Luckily, I made my biggest money mistake when I was quite young. I was 8 or 9. As we did every year, we headed to Tillamook for our annual family reunion.
I spent a great deal of time at my great aunt’s house and she had an amazing doll collection. I wanted to be just like her in a lot of ways, but I had no fancy dolls. I had an American Girl Doll (Molly, if you were wondering), but nothing shelf-worthy like my great aunt.
We went to the Tillamook cheese factory and there was a traveling doll vendor there. My great aunt walked me over to the table and I wanted all of them. They were porcelain and perfect. I had my eye on one named Shay. She was $135 and I had to have her on my shelf. The vendor said she would be there the next year at the same time and I formulated my savings plan. I worked hard that year. My parents did the right thing and taught me the value of money and earning enough for my goals. I saved up all that cash in a box on my dresser right where I wanted Shay to be. The next year, I was ready and I was so nervous the vendor wouldn’t be there (in retrospect, it might have been better if she wasn’t). But as soon as I walked in, Shay was waiting.
Without hardly a hesitation, I walked right over, slapped my cash on the table, and Shay was taken off the table and boxed up. I couldn’t wait to get back home from the coast and set her up in my room. She looked perfect. She had a cute little floral dress and even a gold and green necklace! Her ringlets hung perfectly around her face. I kept her price-tag pinned to her dress because I was so proud to have a $135 doll that I earned myself right on my bedroom shelf. The total love lasted about a month. I quickly realized Shay didn’t do anything. At least Molly was pliable and had dresses and accessories and I could take her places. Shay just stood there staring at me. Even at that age, I began to realize that Shay wasn’t really what I had wanted. She stood there, complete with price tag, as a symbol of status. I was now a classy kid with a classy expensive doll. And I wanted to show that off.
After about a year, I took the price tag off. I was embarrassed I had spent so much money on her. I still liked her, but she seemed more excessive and a bit ridiculous. I never got rid of Shay. Maybe because she represented regret. Or maybe I felt like throwing her away was throwing $135 in the trashcan.
Shay did not age well. Over the years her perfect green eyes faded into an alarming pink. My kids have to hide her when they go stay with my parents because she’s turned downright creepy. Last week, when I went to my grandfather’s funeral, Shay was still there. Haunting me. Learn from my mistake. And let this face haunt you next time you want to buy something ridiculous.