. To be honest would I miss having something that I don’t need? Would I really have used the item so often if I wasn’t tracking? Would I be ignoring something else that I currently own in order to use the new item?

In this blog, when I make purchases that are frivolous or pricey I’m going to give myself a goal of the number of times I must use something for it to be a reasonable price per use. The price can range from $1-$5 and is loosely based on what the item may go for at a garage sale.

There are some things this won’t work with, in that case I’ll attempt to cost it out by the hour. Right now I use a streaming service and I watch about 2 hours of TV per day which means I spend $.40 per hour. That’s a figure I’m comfortable with.

In case my math is wrong, here’s what I did :

cost of service/ (hrs per day x days per month) or $ 15 / (2*30) or $15/60 = .4

What financial math do you play to feel better about purchases?


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