Cassie McLaughlin knew she was one of the lucky ones. She had a full-time job lined up even before she walked across the stage to collect her college diploma. It was one hundred miles away from her hometown, so that meant she definitely had no choice other than to move out of her mom and dad’s house and get an apartment of her own.
Lots of people offered to give her furniture and other household items they no longer needed, but she didn’t want hand-me-downs. Her parents decorated that way. She wanted new things. Shiny things. She wanted pieces that said “Hey world! Cassie McLaughlin lives here!”, not pieces that said “Hey world! Guess who lives here? Who can tell with this mish mash.”
Off to the furniture and home décor stores she went. She looked at living room suites, bedroom suites, dining room suites, home entertainment sets, lighting, drapery, dishes and more. She also gave a good long look at their price tags.
“Five hundred dollars for one end table?” she said incredulously to a sales associate at one of the furniture stores.
“Yes, but it’s made of real wood. You’ll have this in your home for decades,” he replied trying to convince her of its long-term value.
“At that price, someone had better find a way to turn it into an urn so I can take it with me when I die as well.”
She was just as shocked by the price of other household goods. Her jaw dropped when she saw one set of knives priced at six hundred dollars. She had no idea that a set of lamps could cost her as much as one hundred dollars. And then there was the two thousand dollars the one store wanted for the mattress set she liked.
“Who on earth can afford this stuff?!” she asked herself. “Even if I could, I’d be crazy to pay these prices. Ohhhh, now I understand.”
Finally, at the age of twenty-two Cassie McLaughlin came to understand why her parents decorated with other peoples cast offs instead of with new things. It wasn’t because they had poor taste. It was because new things were expensive, and because they could think of better things to do with their money; such as pay off their house sooner, send Cassie to college, and save for retirement.
She then got out her cell phone and started calling everyone who had offered her things. The first call she made was to her aunt and uncle.
“Hey Aunt Sharon, it’s Cassie,” she said to her mother’s older sister. “Are you and Uncle Pete still looking to unload your old rec room furniture? I’ll gladly take it off your hands.”
When the time came, Cassie would do her best to teach her own children how to be good with money. She had a lot of saving of her own to do before then, though. As her mother liked to say, “Children are expensive.”