I had an obsession with shoes.

Prior to getting out of debt, I was known for my love of shoes. I was always buying new shoes – whether or not I needed them or if they were on sale. I didn’t meet too many shoes that I didn’t like (although there are a few out there that are truly heinous!). My daily calendar was a shoe calendar that had a new pair of shoes each day. It was always a thrill to change the calendar and see what the next pair looked like. My obsession became so well-known that when I was teaching accounting at a local college in the evenings, my students would wonder what new pair of shoes I would be wearing for class.

I was out of control. And worse, I was trying to keep up with the appearances of the time (think Sex and the City with all the Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choos). What was I trying to prove? And to whom was I proving this to? Part of my obsession was trying to keep up with what I thought was the norm – the perception of being able to keep up with a lifestyle that was clearly beyond my means. And a part of it was being fueled by a fictional TV show! Besides putting on a good front that you can afford all of these things, I think a lot of single women have this mantra in their head that they deserve these nice things in their life because they are filling the void of a spouse or children in their life. Some women think they need to buy stuff to make us appear more attractive and appealing. And others purchase these items simply on emotional impulse buying – instant gratification of something new and shiny.

Let me be clear – I am not against owning nice things. I can appreciate nice clothes and beautiful shoes and amazing homes. But I was barely paying my bills as it was and I was continuing to spend out of control. And when you are buying these items on credit at 18% interest because you don’t have the money in your budget, it becomes complete nonsense.

And what was worse, I was barely contributing to my retirement fund.  Over 100 pairs of shoes and my 401k account was looking like it needed CPR. I was putting my immediate wants before my long-term goals. Where were my priorities? I was not raised to spend money frivolously. And truthfully, none of my true family and friends cared what fabulous shoe I was wearing – they cared more about who I was as a person.

The real transformation came when I decided to get out of debt. I was on a mission to attach $56,000 of debt with every ounce of my being. And that included sacrificing in other parts of my life in order to reach my goal. So the excessive spending on shoes stopped.  Over time, the collection of shoes dwindled as shoes wore out and other pairs were donated to reduce clutter in my life. And I found myself to be a much happier person – not necessarily because I was getting rid of the excess and the results of my past life but because I was finally freeing myself of the self-imposed pressure to keep up an appearance that was not real. After all – isn’t that what keeping up with Ms. Jones really boils down to?