Shopping Smart

8 Women On The Worst Purchase They Made To “Be A Better Version Of Themselves”

By | Wednesday, September 21, 2016


I’ve written a lot on TFD before about the frustrating financial phenomenon of “spending to become a better version of yourself.” It’s ridiculous, of course — there’s no material item you can purchase that will magically change who you are — but the desire is there all the same. It’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking that this outfit, or that adorable furniture item, or even that car, will make you a better person. And yes, you could maybe argue that certain purchases would up your chances of getting a job or being viewed in a certain way when it’s important to be, but it won’t make you better. “Better” is a vague, self-defeating term that most often means “how hard we’re judging ourselves on any given day.”

When we buy things without specific, tangible needs in mind — even if that need is something as simple as “I want to enjoy a nice meal with friends, for the sake of doing it” — it almost always results in buyer’s remorse. Every time we spend money, it should be for a reason, and for something we know will be worth the investment. And we all know the difference between spending on upgrades that are important to your life and spending because some stylish Instagram or coworker sent you into a bit of an “everything I own is shit” spiral. I know the things I’ve regretted buying most were the impulse purchases I made when I was feeling particularly down or insecure, and thought that a cheap new top or nail polish would suddenly make me happier.

To talk more about the phenomenon, and acknowledge that this is something we all fall prey to, we spoke to eight women about the worst purchase they made in the name of “being a better version of themselves.”

1. “I took a cross-country road trip that I could not afford at the time because I wanted to prove to myself (and yes, of course, a guy I really liked) that I was the ‘free spirit’ type. We spent like two weeks sleeping in the back of this old station wagon in sleeping bags, eating a lot of gas station food, and taking pictures next to cheesy tourist attractions in random towns. It made for a lot of really dreamy Instagrams, but the entire experience could be summed up in one word: Smelly. The guy and I didn’t work out, of course, I spent a ton of money I didn’t have, and I didn’t end up feeling like any more of a ‘free spirit.’ I’m the kind of person who likes regular access to showers and a decent bed, and I have now learned to accept that.” — Caroline

2. “I bought a $1,300 (yes, you read that right) work bag all the women in my office carried. I got a new job last year at this prestigious law firm I had been dying to get into, and when I finally did, I went a little crazy trying to present myself in the right way and make myself look older. When I saw the designer bags the women in the office were carrying around, I felt compelled to buy one myself — and I told myself ‘I DESERVE THIS.’ Most mindless purchase I’ve ever made.” — Dasha

3. “I got a fancier model of the car I was originally going to lease. When I was going to start leasing a car, I thought I was just going to go for the entry-level base version of the model I wanted. However, I let my friends’ comments about how shitty the interior looked get to me, and I ended up going for the higher, ~fancier~ model, which cost an extra $100 a month to lease. I hate to admit to myself that this was largely due to peer pressure and the fact that I wanted to drive a car that impressed my friends and coworkers (kills self). I for sure did it to try and feel like a ‘better version’ of myself, but man, when I think about what else I could be doing with that $1,200 a year I want to light that car on fire. Too bad I’m roped into a three-year contract…” — Andie

4. “I bought a pair of Christian Louboutins at an upscale consignment store for $270 dollars. In my mind, this was an ‘amazing deal,’ and buying the Loubies would make me want to take care of my clothes more. They were also a half-size too small, which I justified by saying I would go get the leather professionally stretched (??? not even sure if that’s a thing). Surprise, surprise: I didn’t get them stretched, I have worn them approximately three times (I can’t walk or stand more than 20 minutes in them), and I’m still really meh about taking care of my clothes.” — Alison

5. “Regular Brazilian waxes for a dude who was DEFINITELY not worth them.” — Paula

6. “A $400 down comforter + sheet set. After years of dreaming of owning my own home, and poring over home decor magazines, I felt like there were a few essential things every ‘adult home’ needed. A hotel-esque looking bed was one of them — something that felt luxurious, comfy, and fluffy as hell. The idea of having a super-plush bed, decked out with expensive linens, would surely make me feel like the best version of myself, right? I ended up splurging on a down comforter that was like $300, and then I spent another hundred bucks on a super-soft set of sheets. Looking back, it was a shit ton of money to spend when I was already going into debt for furniture. (Also I can’t really tell the difference between the comforter quality, if I’m being totally honest.)” — Julie

7. “I paid over 50% of my take-home pay in rent so I could live in SoHo when I first moved to New York. I basically spent two years eating old soup and big bags of generic breakfast cereal so I could have a glamorous address. Now I live in Washington Heights, I love my apartment, and I am actually saving money every month.” — Janae

8. “My mom chewed my ear off talking about how I should be taking care of my skin, preventing wrinkles, staying out of the sun, going to the dermatologist, etc. She got me paranoid about my skin and I thought if I didn’t drop serious money on investment products in my twenties, I’d live to regret my aged-and-dry-looking skin when I turned 40. I got seriously anxious about the aging process and spent insane amounts of money on peels, lotions, facials, and anti-aging products. All this has done is make me feel more self-conscious about my ‘fleeting’ good looks.” — Christina

Image via Unsplash

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