I spent a good part of the afternoon today clearing out a bookcase in our apartment that has not been touched in a year. I distinctly remember unpacking boxes a year ago, stacking books, papers, and odds and ends into the shelves and thinking to myself, “I’ll organize this tomorrow.” Well, tomorrow finally came…a year later. Most of the stuff was mine: textbooks, readers, notebooks, and old exams from grad school. Instead of growing nostalgic, I grew horrified at the amount of “school supplies and materials” that I bought that weren’t really that necessary in the first place. For example, I had the option to download required readings, but I chose to pay for a printed set. I basically put dollar bills in the recycling bin today. This admission is particularly embarrassing given the sustainability pat on the back I gave myself in my last post. I audited a corporate finance class and made the conscious decision to buy the $200 textbook and $90 financial calculator, even though I wasn’t even enrolled in the class. So. Dumb. I was able to sell the textbook and calculator but still faced a net loss of about $120. Then there was that $90 software training class I took just to put on my resume, the fancy notebooks I thought would make me look smart, the brand-name highlighters…I could go on but I don’t think I will.
Excitement about school supplies is something that has been a part of me since I was a very young child. Who doesn’t get excited about the smell of a fresh notebook and the look of brand new, still pointy crayons? I eagerly awaited the school supplies list that my elementary school issued to families at the beginning of the school year. I counted down the days till my mom could take me to Target so I could check everything off the list. I was usually able to make a convincing argument for needing brand new everything: my lunch bag smells weird, I’m too old for a Lion King backpack, the Lisa Frank notebooks are so much cooler than the plain colored notebooks, etc. I could have been a lawyer. Unfortunately, this didn’t create a good spending mindset and it’s something that carried with me for a long time. It was especially easy when it wasn’t my actual money that I was spending; I was either spending my parents’ money or my loans.
Luckily, I’m done with school forever (unless someone wants to pay for me to get my MBA?) so I don’t think I’ll be buying supplies for a long time. For now, I’m content with swiping notepads from hotels, pens from conventions, and highlighters from the office (kidding).