Investments come in all sizes. Size 9 in this instance…
I had a conversation with a good friend of mine over a glass of wine a few weeks back that intrigued me. When I talk to her about Personal Finance she is not even polite enough to stifle the yawn that immediately overtakes her. Her response of “Ruth, that is so fecking boring” is putting it politely.
Generally a conversation with her will be all over the place and cover ten topics in ten minutes, none of which are related. I love her for this and can mostly keep up. But talk to her about her passion and wow, she is OFF! She loves SHOES and can describe to me in the most minute detail every shoe she has bought, where she bought it, where she wore it and what she wore it with. Now, I’m the one beginning to feel a bit bored. If she were to enter Mastermind, shoes would be her topic. And she would win.
I have close to zero interest in shoes. I wear running shoes when running and Converse everywhere else. I will reluctantly squeeze my foot into something ‘a bit fancy’ if I really really have to. When I lived in Wellington some years back I had (and remarkably still have) some very cool friends. Whatever the word is now for being on trend, ahead of trend, just plain stylish then these women were it.
I found myself a part of a conversation one day about Minnie Coopers.
This is a bit of me I thought, I love Mini’s. I’m all over this!
“Mini Cooper S or Mini One” I asked?
“What on earth are you on about” they asked me with puzzled looks on their faces?
“I’m talking about cars, what are YOU talking about?” I responded.
“SHOES!” they told me.
“What, BMW Mini makes shoes” I asked? I have to get some!
“NOOOOO Ruth, Minnie Cooper is a brand of shoes, no relation to the car!” my appalled cool friends responded.
They then went on to tell me about shoes such as Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo etc.
This was astounding. I had never realised there was an entire industry associated with the manufacture of shoes and that provided you had the coin you could be spoiled for choice. I knew you had lots of big brands with clothes, but shoes? Well I never!
It turns out that my drinking buddy was just as into shoes. She may have recently got confused (with calamitous results) about whether her car took diesel or petrol but she could tell you every New Zealand shoe designer, what they have released each season, what the cost of the shoe was and exactly how good it looks on her foot. A shoe is a work of art to her. They must be stunning, leather and fit for a specific occasion. She wears her fabulous shoes for the reactions they get from others. When she walks in the room, friends look to her feet first. A comment about how beautiful a pair she is wearing will always greeted with “I KNOW”!
My daughter and I were invited into the hallowed halls of her shoe closet a month or two back and it’s still being talked about in my house. They are indeed beautiful and great fun was had watching my daughter stagger about. There is some debate about how many shoes she actually has and the amount varies dependent on whether her husband is within earshot, but it is in the 50 ‘ish’ pairs range. I should point out that she only has two feet. Now, her criteria for buying shoes has changed over the years. It used to be all about heels. She is tall anyway, but the taller the shoes made her, the better. But with a recent back injury she is entertaining the idea of flats. I can tell from the way she said it this has taken considerable thought and although it opens up a whole new range of shopping opportunities it just does not hold the same excitement. Flats. Sigh…
She has a long suffering husband and although I can’t personally see the point of separate finances, in their case it is a necessity. She would honestly buy shoes all day if the money were there. Rolling his eyes he said that every time he walks past the computer she is scrolling shoes. So, she manages her shoe addiction on a tight budget and she buys very carefully.
And here is where my friend is possibly more into Personal Finance than she realises. Her research is meticulous. She rarely buys a shoe full price. Because we live away from any kind of High Street she does the majority of her shopping online and she knows every site there is. She only buys ‘flash brands’ and will always pay one third or less for new shoes. She is often a season behind, but who is going to notice in Central Otago? She frequently picks them up in thrift stores. Then the shoes have ONE YEAR to prove themselves. If they have not been worn in that time she turns around and sells them. She frequently sells them for more than she paid, thereby turning a profit. IF she wanted to step it up a notch she could learn a thing or two from this Josh Luber Ted Talk on Why Sneakers Are A Great Investment.
My friend is a SHOE INVESTOR and this goes back to something I learned early on in investing. Only invest in what you understand. She understands it completely and has a passion for it that I could never hope to have. She is certainly not making a killing out of it (and I suspect she may have fudged the figures with her husband within earshot), but her shoe fetish does appear to be paying its way somewhat. And the pleasure she gets from opening up her wardrobe and seeing them all lined up? Well, you can’t put a price on that now can you?