I grew up in DC. I lived in an apartment with my mom, stepdad and younger brother. Never had my own bedroom, as the apartment was only a two bedroom unit. So, I spent my childhood and the first few years of adulthood sharing a room with my brother and climbing onto the top bunk to go to sleep every night. Funds were tight on a regular and my parents sacrificed luxuries so that my brother and I could receive a quality education by attending parochial and private schools. While I understood and appreciated their sacrifices, I spent many of my days imagining how popular and “with it” I would be if only I could afford to wear all of the in style name brand clothing. Sure, my parents stressed that its not what you put on your body, but what you put into it that truly counted. But I was tired of sewing Guess? triangles on top of Palmetto trees on the back pocket of my jeans. And I was tired of cutting off Le Tigre tigers and ironing crocodiles on my two button bootleg Izod shirts. I wanted the real thing.
When I became an adult and started my career with “real” money, I vowed to myself that when I shopped, I would own the real brand names. I made a promise to myself that I would never be in a position where I would have to find name brand cast offs to cut up and sew onto my Morton Crazy Day Sale specials. And so I shopped. It was nothing for me to purchase a bag for $400. And why should my jeans cost less than $80 on sale if I have $100 in my hand? And why should I wait for a sale on sneakers when the ones that I want are right here at full price and I have the money? In addition to my zeal for shopping in stores for my name brand wears, I also had a thrift store and consignment shop addiction. I could find classic, name brand dress suits and blouses in those shops and look like a million bucks. Before I knew it, I had acquired 238 pairs of shoes, 62 pairs of jeans, 30 suits and over 100 handbags. I didn’t bother to count blouses, t-shirts or athletic wear. My closet was bursting at the seams. I owned name brand everything…and I was proud of my collection. I felt like I had arrived. And I continued in that vein for years.
Then one day, I discovered that I was not content simply working a job/career/profession for the government. I wanted something more challenging–more fulfilling. I wanted something that I could call my own…something that I could put my stamp on. I wanted to own my own business. And so I looked into how to become an entrepreneur. And the more I read, the more I realized that I needed a nest egg–start up capital to begin building my business. By this time, I had married, had two children, bought and sold several vehicles but was currently the proud owner of a luxury sedan that cost a grip to fuel and maintain. My walk in closet was fuller than ever…and I had a second walk in closet in the spare bedroom that was on its way to being filled to capacity. I had two dressers, one lingerie chest and two three drawer rolling carts full of clothing as well. And my shoe collection was over 300. Sure, I could have started a business with nothing as many have done, but for the type of business that I was getting into, I needed certifications and those cost money…money that I did not have. I walked through my house and looked at all that I had acquired over the years. I had over…well I won’t state how much those handbags cost me but lets go with they cost a grip. I had a LOT of money sitting on the shelves and hanging in my closets but did not have enough money to pay for the certifications that I needed to start my business. How sad is that? I had to take several steps back and evaluate my priorities and my spending habits.
So often, we have dreams that go unfulfilled because our mind is in the wrong place fiscally. We are so caught up in the name brands, keeping up with the Joneses and making up for what we may not have had as children that we are willing to go into debt, take on part time jobs or damned near go broke just to say that we are rocking the latest and the greatest. But what is the point in having a luxury car if you cannot afford the gas? What is the point in carrying a $1800 purse to a $50K a year government job that you have to ride metro to? And who can really wear 300 pairs of shoes regularly? I mean, at some point, it gets absolutely ridiculous. And when I really think on my spending, what if I had planned for my own business many years before and instead of purchasing shoes, clothing or whatever, I stashed that money away so that when it came time for me to launch my business, I had a decent nest egg. The one thing that I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt is that NONE of the designers who’s purses I carried, jeans I wore, sneakers I rocked…NONE of them had $5 on the launching of my business or the gaining of my certifications. As a matter of fact, purchasing their overpriced gear set me back in terms of having monies for my business. And here is the clencher: I sold a lot of my clothing to consignment shops and guess what! I didn’t get what I paid for the items. Why? Depreciation!
If you have a dream that you want to pursue, a business that you would like to launch, understand that it takes money along with your time, energy and efforts. Look at your spending habits and consider your mindset. Are you looking to impress the crowd or fulfill your dream? How much quicker will you get to where you want to be if you saved your money and invested it into your vision rather than wore it on your back or drove it. A $39.99 Betsy Johnson purse can hold your stuff just as well as a $3,500 Louis Vuitton bag. Last I checked, Old Navy jeans covers booties just as well as Joe’s Jeans. A Honda can get you to where you need to be just as easily as a 7 series (and the mileage is better and gas is cheaper). Do not be bamboozled and razzle dazzled by what you see on television. Do not be swayed into thinking that you must wear the latest and the greatest. Because while you are spending money funding someone else’s dream, who is funding yours? If we are to be a success, we must change our mindset about finances and what truly is important.
Who’s dream are you funding?