21 Women On The Biggest Purchase They Made In 2016 — & Whether They Regret It

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
For our Money Diaries series, millennial women across the country let us look at a week of how they spend money. For the end of 2016, we wanted to go a little bigger. Rather than just asking women what a normal week of purchases looks like, we were curious about the not-so-normal. Namely, what was their biggest purchase of the past year?

From houses to grad school to designer purses, we got 21 women to get honest about their big-ticket item of the past 12 months. They let us know why and how they bought it — and if they have any buyer's remorse. Interestingly, the largest purchases weren't necessarily from the highest earners. Another trend? Whether or not someone went into debt to afford the new piece of furniture or tickets to Hamilton had less to do with current earnings and more to do with past savings.

Click through to see all 21 purchases — from $250 all the way to $250,000.
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1 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Freelance Developer, 29
Asheville, NC
Salary: $65,000

"I lived in New York City basically my entire adult life until now, and never really had to drive. When I moved back down to the South, I remembered that I am terrified of driving (or, more specifically, dying in a fiery car crash). I had been driving 'hand-me-down' cars for a while and though I was very grateful for the money I was saving, they weren't exactly ideal for mountain living. This year, I finally had a little extra savings for a down payment.

"I researched and test-drove and researched some more and found the perfect top-safety-rated car with all-wheel drive, a back-up camera, rear window wipers, etc. And because I was willing to get something with a few (read: several thousand) extra miles on it, I also ended up with heated leather seats and a killer sound system. I even did the whole dealership-financing fiasco on my own. I panicked when I drove off the lot, thinking, What the hell? I just dropped 20 grand and what do I have to show for it? But then, I was driving in the mountains at dusk in pouring rain and my car was sticking to the road like a track and I could see everything and actually felt safe. Plus, my zombie-apocalypse-obsessed side reminded me that, worst-case scenario, I could fit everything I could possible want or need as well as two to three lucky individuals from my tier-one disaster-sidekick bracket and live out of it. Oh, and I'm building credit or whatever. So I'll call it a win!"
2 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Logistics Manager, 27
St. Louis, MO
Salary: $75,000

"We picked out my engagement ring after having been engaged for a month. There was no big proposal, but a discussion and a decision. I had enough savings to pay for the entire thing upfront. My job pays better than his and I have better credit card rewards, so it only made sense that I pay. I absolutely love the ring, but it's nuts that a small thing can cost so much. I'm glad I got to pick out out, instead of him buying something more expensive that I don't like."
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3 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Staff Writer, 24
Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $40,000

"It was the first 'big' purchase I made for myself, probably ever. Before this year, I have depended on my parents to buy those big necessary items for me. I don't tend to spend a lot of money usually, so I actually had enough already saved when it came time to make the purchase.

"Also, I would have just used the mattress I had in college that my parents bought for me, but they told me they were now using it in one our spare bedrooms in their home, so I couldn't have it when I moved to my new apartment and needed one. Thanks, mom and dad."
4 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Art Director, 32
Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $100,000


"I went it to credit card debt for it. Was lusting after the midcentury table of my dreams for months and months. Then, I got drunk one night and splurged on Etsy. Best drunk purchase of the year!"
5 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Manager, 29
Chattanooga, TN
Salary: $40,000

"I paid in two installments. I also had to buy gear and plane tickets (the classes were in Washington state) on other payment periods when I didn't have a class payment due. I didn't have to save, but I did spread it out, and I didn't save any money this year until after it was over in September."
6 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Attorney, 27
Fort Myers, FL
Salary: $50,000

"I definitely saved for several years — the downpayment was $25,000, with monthly payments of $1,200. Being a homeowner is so much more rewarding than paying rent."
7 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Teacher, 27
Philadelphia, PA
Salary: $67,000

"I bought my ticket on StubHub the day of the show — it was completely impulsive, but I have absolutely no buyer's remorse. I moved money over from long-term savings to cover it and am still completely satisfied with my decision. But I'm afraid sometimes to tell people how much I spent on it!"
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8 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Flight Attendant, 26
Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $
3,000/month

"It was an impulse buy before a trip. I wanted it for years, but it is so expensive. I didn't save for it, I put it on my credit card and I still haven't paid it off. But it is 10 degrees where I am right now and I am toasty, so I don't regret it one bit"
9 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Waitress, 33
Toronto, ON
Salary: $55,000

"I had been looking for a backpack purse. I also just finished writing my bar exam and was planning on getting something really nice for myself after receiving a passing grade and becoming a fully licensed lawyer.

