The Last Bobby Pin Effect

Although women will probably understand this analogy slightly better, men will appreciate it none-the-less.

Anytime I get a new package of bobby pins (hair clips for you men), without a doubt, one-by-one, they always manage to disappear into the abyss. How I lose them is beyond me. I put them in my hair and take them out before bed in the same location, but somehow my brand new stash slowly dwindles away and I have no idea where they end up. My once lofty collection of bobby pins is down to one lonely clip. Every time I get down to that one clip I somehow manage to hang onto it; always knowing its exact location, because, you see, it is my last hair pin and I may need it. This happens, without a doubt, every time I buy these pesky little things.

Why Does This Continue To Happen?

Is it because I don’t value them enough? They’re less than $3.00 for about 50 of them and I rarely lose my more expensive hair clips. Do I subconsciously lose them because I know I will always have more? It takes time to slowly lose them.

If I applied this analogy to my money we’d have a pretty similar story. Or so that’s how it once was. I’d get paid (brand new pack of bobby pins) pay the bills (putting them in and taking them out as per usual) yet somehow I only really started to pay attention to the money when there’s almost nothing left (last, lone bobby pin).

Where did my money go? I wasn’t really paying attention. Truthfully it use to be that didn’t care that I just wasted $10.00 at the store on something I didn’t really need/want/use because it was only $10.00, and I just got paid over 15x that amount. I didn’t care. That was the problem. Not that I was always frivolous, but my thought process about money has changed substantially in the last 6 months.

Treat Money With Respect!

If I treated every single dollar like I do my last bobby pin, I’d probably be in an entirely different financial situation right now. Especially since switching to cash, I really give every purchase a good thought before forking over our hard-earned money. Not saying we now hoard cash and don’t spend anything but we now apply value to that lunch date together, the food we’re eating for supper or shirts we are wearing.

I truly believe I have lived my life the way I have to learn lessons just like this one. Although it sucks to learn anything the hard way, I’m a better person for it.

Lesson Learned.

Treat every dollar like your last bobby pin, even when you have a brand new pack, because each dollar deserves the last-pin-respect.

Enjoy Plunged in Debt?


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  1. I like this! It reminds me of a hair tie I had once that lasted me 5 years. How do I know? I made it special. I put a ribbon on it one day during my senior year in high school, and left the ribbon on it. 5 years later, I was in grad school when the hair tie finally bit the dust. But I never lost it for more than a day, because I managed to make it feel special!

    • Isn’t it funny. I have a favorite little hair clip too, I’ve had it for a few years, I may lose it for a day or two but it always finds it’s way home.

  2. I have the same problem, even for more valuable items, I don’t treat things properly and generally end up buying more than needed. I am learning it the hard way here because it is hard to replace stuff with the same quality, or at all.

    • Yeah it sucks, I use to be bad for it but have slowly learned to take better care of stuff, even el-cheapo hair clips.

  3. Oh, I’ve run into this as well….with money, not bobby pins and my hair. LOL. I read a post in recently that said to be “selfish with your money.” In other words, treat every dollar like it’s your last bobby pin. It really hit home for me.

  4. Great analogy Catherine! I think it does come down to respecting your money and treating it appropriately. It can be a challenge for some to view money in this way, but it really can help you manage your finances better in the long run.

  5. What a great analogy! I’m the same way with my bobby pins and it definitely is because I place no value on them :S

    • I know eh? My sister in law just said to me yesterday that she wasn’t going to bother returning an item to a store (which is in the process of closing for good) because it was only 25.00! I was like Hello!? give me the item and I’ll gladly accept the 25.00 return!

  6. That is an excellent analogy! It’s easy to lose track of all of the small sums of money we spend…until it’s gone~ Good post!

  7. OMG. I’m terrible with bobby pins. Great analogy!!

  8. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! says:

    I enjoyed the bobby pin analogy in relation to money. You’re absolutely correct in that we need to have greater respect for the money we work hard to earn.

    • Thanks! A lot of people do have the respect money deserves but I didn’t until recently. I thought I did but in retrospect I didn’t at all.

  9. Great analogy ! I feel like that’s exactly how I acted with money before. I would only pay attention and and budget once I saw $100 left in my account. Before that I felt rich and like I could spend money on whatever I wanted.

  10. That’s so funny, as I am down to two bobby pins that I’ve had forever and was searching for one this morning. I have really noticed this effect since I’ve been on a strict grocery budget. I had $3.41 left for this month and had to shop creatively and frugally to get something to make for my husband’s birthday on Thursday. I ened up spending $2.82 and was so happy. I probably wouldn’t have spend much time thinking if it had been the first of the month, but I should always pay that much attention.

  11. That’s a great analogy! I always gasp in horror when confronted with the price of a new card of bobby pins! Thankfully, they last me for years and years because I never wear them. I used to a lot more when I was in skating in dance, though.

  12. Tee-hee, I am down to my last four bobby pins. Why? Because I NEED four to properly smooth wispies from my face each morning. The rest have been lost into the dreaded abyss and when I misplace another, I shall cry. Then drudge over to the convenient store to pick up another pack of fifty/hundred/what-have-you’s, so the whole process of them dwindling away can be revived.

