This is a post written anonymously by one of my clients who was gracious enough to offer to share her story with you.
I own five pairs of Manolo Blahniks that I have never worn. I also own one pair of Miu Miu Whip Degrade pumps that are not made anymore. Two pairs of Prada heeled sandals and a couple pairs of Jimmy Choo heels. All that I have never worn. Each pair of shoes cost five hundred dollars, some, more. A lot more.
The only reason I actually know this is due to a couple of girlfriends. I was running late one night for our girls' night out and they both ran upstairs to find me frantically changing outfits in my closet. They started looking at my shoes and Sheila said, "oh my, you have a lot of nice shoes." She picked up a single Jimmy Choo and was holding it in her hand. She noticed the bottom of the shoe and said, "These have never been worn!" Then she grabbed another pair, and the bottom was perfect on those too. And another. Then she turned to me and said, "what on earth are you doing with all of these shoes you've never worn?"
At another point in my life. Not that long ago. About five years ago. I had over 64 pairs of jeans in my closet. Every pair of jeans cost, on average, over two hundred dollars. I hung them up because I couldn't see all of them otherwise. It seemed, every time I left the house, I was buying another pair of jeans. I had entire rows ordered by brand. Eight pairs of Rock and Republic. Three pairs of Earnest Sewn, 5 pairs of Joes Jeans, three pairs of James Jeans, True Religion, Stella McCartney, Dolce and Gabbana. I had every high-end brand that existed. During a party at my house once, a few of us ended up in my bathroom doing drunk makeovers and one of my gay friends wandered into my closet. He flipped the lights on and I will never forget what he said, "girl, this is not normal."
I could really go on here for a couple of weeks. No Joke. I have stories like this about bathing suits, cars (yes cars) and couches. But the truth is, I don't remember a lot of what I bought, because I have given everything away. Even the jeans. I do not own one, single pair of those 64 pairs of jeans anymore. I gave them all away.
The story I have always told myself, over the years, has been: I am not very good with money. My husband deals with that. I don't understand it. My husband is in charge so clearly everything will be alright. If I was doing something so terrible he would stop me.
My husband has a lot of money. What is a lot? I feel this is important in this context. Lets just say, for his privacy, more than 10 million. Yep. He has a lot of money. Fantasy/lottery type money. That he earned. Every dime. And he is making more as I write this.
I used to think that I developed my problems with money when I met him. I would say, having all of this money has created problems for me and it is his fault! It has ruined my values! I don't know how to exist with this much money. Having this much money means we need to live a certain lifestyle..we need to have the right things. I used to think there were expectations, that other people had of us. I would overcompensate everywhere. Paying for everything, buying things for people--I even bought my nanny a house. And my mother. And I tried to save everyone. My broke brother. My poor friends. People on the street. It was my duty to save everyone and make them feel better. I was overwhelmed.
I would call my husband cheap or stingy when he would want me to stop spending money. I would tell him, seriously, you have millions of dollars and you are worried about spending $2.50 on a glass of tea with lunch? You are fucking insane. You embarrass me.
(It never occurred to me that that is exactly why he has millions of dollars.)
In two years, I drained an account that my husband had set-up for me (in a desperate effort to separate me from the finances) after we realized I was not managing money well. He said, "I am going to put this money in an account for you and you are going to be on your own." He deposited over one million dollars. Almost two.
In less than two years, there was not a dime left. I have absolutely no idea what I spent it on. Literally, no idea.
I started to become unhappy. Really unhappy. I was a disappointment. I wanted to give all of our money away because I said it was the money's fault. If we were poor, everything would be fine. We could rely on each other and really focus on the important things. We started fighting. I spent more.
My marriage started suffering because my husband couldn't trust me. He didn't respect me. We were not on the same page. We stopped having sex. We stopped talking. And it leaked everywhere in my life. Nothing. made. me. happy. And I had to keep spending more and more to keep avoiding that feeling. Whatever it was.
I tried to kill myself. And almost succeeded. I was hospitalized for over a week. Without my children. They could only come visit me at certain hours supervised. They were confused. My daughter cried because she thought I was sick. My baby was only 6 months old. He didn't understand why he was being taken away from me. My kids couldn't sleep. My husband couldn't function. He had to hire a housekeeper, a babysitter and call my mother to come down. My mother blamed herself.
