We know we’re not the most frugal kids on the pf-blog block, but this month we had a line item that is so luxurious that we both felt it might be worth mentioning before just dropping it on our upcoming July Income Statement post without noting its opulence.
The specific purchase – a pair of custom eyeglasses for Mr PoP for which we paid precisely $950. Here’s what we have to say about them.
No lie, I’m pretty happy with this purchase! This might sound strange coming from a guy who refuses to outsource his own electrical/plumbing/carpentry/drywall rough in/demolition/tile laying, but these glasses are kinda special for me…
-Design. I’m willing to pay more for the “Classics” at this point, and objects that are remarkably well designed and executed fall into that area. The glasses have a great design and material selection and are notable (for me) simply as an object of industrial design. Style is even more subjective than design, but some of my favorite authors/creators have worn similar lens/frame combinations in the last 100 years or so.
-Longevity. I’ve spoken to 3 different people over the last 8 years who have had their glasses for more than a decade, all of them still loved the frames. Personal items that are made to last for extraordinary amounts of time (watches, frames, maybe shoes) are fascinating and I’m happy to escape the circle of always buying another pair of X. See for example Vimes boots…
-Delayed Gratification. It’s been 8 years since I saw these glasses for the first time-if you’ve wanted something for that long and have the ability to pull the trigger, do it! At this point in our lives our frugality is pretty much ingrained and we have many (optional) years of high-income earning ahead of us.
Do your worst PF blogosphere….
I’m the numbers lover in the relationship here, so let me get a couple of numbers off my chest here. To us, these aren’t actually $950 glasses. Instead, because we found out exactly how much they cost and increased my FLEX spending account by that amount when my plan year reset in July, the entire purchase is tax-free to us. With our >35% marginal tax rate (28% income + 7+% FICA), these glasses are only a $617 after-tax purchase. On top of that, by making the purchase at the beginning of the FLEX year, we’ll be reimbursed from an account that we have not even funded yet for the year, in essence, getting an interest free loan from my employer to buy Mr PoP these fancy-pants glasses which we’ll “pay off” with deductions from my paychecks over next twelve months, letting us keep more of our money at work in investments in the meantime. While I’m not fooling myself that a $617 pair of glasses is anything but a luxury purchase, timing it this way at least softens the financial blow a bit.
MORAL OF ALL THAT – If you’re making an expensive purchase anyway, try and figure out a way to do it in a maximal manner.
Numbers aside, this was a purchase that Mr PoP has wanted for a very long time. The sales clerk noted it had been over eight years ago since he went into that store to look at them. But I feel like we waited until it made sense for us to pull the trigger since it wouldn’t have made sense the other times Mr PoP has needed new glasses during this period.
Eight and a half years (and two pairs of glasses) ago, Mr PoP was unmarried and in his first J-O-B with benefits outside of college and he needed glasses urgently since he had left his buried in a wall while working a side-job running networking cable. Though he waited a week for his benefits to kick in (driving around more than he should have without glasses), it wasn’t a time for $850 (they were cheaper then!) glasses. Though he wouldn’t have had to justify the purchase to me since I was just his girlfriend then.
Five years ago (May 2010), the last time Mr PoP got new glasses prior to this:
- We were smack in the middle of the worst cash crunch we’ve endured as a couple. Mr PoP was working for minimum wage, we had just dumped a bunch of money into our house to make it livable after we bought it, my car had just died and we bought a replacement, but weren’t getting any bites on selling the old one. Cash was so low that we were holding off on getting a new A/C in our house until getting our tax refund so our cash buffer didn’t dip too low with the A/C coming right after the car purchase (and before the other car sale).
- According to our mint history, our net worth was $138.4K, ~15% of the $909.6K it was last month,
- And our income was <40% of our 2014 income.
It wasn’t the time for luxury eyewear.
But today, it feels different. Getting the glasses now feels like much better timing. Even though we’re still having an expensive year as we renovate our house, we can cash flow the expense much easier than we could five years ago. That doesn’t mean I want to buy Mr PoP $1,000 glasses every year – I hope Mr PoP loves them so much that he keeps the frames forever*. He really does look adorable in them, and when I asked him if I looked better through the new glasses, he wholeheartedly said, “Absolutely!” So they’re keepers. =)
* And the frames should theoretically last forever, too! He should be able to run them over with a car or leave them in a canal overnight (actual occurrences with other glasses Mr PoP has owned!) and the frames should be fine. Though we’ll have to shell out for new lenses every once in a while.
Would you have pulled the trigger on a pair of $950 glasses?