Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Wall of Shame

As I've hinted at in the past, my life pre-frugal revelation was spent buying way too much stuff. When you're stuck in a consumerist mindset, it's easy to justify purchases. It's only once you've embraced frugality that you can look back and realize just how idiotic those justifications were. Looking back on some of my more egregious consumerist blunders is embarrassing, quite frankly. So what better to do with embarrassing personal anecdotes than share them on the internet for all to see, right? Just in case any of you were feeling down on yourselves for making stupid purchases, read on to instantaneously feel better about yourself!

Here it is, my Wall of Shame:

If you don't recognize these shoes, that's probably a good thing. They're Manolo Blahniks. I got these soon after I started my job because I was so excited that I was earning money and wanted to buy myself something nice. My justification: really bad math. I wasn't dumb enough to believe that I could fill up my closet with high-end designer shoes, but I thought that on my decent salary I should be able to treat myself to nice things every now and then. Of course that's a slippery slope, and "every now and then" really turns into "whenever I feel like it." I probably should have realized the error of my ways when the salesman told me that Jessica Alba had just bought a pair. This embarrassingly poor choice cost me around $650. After four years of sitting in my closet and being worn maybe three times, they're currently for sale on eBay.

This purchase is only about two-and-a-half years old, and it's another doozy. It's a Marc Jacobs bag. My justification: I "needed" a purse that could cross-function as a carrying case for my brand new netbook. I had recently purchased a netbook that I wanted to carry around with me on a regular basis, but I didn't want to have to deal with a separate carrying case, so I wanted to get a large purse with a center zip pocket for the netbook. I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for anywhere. I went to all the usual places a financially irresponsible person would look for a purse: Macy's, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, and finally Nordstrom, where I finally found this beauty. And on sale, no less! 50% off, what a bargain! Except that the full price was $1600... you do the math. I used this bag for its intended purpose for a while, but I eventually got tired of carrying such a big bag around all the time and pretty much stopped using my netbook, so the bag has sat unused for about two years. It's also up on eBay.

After a particularly bad breakup a few years ago, I needed a self esteem boost. I decided to join a gym and see a personal trainer. Joining the gym was fine, I got a one-club membership at 24 Hour Fitness that cost $25/month. But the personal trainer was the mistake. My justification: working out with a personal trainer was going to change my life. Wrong. All it did was cause me to stress about making my credit card payments each month while working out three times a week with a really attractive trainer and seeing only very minor results after six months. I'm not sure exactly how much this cost me, but I'd estimate around $3000 over six months. If you're really serious about fitness and want to work out with a personal trainer, I would recommend doing a lot of research, don't just accept whatever trainer 24 Hour Fitness assigns to you. Personal training sessions are incredibly expensive wherever you go, so if you're willing to pay for it, make sure you work with a trainer who has a reputation for getting results.

Eventually I decided to leave 24 Hour Fitness because the location I was going to wasn't clean - you never want to pick up a piece of exercise equipment and see a cockroach dart out from under it. I decided to join the incredibly expensive gym near my work. My justification: if it's right next to my office, I won't have any excuse not to go. My justification was actually spot on here, I went to the gym all the time. I started running and began to lose weight. The gym was well ventilated, clean, offered great classes, and had ample products in the shower area so I never had to bring my own stuff. I loved that gym. Except that it cost $145/month. I stayed there for a little over a year before I realized that I no longer needed the motivation of going to the gym to work out - I was happy to work out at home or go for a run around my neighborhood. I could have made that transition several months earlier and saved a bundle of money.

There, see? Your financial mistakes aren't so bad. Don't you feel better now?


  1. I think it's fun to see everyone's "wall of shame", that way, we can feel better about our own! ;-)

    Actually, my timeshare can't fit on a wall, but it probably beats out everything in this post! That was such a terrible move.

    1. Ouch, yea a time share will do that. My fiance's wall of shame would actually be worse as well - he financed an independent movie.