I hated myself. I did not want to be here. And I wished my husband had never found me. I hated being alive. And now I was a selfish burden to everyone.
But I kept spending money.
My life went on like this for years. Years. I was drugged up, drinking and living in this cycle of unhappiness and spending for over a decade. My husband and I were disconnected. I was miserable. I couldn't find anything that made me feel better. So I continued to shop. And hang onto this facade of happiness.
When the packages would arrive from UPS I would get so excited. I would feel so great unwrapping the clothes, toys, books, home furnishings. I would re-decorate the house constantly. My husband would come home from work and trip over a newly placed couch or lamp and say, been busy? I felt like I was really doing something. I decided I had been spending money on the wrong things. That spending money on decorating was worthwhile. I was a designer. I was doing something. Look how creative and brilliant I am.
But secretly. I knew I wasn't happy. I knew I wasn't a designer. I stopped exercising. (my love). I stopped doing things I enjoyed that didn't involve shopping. I broke up with friends. If I started to get upset I would do crosswords. For hours. I would watch t.v. I would do anything to distract me so that I didn't have to feel bad.
I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. (which I don't actually have). I was given more drugs. I would go from extreme, manic spending to depressed and not moving. Finally, someone found what was wrong with me. The label gave me something else to blame, besides myself. For a while.
And then. The money stopped. My husband finally told me: "I am going to have to financially divorce you. I am taking all of your credit cards away." My black card. My identity that identified me as being rich. He said, "I am getting you your own account and I am depositing a set amount into that account for you to manage the household." I cried. I HATED him. I said he was treating me like a child. I said, "you act like my father and who wants to have sex with their father?!!" I threatened. I protested. I withheld. I was totally out to sea without a sail.
But I was resourceful. I got my own secret credit cards in my name. And I charged on those. I would charge up twenty thousand dollars in debt and then beg my husband to rescue me. Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, two Visas. I did that three times in two years. And PROMISED him I would never do it again, each time.
I was lost.
I tried to budget. I tried to read books. I tried to starve myself as punishment. I would go days without eating. I would set the laundry upstairs and run up the stairs to get each individual item, run downstairs, iron it, and repeat. I would succeed. With not spending. For a month sometimes. And I required immediate praising and feedback when this happened. I needed to hear how reformed I was. I wanted someone to notice. To tell me I was fixed. But I wasn't. And nothing anyone said would have mattered. I was broken, broke and now ruining my marriage.
One day. I was reading through Facebook posts and saw a post by Meadow. Meadow is friend I used to know when we lived in Truckee. Her post had something to do with money. About her journey with money to hell and back. About being broke and lying and being in debt. I couldn't believe someone else was writing about exactly what I was doing. I couldn't believe there was someone out there that understood. I noticed she was a coach. I had no idea what a money coach was. I wrote my dad, a financial consultant, professor at one of the Big Universities and ex Senior Economist and Vice President (like the real one) of one of the Big Banks, here was his response:
I have no idea whatsoever what the words "money coach" mean. They sound like a mechanism for selling something else or a procedure for stealing or counterfeiting money or a surrogate for personal financial consulting. Always remember, the best way to double your money is to fold it once and put it in your back pocket.
So, I was skeptical.
But I decided, for whatever reason that day, that I would reach out to Meadow and see what this was all about.
That e-mail changed my life. Forever.
I hired Meadow as a Money Coach. And we spent 6 weeks changing my thoughts. And that was it. I want to say more, explain more or get into details about the journey. But it wasn't that complicated.
Meadow taught me that changing my thoughts, about anything, changes my results.
Meadow taught me that: if I can really figure out WHY I spend money that I don't have - then I will be able to STOP. Forever.
And I figured it out.
My life completely changed. No exaggeration. My marriage changed. I stopped spending the way I used to.
I had tools. Tools to turn to.
My Psychiatrist decided I wasn't bi-polar after all. (Stanford Psychiatrist)
We stopped my medication.
I started to understand what being happy meant.
I felt happy.
I know what I want.
My marriage is the best it has ever been.
And people have started to ask me, what do you do in Money Coaching? How does this coach do it? What do you talk about? Are you on a budget? They confess their money problems to me....I say, "I cannot explain it. If you want to know, call her yourself. I know one thing for sure. You won't regret it."