I am about to utter 6 words I never thought I would say. I am really mad at Bloomingdale’s.
Like many mid-20’s girls, I love Bloomingdale’s. The department store, owned by Macy’s (M), has great clothes, and more importantly, great sales. This weekend I stopped into Bloomingdale’s to browse and was confronted with this ridiculous sign:
The sign says, “Groceries? …Maybe. New Handbag? …Definitely. #nationalhandbagday.”
Those of you who follow me on Twitter have seen this sign already, but I continued to spend much of yesterday stewing over it. It may be one of the worst advertisements I have ever seen and it bugs me for two big reasons.
Number one, it is absolutely terrible life advice.
As I’ve posted before, one of the absolute keys to financial security is proper budgeting and spending within your means. You should spend your money on necessities (rent, utilities, GROCERIES), then save money, then, and only then, do you spend money on frivolous items like handbags.
For easy recall, you can think of the 50-20-30 rule. 50% of your income should go to fixed costs, 20% to savings, and 30% to flexible spending. Handbags are the definition of discretionary spending and belong dead last on the list in terms of prioritizing your spending.
Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending money on a handbag. I personally carry a Louis Vuitton tote which I love. The issue is spending money you do not have on a handbag. I got mine as a part birthday present, part paid for via my discretionary spending fund. Your discretionary spending money is yours to be spent however you like, even if it means buying a Chanel bag. But, for money to be discretionary, it needs to have zero impact on paying your bills or contributing to your savings accounts. Bloomingdale’s didn’t seem to get this memo.
This sign also promotes the type of impulsive shopping that can lead to credit card debt. According to NerdWallet, the average US household credit card debt amount is $15,607. I’ve mentioned this one before too, but a handbag is not worth going into credit card debt for. You’ll wind up paying more in interest fees to your bank than you do for the bag.
Bottom line: If you want a new bag, go for it! Just as long as you can afford it and the money is coming from a truly discretionary source.
The second reason this ad bothers me is that it is extremely insensitive to those struggling with hunger.
According to Feeding America, a staggering 1 in 6 Americans go hungry. For these Americans the choice is not handbag or groceries, it is rent or groceries. And for many still, there is no choice at all.
If this ad was successful for Bloomingdale’s on #nationalhandbagday, I hope they consider making a donation to a food bank with some of the proceeds.