Money, Food and Clogs

by Abby on November 7, 2011

Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations about Food and Money, by Geneen Roth

I found Geneen Roth’s book Lost and Found at the library one day when I was wandering the aisles, looking for something that spoke to me. This is actually how I pick out a lot of my reading material. That day I was looking for something that dealt with the current state of our economy, the feelings of panic and scarcity about money that seem to have taken over our lives lately. Not a book about saving money or budgeting or investing, nothing about economic policy or Wall Street. Something…different.

As soon as I picked up Roth’s book, I knew I’d found it. The subtitle is “Unexpected Revelations about Food and Money.” I recognized Roth’s name from her previous book, “Women Food and God,” which was all over Oprah a while back. Honestly, that subject didn’t interest me much, but this one did. What do money and food possibly have in common?

It turns out, a lot. First, some back story: Roth lost all her money in the Bernie Madoff scandal. She’d accumulated a couple million from the success of her books and workshops, and suddenly lost it all. She writes:

I realized I had transferred the same “not-supposed-tos” [related to food and eating] to my relationship with money:  I wasn’t supposed to have it, I wasn’t supposed to spend it, and if I happened to make it, I needed to pretend I hadn’t. Every time, without exception, that I spent money on myself, I felt as if I were breaking the law. As if I were supposed to be on a diet and had just broken all the rules by stuffing down an entire cheesecake.

Interesting, isn’t it? It reminds of a story. Once upon a time, I wanted a pair of Danskos — well-made leather clogs that retail for about $100. I realize some of you may be thinking a) $100? So? I spend more than that on all my shoes. And/or b) Clogs? Really? Not Louboutins or something actually stylish? What can I say? I am who I am!

Dansko clogsFor some reason, I simply couldn’t justify paying 3 figures for 1 pair of shoes. Let me remind you I am self-employed and work from home. Some days the only people I see are related to me. So I told myself I could buy them when I got pregnant. (A lot of nurses and teachers wear them because they’re good for people who are on their feet a lot. Like moms.) So I got pregnant, but I didn’t buy them. A couple years later, I got pregnant again, and I STILL didn’t buy them. There was always something more important to spend the money on, usually something for the kids or the house.

And it wasn’t that I didn’t have the money. As Roth writes, “When you don’t believe you’re allowed to have what you have or want what you want, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in your bank account. You are always poor.” Wow! This lady delves deep, huh?

I am making a generalization here, but I’ve noticed that many moms seem to have a hard time spending money on themselves. Is it because we feel we don’t deserve it? Haven’t earned it? Don’t need those new shoes as much as the kids do?

I don’t know. But I will tell you that I finally bought those Danskos. (With a coupon, naturally.) I wear them often, and they make me feel taller, give me better posture, and protect my toes from errant scooters. I think I deserve that. Don’t you?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie November 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm

“When you don’t believe you’re allowed to have what you have or want what you want, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in your bank account. You are always poor.”

I completely agree. I believe that our “lack” mentality about money–which is different that knowing ours budgets and staying within it–affects our overall success. It’s a little bit of law of attraction ya-ya, I know… but I don’t think rich people are simply rich for all the negative reasons we think they are. Their mindset is different. They believe they deserve it.

BUT, here I was nearly 6 months pregnant with no clothes. I have about two or three pairs of shoes. That’s it. This past weekend my husband and I had a day date and we got a bunch of clothes for me from Motherhood. Because he was there (he’s my fashionista, remember?) I felt so much better about the purchase. If I had gone off and bought those clothes by myself, I would have felt so guilty.

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Abby November 7, 2011 at 7:24 pm

See? To me, a 6 mos.’ pregnant woman w/ no clothes seems ridiculous! But I guess we’ve all got our own definition of what we “need.” Roth gives another great example of our arbitrary, emotional responses to money: say you found $50 on the street. Wouldn’t you spend it differently than $50 of your own hard-earned money? Most of us would, but why? $50 is $50!

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Mindy November 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I can totally relate! Why do we do that to ourselves? I’m stressing out right now about spending money on dental work. It is money that we actually have in the bank (thank goodness) and I need to spend it, but for some reason I feel like I shouldn’t. It makes no sense! And, I have a pair of Dansko’s too and love them! I had a hard time justifying the spend, but I’ve been wearing the same pair for three years now and they’re still in great shape.

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Abby November 8, 2011 at 6:28 pm

That’s what’s so crazy to me, Mindy, is that we’re not talking frivolous luxury items here, but rather dental work, maternity clothes & sensible footwear! Not exactly “splurges,” are they? Love those Danskos. They really hold up. 🙂

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