One thing I’ve noticed since working for TFD — and reading it, prior to that — is that a lot of personal finance writing isn’t really, well, personal. There will always be a place for tips and lists of what you should be doing in order to get your financial life in shape, but these sometimes tend to ignore the fact that money is an innately sensitive topic. Money isn’t just tied to whether or not we’re accruing wealth; what we choose to spend on can reveal some of our biggest insecurities.
I personally think it’s just as important to address the things we’ve wasted money on as it is to talk about how we’re saving and investing. More often than not, those wastes are the result of some deeper issue we need to address. I’m proud that the TFD community is so into transparency and revealing the worst parts of our financial selves so that we can each try to improve and learn from each other’s mistakes. Chelsea recently wrote about spending to “become” other women, which I related to so hard I had to have a drink after reading it. Mary’s article about using time-specific milestones as an excuse to buy new shit really hit home, because who possibly feels like a worthy, shiny new penny in last year’s jeans?
So reading about these women’s purchases to become “better versions” of themselves a few weeks ago was very cathartic. Of course, a lot of these self-improvement purchases were made in order to impress some dude, a trend with which I am all too familiar. And it didn’t surprise me that these purchases seemed to resonate with the TFD community; your comments hit it out of the park. Reliving your financial mishaps is a lot more fun when you’re not doing it alone, isn’t it?
“I bought a teeny travel sized Nars orgasm blusher the size of a postage stamp for about 30 bucks because my smiling fake friends, ‘beauty bloggers,’ told me it was the best blusher ever and I had to have it as part of my makeup collection, otherwise I was missing out. I don’t like it, it doesn’t sit well on my oily/combination skin, and I much prefer the Benefit lip and cheek tint I’ve been using since I was 19. I’m really annoyed I wasted all that money, and also very happy I didn’t buy a full sized one.” – Phoebe
“I bought some really nice clothes last year (not that many because they were crazy expensive) that of course I barely wear. But the worst is always beauty products. I bought two Chanel lipsticks a while ago, because I love lipsticks and I thought I should treat myself…My boyfriend was with me when I bought them and he was less than impressed that I blew £70 on two lipsticks. And of course I wore them a couple of times each but that’s it, because 1) the colours are nice but I have cheap ones I prefer, 2) they dry my lips, whereas my cheap ones (Bourjois!!) never do, 3) I am worried about damaging them by using them…I wanted so badly to feel like a sophisticated femme fatale, but it never happened. Never.” – Violaine
“Lol how about the time I spent 18 months paying half of my take-home income towards rent, just so I could live alone in a ~nIcE~ apartment in a relatively nice part of the city I worked in? It ended up being a shorter commute once I moved back to the city I moved away from, plus I didn’t have to go 3 days at a time without having a conversation with another human…because my building turned out to be full of very strange people that are best avoided at all costs. Living alone = YES. FUN. Being insanely broke for over a year pretty much just so I could say I lived alone in a new apartment building = NOT WORTH IT.” – jdub
“I used to always buy cute dresses for work that seemed amazing in the changeroom but were actually so uncomfortable to wear for 9+ hours a day. I have a new rule — if it’s not something I’ll wear on a rainy weekday when I have to walk to work with a headache, I’m not buying it. Because really, that is my life 99% of the time.” – Jack
“The $900 SHARED bedroom ($1800/per month between two people in 2012) overlooking the ocean during my senior year of college. I thought having the ocean in my backyard would make me want to meditate and do yoga (lol, nope), write more, and spend more time outside. I think I went to the beach a total of three days that entire year because I worked so much just to pay for that damn view!” – Savanna
“My most expensive/influenced-by-others purchase: a pair of beautiful rose gold JCrew heels for my wedding. They cost over $250 and were Italian leather. I still don’t know how I managed to wear them for so long that day, because they had absolutely no arch support. Now they look beat up (to me) after only a few wears. The worst part is the only reason I went for them is because I was in New York City for a work trip and my (much more higher paid) female boss thought I looked amazing in them (she was at the store with me).” – Emily
“I spent $75 on a striped dress and an additional $40 to have it tailored because I had just gotten a pixie cut and thought it would make me look like Jean Seberg. Update: it did not make me look like Jean Seberg.” – Kathleen
“There was that time I spent $350 on an All Saints leather jacket (on eBay) only to find out it didn’t fit me right (the woes of online shopping) and I couldn’t return it. Had to re-sell on eBay. I think I lost about $150…not to mention I live in central Texas. I have no need for a leather jacket 70% of the time. I also bought a $25,000 car after working for two years because I ***~deserved~*** a brand-new shiny vehicle to drive on meetings around town. I also changed jobs six months later and took a huge pay cut. Guess who’s eating rice and beans ’til her next salary review in six months?” – blanca
“My hair. I’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars coloring it blonde for the last year and a half. I thought it would make me bubblier, and that people would find me more ‘approachable.’ It was nice for a while, and the change was fun, but now I miss my dark hair and getting it back to its natural state is going to be not so fun.” – Lex
Holly is the Managing Editor of The Financial Diet. Follow her on Twitter here, or send her your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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