How to Figure Out If Something Is Worth Buying

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Dressing to impress at work doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. It’s all about clean and simple — which is a look every budget can afford. After all, you should focus most of your time, money, and energy on becoming a brand, not wearing one. But if you do want to invest in something expensive to step up your corporate closet, crunch the numbers to see if it makes financial sense. Here’s an equation I came up with to plug and chug whatever you’re eyeing and determine if you should buy it or skip it:

ORIGINAL COST / USES PER YEAR = COST PER WEAR
COST PER WEAR + MAINTENANCE PER YEAR = X
ORIGINAL COST – X = VALUE PER YEAR

  • If the value per year is greater than 65 percent of the original cost then buy it!
  • If the value per year is less than 65 percent of the original cost then skip it!

Here’s an example: you want to buy a $200 blazer. Let’s say you want to wear it in different ways twice a week in and out of the office, or 104 times per year. Divide $200 by 104 wears and you get a price of about $2 per wear. Then factor in maintenance, aka dry cleaning, at around 50 bucks a year and subtract that from the original $200 price tag. Since that number ($148.08) is greater than 65 percent of the original cost, factoring in maintenance costs and the amount you will use it, it’s worth it. So buy it!

However, if you are looking at a $500 dress that you might only wear two times per year for nicer work events with maintenance costs of hemming and dry cleaning of around $50 per year, then the value you are getting is 60 percent of the original cost. Not worth that hefty price tag. So skip it!

You know the old saying, “Dress for the job you want”? I don’t totally agree with that. Instead, I suggest that you dress for the job you have and strut in those work-appropriate shoes to where you want to go.

Nicole Lapin is the author of the New York Times instant bestseller Rich B*tch and the star of the nationally syndicated business competition reality show Hatched. She was the youngest anchor ever at CNN before holding the same title at CNBC, anchoring Worldwide Exchange, while contributing financial reports to Today and MSNBC. Lapin has served as a business anchor and special correspondent for Bloomberg Television as well as the money-saving correspondent for The Wendy Williams Show. She is currently Redbook magazine’s first-ever money columnist and was named the first-ever female “Money Expert of the Year” in 2015. Lapin is an accredited investment fiduciary and graduated as valedictorian from Northwestern University.