How I afford designer and luxury products

Today’s post is a bit unconventional from my usual. If you follow along on my Instagram, you’ll notice that I post a lot of designer stuff. I have a somewhat high maintenance life in that I love designer products, whether it is Valentino shoes, or YSL handbags. I wanted to talk a bit about how I generally afford these things, because I know a lot of women out there love designer products as well. I do have some tips and tricks up my sleeve that help me save money. They don’t call me the deal fairy for nothing!

1. Create a wishlist

In my mind, I have a set wishlist of the shoes and bags I want to buy, and I slowly check them off my wishlist over the years. With designer stuff, it’s very easy to get sucked into the current “it” style without thinking about longevity. I consider a number of factors before even putting it on my mental wishlist, including but not limited to:

  • Will it stand the test of time
  • Is it practical, for example can I wear this to different events, can I wear this to work, is it comfortable to wear, will it go with a lot of outfits
  • Does it fulfill a hole in my collection, for example a Chanel mini is on my list because I don’t have any evening bags

Once I have it on my wishlist, I generally stick to the wishlist. I’ve never bought a bag on impulse, and I always mull over it for at least a few weeks. During this time, I go back to the store to look at it, try it on, read online reviews and watch review videos. I want to make sure that whatever I’m buying is exactly what I want with no issues.

2. Follow the sales

I only buy my designer stuff on sale. I’ve only bought one bag at retail – my Louis Vuitton Alma BB, and that was only because I had a few gift cards for Holt Renfrew. I’ve purchased only one pair of shoes at retail – my first pair of Ferragamo Varas – and then later I bought two more pairs at pretty good discounts. Every other bag, shoe, clothes I bought on sale. My best buy was a Roland Mouret dress for 85% off; I paid under $500 for a runway dress that retailed for $3,000. Even my Chanel bags, I bought from my personal shopper and friend who gets a discount from the salesperson.

This goes with step 1, because if you have a mental wishlist and are sure of what you want, you know exactly what to look out for. My favourite “retailer” or discount designer goods is Erica at HGBags. She has some amazing prices on classic items. I purchased my Valentino Rockstud flats from her for half off the Canadian retail price at the time, and same with my Christian Louboutin Simple pumps. Both styles are classics that pretty much never go on sale at a department store, yet you can find them through her for fantastic prices. She also sells Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and once in a while she’ll get in some Dior and Chanel bags as well.

My other amazing sale resource is my personal shopper and friend Claire (Orchmelia on Instagram). I purchased my Chanel Jumbo from her, brand new with stickers and full set, and saved myself over $1,200 the Canadian post-tax retail price. You can go buy a Chanel wallet with that money you saved (#shoppingmath).

3. Buy pre-loved

My first designer bag, I bought pre-loved off eBay. It was a Chanel Just Mademoiselle Tote in Lambskin with ruthenium hardware, and I saved $1,200 off retail. Out of my designer bags, I bought 1/3 of them pre-loved. The rest of them I didn’t buy pre-loved only because the style was so new, or the second hand price was too similar to retail to justify it. Buying pre-loved doesn’t mean it’s used. You’d be surprised at how many people buy designer things, take them home, never take them out of the box, and then resell them at pretty much brand new condition. The Chanel tote was one like that, it still had all the stickers on the hardware, yet I saved a lot of money by going that way.

The only thing I don’t like buying pre-loved is shoes. I feel like feet are a weird thing, and I don’t really like the idea of putting my feet in shoes that other people have worn around all day.

4. If you can afford it, aren’t in debt, are in good financial standing, buy it NOW

Take this piece of advice with a grain of salt. I’m not telling you to go out and hoard all of your wishlist items right now. But if you’ve had your eye on something for a few years, and you can afford it, and know that eventually you will very likely buy it, you should just buy it now. Designer goods go up in price at insane speeds, so if you don’t buy it now, it will go up in price at a rate that is much faster than your wealth will accumulate. A good example is the Chanel classic medium flap. In 2010, the price was hovering around $2,000. Now it’s over $6,000 in Canada. In the meantime, did your wealth triple? Unlikely.

5. Save money in other areas of life

I work full time and earn a full time salary. I don’t really make any money off my blog, maybe a few sponsored posts here and there, but nothing that I can really call income (i.e. less than $1000 a year). I don’t have investment income either, as all of my investments are for retirement savings purposes only (and yes I do save quite a bit there).

Aside from buying designer bags and shoes, I generally live pretty frugally. My biggest expenses are my mortgage payments every two weeks, and then I also have The Bar Method membership that is monthly. We generally cook dinner at home, and we try to limit eating out to once a week, where we also budget our eating out to be around $30-40 max for two people. I bring a home-cooked lunch to work pretty much every day and I rarely buy Starbucks or coffee out, and just drink the coffee in my office. I don’t own a car, and take public transit to and from work. I also have automatic debits set up every month to withdraw money from my paycheque into separate RRSP and pension accounts.

Basically, I figured out that being frugal every day but buying designer products once in a while is happier than if I lived fancy every day but didn’t have money left for designer products. It’s all about deciding where your priorities lie, and then executing on it. Unless you make a ton of money at your job, have very wealthy parents who are happy to support you, or don’t care about savings at all, then you can have it both ways. Otherwise, it’s really hard to live a life of luxury on a day-to-day basis and also be able to buy a ton of luxury products too.

Anyways, most of this blog post was general rambling, so I apologize if it was too long. I hope it was helpful in that you can see how I can afford to buy designer stuff. I’m not wealthy, by all means. I have a good job, and my parents are self sufficient so I don’t have to worry about supporting them, so I’m in a good place in my life right now. I do work hard, so I can justify rewarding myself with nice things. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

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