After a month-long honeymoon touring Asia, I returned to an apartment on Fifth Avenue and a budget that blew my mind. David and I had discussed how much money I would need each week to run the house (groceries, laundry, maid), what it would take to redecorate his bachelor pad (black walls, white rugs, mirrored everything)— then determined how much I would spend on clothes per season.
I didn't need all that money for my wardrobe, I told him playfully. Who in their right mind spends $700 on shoes? Apparently, now I did. I bought my first pair of red-soled Louboutins half-off —with my savings. Even though David had given me a budget, I felt uncomfortable about buying things with his money.
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The next week, we went to a party, and David's friends' wives raved about those shoes. "Stunning!" they exclaimed; I was hooked. The next pair came more easily. Why not use my new platinum card? Chanel flats, Louboutin peep toe pumps, and Tod's boots followed. I bought Herve Leger dresses and ate the Madison salad at Fred's daily with my married friends. My guilt had vanished. Shopping was not as shallow as I thought; I had never owned things that I actually cared about before, and it felt good.
A few weeks later David held up the AmEx bill with disbelief. "Do you even know how much money you spent this month?" he asked. I didn't. The bill was close to $20,000, and I was mortified. When and how had I become so superficial?
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I had bought the new clothes in anticipation of spending Passover with David's family in Florida, worried that all the girls would be more dressed up, that I wouldn't fit in. But seeing tha bill, and realizing I had blown through a budget I once deemed outrageous, brought me crashing back to earth: I promptly returned everything that still had tags. That day, I joked to David that I had "made" $1,000. It was the only money I was bringing in; I had quit my job six months into my marriage to pursue my writing.