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In this episode of Making It Work, one woman dives into 4 things she thought would improve her life, but just ended up wasting money instead.

Through weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Written by Kate Sortino

Video by Grace Lee

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KATE SORTINO: I'm a sucker for an aspirational purchase. Before I got my finances in order, I used to think that I was one consumer good away from having my life together. These are just a couple of the hundreds of purchases I made in the desperate pursuit to be a better version of myself and why they were actually a massive waste of money. Number one, a second bachelor's degree.

In my experience, wanting to change your job is not a good reason to go back to school. I decided that I wanted to switch up my social services career. And I figured out the best way to do that would be to go and get an entirely new degree.

I've been through college before, I could do it again, right? This was a costly and ill advised mistake. You don't necessarily have to go back to school to switch fields.

And now I believe most people don't need two bachelor's degrees. I ended up changing careers, but I did not need the second bachelor's degree at all. And it ended up being thousands of wasted dollars.

It may have made sense if I had wanted to go from education to stem, but that isn't what I did at all. And I regret it. Number two, expensive subscriptions I never use.

Subscription services are the definition of aspirational purchases. It's signing up with the best intentions to use a service that we have no guarantee we will use for the next month or even year. This rarely works out for me.

Whether it's environmentally devastating makeup box subscriptions, gym memberships, various software, or warehouse memberships, I just won't use them most of the time. The tricky thing about subscription services is you have no real way of knowing if you will use them or not until you subscribe. Trial memberships are not always a reliable indicator of actual usefulness of the subscription either.

I have had subscription services that I used religiously and got every penny's worth out of. YouTube Red and Spotify for example. But then there are others that I have spent tons of money on and seldom use, but was locked into paying for them.

I'm looking at you, Sam's Club. Whenever I start a new subscription service or trial, I set an alert on my phone to remind me a few days before the subscription is set to renew. This gives me the chance to evaluate whether to cancel or keep it.

Number three, makeup. Makeup is another one of those, if I buy it I'll officially have my shit together purchases. Or so I thought.

The money I spent on expensive luxury makeup that I didn't know how to use is a tragedy. I would browse the aisles of Sephora and Ulta thinking that I could buy social acceptance and beat my ever present imposter syndrome through the blush or concealer. I have nothing against anybody that uses makeup.

However, after being an official adult for over a decade now I have given up trying to be a makeup person. I'll put on basic black eyeliner maybe once a year, but I have no need whatsoever to own something called a palette. This does not make me less professional, less powerful, or less feminine, as these are qualities that cannot be purchased in a tube.

Number four, my own apartment. Finally renting my very own apartment with no roommates was supposed to be the ultimate glow up. I would finally have my own space.

I wouldn't have to share anything with anyone. And I would finally be the adult I want it to be. I had visions of my perfectly curated space, cooking myself elaborate meals, and hosting game nights for my cosmopolitan friends in my gorgeous apartment.

I was going to be the perfect adult, but that's not what happened at all. I hated living alone, absolutely hated it. It's hard for me to quite articulate how unbelievably lonely, depressing, and bad for my mental health it was.

Not only was my space not beautifully curated, but I also struggled to keep it even somewhat clean and organized. I avoided going home like the plague. I slept in the living room because my room creeped me out, it was too quiet.

I ended up breaking my lease, another expensive choice, and ended up moving back with friends after only a couple of months. I now live with my husband and I just have accepted the fact that living alone would likely never be good for my mental health. And that's OK.

Knowing your needs and limitations is part of being a fully, actualized adult. These are just some examples of aspirational purchases that weren't worth it for me. Your mileage may vary, but before you spend money on something because it sounds like a good idea or feels like something you're supposed to want, ask yourself, is this actually going to add to my life?