Remember this bag? Its original retail cost was $108, but I only paid about $10 total. No, it wasn't used -- and no, it didn't "fall off a truck" somewhere downtown.
I initially spotted the bag at my local Marshall's discount store. I loved the bright yellow color, the laser-cut daisies, the functional pockets and key clip inside, and the way it looked with my outfit at the time (cut off jeans shorts, black tights and combat boots, and a tan cardigan). I was smitten, and full ready to buy myself an inexpensive pleather treat. Then I checked out the price tag: 75 clams! For PU! When I'd probably catch one of those poor, delicate flowers on something and destroy the bag within a month! I regretfully put the bag down and left empty-handed.
Cut to a week later, and I was rabid to find this bag again. I could suddenly picture a million different outfits that desperately needed a shock of yellow, and I sure as heck could not find anything I liked as much in real leather. So I trekked back to Marshalls - the bag was gone. I trekked to yet another Marshalls -- and another -- and three more TJ Maxx locations -- only to yield the same results (cue pathetic fallacy).
I eventually found the bag on the Jessica Simpson site but, as you see above, retail was over $100, and that didn't include shipping. I still wanted the bag, but I just couldn't justify the extra cost. I had to get creative.
Now honestly, I've lusted after stuff I couldn't afford long before this, so I already had a plan in place:
1) Find a better offer: $108 was the original retail price, yes, but there's always a discount to be had. In this case, the discount wasn't much - I ultimately paid $82.59 on Amazon, but 25 bucks is 25 bucks. Ebay is also a treasure trove of deals waiting to be had.
2) Chip away the cost with coupons: Although it didn't apply in regards to my yellow bag, I can often find coupons that waive shipping or reduce the cost of my desired items even further. A quick Google search is all it takes to save a cool $10 on shipping!
3) Liquidate assets: I've worked at hedge funds and brokerage firms (at a very low level, but still!), so I know that, when wealthier people want to make large purchases, they have other options besides busting out a credit card and generating debt -- and one of those options is to liquidate assets. I didn't have extra money set aside for frivolous purchases, nor did I have any income-generating investments. I did, however, have a pile of ill-fitting clothes ripe for Ebay selling.
Ever since I was a starving, unemployed college student, I've bought most all my clothes at the swap meet for $1. At the time, I averaged an Ebay sale price of about $10 (it's less now). This left me something like $8 in profit per item sold after fees. Thus, I was able to raise the 80-odd bucks I needed for the bag by selling $10 worth of clothes.
If you don't have a surplus of used clothes lazing about, chances are you have other stuff you aren't using - that 4"-screen netbook you haven't looked at since the iPad came out, the old Razr flip phone you were saving for "emergencies," random garage kitsch. You might not value this stuff anymore, but that doesn't mean it lacks monetary value. You can sell things on Ebay/Craigslist/Etsy/Bonanza or, if you dislike selling through the internet, you can hold garage sales or resell items to friends and acquaintances.
Other such success stories:
B. Makowsky Rebel crossbody bag (mine is black) - original retail $154 - net damage $12
Cole Haan Hooded Travel Jacket- original retail apparently around $300 (similar) - net damage $10
Michael Kors Lead Me On boots - original retail $169 - net damage $-10 (sold thrashed, gifted Frye boots for $10 more than these cost on sale).
As you can see, I don't like to deny myself much of anything. If I love something, I'll find a way to make it mine, even if it means giving up something else -- and dude, if I'm not willing to give up something else for a new purchase, then I probably don't want it that much, right? On that note, I hope I've helped give you another excuse to shop... and one idea about how to shop without breaking the bank.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Enabler :)