Reminders of the Old You

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old you

Reminders of the Old You

The other day, I was cleaning out the space below my bathroom sink, came across the soap dispenser you see above, and when I pulled it out, I laughed out loud. Why did I laugh? Because I realized that this soap dispenser was the physical embodiment of the “old me,” the person I was before I decided to get control of my finances.

I have shared this in the past, but for those of you who don’t know, I am a recovering mindless spender. There are all sorts of reasons why I used to spend money mindlessly; however, one of the biggest reasons was my entitlement mentality. You see I grew up in a household with five kids where finances were tight. At one point, my mom was working three jobs to help make ends meet.

My Upbringing

When I turned 14, I started working my first job, and once I did, I had to start paying for any extras that I wanted, and by extras, I mean anything other than food and shelter. If I needed deodorant or tampons, I paid for it. Gas money? That was me. Ticket to the prom? Me too.

Growing up, I never felt resentment for this, in fact, I am thankful for my family’s poor financial situation because it encouraged me to become the hard worker that I am today. The one problem with how I was raised, though, is that it left a hole in my life that needed to be filled at some point. It’s actually a hole that I never knew developed, until I started reflecting on my life, and I realized that my spending was overcompensating for what I did not have as a child.

The Beginning of Bad Habits

Once I graduated from college and secured my first real job in the investment-banking world, I started to indulge in luxuries that I did not have when I was younger. I used my starting bonus to buy nice furniture for my apartment, and as soon as I got my first year’s bonus I traded up cars even though my used car functioned properly.

A few years later I met my hubby who also came from a humble upbringing, and despite the fact that he was more frugal minded when we met, I convinced him that he needed to enjoy the finer things as well.

Seasonal Items Were A Weakness

Which leads me to this picture, one of the craziest things the old me would do is purchase seasonal household goods. I was a sucker for a seasonal theme, and I indulged in anything from soaps, to paper towels, to seasonal décor. I not only indulged in these items, I indulged in the exact wrong time to indulge, when they were in season.

Rather than delay my gratification and purchase pumpkin scented soap when it is on sale in December, I purchased it as soon as it came out in September and paid full price for it. What is even worse than this, is that I refused to use the fall scents once we crossed over to winter and so on; which meant that I either tossed the half used fall stuff in the garbage or saved it for another year, only to forget about it when the new fall stuff was released. Yes, I cringe when I think about this as well.

Those Days Are Gone!

The silver lining, though, is that I no longer feel these urges. Once I realized that I couldn’t fill that childhood hole with stuff, I stopped wasting my time, money and energy. I have discovered happiness in my job of helping others and in the pursuit of a financially healthy lifestyle alongside those clients. I don’t feel the need to have seasonal soaps or spend my money on what marketers convince me I should spend it on.

I will always keep this soap dispenser in my home, though, as it is a wonderful reminder of the old me and how far I have come. I look at this like I look at the fat picture of the old me. It makes me cringe a little bit; however, it’s an excellent reminder of not only how far I have come, but it’s a warning to not fall back into my old ways. If you have something like this, I encourage you to keep it as well for the same reasons.

Is there something that triggers an irresponsible time in your life? When it triggers, do you laugh or cringe or both?

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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices.

Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

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