Contributed by Christine C.

Watching the Real Housewives reality show makes me envy the 1% to a point—not all that drama, but their lifestyle. We all have problems and drama, but wouldn’t it be better if I dealt with my drama in a pair of Louboutins?    But, as we can see by the bankruptcy filings of some of the Housewives, there’s a big difference between being wealthy and appearing wealthy.  How can you tell the difference?

What does the money in your wallet look like?  Is it organized from highest to lowest denomination with all the money facing the same way? Or is it stuffed in your wallet or just thrown in your bag, with some more in your jeans from a few days ago and some on your kitchen counter?  Keeping your money organized may sound stupid and petty, but it allows you to have respect for your money.  Respecting your money is the first step to acquiring wealth.

How many different credit cards do you own (not counting your debit card)?  Do you own several store cards, plus Visas and Mastercards?  Do you carry them with you every day?  Do you need all these cards? Are they incurring debt?  Buying something with your credit card is easy to do (at least the buying part is) but paying it off can sometimes be the hard part.  We forget the debt after the purchase is made.  Instant gratification is only gratifying for an instant.  Building wealth can leave you gratified for a long time.

How much does your outfit cost?  So you’re wearing your Jimmy Choos ($200 on sale), jeans ($125), belt ($50), top ($75), bra and undies ($85), carrying your purse ($175), the wallet inside the purse ($60), makeup bags and its contents ($250) and talking on your iPhone ($200); the total – $1,220.  When was the last time you put that much into savings or your retirement plan?

This article isn’t written to make you feel bad about yourself or to put you down.  Rather, it is to point out behaviors that have resulted in us (individually and nationally) being in debt over our heads. Instead of feeling guilty, putting yourself down and then shopping to feel better (hey, I’ve done it too!), be aware of what you are doing and keep reading the Financial Feast for ideas on how to change your behavior and grow your wealth.