Thirty-Five year old Carrie Bradshaw had a stunning financial realization during an episode of Sex and the City. Let me set up the context here: Carrie and Aidan’s engagement fizzled after Aidan had bought Carrie’s and the adjoining apartment in order to knock down the wall and live in wedded bliss. The breakup included a sticky financial mess as Carrie now needed to buy her apartment from Aidan or vacate the property so that he could liquify and get out. Carrie could not fathom leaving her apartment, so she attempted to get a mortgage from the bank. Unfortunately, her assets were slim: our favorite New York sex columnist had just $700 in checking and $957 in savings. The bank teller inquired about property, stocks, or bonds. Carrie shook her head no, no, no. However, she soon discovered where all of her money went to: the shoes in her closet. The ridiculousness of her financial situation suddenly dawned on her, and she exclaimed, “I’ve spent $40,000 on shoes and I have no place to live? I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes!”

As you look around your own home, parking lot, closet, and garage, do you notice a manifestation of your money? Has it ended up accumulating in plain sight of you instead of in a bank account? I am going to speculate on Carrie’s situation a bit to use her as an example; let’s see if any of this rings true. Carrie’s been working for most of her adult life. Just like us, Carrie graduated with a career in mind but had to work her way up to her Column and eventual Vogue Column placement at age 35. She has put years into her work, and although she loves what she does, she has nothing to show for it in her bank account—and this bugs her. Now that she is faced with a large financial problem, she is forced to either move or ask her friends for money. She has a lot of clothes, and a lot of shoes; to be honest she would love so many more of both if given the opportunity. But when she cannot handle this adult financial situation by herself because of her past choices, her power and independence is a bit diminished. And it makes her angry.

How does this turn out for Carrie? In typical, fairy tale television fashion: her bff Charlotte was willing to let go of a $30,000+ engagement ring for a marriage that went wrong and gave it to Carrie as collateral on a mortgage.

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Most of us would not be so lucky.

When I was around 11, my sister started collecting pigs. Everywhere we went we had fun hunting for pig chotchkes—little statues, stuffed animals, and other knick knacks. I felt left out (she is my older sister after all!). So one day when we were at a flea market I decided that I would start collecting something. I chose cats, as we had a lot of them growing up on the farm and I loved them all. For the next year or so I hunted for cat items and purchased many of the objects that I found. I didn’t display them in my room; in fact, I don’t remember what I did with them.  I completely lost interest in using my money to purchase another variation of the same thing.

I am lucky that I learned the lesson early on to not accumulate for accumulation’s sake. Or, at least I learned most of this lesson. Turns out, stockpiling things instead of stockpiling money is not something that only impulsive shoe-shoppers like Carrie Bradshaw or people with tool fetishes like Tim the Tool Man Taylor do.

17 replies
  1. ShortRoadTo
    ShortRoadTo says:

    It’s all about staying away from excess. If you like shoes, buy some shoes. If you like drinking coffee, drink coffee. But the most important thing is finding a balance.

  2. Nunzio Bruno
    Nunzio Bruno says:

    I think one of the strongest lines here was not accumulating for accumulations sake. It’s important to take stock in what you surround yourself with. I like to think it’s a positive that I know my weakness..stores like Staples and tech. I try to plan around being as efficient as possible with my current resources before worrying about the latest office org supplies. The winners at the end are the ones who can afford the bigger things and see their plans come to fruition – otherwise you might end up on hoarders if you aren’t careful lol

    • FruGal
      FruGal says:

      I am glad you liked my line. I think a lot of people do it; I know I do sometimes (though I err on the side of not accumulating:)).

  3. Shannon-ReadyForZero
    Shannon-ReadyForZero says:

    I love the show as much as the next girl, but it often bothered me that people looked up to Carrie Bradshaw so much when she was so irresponsible with her finances – not exactly a message society should be spreading to younger group of girls who watch the show. I lived in New York for years and saw so many girls do the same thing – spend all their money on fun but unnecessary objects – and then charge their rent! It can be hard to sacrifice some of the things we want to be frugal, but years later it’s worth it to have financial security!

    • FruGal
      FruGal says:

      Yeah, she was pretty bad with her finances. On top of that, they showed her as having a glam life when she was a writer living in NYC. Ofcourse she got that Vogue column job (was it $4 per word?) but I am sure she would have been struggling more before then.

  4. "Tom"
    "Tom" says:

    You have written something that should inspire loads of shopping prone readers to get a straight way to learning balancing. I absolutely agree with whatever being written over here. We should definitely long for the things we adore, but at the same time should keep that in mind, no matter whatever happens, we shouldn’t waste hard earned money unnecessarily. We can buy or bring in whatever we wish for, but it shouldn’t be like as I have loads of cash and credit cards in my purse, so its necessary to flush them out in buying something or other.

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