November 29, 2006
The busiest shopping day of the year is the day after Thanksgiving when we flock to buy presents that no one needs for people we sometimes don't even like. If you have ever received an incredibly thoughtful gift, which had great emotional meaning and practical use, you know that it is a total rarity.
All too often when we claim that we "need" something we just "want" it. As a VISA card-carrying member of the shopping elite, I can tell you that we, especially we women, have bought into a culture that is total nonsense.
As a friend of mine asked the other day, how is it we have accepted that $500 is a reasonable price to pay for a pair of shoes (even at $250 a piece it's still too much) or a face cream in a tiny pot for $300 or $1000 for a purse large enough to carry all our usurious interest rate credit cards.
This is sheer lunacy, and yet it is not just the crème de la crème that is buying the Crème de la Mer. Like men who just want to get us into bed these manufacturers whisper false promises to make us look more chic, youthful and well to do than we really are. But underneath, we're restless.
Here's a pop quiz:
When was the last time you had a full, restful, uninterrupted night's sleep?
When you last sat down with your checkbook to pay your bills from LIPA to health insurance to heating oil to your cell phone, did you literally almost lose your breath?
When was the last time you got a raise?
Have you ever felt that you work so hard for not enough pay?
Do you carry debt? How much, a few thousand, $20,000, $50,000?
If something happened to you such as an accident or illness where would your finances be?
Who can you turn to for money?
After taking this little quiz would you like to start sipping scotch through a straw?
I have a vast circle of single girlfriends from coast to coast. These women are smart, attractive, gainfully employed and responsible. Guess how many of them consider themselves financially secure? One.
I mean come on, this is 2006 and we're all liberated (even though we wouldn't consider burning our bras because they are expensive French lingerie that cost a fortune). So, what's going on? Part of the problem comes from expectations, especially if you grew up in a traditional household, that men would adopt the role of provider.
Contemporary men may not have the financial means and others simply don't embrace that model. Some experience an innate pleasure in giving. Some don't. Some are afraid of what they call gold diggers, women who only want a man's money and have no love or respect for him. I can tell you how many of those gals I know as well. One — and that friendship was very short lived.
Perhaps if we found ourselves in job situations with fair pay, cost of living increases, benefits and a kind word now and again, we wouldn't be so concerned. Well guess what — corporate and even small business America doesn't want to be a provider either. Experience, loyalty, or even being damn good at what you do still won't earn you the ticket to a decent salary.
Seeking professional financial advice can be embarrassing. We'll get undressed regularly for the OB-GYN but to put our naked finances out before a stranger, well that would be scary. Where's the paper smock?
So sisters, here is the challenge — get it out of your head that a man or a company will provide your financial security. Find your internal passion and power and only engage with those who will support that. And tell Chanel to shove it where that St. Tropez sun don't shine. You can rewrite your financial story. Ultimately sale and save are only one letter apart.
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