Given the intense interest in my spending diary, I thought some more financial confessions were in order – so make yourself a brew and pull up a chair while I dish the dirt on the three most expensive things I ever bought. These would probably be very different if I owned a house – those couch prices can really rack up – or had children, granted, and I’m guessing my spending diary itself would be pretty different, too.
What’s my most expensive may not be yours
I appreciate that all of these things are relative – what’s considered outrageously expensive to one person (a handbag, for example) might be a perfectly reasonable price for someone else to pay for a new set of golf clubs. I’ve always found it really interesting how quickly people like to judge and deride others for spending on what they consider “flippant” purchases – but, really, what’s a necessary expensive purchase? A house, arguably. But after that, you can buy your couch secondhand; you needn’t spend more than €2,000 on a car; you could get a last-minute foreign holiday for less than €500 per person. It’s all subjective, right?
I guess that’s my way of justifying my exorbitant purchases – but, truth be told, I have just never been someone who cared about money. Sometimes I have money and other times I have none, because when I have it, I spend it. (I blame my father, who has a very similar “well you can’t leave it behind” attitude to finances.)
I used to spend a lot more money on fashion than I do right now. Perhaps my priorities have shifted – or perhaps I’m just sick of the demoralising effects of shopping for a 15-stone body (14 stone 10, actually). It’s not as much fun as it used to be. These days, my money is mostly spent on eating out (the irony is not lost on me), on travel, on books or on experiences. But back in the day… Well. Here’s just a handful of the most expensive things I ever bought.
1. Phillip Lim’s Pashli handbag
Back in the day, I got a press discount on the now-defunct My-Wardrobe.com. They sold a selection of designer brands and, in my shopping hey day, I was probably a pretty good customer. I still have an Antik Batik* jacket that I bought from the site, and it still garners compliments each time I wear it.
At one point, I decided that I absolutely needed to buy Phillip Lim‘s* Pashli handbag*. It was kind of the it-bag at the time and I adored it. Big enough to carry my laptop, cool enough to wear to events (I went to a lot, back in the day), it was the perfect leather handbag and I would wear it forever.
I’m pretty sure it was close to €1,000 at the time – after my discount, I paid around €750 for my Pashli. And did I have it forever? Well, er, no. I wore it for about two years, all the time. I was right about a few things; it did indeed fit everything, and it looked great with every single outfit, and people were always complimenting me about it. (What can I say? I was young. One of the main joys of owning a designer item was that people noticed me, owning a designer item.)
After those two-odd years, though, I found that it kind of went out of my daily handbag rotation. On its own, it must have weighed about 3 kilos. Once you added a laptop, a book, three notebooks, two phones, a camera, four lip balms… You get the picture. I ended up consigning it at Siopaella, at a loss, of course – but the way I look at it, I got two great years out of it and then I made about €250 back so, er, just don’t tell my mum.
2. Isabel Marant’s Beckett sneakers
I did toy with the idea of writing a post on the most embarrassing, most expensive purchases I ever made – because these trainers would definitely be high on the list. I mean, what was I thinking?! I can tell you: I was thinking, I have not one original thought in my head. I was thinking, these are very in! I was thinking, I want to be cool like Miranda Kerr and Beyoncé! I was thinking, baaaaaaa.
Reader, I bought them. Twice.
Pic: The Fashion Guitar
The first time I purchased my beloved Isabel Marant wedge sneakers (they were all the rage, let me tell you), it was after a long wait. They had come into shops and sold out. They had come in again; they had sold out again. Third time (lucky), I bought a pair from Net-a-Porter*, for around €485 (they’re cheaper now that they’re not quite as in-demand). Sadly, what I hadn’t realised was that French sizes are slightly different to regular European sizes, and I ended up with a pair that were a full size too small for me.
However, being smart, I didn’t return them to Net-a-Porter. Instead, I sold them on eBay, where I made about €100 on my purchase price. There are no flies on me, let me tell you.
I then waited for them to come back in stock and, when they did, I nabbed a pair in Costume in Dublin (probably the city’s best designer boutique, incidentally). I think I may have worn them once before I realised the truth: wedge sneakers are ridiculous. They look good in photographs, on incredibly slim women, because they make them look like beautiful, lithe horses; on me, round of face and chubby of stomach, I looked like a little squat donkey, perched atop enormous bubble shoes. (I know that a lot of this is down to my own perceptions of my body; there is nothing wrong with fat bodies and there is no reason that fat people can’t wear wedge sneakers except for how they’re disgusting.)
I sold this pair as well, and made another €100. Beckett sneakers were basically the bitcoin of the mid-noughties.
3. A brand new Ford Fiesta
Is this cheating? I get that a car is always going to be a pretty expensive investment – but I had to really go all in on this one. In 2011, at the age of 26, I bought myself a brand new Ford Fiesta. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of myself, as I was at that moment. (To be clear: I got a loan. But still.)
At the time, I was working at The Irish Times as a sub editor and production designer in the features department. I was also doing some freelancing, for a variety of sections at the paper – and I had been asked to do a feature for the Motors supplement, on the new Ford Fiesta, which had got a redesign and was being heavily marketed at women. (Obviously, it was a tactic that worked.)
All it took was one test drive around the Curragh – I was determined that it would be mine. (I know this sounds like a story about how I fell in love with a Lexus, but no: for me, it was a Ford Fiesta. I wasn’t alone though; it was in the top 10 most popular cars that year!) It cost me around €14,000; I think I had a down payment of €3,000, and the rest was a loan.
I sold it three years later for €8,000. (The price had been driven down by the various knocks my neighbours had given it, ineffectually turning their cars in the cul de sac I lived on.) I’d just about paid off the car loan, but I had gone freelance two years previously and found myself owing Revenue €14,000. The car was the one thing I owned that was worth enough to make any kind of dint in that figure.
It’s kind of sad, remembering that time. It was a really difficult year – I felt as if I’d thrown away everything I’d worked for. The car, which, at one time, had been a signifier of my career achievements, was now gone, and its memory served only as a reminder of how reckless I’d been.
They’re my most expensive memories, now
There is a lesson to be learned, I think, in the fact that none of my most expensive purchases are still with me. Like I said, I don’t really care about money; I don’t place a value on things. (That probably makes me sound a lot less shallow than I am.)
At 33, I am not at all the person I thought I would be when I was 25. I thought my Phillip Lim Pashli would be the first in my designer handbag collection, when, in fact, it was pretty much the last. I thought my Isabel Marant Becketts would become fashion heirlooms I would hand down the generations (lol). I thought my Ford Fiesta was the ultimate proof that I was a responsible adult – when, honestly? I’m still working on that part.
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Main pic credit: The Bling Ring