My Responsible Plan for Buying an Expensive, Useless Watch

How I Plan on Buying a $5,000 Watch

I’ve worn a watch every day of my life since I was in middle school. It started with a black Casio watch my mom bought for me from Kmart for $9.99. She didn’t like the $16.99 price, so she swapped the sticker with a cheaper one, shrugging her shoulders when the cashier was suspicious.

Now that I’m a grown up, and I no longer resort to swapping price stickers, I’ve found myself with eyes for only one watch: the Cartier Tank Solo. Last year, it was the first item I pinned to my wishlist. Yesterday, I found myself browsing the Cartier website for the hundredth time. Me and this watch are meant to be. There’s only one little setback: the Serious watch comes with a Serious price tag. It’s $4,600. With tax, the total would be about $5,000.


When it comes to luxury purchases, people are generally shy about sharing financial specifics. I can understand that. But when we don’t talk about money, people fill in the gaps with assumptions. Assumptions like, luxury purchases are funded by credit card debt, rich husbands or generous parents. Nothing wrong with receiving help from others, but I really don’t like the idea that going into debt is the default option for affording big-ticket luxuries.

Since I have a half-baked plan for how I want to make this Serious Purchase happen, today I’m talking logistics for how I’m getting the money together. Because it’s not as simple as just buying the watch with my credit card and dealing with the consequences later.

I Don’t Like Spending Money. Not One Bit.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t like to spend money. Never in my life have I gotten a high by forking over my credit card. My goal is to always spend the least amount of money to get the very best possible. “Very best” is subjective, but there’s a pattern in the thought process for how I spend.

When it comes to luxuries, I want to use the least amount of my hard-earned money as possible. Does that make sense? For example, a few years back, when I was considering an expensive handbag, I picked up a side hustle and earmarked that money solely for the bag. That was my rule: I could only use the side hustle money. I didn’t want to use money from my regular day job for an unnecessary purchase. I know sometimes it feels like you need to have a fancy handbag or a watch with a four-figure price tag. But those are wants. Nothing wrong with wanting things like that, but distinguishing between the two helps me figure out the money source.

A Useless Purchase

Jackie Kennedy's Cartier Tank Watch
The Cartier Tank watch that belonged to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Source: Hodinkee

I can see the doubters now: “It’s 2018, and everyone has a cellphone. Buying a watch is pointless.” Sure, if you buy stuff purely for functional reasons. But I’m not one of those people.

I have just one pair of earrings. A watch is like my one piece of jewelry I can wear every day and goes with everything. And watch aficionados–you can hold your breath, because I don’t care about “movements,” either.

For me, it’s about the timeless, elegant design of the watch. I could buy a knock-off for $100, but I prefer authenticity in many aspects of my life, if I can afford it.

And while I’m always wary of justifying purchases by saying they’re “forever” purchases, watches are something I never browse or think about. I’m confident I’ll never feel tempted to upgrade. For me, a watch is an ultimate “game-over, one-and-done” purchase.

The Financial Situation

Here’s a snapshot of my money:

  • I contribute the maximum amount to my 401k
  • I invest leftover money in my brokerage account
  • I don’t owe anyone any money–no mortgage, and my student loans are paid off
  • I have enough cash to buy the watch outright with emergency fund savings to spare
  • Buying the watch won’t make a big impact on my longterm savings goals

I made some key sacrifices early on so I could invest like crazy, which has put me in a good spot today. But when I had student loans and credit card debt, big purchases like this would have been out of the question.

But even if you have the money sitting in your bank account, deciding to spend on luxury still isn’t a no brainer.

A Trial Run

When you think about making a Serious Purchase, you have to make sure you can handle it. If you spend a lot of money on something, you’ll feel sad if something happens to it. I’d always worn more rugged watches made out of plastic or nylon. But never leather.

I needed to test myself. Am I capable of wearing the same watch, one with leather straps, every day, and without incident?

A few years back, I bought a $70 Nixon watch, one with leather straps, just to see if I’d wreck it with everyday use.

After daily use, without babying it, it still looked pretty close to perfect.

I’d proven to myself that I can wear a watch every single day for several years and take good care of it.

Now I needed a plan for how to spend the least amount of my paycheck as possible. Onto the logistics:

1. Watch Prices on the Secondhand Market

*Affiliate links below

I’m a huge fan of buying luxury secondhand, because new items depreciate so quickly. It’s a better financial move to let someone else take that depreciation hit first. So I have plans to buy the watch secondhand, and have been watching options on Fashionphile and True Facet. If I forgo buying new, I’d pay at least 40% less. Instant sale!

However, the options I was looking at a few days ago sold out already, so I need to be on top of it. If you’re browsing around online and see the Tank with the gold hardware and black straps, hit me up?

2. Buying and Selling Stocks

Do you remember that 90s German movie, Run Lola Run? The main character has 20 minutes to make $60k to save her boyfriend. Her eyes start to light up when she sees a casino across the street.

Well, this next tactic is kind of like that casino moment. “Responsible” is questionable.

I’m a calculated risk taker, so I hold a few individual stocks. A few months ago I bought another stock, with the sole purpose of hoping the price will go up and making money without really trying. That’s the beauty of investing, am I right?

I’m not going to tell you which company it is until after I sell it–I don’t want anyone blindly using the same tactic. When you invest, you have to be willing to lose money. I’m lucky enough to have extra money, so I bought $5,000 worth of shares a few months ago, and so far I’m up about $1,200. Without doing any research, and relying on my hunches (irresponsible, I told you), I think this company has more room to grow, and I expect to sell it probably around the fall. I have zero emotional ties to this stock (like I do with Apple), and don’t think it would be a good longterm buy. When I see I will have to deal with paying taxes on the gains as well (up to 24%), so that’s something to factor in. Ideally, I would make enough from just this one stock to pay for the watch. We will see!

3. Selling My Own Stuff

I’ve been doing some spring cleaning and selling some of my old clothes on various platforms (Poshmark, eBay, etc.) So far I’ve made about $300, and I still have more things to sell from my closet and around the house. I still haven’t gotten around to selling my wedding dress yet, so I hope that would net another $100 or so. But at some point you can only sell so much until you have nothing left, which leads me to my next action step…

4. Flipping Clothes

Yesterday, I was on eBay and I saw a pair of designer boots for $99 in good condition. I thought they were underpriced, and no one bid on them. Part of the reason why they didn’t sell is because the seller didn’t include the style name of the boots, which means this listing didn’t come up in a lot of searches. I’m fairly confident I could buy the boots, sell them and make at least $50 back.

This planted a seed in my head.

I remembered how I bought some sale items from a designer consignment shop before and sold them on eBay for $30-$50 profit. I plan on visiting consignment shops around the city to see what kind of hidden gems I can unearth.

5. Acorns Investing App

Acorns is an app that lets you invest small amounts of money with literally no effort. All you do is answer some questions and the app invests money for you. I created an account to test for the site, and I have mindlessly saved up about $500 in it so far. However, I don’t necessarily recommend this for investing (which I’ll write about it separately), as I haven’t been using it long enough to get a good look at it.

Final Thoughts

All these little schemes not only will help me spend less of my hard-earned money on a luxury purchase, but they also give me space to THINK about it. Sometimes spending isn’t just about finding the money–it’s about preparing yourself psychologically to spend money.

Further Reading

For a more personal style spin, I really liked Out of the Bag’s post on mulling over the same watch.

Would you consider trading stocks to make money quick? Do you have any big, unnecessary purchases on the horizon? How are you planning for it, money-wise and mentally?

Feature Image: Cartier

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