x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Your bank account will thrive if you pick quality, not bargains

If you want to save money, buy what you really want - even if it costs more than the alternative, writes Manar Al Hinai.

Discounted items such as handbags are just too tempting for shoppers who find it difficult to resist from buying. Alan Weller / Bloomberg News
Discounted items such as handbags are just too tempting for shoppers who find it difficult to resist from buying. Alan Weller / Bloomberg News

A few years ago, I needed to buy a pair of jeans. I had always wanted to buy a pair made by Armani, but they were not then available in Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

I remember thinking that I should just settle for something similar, even though they were not what I wanted. I tried to convince myself that they would do until I could buy the jeans that I did want.

However, I decided that instead of settling for second best, I would wait until I visit the United States, where perhaps I could find what I was looking for. A few months later, I bought the Armanis.

And guess what? I still have them, and I still love them.

I have watched my friends buy four or five different pairs of jeans that they did not really want during the time I was enjoying my one pair of jeans with the perfect fit.

I know that I spent less money in the long run by waiting and buying the ones that cost more but which satisfied my desire.

We are faced with similar purchase impulses all the time - such as buying a watch, a pursea car or even a house.

In my closet there are many items that I bought even though they were not what I really wanted, and they hang there, collecting dust, while I ask myself "What was I thinking?" every time I lean in to grab a piece of clothing to wear.

A week ago, when I was in London, I almost made the same mistake. It seemed that everywhere I walked, there were stores calling my name.

The renowned Harrods department store was having its annual sale, offering "70 per cent off on international designer items". I saw shoppers rummaging through mountains of clothes, trying to find something specific, or maybe they felt pressured to rummage. Since they were getting such a good bargain, they might as well just buy something instead of waiting for whatever it was that they would actually like.

I did not want anything in particular and thus decided not to buy. However, a friend of mine felt that she needed to shop just because she was on vacation. She ended up buying a number of things that were on sale. A few days later, she regretted doing so because she did not really want them but had felt pressured by all those sales banners.

It is funny how we convince ourselves, especially during a sale, that it is a frugal move to buy various items, instead of buying the better-quality items that we want, the things that do last.

How many items do you own that you never wear or use, things that you bought, despite the feeling that you did not really want them? Those bargain items are now costing you more than just money.

You will have to deal with storing them. You will have to deal with the uncomfortable feeling you get each time you see them, rebuking yourself for buying them in the first place. Then you will have to figure out a way to get rid of them.

Before you know it, they will be in a box on their way to a charity centre.

I often think that we have adopted an ideology that buying for the long run does not really matter. We can always replace purchases. It is so much wiser to buy high-quality items with the goal of owning them for a very long time.

This is a mentality that some of my Emirati friends often lack. Knowing that they will always have money to buy newer things, many of them rarely have the experience of purchasing something they desperately want, and instead buy for the sake of buying.

When we start to think that everything around us is replaceable, we begin to think that money is disposable as well. And this line of thinking is what causes some Emiratis not to save, even years after joining the workforce.

We need to adopt a new attitude. It is hard, but taking small steps will help.

Be the person who buys good items and hangs on to them for the long run. You and your bank account will be noticeably better off if you do so.

Manar Al Hinai is an Emirati fashion design and writer. She can be followed on Twitter: @manar_alhinai