I mentioned my little brother earlier because he was taught his son that two pairs of shoes equals one iPod. (Remember that they're moving, and his wife is packing sixty pairs of shoes.) He just called to chat. I told him I was busy, but he offered me another story and gave me permission to print it.
His wife used to work at Nordstrom. While there she took advantage of the employee discount. A lot. In fact, she spent over $10,000 on clothes during that period. (Meaning $20,000 retail price, I think.)
Even when the family didn't have any money, she'd come home with clothes. My brother would call her on it, but she'd deny that they clothes were new. “Come on,” he'd say. “I know what's in your closet.” One day he complained to her about the new clothes she was wearing, and she claimed they were old, when he pointed out that there was a price tag still dangling from whatever it was she was wearing.
After that, she started to be more subtle about bringing home new clothes. She'd buy them, stash them in her trunk, and then sneak them into the closet. My brother didn't discover this for a while, though. He only found out because one day they had to take her car to a family Christmas gathering. He went outside to put some food in the trunk, and there were several Nordstrom bags full of clothes. He was not pleased. He began to refer to these mysterious new clothes as “trunk clothes”.
A few months ago, my brother managed to convince his wife to get rid of some of her clothes. She filled two bins full of goods to take to a consignment shop. But she never took them. They just sat around for a while, taking up space. Recently she moved the bins to a storage shed. She's trying to make room to clean out her closets for real.
Today her mother came to help her clean. My sister-in-law wants to keep all of the clothes, but her mother won't let her. “Fine,” my sister-in-law said. “I'll take them to Goodwill.” (Goodwill is a thrift store — I'm not sure how universal they are.)
“You can't take them to Goodwill,” my brother told her. “You need to take them to a consignment shop. You need to get some money for them. Especially if they're trunk clothes.”
“That's too much of a bother,” his wife said, glowering at the use of the phrase ‘trunk clothes'.
“Then you need to itemize each piece of clothing so that we can claim it on our taxes.”
“What does that mean?” she asked, so my brother explained. But that didn't sound any better to her. “I'm not doing that. You do that,” she said. But my brother refused, so she said, “Fine, I'll just give them away.”
“You cannot give them away,” he told her. “That's TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.”
My brother laughs when he tells this story. Though he's frustrated, he's not angry. He knows that his wife has a spending problem, and it bugs him, but he also sees the humor in the situation, which is one of his special gifts. I, too, once had a spending problem, but I certainly never spent $10,000 on trunk clothes. It was on computers. And books.
Author: J.D. Roth
In 2006, J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly to document his quest to get out of debt. Over time, he learned how to save and how to invest. Today, he's managed to reach early retirement! He wants to help you master your money — and your life. No scams. No gimmicks. Just smart money advice to help you reach your goals.