Have you ever had your eye on something that you felt like you just had to have? Maybe it was a new iPad or a piece of furniture. Literally, every part of you craves that item.
Well, I’ve been there. Ever since I was in college I wanted a Coach purse. I’d spend hours searching online at all the bags, but alas I couldn’t afford a Coach purse. Because I didn’t have the money to buy I legit Coach purse, I did what any self-respecting 20-something would do. I bought a fake in the back room of a shady store. That’s right. I was thrilled to have my fake Coach bag hanging on my arm. I felt important and stylish.
However, deep down I knew my purse was a fake, a fraud. So when I was newly engaged, I begged my now-husband for a true Coach purse. I mean, he was rolling in the dough with his big, fancy job (have I mentioned he’s a middle school teacher?).
We found ourselves at the Coach outlet store on Black Friday and he reluctantly spent $150 on a new coach purse. It smelled amazing. It felt luxurious. And I promised him that I would use it forever. Yes, forever.
I bet you can guess what happened. I held that coach purse with pride and about two years later my style shifted. By this time I was pregnant with our first son, and we were working on paying off our crazy mountain of debt.
The coach purse felt heavy on my arm. The brand screaming something about me that was no longer true. I retired my coach purse that year and this past weekend I found it buried deep in my closet. And it hit me. This purse taught me 3 major lessons about money and life.
1. Patience is a skill I must learn.
If you know me in real life then you know I’m a naturally impatient person. It infuriates my husband and I don’t blame him. What I didn’t tell you about this story is that I decided just a few days earlier that I had to have the coach purse. Yet I didn’t have the money. So what did I do? I turned to my fiance who didn’t actually have the money either. I told him it would be my Christmas gift and just a few days later I found myself petting bags in the Coach store.
But what if I had been forced to wait? And heaven forbid, what if I had been forced to budget for the purse myself? Wouldn’t that have been the “adult” thing to do? Imagine if I had been forced to practice the art of patience! Maybe I would have gotten the hang of the entire “be patient” thing a little bit sooner.
2. Material possessions will not bring me happiness.
I feel like every person has to learn this lesson sometime in their life. I’m just sad that it took me so many years to learn that more stuff doesn’t equal more happiness. I think I always knew that I couldn’t make myself happy by buying things, but I didn’t believe it. So instead, I tried to prove that you COULD be happy if you spend money.
In fact, it wasn’t until I took a good look at our budget to see that I truly had a spending problem. And do you know where I was spending most of my money? On FOOD! I know that food isn’t a material possession, but just stick with me here. I was going out to eat all. the. time. In fac, I was picking up dinner at least 3-4 nights each week. And I was also enjoying brunch both Saturday and Sunday mornings. And did I mention that I’d grab a Starbucks coffee several times each week too? I used to get a thrill from finding a new brunch spot or dinner scene. And it was depleting this poor teacher’s bank account.
I can admit now that my spending was pretty out of control. And when I had that coach purse in my hands, I felt 1,000% happy. I was the luckiest girl on earth. I knew without a doubt that nothing could bring me down from this coach purse high.
Until something did.
Because the thing about my fancy purse is that it’s just a purse. And the excitement wore off. And to be honest, all that was left was my sweet fiance who was still resentful that he spent so much money on a bag. Which leads me to the third thing my coach purse taught me.
3. “Happy wife, happy life” is a lie. A flat out lie.
I will admit that I pushed Matt to buy me this bag. I told him all the lies that I could to get him to pull out his wallet. Lies like “I need this purse.” He saw right through my lies, but he thought that if I was happy that he would be happy. He figured that a happy wife means a happy life. And that’s a flat out lie. Because although I was happy at that moment, he was not. He was resentful that I was asking him to spend his money on something that was unnecessary. He wasn’t making a ton of money and here I was taking it away for a bag that I just had to have.
Of course, I wasn’t able to see the resentment because I was too caught up in my own excitement. This was the first moment in our relationship where I made Matt resentful over money. This was the first time that I took advantage of our relationship by manipulating him to spend money that he honestly didn’t have. And that trust took years to fix because I continued down this path until I finally decided that enough was enough.
As it turns out…
It’s funny how a simple purse can have such an effect on my life. And it’s funny to think that I kept that bag for so many years because of what it represented. I felt like I truly had to keep it forever.
The young 20-something would have never thought that this bag would have such an impact on how I now view money, possessions, and my marriage. It turns out that the lessons I learned had nothing to do with a coach purse after all, and had more to do with my growing up and learning how to be responsible with my finances.
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