"I bought it on a whim while on vacation in L.A., mostly because someone else wanted it and if I didn't buy it right then and there, it would be gone. It was the last one available! I figured I'd go ahead and get myself an 'early congrats' gift. Do I use it? Next to never. DID I PASS MY EXAM? NOPE. Worse, I'm still paying it off. Total buyer's remorse."
10 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Bookseller, 28
Nashville, TN
Salary: Around $22,000 (paid hourly)

"It was an accident — we had been fostering him for five months and just couldn't let him go. The adoption fee was $125 and I don't regret it for one second, but he costs a lot of money. He was an enormous financial commitment and I used all my savings for starter-care things, like the vet bill and adoption fee. With the daily cost of having a dog, we have let go of a lot of other expenses like lattes, manicures, and stuff that isn't totally necessary."
11 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Research Technologist, 26
Chicago, IL
Salary: $45,000

"I paid for two seat deposits (basically, to say, 'Hold my spot, I'm coming!' but more professional, because...medical school). One was $2,000. The other was $1,500. In April, if I choose one of the schools I'll have to pay up another $500. I had to use up a lot of my savings to pay for it, as well as a trust set up in high school that still has some money left in it. No buyers remorse yet. I'm sure that will change over time!"
12 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Public Defender, 28
Dover, NH
Salary: $54,000

"I opened an account at a bank about a year ago, because I got $200 just for opening. So now, I have $100 from my check go there every month and I just save it. Functionally, it's a savings account, but it doesn't accrue interest. And inevitably, I'll take some out for stuff like this!

"I bought my car when I moved to New Hampshire back in May 2014 and it was three years old at the time. Evidently, the tires were only supposed to last one more year, but mine persevered and gave me an extra year of use. I decided it was time to get then at the end of the fall before it started snowing. Although I can think of several ways I'd prefer to spend $300, I don't have any buyer's remorse."
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13 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Attorney, 27
Chicago, IL
Salary: $60,000

"I've always loved purses and tend to splurge on them. I moved to Chicago this year and had money set aside for living expenses. I was anticipating being unemployed for a few months while I looked for a job. I unexpectedly found a job right away, so I decided to buy the bag with money I had stashed away. I have no buyers remorse whatsoever. I LOVE it!"
14 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Freelancer, 22
New York, NY
Salary: $0

"
It was a very last-minute decision gift to myself after graduating college this past May. I thought, I have a bachelor's degree, these will for sure guarantee employment in the coming future! Spring Brittany had a good sense of humor, I guess."
15 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Animal Care Supervisor, 31
Seattle, WA
Salary: $32,000


"I had some money in savings for the down payment of $8,000. My boyfriend and I are working together on the remaining payments of about $270 a month."
16 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Student & Part-Time Barista, 17
Kansas City, MO
Salary: $10/hour

"I saved up my summer job money and allowance to buy a camera just for fun and to use for the school paper."
17 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Stay-At-Home Mom, 30
Fort Meade, MD
Salary: Love

"It was a birthday gift for my husband. He had an iPhone 4 and it was no longer supported by Apple for updates. We decided it was time to upgrade his phone and he chose this one. We also purchased a nice case that cost around $40 to protect it.

"We had the money in our account to pay for it. We paid via credit card, but paid the credit card bill in full, as we do each month."
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18 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Market Analyst, 25
Greenville, SC
Salary: $55,000


"We saved up for the down payment, which was $70,000, though we aren't paid off in full after that. We have a 30-year mortgage, which comes to $1,600 in monthly payments after tax and insurance."
19 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Associate Attorney, 28
Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $170,000

"I moved into a new apartment and needed a bookshelf to fill out my room. I wanted something artsy and eclectic, like a bookshelf my mom purchased from an artsy shop in Ojai, CA, about 10 years ago. My mom was able to recall the artist, David Marsh, and I had one made to order."
20 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Executive Assistant, 30
Milwaukee, WI
Salary: $53,000

"I charged it and felt awful, but I saved $900 on it, so I try to justify it. Hoping to pay it off and never think about it again."
21 of 22
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Marketing Manager, 27
Pittsfield, MA
Salary: $38,000

"It was an impulse buy and I love them! I guess I technically went into debt to get them. I put them on a credit card and it's the only charge I've used that card for. The minimum payment due each month was $180, but I paid $250 to burn the balance down faster. "
22 of 22
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