Yesterday I was at the library, and I noticed a magazine called Real Simple in our library friends bookstore. I’ve seen this mag before, but had never really paid much attention. Since the library friends store sells magazines for 10 cents, I figured I might as well part with a dime and look at their ideas for organizing a kitchen – the cover story, and an area where I could use help. The magazine’s subtitle is “life made easier,” and it’s supposedly full of hints and tips for living a simple, less-stressed lifestyle. As I flipped through, I saw an article about how to choose a handbag. They had tested a bunch of bags, and put them in three categories: under $150, $150 – $500, and over $500. For a handbag. The article went on to warn the reader that most bags under $150 are flawed, but that they had managed to find a few standouts. They lamented the horrors of having a cheap bag(under $150) blowout at the seams, or break a handle, leaving your stuff all over the ground.
This cracked me up. I have a bit of a love of purses. J will attest to this, as I have a whole shelf in his side of the closet filled up with my purses. And I would guess that I’ve spent a total of about $100 on them, bought over the last 5 years or so. Almost all of them came from thrift stores, for $5 or less. I have one (surely fake) Kate Spade bag that I found at a thrift store for $7, and a couple purses that I got at Ross for maybe $15. I have carried a purse since I was about 10, and never once have I had one give out on me. As I was looking at the price tags on the bags in the magazine article, I considered the ‘cheap’ ones to be really expensive (this is, after all, a bag to schlep your stuff around in), and the ones in the over $500 category were laugh-out-loud ridiculous.
It seems to me that if someone is paying this sort of money for a purse, they are probably also paying oodles of money for shoes, briefcases, clothes, makeup, cars, houses, boats, etc. This all amounts to a considerable monthly living expenses bill, and likely requires that the owner of all this stuff works long hours, and owes her soul to her job. Doesn’t seem all that simple or easy to me.
Every six months or so, I check out Janet Luhrs’ The Simple Living Guide from our local library. I should probably just buy it, as often as I’ve checked it out. This is a book that always inspires me, and the best one I’ve ever found on the subject of living simply. It’s not about frugality as much as it’s about living deliberately and consciously, which means different things to different people. For me, it reminds me to not have more than I need, and to keep my life as uncluttered as possible, so that I have time and energy to enjoy the things that matter to me. J and I enjoy our jobs, but there are plenty of other things that we enjoy more. So we try as much as we can to design our life so that we don’t need to spend all of our time earning money. And my thrift store purses continue to hold up just fine.