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8 People On The Bullsh*t Purchase They Made In The Name Of Self-Improvement


I’m not proud to admit this, but aside from bills and general grown-up life things I need to pay for (yawn), almost 100% of my purchases are due largely in part to a sick Pinterest obsession. I tend to feel like my self-esteem is pretty high, and I generally feel really comfortable about my life – that is, until I see some super-chic girl on Pinterest sitting in her all-white bedroom in a breezy, casual-cool outfit with hair that is somehow magically void of split ends. Then I freaking hate myself.

I buy so many things out of nothing more than a fleeting desire to be a certain way; a better way. I see a tall, leggy model with a full chest looking impossibly sleek and somehow still curvy in a slinky dress, and think “if I wear that, I’ll be like her.” But then I put the outfit on my awkward, 5’2” virtually-shapeless frame, and am still regular old Mary. My boyish hips don’t disappear because I spent $50 on a completely impractical leather miniskirt. I don’t achieve anything near effortless Parisian-chic by putting on a pair of pricey sunglasses that squeeze the sides of my head. I don’t look like a dewy Instagram beauty-guru just because I dropped $75 on greasy, cakey makeup at Ulta.

But hell if I haven’t tried.

I know it isn’t exactly healthy to live an “I saw Cady Heron wearing army pants and flip-flops, so I bought army pants and flip-flops” kind of life, and I’ve tried like hell lately to break that cycle (mostly by ignoring aspirational social media accounts and Pinterest in general like the friggin plague). Crazily enough, it seems to be working.

However, when I asked my always-hilarious community of friends and peers if they had similar tendencies, I got an overwhelmingly funny response. These are some of my favorite “aspirational purchases” made by eight people, and whether or not they ended up delivering on what their hopeful purchasers so deeply desired.

1. “I bought a lot of mason jars as chic room decorations, but I actually don’t have anything to put in the jars, so now I just have a bunch of empty jars. It isn’t cute, it just looks like I run some sort of jelly factory. Pinterest is dangerous.” – Taylor, 23

2. “My watch was an aspirational purchase. Watches are one of those things we really don’t need anymore. Its functionality is novelty at best. But people who seem to know what’s going on have watches for no real logical reason. I decided that I always wanted to look forward and know what I had to do in life, so I wanted a watch I could be proud of. It cost almost $300 and I’ve never spent that kind of money on anything I’ve ever owned – I’m fairly sure my entire wardrobe minus my suits cost only slightly more than my watch. I didn’t need a watch for any actual use; I needed it for a mental boost and reminder. But I do love my watch; I wouldn’t be a real adult without it.” – Drew, 27

3. “I saw this one girl come into the restaurant I was working at wearing a mini skirt with fringe. I thought ‘damn, I can do that!’ I found a cheap one, and after much debate, I said fuck it and bought it. Even though I wore it for 15 minutes in the dressing room, it wasn’t until I was walking around in it outside that I realized the skirt pulls up and the strands clump together. I love how fringe looks but I hate wearing it. The skirt does look great, but only if I stand still.” – Halle, 21

4. “Rosetta Stone Arabic. And all of those stupid Alex and Ani bracelets. Neither were worth it.” – Kiernan, 26

5. “I watched a YouTube video where this girl ‘hauled’ a bunch of grungy, trendy Urban Outfitters clothes. I went there literally the next day and spent probably an entire paycheck on overpriced garments that mostly just make me look like I’m going through a bad high school phase. I need to stop YouTube-ing, it isn’t safe. I’m getting too old for that shit.” – Emily, 31

6. “I saw Chris Hemsworth wearing a dark blue V-neck, and since I feel like I’m destined to be Thor, I bought like three V-necks in three different shades of blue. Sadly, I regret it, because I can’t pull off V-necks” — Mike, 23

7. “I did buy army pants once because I saw Miley Cyrus wearing them on Hannah Montana and I wanted to be like her.” – Carolyn, 22

8. “99.8% of my belongings were aspirational purchases. Most recently I got a pair of jeans I thought looked super cute on the model, but they actually just gave me a camel toe.” – Margaret, 21


Mary is the summer Media Fellow at The Financial Diet. Send her your summer intern stories (your lessons, failures, triumphs and good advice) at

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  • jdub

    I keep buying new lipstick colours with the intention of regularly wearing all of them and keeping my makeup ~lewk~ trendy, but I also keep cycling back to the same 3 colours… all 3 being shades of red. Way to step outside the box, me.

