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From the outside, it looks like Felice has the perfect life. She's a stay-at-home mother of six children, lives in a big house in the suburbs, drives a new car and wears expensive clothes. She may look like a million bucks, but behind closed doors, it's an entirely different story.

Like millions of Americans, Felice and her husband, Phil, are heading toward financial catastrophe by living a life they cannot afford. Although Phil brings home $5,000 or $6,000 a month, their expenses are almost three times that amount per month. Felice says she starts each day at a popular coffee chain, which adds up to $300$400 a month. Because her own six credit cards are maxed out, Felice secretly uses her husband's credit card to get cash advances.

Felice spends nearly $60 a week on tanning and manicures. "I take care of the bills, so my husband doesn't realize how much money I've spent on hair and nails and extensions. I know I've probably spent $34,000 just on the cost of the extensions in the last two years."

At home, Felice says she's spent around $5,000 on silk flowers. She also commissioned murals for almost every room of her house, which average $2,000 to $4,000 each.

Felice also shops regularlyonline and in stores. "When I do shop, I do kind of get a rush. It makes me feel good," she says. "But afterwards, though, I get depressed. I'll buy something even if I really don't like it because I have to come out with something." Felice says she hides the receipts from her husband underneath a baby blanket in a drawer.

Although she's always shopping for herself and her children, their closets are nearly empty. "I love new clothes. However, I like getting rid of the clothes just as quickly to go buy new ones." To make room for more clothes, Felice holds garage sales, which she says she likes doing almost as much as shopping. She says she'll sell a $50 item for only $1and has a great reputation for having the best stuff. "I usually have about four a year. I have six kids and I sell their toys sometimes just because I don't like them," she says.
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FROM: Money Interventions: The Mom Who Shopped Her Family Broke
Published on January 01, 2006

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