Sunday, August 24, 2008

5 Shoes Ties Between Carrie Bradshaw & Me: Frugal Lessons Inspired by Sex and the City

Based on my history as a former New Yorker and part-time shoe model, I've been asked to examine the ties that lace me to Carrie Bradshaw and the Sex and the City girls. That question came from Will in the Wise Bread forum for bloggers. Here's my answer:

5 Shoes Ties Between Carrie Bradshaw & Me

1. Shoes: I used to collect shoes. At one point, I had over 50 pairs of shoes in my closet. However, whereas Carrie B. wears expensive Manolo Blahnik shoes ($400-$600), I collected discounted high-end shoes from Marsalls. I've purchased BCBG shoes for $22-29. (Full price: triple digits!) Nine West shoes for $6 and other bargains.

But my frugal shoe fetish was dangerous. On the screen, Carrie B. and her pumped-up fictional friends are aware of their expensive foot path. I lacked self-awareness and honesty. With my bargain shopping, I could easily trick myself into believing that I was really saving money.
Ha! Eventually, I started investing more energy (and dollars) in soulful pursuits and spending less on the soles of my feet. Of course, my heart still beats faster when I find a great deal on pretty shoes, but I can walk away from the shoe rack with my budget intact.

2. The Keyboard Connection: Carrie B. is a newspaper columnist. I'm a newspaper columnist. We both write from our personal observations. We both write about important issues: Carrie B. writes about sex; I write about money.

3. New York Lives: Carrie could have been one of my neighbors. In fact, I'm convinced that I once bumped into her at a small grocery store in Manhattan.

4. Mr. Big: No comment. TMI.

5. Valuable Friends: Carrie's close relationships with her friends are wonderful. Her friends provide free therapy sessions and column fodder. I can relate to those close connections. Even when my bank account was depleted, I've always felt rich in friendships.

My advice to Carrie:

#1 Forget the labels. In fact, by the end of the Sex and the City movie, she marries Mr. Big in a no-name dress at City Hall. This event takes place after their initial broken engagement and cancelled big-ticket reception with the over-the-top wedding gown. Clearly, Bridezilla had a high-profile meltdown!
At the end of the day, Carrie realizes that The Dress, The Label, The Reception shouldn't overshadow the real milestones of life. She frugally takes vows in a plain suit. Part of me wishes that we were all born smart and could just skip all of our financial, personal and professional meltdowns. Why can't we go straight to the happy ending and the credits?But that insight leads me to my second piece of advice for Carrie B.

#2 Enjoy the journey. It's all a process. I've learned about living frugally and meaningfully through excessive mistakes. Errors can pay long-term dividends or at least provide material for a blog post if we're honest enough to examine our mistakes.

Check out my answers to other questions at the Wise Bread Forum: Ask the Frugal Duchess a question! (Women of Personal Finance Spotlight) Thanks!


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