    I mean, does anyone ever FIND their lost bobby pins? Where do all of these suckers actually go?

  13. I can totally relate to your analogy. I use to be in the exact same boat in terms of spending, esp when I had a full-time PM job that did pay well. My prob was that when I quit the job I didn’t quit the spending.
    In regard to specifically the bobby pins – I am the opposite of you. I have one strip of them on a cardboard that they came on. I rarely use them, so have had them for over 10 years…

  14. It always amazes me how much I can want something in “the moment” and later wonder why I ever wanted it. And those moments add up fast! Money is such a gift, but you do have it to treat it with respect or like it’s your last bobby pin – and oh, so precious!

  15. LOVE LOVE LOVE your analogy. For me it’s lip chap. I buy a three pack, loose two and cherish the third like it’s a child.

    • haha lip chap is another, I also use to have more than one but but I have one tube and that’s it or I will lose them!

  16. I love love love this and can totally relate! I don’t even want to know how much I have spent on bobby pins over the course of my life haha =/

  17. I like that anology! And man do I need to get some more bobby pins (I don’t know where they all end up!)

    • haha yeah, there’s a world bobby-pin stash somewhere for all the lost pins from women all over the world.

  18. What is this bobby pin you speak of? Just kidding, I totally get the analogy 😉 You make a great point in this post and I need to get better at treating my money that way.

  19. I need my wife to read this. What a great analogy. My wife will spend a lot of money, but only a little bit at a time. Then she wonders where it all went. I might have to print this out and let her read it, but maybe I should make it not too obvious.

    • Yeah printing it and putting it in her lunch bag might be a little obvious…maybe even printing monthly statements to show her where the money is going would help though. If she doesn’t know she can’t change!

  20. Interesting analogy Catherine but you are correct. We are not cash users rather credit card but we certainly treat money and value it no different than using cash. We like to look at what we are buying but at the back of our minds remember how long we had to work to buy what we are buying or using what we are using. What I’m trying to say is that money shouldn’t be just something we use to pay for items it should be used as a measure of how hard we worked to achieve it. Respect it and it will stick around.*(at least that’s the plan.. Mr.CBB 🙂

  21. D.S. @ bankruptcy help Canada says:

    Indeed, bobby pins are for women but the lessons from these bobby pins are for everyone. You have to treat every single dollar as if it were your last. Respect for money is quite important.

  22. Oh I love this. It is sooo true. I could say the same analogy applies for hair ties for me as well. I swear so many of my peers right out of college are completely clueless to the money slipping away, just like the bobby pins. Great read!

  23. Love this! One of my favorite posts today, and SO true! I do the same damn thing! It’s especially true when I get some big checks from clients. I grocery shop without worry and other tasks, but then when my checking account gets low, I’m meticulous about every freaking dollar. I’d have to do this a lot less if I just too more care the big amount when I had it.

  24. Loving the analogy! I lose those things like it’s my job. Those and hair ties. I try to keep better track of my money than that, but this is a GREAT reminder!

  25. This is definitely me. Right now I am actually scrambling to find a bobby pin and can’t find one ANYWHERE!

  26. It seems to work the same way with pens or paper clips too. I don’t know where they all go! Its funny to think of how many ‘lost’ small items like that are just floating around out there!

  27. I really like this comparison. It is so true! We tend to not keep track of the little things until the money is all gone and then we have no one but ourselves to blame. Great post!

  28. Fantastic analogy. While I’m not a huge Suze Orman fan, your piece reminds me of her first book. When you have a healthy respect for money, it’ll treat you well. Until then, you’re going to struggle.

  29. Love this analogy. I’ve definitely become much more conscious of what I’m spending my money on since I’m on such a tight budget.

  30. I knew what bobby pins were before you told me! Although now I have written this, I’m not sure why I need to admit it in a public forum…

    I love the comparison by the way.

  31. Great analogy. I was just telling a friend of mine that I can easily spend $10 a hundred times (or more) but can’t justify spending $1000 once. 🙁

  32. Love this analogy!

  33. I love this! It’s so true and it’s a great analogy.

  34. So so true, love the analogy, We get what we focus on, if we don’t pay attention we lose it. It is said that business only make good decisions in tough times. When times are good we get lazy.

  35. This is a fantastic way of looking at it! I love the comparison, it makes so much sense when you lay it out this way!

    That reminds me, I’m running out of bobby pins again…

  36. I understand the analogy but wondering about why you lose hairpins is like wondering why you lose paperclips or elastic bands. They are small, specifically used items that barely weigh anything, have no heft and are easily forgotten when not LITERALLY IN FRONT OF YOU.

    Also, whenever I buy new bobby pins I find a MILLION of them in a purse somewhere.

  37. I’m convinced there is some secret hair elastic and bobby pin cabal because I NEVER find them once I’ve lost them. There could be whole a city built underground with the amount of pins and elastics women across North America have lost up until now.

    I do the same thing with hair elastics as you do bobby pins, although I don’t lose them as frequently anymore. I think I contribute it to always putting them back in the same place when I take my hair down. I find I only have to replace them every so often as the elastics eventually wear out and break.

  38. Great comparison! I’ve never thought of money like this before. Excellent post!


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