Dollars & Scents: The Perfume Budget

One of the reasons Mr. Howe is so supportive of my perfume collecting, is that he appreciates perfume. But the main reason (I’m convinced) is that I have a monthly budget, and I stick to it.

No credit cards, just a a real cash dollar amount. Some months I spend a little less, some a little more. Sometimes I spend my budget on bottle splits (usually decants on the smaller side) and samples, sometimes it’s one pricey bottle, and sometimes it’s a couple more “affordable” bottles. In January, I spent my budget on a 50mL Montale, a 30mL Sonoma Scent Studio, an EL Private collection mini, and a few samples.

February has me in a quandary, even though, as I write this, the month hasn’t even technically begun. I’ve been planning to buy a bottle of Bois des Iles for months now, and finally a smaller, more affordable size is available. Just as that bottle seems eminent*, I fall in love. Not only do I fall in love, but it’s with a perfume that will eat up two-months worth of perfume budget.

If I take this leap, do I have the restraint required to buy nothing else until April? Honestly, I’m not sure.

I’d really like to hear from you: How do you decide what to buy, and when to buy it? What is your strategy?

*Don’t worry AM, your 31RC is not in jeopardy 😉

22 thoughts on “Dollars & Scents: The Perfume Budget

  1. What a coincidence! Since January 24, I have been on “lockdown”…no perfume will be purchased until April 1st.

    My approach to buying perfume has been…well, there was no approach. I was buying whatever caught my fancy, on top of things I already wanted. I spent more money than originally planned. I feel more in control now that I’ve made the decision and I’m hoping that control will stick!

    If I’m making it sound easy, it’s not…but I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

    If you really love Bois des Iles, buy it and spend time appreciating every note. If you need something else for variety, do a swap. Then come April, you can start anew!
    You have stuck to your budget in the past, so you know you have the restraint.

    1. Lockdown! Good for you JE!

      Setting a budget and sticking to it hasn’t been easy, but it’s good for the wallet, the perfume cabinet (space issues), and the marriage! LOL.

      I think what I’ll do is abstain, then reward myself in April, rather than indulging and then trying to abstain until April! That way if I slip I won’t have ruined my budget…

      Thanks for the encouragement—I believe in us!

  2. Your budget plan is a great one and I plan to adopt it NOW. Meaning, as you say, no more purchases for two months. Bloody hell. (Am I allowed to swear in this blog?) I’m cheered by the fact that my Olympic Orchids sample set is due this week probbaly so I will have plenty to play with for a while.

    So after Thuusday this week, when I commit myself to you-know-what, I am taking a pledge to abstain from all perfume purchases for two months. There, it is in writing.

    Hope you will enjoy that mini of PC. I love it, but I find a mini is all I need …

    1. Anne-Marie, your first sentence inspired an outburst of laughter that earned me an incredulous look from the hubby. As far as swearing, you’ve gotta go where the inspiration is! LOL.

      Well, it looks like I’ve got a support group getting started here—that’s awesome! I’m feeling stronger already 😉

  3. Budget????? Isn’t that technically a four-letter word? Or if it isn’t, then it should be!

    I’ve had to cut back on a lot of things in the past year or so, and that includes perfume, alas. This means that unless I absolutely, unconditionally, totally and utterly worship something, so infatuated I’ll die if I don’t have it – I don’t buy it. So far, that bell jar of Boxeuses rests secure at the Palais Royale, but some day…

    Not, I hasten to add, that I won’t want to, mind. So I work around it. Lately, I’ve discovered samples, and I’ve made a vow to try everything new at least once and preferably four times or more. This can get slightly out of hand. I blame Andy Tauer. Oh, and Uncle Serge. Some of both I’ve bought samples of at least five times, simply because it’s one way to prolong the pain or extend the pleasure, I’m not sure which! 😉

    And if I do ever reach the “die if I don’t” phase and I can’t control my fit of “I-wannas”, I can always wish for it. This has been known to work. So do…obscure perfume discounters and fellow bloggers! 😉

    Finally, as an impetus to my questionable literary abilities, I’ve made a deal with myself. For every book I finish, one full bottle. For every one I sell – another bottle. And for every one published – another bottle. If it ever becomes a smash, I intend to go absolutely ape…

    And meanwhile, we can dream…

    1. Last year I came in at $200 under b**t (for the whole year), so I know that I can apply some restraint, but the problem is that I’ve found at least three that are “die if I don’t”! I haven’t bought and drained five samples of anything yet, but I think that I could commit to a “don’t buy until you’ve drained 5mL and will die if you don’t get more” action plan.

