The girl stared at the store entrance. Her hand moved to her wallet and she smiled. Her heart beat with excitement. For the first time she had her own money and now she was standing in front of the department store able to buy whatever she wanted.
She took a deep breath and walked into the store.
Everything looked bright and shiny. So many new things! She suddenly felt a little apprehension. What should she get?
No, no. She couldn’t get everything. Her mom had always said to only buy what you need, and she was determined to use the money wisely. Some of the things she didn’t want anyway like that ugly towel over there. Who made paisley towels? No, she would take this seriously and look at all her options and then decide.
She straightened her shoulders and turned left to start at the edge of the store.
First up, men’s clothes.
Nothing in there.
Second section, boy’s clothes.
Maybe…she turned into the section and looked at the shirts. Each shirt hung neatly on the hanger. So many colors and designs. Hmmm, should I get something fancy or casual? Shirt, skirt, pants, shorts, dress, pajamas? Her heart began to race again.
Now who says you have to get clothes? Keep looking, you can always come back.
She let out a breath and moved on.
She looked at the necklaces. The sparkling sent her mind wandering envisioning herself in a beautiful dress dancing at a ball.
You don’t have a fancy dress. What would you wear the jewelry with? You don’t go to balls or fancy events.
Hats, gloves, purses, slippers.
She tried on the hats peering in the mirror and making faces. Each one had a different personality and a fun vibe. She twirled and laughed. She narrowed it down to two options and debated which one she wanted. She looked at the price tags.
Whoa! Seriously that much for a hat? When have you ever worn a hat? Are you sure you want to spend that much? It would use all your money. Maybe just think about it.
She considered whether her family had the game already and if her family would play the new game with her.
They would probably try the game but what if you ended up not liking the game? You want to get something you could play by yourself. If you do get a game, you should get one you have already tried so you know you like it.
All the games she recognized her family already owned.
Bummer. Guess you’ll have to pass.
Ah! The book section, finally! This was where she would spend all her time normally when she was shopping with her mother. She would sit with the books and flip through the pages getting the feel for the story and then find the book at the library.
Exactly. Why would you buy a book you will only read once when you can borrow it for free at the library. Save yourself the trouble and just use the library. Buying books is a waste.
She continued exploring the shelves looking for a book she had been wanting but couldn’t get at the library.
See they don’t even have the book you would’ve wanted. Move along.
Each section held buying possibilities but the practical voice in her head kept vetoing each option.
You would never use it.
You already have one.
Why would you even want that. It’s weird.
Way too expensive.
Who even thought of creating that?
You’ve made it this far without that thing so why get it now?
Each second made her more confused and frustrated. The wallet began to feel hot in her pocket and her face became flushed. It’s not worth it. She rushed out of the store.
When she arrived home her mom smiled, “What did you buy?”
She mumbled, “I decided to save my money until I found something I really wanted.”
Her uncle laughed. “The practical voice is talking to you, eh?”
“Money talks but the practical voice shuts it up. Money tells you all the things you could buy, and the practical voice tells you why you shouldn’t buy any of them.”
“Yes, it’s frustrating.”
“Having money is a heavy weight to bear. You want to be smart, yet you want to enjoy life. It’s a good problem to have.”
“I wish the practical voice wouldn’t talk so much. It takes all the fun out of buying things.”
“Don’t worry. If you play smart it will shut up.”
She walked back to her room and curled up on her bed. It was time to talk to the voices. She pulled out her wallet and glared at it. “Now listen up, practical voice. I heard your talk in the store and it was annoying. It must stop. I want to spend the money, so you have to let me. No funny business.”
She slept through the night with dreams of all the things she would buy. But soon the dream changed. The items chased her crying about how unpractical it was to have bought them and how their simple lives were ruined.
The next day she went back to the store. This time with a determined face that she would spend the money. Instead of going around the store like last time she decided to be focused and intentional and went straight to the sections she really liked.
There they were. The two hats she had narrowed down.
Better try them on again to make sure.
She put each one on her head and smiled in the mirror.
Are you sure that’s how you looked yesterday?
She tried the hats a second time and picked one.
“I’m going to get this one.”
She headed to the front of the store.
Good choice. A hat. Again, how many times have you worn a hat?
“Well, this would be my first hat. I never had one before.”
So, you don’t really know if you would wear it and you are spending all the money on it? Are you sure it’s what you want?
“I like the hat.”
Hmmm, seems like a waste. You could get something bigger that you would use. Maybe save for a violin or a trip to Europe. Playing a violin could be useful and look great on a college application. Going to Europe would increase your cultural experiences. What would owning a hat do?
“I don’t need a violin and I couldn’t go on my own to Europe anyway.”
Fine then. How about seeing a Broadway Musical or buying a computer? Both are a lot better options than a hat.
She turned around and put the hat back with a sigh. “Stupid money.”
Her mother looked up when she walked in the door, arms void of purchases. “Oh no, still couldn’t find anything you liked?”
“Sort of. I found stuff but I couldn’t bring myself to buy it.”
“I kept thinking about what I could be spending my money on and being more practical and smart.”
“But that money was given as a gift so you could spend it on something fun and not worry about being practical.”
“But what if I never use the item again and it ends up being a waste of money?”
“Sometimes that happens but you have to be open to trying new things. Besides think of the person. A lot of people give money as a gift and a treat. They want you to buy something you would enjoy. You are allowing them to be a blessing to you. Buy something for your Uncle’s sake not yours.”
“Ugh, I don’t know what to do.”
“Just buy something. Don’t worry about anything else.”
She stared at the store again. The money seemed to taunt her from her pocket.
She squared her shoulders and walked into the store for the third time. This time she had thought through options thoroughly and went through the practical and fun reasons. She had her choice picked out.
She went directly to the bag section and found a sturdy, pretty bag she could use to carry her books from the library. The bag was cheaper than the hat and would allow her to save the rest of the money for another time.
As she walked to the check out the voice began to talk again. Her heart raced and pounded. She couldn’t take this anymore. She turned into the movie aisle and found a movie her family had been wanting. She breathed a sigh of relief as she saw the price. Perfect.
She raced to the front, doing everything she could to not think about the voice.
The cashier saw her franticness and asked, “Are you alright?”
“Yes, just in a hurry.”
She handed over all the money she had to the cashier and grabbed her items.
As she walked out of the store a lightness came over her. The money was gone, taking away the burden. She had been practical and strategic. Getting something for herself and something for others. She skipped back home her heart filled with excitement at the thought of her family enjoying the movie with her. Buying a gift for someone else was a lot easier than buying something for herself. And apparently practicality had nothing to say about it.