photo: Cindy Diaz/Marissa Pina, Vivala

Living with my parents rent-free means I can pretty much get away with murder in the finance department. They encourage me to live my life to the fullest while I'm young, which means blowing my money on travel, New York City's killer restaurant scene, and concerts. This may seem like a dream scenario to someone spending hundreds of dollars on rent every month, but my lack of discipline means I'm not better off. In fact, my personal savings account leaves much to be desired (thank God I at least have a 401K). My lifestyle left a luxury purchase like a Chanel bag out of reach, but it wasn't until I fell in love with THE ONE and couldn’t get it that I reached my breaking point.

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I know it seems insane to get so worked up over something that is, at the end of the day, simply a material possession, but the frustrating reality of it all was I had been working so hard for so many years, earned decent money, and I still didn't have the ability to treat myself to something that should have been well within reach. My obsession started when a day of binge-watching handbag videos on YouTube landed me on the Chanel website, where I ended up falling head over heels in love with a patent-leather Wallet on Chain in the most vibrant blue I had ever seen. The bag was perfection, but I didn't have the $2,100 it was going to cost me.

My love intensified when I went to a Chanel boutique with my mom in Beverly Hills and found myself face to face with the bag I thought I could never have. It was even more beautiful in person! My mom agreed that it was stunning until I told her how much it cost. Not only did she think I was insane for wanting a bag that cost that much money, but she assured me that my dad would kill me if I ever bought it and he found out.

But I was determined to get that bag, even if it meant selling a kidney. I had half of the money I needed, but it was going to take a lot of sacrifice to get the other half quickly — and I had to move fast because the purse was a seasonal piece. I knew once it sold out, that was it; there wouldn't be any other chances. So I started looking at all the money I had coming in, the bills I had to pay, and created a budget. The process made me come to terms with two things I knew I had to get under control: ordering food on Seamless and taking an Uber everywhere. I was literally living almost paycheck-to-paycheck because of these two things, and I hated it. There was no reason to order lunch every day when I could easily make it myself for a fraction of the cost. There was even less of a reason to take an Uber when I could plan ahead to make sure I could get anywhere using public transportation.

Making those adjustments, cutting back on purchases of things I didn't need (makeup is my biggest vice), and selling items that were collecting dust in my wardrobe on eBay made me reach my goal within a month and a half. I went to a Chanel store in New York City, and luckily they still had the one I had my heart set on. You have no idea how good it felt to sit in the store and sip on a glass of champagne while the sales associates ran my debit card and wrapped the bag in the signature Chanel box, ribbon, and placed the white camellia on top. It was as if I was an athlete who got thrown into the Olympics and won a gold medal when no one thought I stood a chance. There's no better high than that.

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My mom eventually got on board with my purchase when I convinced her that buying a Chanel piece is considered an investment. The fashion house is constantly raising its prices, which would raise the value of the one I own. If I ever outgrew the bag or needed to raise money for something, I could easily sell it for an amount that’s close to what I paid. It makes a lot more sense than buying a bag that has no value in the resale market. My dad, however, is still living in blissful ignorance — just how I like it.

The whole experience has made me feel less stressed out about my finances. Being strict with my money no longer feels like living in a straightjacket; it’s actually freeing since sacrificing short-term pleasures means I can have something that has more value. I see a lot more Chanel and a healthier savings account in my future.