  • I always end up buying aspirational shoes and heels for work, even though I wear the same black pumps everyday, cause they’re more comfortable than anything else ~trendy~ that I end up picking up.
    I wish I aspirationally bought more classic outerwear…alas.

  • Erin

    I’m easily influenced by people I admire (from afar — bloggers, Instagrammers, tweeters, etc.).

    *looks down at Lululemon bag I bought because one of my favorite SoulCycle instructors has it*
    *looks back at jacket a blogger I like has*
    *looks over at book someone cooler than me on Instagram was reading*

    Thankfully I’m at work and not at home, or that list would be 73 times longer because I take recommendations very seriously. I’m not proud, OK?

  • R@chel

    Thanks to Youtube, 2 years ago I fell into an “everything in my life must be holistic, natural, and organic” hole. I ended up throwing a lot of good products out to purchase a variety of expensive items from Vitacost and WholeFoods. Most of these organic/vegan/nongmo cleaners, oils, deodorants, teas, soaps, etc. flat out just did not work. While I felt very superior using them, I realized that sometimes I just need deodorant with aluminum in it if I didn’t want to smell bad by the end of the day. I think I’ve finally found a happy combination of natural and regular products after many trials and errors.

    • I tried 3 or 4 variations of natural clay, salt stick, and paste deodorants and constantly found myself sitting in meetings thinking, “oh my god is that ME?” (surprise: it was). I thought maybe my body just had to get used to it so I stuck it out for about a month before finally just going back to aluminum.

    • Jack

      I use natural deodorant and sometimes I think I smell so bad, but when I get home my boyfriend will sniff my pits for me (what a guy!) and he’s like “I can kinda sort of smell something when I’m right up in there, but otherwise, you’re fine!”. I think we get really paranoid about things like that and chances are, no one is noticing 🙂 I mean, shower daily of course but try to get off the aluminum if you can!

  • Irisgeist

    For me, it was buying a pair of black leather , 10cm high italian stilettos. Plot twist: 99% of the time I wear only flat shoes! don’t get me wrong, the shoes are damn sexy, beautifully done, and surprisingly more comfortable to any other of my lame attempts to wear high heels. I bought them hoping to use them in special occasions , with a medium amount of success (fancy dinner with boyfriend on a trip, concert and a cocktail party), for which I received a lot of compliments. Yet, I still have to master the art of walking on those things.

  • D. Broussard

    Yeah…. Probably the reason I’m debating on buying an Alexander wang bag even though I still need to pay my phone bill today… Yikes.

  • Floral kimonos and body-con dresses. Like, you cannot suck it in ALL DAY at work lady.

    • Jack

      Ahaha my coworker and I often chat about how we only buy “pj dresses” which are just bigger looser dresses where you can relax your tummy 🙂

  • Every time I feel insecure– like after moving to a new place, starting a new job, etc– I start buying things I think I need to become the person who’s totally chill and awesome and crushes it in this new area. Then when I actually feel secure again I realize I never use that stuff.

    When I moved about 6 months ago I was setting up my apartment and just NEEDED a floor cube pillow thing in order to feel like my place was “cozy”. I never use it, and my apartment is so tiny that I end up tripping over it at least once a day and really just need to get rid of it.

    Totally unrelated, but does anybody need a floor cube pillow thing?

    • Rebecca Foresman

      Hi Audrey! If you ever feel like writing about your experiences with impulse sending to be “cool,” we’d love to hear from you on our submissions page: