I have 64 handbags, purses and pocketbooks.
I hated writing that out loud because first, it’s stupid and second, it’s just stupid.
But there’s more. I have 52 pairs of shoes and 11 pairs of boots.
That is not bragging. That is an admission of guilt. This is a revelation of an obsession. If there was any evidence needed of my indiscriminate and unnecessary spending, those numbers are it.
For about five minutes, I sat down, just sat down and said out loud: I’m a hoarder. Why do I have these things? Who needs 64 purses (and six laptop cases?) I hadn’t even seen some of the purses since I bought them; 17 were still brand new or used once. Who am I?
I wouldn’t have been in my closet – and come out of my compulsive-spending closet – had it not been for the 21-Day Financial Fast that I stumbled onto on Michelle Singletary’s Twitter feed. She’s The Washington Post columnist who created a spirit-based plan to teach us about money and spending and debt.
I know that I’m blessed. I know that I have loved shopping for longer than is necessary to say. I just never thought about how far my shopping had gone. Having the ability to buy is a blessing; wasting that ability is a curse.
What I have learned over 13 days is that I don’t have to spend all the money I make. It’s OK to save it. For big things. For rainy days. For storms. For no reason other than it’s smart.
I can’t believe what my past patterns were. I can’t believe I’m talking about them out loud.
But I will say this: If I have learned only one lesson from this fast (and there have been more than one), it is that I will never spend money the same way again.
I have gone to the supermarket and purchased just what I needed without picking up 22 other things.
I have made meals in my own kitchen for 13 days. That is a record, yes a record.
This fast has not taught me to stop having fun or living. As soon as it’s over, I’m going to the movies to catch up and going to my favorite restaurant to have lemon artichoke tilapia (No, I will not attempt to make it. I want to be waited on.)
But I actually see the money now as I’m handing it over. I actually check the balance on my bank card that I used to just pull out all the time.
I’m spending after thinking instead of spending without thinking.
Now I have to get ready for church – and I’m not even taking a purse because I need my laptop case and just threw my wallet into that.
But I’m keeping the shoes.
ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley, and she hopes you will support her Kickstarter campaign to record an acoustic gospel album here!