Oct 16

The Best Things in Life are…Vera Bradley?

vera bradley

A few weeks back the boyfriend and I drove out to the premium shopping outlets in Woodbury. I enjoy outlet shopping because I can buy some of the brand name clothing that I like without busting my budget and feeling bad afterwards. These days some of my favorite outlets are the home and garden type stores (William Sonoma, Crate and Barrel etc.). If you find the right sale, and they have the item you’re looking for, you can get some pretty amazing deals.

Side note: are we in the middle of a recession bad economic times? Nobody would know that based on the number of people we saw at the outlets. Literally the stores were so jam packed you couldn’t turn around without bumping into someone. It took us 30 minutes just to find a parking spot (and that was after we “stalked” someone walking back to their car). Tourists from Europe and Asia were buying big rolling suitcases to fill with all of their purchases.

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packed parking lot

I’m not usually one to make a big deal out of brand names. I’m not going to lie and said that I don’t like nice things, but I’m also a realist and know that if I pay $100 for a glorified tee-shirt at Versace, I will spill something down the front and be very upset with myself for the next 3 days.

During this particular trip I saw an adorable Vera Bradley overnight duffel. Boyfriend has one (yup, he does. Love a man who’s not afraid to embrace his feminine side) and I decided that I “needed” one. Well I didn’t need one, I wanted it. And you know what? I bought it! No planning, no mandatory waiting period, no price comparisons and no debating with myself, I just whipped out my American Express and paid for it. And I don’t feel bad at all, in fact I love the bag and I’m excited to plan a little weekend trip so I can use it.

What do I love even more than the duffel (other than the fact it’s pretty darn cute)?

I love that I can afford it!

This might sound odd to some of you who have only known me as the, “Student Debt Survivor”, but back in the day I bought things I couldn’t afford (insert shocked face here).

When wanted something so I bought it…whether I had the cash or not. Not all the time, and not huge purchases, but after a long week I would sometimes treat myself to a dinner or a drinks I couldn’t afford. That lack of foresight, combined with $30k of student loan debt put me in a precarious financial situation. Just 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to make a spur of the moment purchase. When I was drowning in student loan debt, I would sometimes make a purchase then return it the next day because I felt guilty.

Today, I’m debt-free (except for my mortgage) and in a much better financial place. I’m saving money for retirement, paying off our house and helping others when I can. I can finally afford to “splurge” on myself (and others) a little bit and it feels great! So if you’re thinking about whether the sacrifice of becoming debt-free is worth it! Look at this Vera Bradley (fill in your own desirable “thing” here) and tell me it’s not!

Tell me about your favorite “splurges?” Can you afford them?

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  1. Well, we’re still in heavy-duty debt payoff (and laid off) mode, so I hate to think about what I could enjoy splurging on! At this point, it’s hard to think of anything to put on my own Christmas list. I would say that we splurge on food — we do all we can to save, but in the end we are still eating lean meats and fresh produce. Honestly, I think fruit is a splurge!

      • KK on October 16, 2013 at 5:27 pm
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      Sorry to hear about the lay off 🙁 When I was facing difficult financial times, even the small things (a nice chocolate bar I bought myself) were splurges. Everything is relative. Hope things get better soon!

  2. When I buy some clothes I don’t usually look at the brand, I’m more on the stylish side. 🙂 I’m planning this weekend if I will treat my mom into a Swedish massage or a nice meal in a restaurant.

      • KK on October 16, 2013 at 5:28 pm
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      A Swedish massage sounds like a wonderful splurge. I haven’t had one in years!

  3. We had a similar experience recently – my husband and I both have mountain bikes, but we’ve been riding a LOT on paved trails recently and decided it would be worth it to invest in hybrid bikes (because riding 25 miles on a road on a mountain bike is, if you haven’t experienced, sort of like hell). We bought our new bikes last week, and I was almost more excited about the fact that because we manage our money well and budget for big – and occasional – splurges we were able to afford them. I’m really still not used to actually being able to buy and afford things that cost more than about $50!

