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Credit Card Points: Let's Talk About Those

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Rarely does my boyfriend get annoyed...

But last week, I did something that I knew would push his buttons, and then promptly (gleefully) trolled him on Gchat:

me:  babe, dont be mad:
today i bought shoes on amazon with my chase points (!!)

He was utterly and hilariously distraught.

Daniel: OH. MY GOD.
THAT IS NOT ALLOWED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

His response was purposefully exaggerated — he, more than anyone, can poke fun at his obsessive love of the credit card point game. What’s not exaggerated is the very different way in which he and I spend our money.

I self-identify as a frugal person, saving on the little stuff: not getting manicures, drinking free office coffee, eschewing Uber in favor of the subway. When it comes to clothes, I never buy a cheap new dress just because a party’s coming up, or get the extra H&M shirt just because it’s on sale.

But I open my wallet for the big stuff. A follower of the mantra of “quality over quantity,” I’ll spend $300 on a coat or $110 on flats, if it will be my one great purchase of the season. To me, it’s the big things that give you the greatest pleasure in the long run. It’s the big things where quality really counts.

Daniel operates with a different mentality. He’ll spring for the lazy night Uber or Seamless ($10 minimum! With tip!!). He makes smaller clothing purchases — a new workout shirt, some sweaters, an Orioles T-shirt because why not? — casually. But he would balk at a $300 coat and still hasn’t sprung for the new suit he desperately needs. Instead, Daniel’s big-ticket category is travel, which is why he values credit card points so much — they fund the purchases he cares about most.

It wasn’t until dating Daniel that I truly realized not everyone parts with their money in the same ways. I’ve learned that it’s not about how much money you have to spend, but your approach to spending that hard-earned money.

There is, of course, value in dabbling in the the other’s approach: Just hours after his digital conniption, I found Daniel happily scrolling through fancy espresso makers on Amazon, glowing with the newfound realization that he could spend his Chase points on a coffee machine. We all have our priorities.

Ellie Krupnick, managing editor

The Estée Lauder Beauty Playbook
Estée Lauder products.

What is soul? It's fundamental, it's deep-rooted. It's almost certainly good. It's human, or at least it speaks to our humanity. There is no algorithm for soul; it's found everywhere, but only by dint of nature.

Soul is amorphous and enormous, universally meaningful in a way that makes it the perfect corporate buzzword.

What propels a brand to the top? Soul, they say. What does it take for an upstart business to cut through the noise, win the hearts of shoppers, and catch the eyes of major players looking to get in on the next big thing? Soul, of course.

Last month, Business of Fashion ran an article quoting Tadashi Yanai, the CEO of Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing, saying that "without a soul, a company is nothing." The next day, an essay by designer Prabal Gurung appeared in Lenny Letter explaining his mission to "create a luxury brand with a soul." This obsession with soul extends well beyond fashion. "Mark Fields Says Ford Is a Company ‘With a Soul,'" reads a Fortune headline about the car company. "Can Reddit find a way to become a business without losing its soul?" the magazine asks about the massive online forum. 

Beauty professionals frequently drop the S-bomb regarding brands in their industry, too. The word's ubiquity may diminish its significance somewhat, but it does point to something real. Smoothing on face cream, applying makeup, and working various balms, sprays, and oils through our hair is a daily communion. We tap on concealer and dot on eyeliner to feel more like ourselves, or the person we want to be on a given day.

You could argue that in a culture that values consumption as a means to happiness, the purchase of any product, from gadgets to sneakers to mouthwash, informs our sense of self. But in beauty, a sphere so overtly tied to identity, it seems especially right that we'd gravitate toward brands that claim to have just as distinctive a spirit as we do.

If you want to locate a beauty line's soul, you'll find it in its founder. It's Pat McGrath, the prolific makeup artist with a penchant for high-drama looks who started releasing lush, glittering products of her own last year. It's Kat Von D, the tattoo artist who created a monumentally successful cosmetics line with a tough-girl aesthetic and long-lasting formulations.

It's Estée Lauder, the late marketing whiz who built a 20th-century beauty empire that endures to this day.

Keep reading this story here >>
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Check out the rest of our non-gift guide picks here. Want to make donations your gift of choice instead? We've got you covered on that front too.

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