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.
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.