My mom was the expert coupon clipper.

She would take out the Sunday paper and roll out all of the glossy advertisements, circle the items that were on sale and carefully cut out any coupons that would help her save a dollar here, a dollar there.

If my sister and I needed new clothes, she would go straight to the sale section or even to eBay to bid on cute stuff in the hopes of getting them at a fraction of the price.

To this day, she’ll drive the extra mile down the road to get to the gas station that is two cents cheaper by the gallon.

They say old habits die hard, and it’s true.

My mom grew up in the household of my grandparents who were raised in wartime. My grandmother would wash and reuse paper towels, Saran Wrap and any other miscellaneous objects to save, save, save. And so when my parents immigrated here in the ’90s and were trying to make a life for themselves, those penny-pinching habits crossed the sea with them.

And it’s ingrained in me too.

For the longest time, I would seek to buy the cheapest thing I could get. I would only buy things from the sale or clearance sections in stores, even at big box stores like Target. I spent $20 on my wedding dress. The higher the number at the bottom of the receipt that showed my savings, the prouder I would feel.

I still love that rush.

My favorite shops are thrift stores, not luxury brands. But a few years ago, I started thinking longer term.

Would the shoes I bought on clearance last me more than a season? What about the pair of pants from Target? If I splurged just a little bit more to get something that was made with better quality, wouldn’t it save me in the long run because it would last longer?

The first time I bought a nice pair of running shoes — full price! — was a few years back after I came back from days of walking around New York City with old, TJ Maxx fashion sneakers. My feet were shot. I had to buy better shoes. They cost me more than $120 for a pair. I felt scandalized. I felt excited.

Last year, my sister and I convinced my dad to go with us to the shoe store to buy a proper pair of cushioned walking shoes. We were all going to be visiting Japan soon and he would need shoes for the trip. Up until then, he had settled for buying $30 and $40 pairs from Sam’s Club, his favorite. In the end, he picked a $175 pair of Hokas that I’m pretty sure were the most expensive pair of shoes he’s ever had in his life. He loved them.

I know that buying things expensive, well-made things at full price is a luxury. Especially in this economy. But I’ve finally gotten to a place in my life where I’m able to do it, and it’s been a journey of re-educating myself that it’s okay — even practical! — to get nice things.

It’s like eating well. Sure, the cheap fast food lunch will fill you up in the moment, but down the road, a nutritious, proper meal will help you live longer, stronger, healthier.

So I’m learning, and I’m trying to invest in myself when I can and where it makes sense. Because I deserve nice things; we all do.

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