      • KK on October 16, 2013 at 5:29 pm
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      I have a couple of friends who bike a lot, so I know a little bit (very little) about bikes based on their stories. Congrats on the new bikes, that’s so much fun! I’m still getting used to buying things I want too, it’s a great feeling, but also kind of scary.

  4. I actually just got a Vera Weekender too! I picked mine up on eBay, but now the problem is I want to get a matching purse and wallet too. Those are splurges that will have to wait, though!

      • KK on October 16, 2013 at 5:30 pm
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      Yay! They are totally addicting right? I hadn’t thought to look on ebay. I’ll have to check that out (although I am pretty pleased with the deal I got at the outlet store, everything was 50% off outlet prices which made for a pretty great deal).

  5. Funny you were wondering whether we were in the middle of a recession because of all those shoppers. I made the same comment to my wife a few years back when the financial crisis occurred and the stock market was dropping hundreds of points a day and everyone was foreclosing on their houses…still saw plenty of shoppers. I think I was just complaining because there was no parking! I do like outlets once in a while and got such a great deal on my sneakers! I go to the one out in Long Island though since it’s closer to me.

      • KK on October 16, 2013 at 5:32 pm
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      I’m always shocked to see how many people are shopping (and it’s not even really Christmas time yet). I like to do a little shopping here and there, but these folks were “hard core” racking up $500 bills like they were nothing. They either must have huge credit card bills, or are doing something really “right”. I hope the later 🙂 Long Island might be closer to us too, but I really like the drive up to Woodbury because it’s so peaceful and beautiful up there.

  6. Lately we’re splurging on our garage. It’s going to be expensive to do exactly the way we want it, but it’s going to be so worth the wait to have it and have it done when the only debt we have is our low rate mortgage.

    Sidebar – the recession has technically been over for 4 years. Crazy, right? But by defn it ended in June 2009!

      • KK on October 16, 2013 at 5:35 pm
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      My parents just built a garage and they claim it’s one of the best splurges they’ve made (they love it so much they actually sit out there sometimes just hanging out lol).

      You’re totally right about the “recession” I’ve changed the wording in the post to what I meant, but didn’t really articulate well 🙂

  7. Our outlet malls are always packed. Come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever seen them empty! We took a trip to one last week for my boyfriend, but I’m not really a fan of outlets. The duffel bag is cute, though! Since I am more focused on my student loans right now, I haven’t been splurging on much. My last big purchase was my iPad, which I got on sale and used gift cards to purchase. Travel is something I would like to splurge on in the future.

      • KK on October 16, 2013 at 6:28 pm
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      I’ve never seen the outlets empty either. I guess the deals are just too good to avoid. Travel is definitely a worthy splurge in my opinion.

  8. My wife loves Vera Bradley. I think they pretty much all look the same but she continues to be impressed by the new patterns and such. If nothing else, I always have a go-to gift for birthdays or Christmas if I’m out of other ideas 🙂

      • KK on October 16, 2013 at 6:32 pm
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      The patterns totally look the same lol, but they are all so darn cute I’m OK with that. It’s good to have “go to” gift. Bf’s go to gift for me is definitely knitting supplies. Yarn, needles, patterns…

  9. Super cute bag!! My splurge would for sure be to enter running events again… I get so envious with all the cool medals I see on FB!

      • KK on October 16, 2013 at 6:34 pm
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      Thanks! My splurge *should* be running gear and events 😉

  10. I splurged recently by getting a suit and two shirts tailored. I can never find dress clothes that fit me well so I decided what the heck, I’m just going to splurge and get them tailored so they fit really well. I think it was worth it!

      • KK on October 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm
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      That’s a good splurge. Clothes that fit right are an investment in confidence and self-esteem in my opinion. When I look good I feel good.

