Go Big and Go Broke

by Shawanda Greene

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There’s nothing wrong with investing in yourself. Actually, I’m a huge proponent of continual self improvement. I’m not averse to spending money to ultimately make money, and I have a sneaking suspicion you aren’t either. Three sentences in and you should already know we’re going to take this discussion in a different direction.

I’m not a psychic, but allow me to attempt to lay out a likely scenario you relive over and over again. You get really passionate about a particular activity, hobby, or interest. Being the eternal information junkie, you immerse yourself in books, blogs, podcasts, magazines. Practically anything you can get a hold of that will expand your knowledge in the area. Without exception, embedded in this information is a product or a service that will make you better and faster than you could ever be without it.

You want to be better.

You want to be faster.

And then…..you buy something.

Whether your passion is knitting or mountain biking, if you want to be the best you have to buy the best tools that’ll get you there. Right? It sure seems so. But spending big money on every new activity that sparks your interest is financially dangerous.

Before you go plopping down a month’s salary on that mountain bike and all its fixings, have you carefully evaluated whether you’re truly committed? How many hours have you recently logged on, well, any bike? If your daily consumption of TV watching and couch cruising hover around four or five hours a day, consider inflating the tires of that beach cruiser you haven’t ridden in seven years. Take it for a few spins first.

And don’t think for a second that just because you spent a lot of money on something you’ll use it. Case in point, I haven’t been to the gym in at least two months. You think a $43 monthly membership fee is sufficient motivation to get me to workout? It isn’t. I’ve yet to encounter one person at the gym who works out because they’re paying for a membership. Not a one!

You might say a $43 monthly fee is child’s play. For additional examples, I turned to Craigslist – a seemingly never ending source of demonstrative and entertaining fodder for this blog. Listed below are actual items posted by sellers on Craigslist. For ease of reading, I’ve written in quotes, below each product, the phrase that led me to believe the seller inadequately assessed their level of commitment prior to making a purchase decision.


“Brand new still in box.”

Asking Price: $900




“This treadmill has been used less than TWO HOURS. Bought brand new from Life Fitness authorized dealer.”

Asking Price: $2,750



“Very solid, very nice, never been used.”

Asking Price: $250



“Opened it and never used it. Put it back in the box and has been in the basement since.”

Asking Price: $100


To be fair, I felt compelled to share with you my 1.5 year old $500 bike that I’ve ridden twice. What have you purchased with great intentions of putting to good use? I prefer this information one of two ways: 1) In the comment section below or 2) If you’re feeling especially generous, an actual photo that can be added to this blog post. Please send photos to ShawandaGreene@yahoo.com.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com October 28, 2009 at 8:35 PM

I guess toiletries was my big problem before. Buying all these creams and never finishing them.

My new thing is to FORCE myself to finish it all before I buy anything new, or else I’m going to run out of space

As for big ticket items… no.. I think I pretty much use everything I’ve bought

My MacBook was close to extinction on my usage list because I was on the PC all day, but now I love having a laptop close to the bed and in easy reach for surfing


Shawanda Greene October 31, 2009 at 3:48 AM

I know what you mean with the products. I had to stop myself from running over to Sephora to buy more Carol’s Daughter hair oil when I ran out a couple months ago. It was so much easier to just look in my closet for the hair oil I’d prematurely set aside prior to buying the Carol’s Daughter stuff.


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