I read Old Money, New Woman by Byron Tully this week. I've been drawn to his writings not because I believe I can become old money or some other such delusion, as one must be born into money to be old money. Instead, as I have previously identified, I was not taught to manage and relate to money appropriately as a child. As such, I have been seeking information from successful families on how they teach their youngsters about money. In many ways, old money must be experts in living below their means and maintaining wealth. While Tully's writings reveal no great secret long kept from us pauvres, it's still a good resource for learning how those different from us conceptualize the proper way to live. 

One of the broader points in his writings is that one can live a better life by spending less. He emphasizes that it is crucial to learn to identify and resist the ways consumer culture will try to sink its hooks into you and drain you of your potential wealth. 

He offers the following questionnaire to identify the level to which you've been taken by excessive consumption, advertising, and consumer culture. I'll pose the questions and provide my answers in addition to commentary when appropriate. 

** These questions are paraphrased from his book.

  1. I purchase things I don't need  Yes
  2. I don't understand why I make these purchases No, I am aware I purchase things I don't need to fill an emotional void, as a hobby, and as an impulse control issue. 
  3. I have difficulty not purchasing/consuming. Yes- I'm $60,000+ in debt because of it.
  4. I shop to stop (e.g., retail therapy, buying for the sole purpose of buying) Yes, not all of the time, but this has occasionally applied to me in the past. 
  5. I feel a sense of accomplishment or euphoria when I make a purchase. Yes, I'm embarrassed to admit this, but yes. The first time I spent more than $100 of my own money at once, I felt such a rush of excitement that it scared me. That should have been my first clue that something was wrong. I was only 17, so I have to give myself grace for my ignorance, but I wonder what my life would be like now if I had learned my lesson then instead of in my 30s. I've also been guilty of aspirational spending. I've made purchases such as clothing, handbags, and electronics to project a particular image to others rather than by an actual need for the product. 
  6. I don't use what I buy Yes, most of my clothes get cycled out of my wardrobe within a year or two and with very few wears. I've been guilty of excessive food waste because I've shopped aspirationally and then let the groceries expire. 
  7. I'm in debt or broke because of my spending. Yes, extremely.

It's no great shock that I have an issue with excessive consumption, but I enjoyed the guided questionnaire as an opportunity to reflect on my life and situation. For example, I don't think I've thought of my experience regarding the $100 purchase at 17 years old as it relates to my financial situation today, so I've come to a deeper understanding of myself. 

I've enjoyed Mr. Tully's books and blog and will continue to read his future writings. I want to close this article with something Mr. Tully mentions in the closing of Old Money, New Woman:

"When you're old enough to vote and drive, you're old enough to stop blaming your parents for bad guidance, holding you back, or generally messing up your life"

While I understand Mr. Tully's reasoning for making this statement, I somewhat disagree with him. One must realize they were misguided, held back, or led astray before recognizing they can do better and seeking the resources needed to learn. However, I'm sure Mr. Tully and I agree that one must take responsibility and rectify their mistakes. It's unacceptable to develop a victim mentality that prevents one from making changes in their life.