      How about a bottle for every thousand books sold? That seems reasonable. Then a bottle for the movie deal, and a bottle for the sequel, a bottle for the video-game, the comic book, the merch… 😉

    2. Hi Tarleisio,

      I reckon just buying more samples of the same perfume is not a bad way to go. I’m planning to do that with AG’s Heure Exquise. I love it, and wear it reasonably often. But I’ve survived on two 2.5 ml samples (one each of the EDT and EDP) for months now. That suggests I just don’t need a FB. For me full bottle purchases are not just about the up-front cost, but about only consuming what than I need. That applies to other products – cosmetics, food, clothes, electrical gadgets etc. (Not books, I always have more of those than I can read!) So with HE and a number of others like that, I just plan to go decant to decant . (31RC is a different story …)

      There was an economic historian in Britain, Eileen Power, once quite famous, died in 1940. She was well known, and unusual for her time, for being an intellectual woman also interested in clothes, and style, and interior decor, and entertaining. Apparently every time she had a new article published in an academic journal, she would fly to Paris (from London) and buy a new dress. I just love that – I love that wonderfully feminine way of celebrating success. So you should go for it, I say!

      1. And do you know, Anne Marie, I think it’s a great thing, too! You may win the Nobel Prize in physics, or write a bestseller (that wins the Bram Stoker award for best New Fiction, say!), that balloons into a movie…whatever it is, large or small – celebrate your success and your womanhood at the same time!

        I am going for it. As soon as I catch up on everything I neglected by getting sick! 😉

  4. Budget? What does that mean?! 😉
    Unfortunately for me, I can’t get myself to have one. As soon as I’d try to stick with it, I’d end up blowing it to pieces.
    January has been a REALLY good perfume month for me, so good actually that there is no need for me to buy a bottle for the whole year (not that I will stick to that).
    One of the things I do more when I’m trying not to spend money is swap. That is the only reason why my decant collection is so big – lovely people from around the world who want to swap. 🙂

    1. Ines, when I realized how much money I was spending towards the end of 2009, I had to do something! Contrary to what Birgit’s darling little boy thinks (he calls me the “rich american lady”), I am quite the plebe. 🙂

      Swapping is a wonderful way to grow the collection. I was doing it a lot for a while, then got burnt out… I think it might be time for me to initiate my first bottle split! The problem with that though, is that I want FULL BOTTLES! LOL. I’ll get through this one way or another… 🙂

  5. I am with Ines on that one (unfortunately!) I have a hard time sticking to a budget. I am willing to rather not buy clothes or anything else not strictly necessary than cut down on perfume. It is bad…

    I know what it is you have fallen for! Do you really want me to say something about what I think you should do?
    No, you didn’t ask for that, I just checked again. 🙂

    The good thing is however you decide, both will still be there in April.
    Let us know what you do in the end!

    1. As soon as my college loans are paid off, my perfume budget will triple! That’s only eight or ten years…

      No, no advice from you missy! I’m already trying to save up for November! 😉

      It’s true, nothing that I’m desperate to own is going to be discontinued any time soon, so if I apply restraint, I could easily have all three by the time the big 31 (b-day, not rue cambon) rolls around in June!

    1. Oh nice turn of phrase! And yes, I regularly thank Whoever Is Up There that I am not a shoe-and-handbag addict.

    2. Very good point! I’m not a shoe addict but I’m a book addict so I spend a lot on that as well (but a quick count in my head, it seems I spend twice as more on perfume than on books). Whoops! 🙂

  6. I don’t have a hard budget set … I’m very careful about big purchases (really, any bottles that cost more than $60 a pop), but tend to think nothing about cheap scores, small decants, etc. Last year, I probably spent about $100 a month on perfume, mostly just going wild on cheap stuff. (Cheap in cost, not enjoyment!) This year, I’d really like to keep it under $50 per month. WE SHALL SEE! I think I probably blew about a hundred on deals ‘n’ steals already this year, so I guess I better try not to buy anything in Feb!

    1. Elisa $100 per month seems very reasonable, when you put it in perspective. However $50 per month sounds impossible to me! LOL.

      It sounds like whatever your strategy is, it’s working! 🙂

  7. If I could get just two FB (even a travel size will do but it have to be a real bottle not a decant) of perfumes that I really want to get I wouldn’t have any problem staying on a $50/months budget for my testing for the next 6 months. I think…


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