  11. I will jump for joy on the day when my student loans are gone and I’ll truly feel like I can afford the splurges. Although my major splurges tend to be more for experience things (marathons, trips to visit family/friends, etc). Because of this, I don’t feel too guilty for doing it and I can’t really return those so no point in dwelling on it.

      • KK on October 16, 2013 at 6:41 pm
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      I much prefer “events” or trip splurges to material “things”. Last year I flew my grandparents to our condo for Christmas. We went to a Broadway show, went out to eat etc. Well worth the price for all of those memories we’ll have forever.

  12. LOVE that bag, KK, and I’m SO glad you treated yourself and just bought it without thinking it over. 🙂 I’m not doing any splurging right now, given our one-year commitment to really buckle down on spending, but soon after the new year, like as in January 1st at 12:01 am, (or as soon as the spa opens, whichever comes first 🙂 ), I am getting a professional haircut, highlights, a facial, and maybe even a massage as well. Now if only I can convince myself to spend the money once the time comes near. 🙂

      • KK on October 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm
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      January 2, I’ll expect to see a big post about all of the nice things you did for yourself! I still have a hard time spending on myself, but it’s gotten a little easier now that I’m debt-free. Hang in there, you’re almost there.

  13. There is nothing wrong with splurging on yourself a bit, once you get to a better financial place. You deserve that carrot at the end of the string.

      • KK on October 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm
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      I agree Jefferson. After years of making sacrifices, I want to spend a little and have a little fun (within reason of course).

  14. Looks like we were of the same mind today at our blogs – talking about splurges. 🙂 It is a great place to be – debt free and able to stretch the budget to enjoy some premium items.

      • KK on October 17, 2013 at 11:02 pm
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      Totally! great minds right 😉 Running shoes and Duffel bags all the way!

  15. When we splurge it’s only because we have the cash to do so otherwise it just doesn’t happen, full stop. I think too many people talk themselves into a purchase when they don’t have the cash with all sorts of ideas for paying for something when the best is always wait to save cash. IMO>

      • KK on October 17, 2013 at 10:59 pm
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      Agreed, a lot of people really can’t afford to splurge, and shouldn’t be out buying things unless they can pay for them with cash. I still have a hard time buying things now, even thought I can afford them.

  16. When I was in college and worked at Walmart I have to work half a day to enjoy a nice dinner. Now we eat out all the time and can spend money traveling, going to Hong Kong, SF, and San Diego this year. When we went to NY we loved it, but man did I feel poor there.

      • KK on October 17, 2013 at 10:58 pm
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      I’m sure that Walmart job really put things in perspective for you. I remember working in a snack bar/seafood shack when I was in high school. I think I made $7 an hour. It was a crazy, dirty, hot, gross job, but it definitely taught me the value of hard work and saving for things I wanted.

  17. The rolling suitcases at Woodbury commons always crack me up. It gets a lot less hectic if you go in the afternoon/evening.

    It’s a great feeling to know you can afford something you want and not have to feel guilty about it. My splurge is lulu lemon.

      • KK on October 17, 2013 at 10:56 pm
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      I’ve never had anything lulu lemon, but I hear about it a lot (well I did after the see through yoga pants ;-)) I’ll have to try Woodburty later in the day. Mid-day is crazy!

  18. Love that duffel! I haven’t splurged for such a long time (years!). Today I had a little daydream about going on vacation to somewhere like Las Vegas. It’s on my list of places to travel. Traveling is the one thing I miss so much from my ‘old life’ where I used to splurge a lot!

      • KK on October 17, 2013 at 10:56 pm
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      Bf really wants to go to Vegas. I could take it or leave it, but will go just to say that I’ve been. We’re hoping to go with my parents in the Spring. Travel is one of my favorite splurges.

  19. I really want a nice backpack… I’m in love with the Patagonia brand and I think that’s my next splurge. But I definitely love to go to Woodbury and that place is ALWAYS packed.

  20. Can’t wait for the day when I can buy high quality (and adorable) items like this without having to worry about whether or not I can afford it! Making quality purchases is a big reason why I want to get rid of my debt.

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