Why it's Not a Good Deal After All | Teen Ink

Why it's Not a Good Deal After All

March 14, 2015
By curlew77 BRONZE, Pleasantville, New York
curlew77 BRONZE, Pleasantville, New York
3 articles 40 photos 22 comments

Oprah’s magazine has a section called “Why It’s Worth It” where Oprah tries to convince you that some outrageously expensive clothing or accessory is a “good investment”. Once you get past the original shock of “OMG! That handbag is $1524!” or “I can’t even imagine spending $800 on a pair of heels”, Oprah breaks it down to show you that actually, you’re getting a good value because of the number of times you’ll wear it. For example, assuming you wear that $950 charm bracelet three times a week, after a year it’ll only cost $6.08 per wear! Here you’re supposed to think, “Wow! When you put it that way, that bracelet’s not really so expensive after all!”
But the thing is, you’re not paying for it every time you wear it. You pay for it once, and no matter how many times you wear it, it still cost $950 of your money that you can never get back. And also, would you really pay $6.08 three times a week to wear a bracelet? I mean, that’s just kind of crazy.  But wait, says Oprah. Wait till you hear how little it’ll cost if you wear it for ten years. Only 60 cents per wear! And 25 years of wearing this bracelet three times a week makes it only 24 cents! Of course, that’s if you don’t miss any days. You’ve got to be vigilant for this investment. If you want it to cost 60 cents per wear and you miss a day every few weeks, after ten years you’ll be over a year and a half behind schedule. This would be extremely problematic if you had been planning on buying another charm bracelet after the old one “paid off”. You’d have to wait, or realize your folly in time and start wearing the bracelet more than three times a week, god forbid.
And if you want it to cost only 24 cents per wear, which, yes Oprah, you’ve got us there: that’s a small price to pay to wear an “extremely personal bracelet [that] can tell the story of your life” (according to O creative director Adam Glassman), you have to have that chunky piece of metal on your wrist for 25 years. Do you really want to be indebted to wearing this thing for about as long as you pay off your mortgage? Say you buy the bracelet when you are 25 (lucky you having $950 to spend on a bracelet when most of your friends are still living with their parents). You’ll be just finished with your triweekly bracelet wearings when you are fifty, when you will have spent half your life wearing the bracelet. Are you sure you really want to enlist yourself in such a substantial commitment? What if you’re 35 and you see a different bracelet that you like better? You can’t buy it for another fifteen years. The thing is, though fashion items such as jewelry, bags, and coats are often referred to as “investment pieces”, they never actually pay you back. No matter how many times you wear that bracelet, that pea coat, or that pair of heels, that chunk of change is never coming back.
Of course, what Oprah is trying to teach us is that sometimes more expensive things last longer and if you really like something and think you will use it a lot, maybe you should go for it. I guess she’s right that it’s better to buy one $950 bracelet once a year than to buy eighty $12 bracelets. But no one is really going to buy eighty $12 bracelets in a year. Or even in ten years. I mean, $950 is just a lot of money to spend on bracelets no matter the amount of time. I guess maybe 25 years would be somewhat reasonable. But wouldn’t you want more than one bracelet over the course of 25 years? I think I’d rather have nine $12 bracelets and donate 7 goats to impoverished families with Heifer International than have the burden of wearing a chain around my wrist for a couple decades.

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