I remember visiting New Mexico many years ago and deciding, while I was there, to purchase a piece of turquoise jewelry. While walking through one town, I noticed a jewelry shop. Inside, I discovered a variety of bracelets. I was the only shopper in the store and the man behind the counter said that his daughter was the owner.
I enjoyed looking at the bracelets and noticed there were no price tags. I asked about the price and felt nauseous upon the discovery that the cost of one bracelet was over $100. I felt bad for the guy and his daughter, so I bought the bracelet. Even before I left the shop, I was sick about spending $100 on a bracelet I didn’t want. What made me even more anxious was knowing that the receipt read, “No refunds.” I called my father right away. He had some ideas about feeling less anxious about my purchase and then asked me to hold the line as his wife, who had been listening to the conversation, chimed in. “She said, ‘Return it anyway,’” my father said. I walked back into the store, explained that I wanted to return it because I changed my mind, and the man was very pleasant to me. He accepted the return and refunded my money. Relieved, I went back outside and continued my walk. Within moments, I found myself at an open market space where a woman was selling her handmade jewelry. For $25, I bought a turquoise pendant in a sterling silver setting, which is what I wanted from the beginning.
I choose to share this story because it reminds me of several lessons.
First, define your purpose for your money. I decided I wanted a piece of turquoise jewelry, so I went out to buy it.
Second, be mindful of compromising what you want because you want to please or appease someone else. I got distracted from my purpose. I chose to go into a shop that did not sell turquoise jewelry, listen to the father’s story, feel obligated to buy from him, and take an action that I later regretted.
Third, if you make a mistake, take steps to repair it and, if you don’t know what to do, engage support from people you trust. The moment I walked outside of the store, I felt regret and anxiety. To help me manage those feelings, I reached out to my father who, with guidance from his wife, helped me decide about what to do next. Then, I returned the bracelet.
Finally, accept where you are and identify where you want to be, realizing that you may have to revisit the first lesson. I accepted that I made a mistake by purchasing a $100 bracelet. I returned the bracelet, revisited my purpose, and found what I originally wanted at a fraction of the price originally paid in error.
As human beings, we have stories. Whether we experience the stories firsthand or hear about them through someone else, stories offer us an opportunity to learn lessons.
People spend money to live their lives. From taking care of basic needs to enjoying new experiences, the act of spending money is necessary. Taking time to reflect on when, why, and how we spend money may provide us with new insights about ourselves- who we are and who we want to be.
Wendolyn Forbes is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ with Wealth Transition Finance, A Member of Advisory Services Network, LLC. Wendolyn is a fee-only financial planner and member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). For more information, please visit her website at www.wtf-asn.com.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP® (with flame design) in the US, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.
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