*For some people perception is everything. They are so busy spending money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t even like that nobody stops to ask themselves why?

The mayor of Coppell, Texas – a Dallas suburb- shot and killed her 19 year-old-daughter then killed herself last week over what police say was mounting debt she couldn’t pay. And now everyone is asking themselves why? Why did she continue to live in a house that had been in pre-foreclosure at least four times instead of moving to a cheaper place? Why continue to borrow money from family and friends and pay for personal items with the city issued credit card when there was little chance it would be repaid? Why pretend to live on easy street when life is so hard that murder and suicide seemed to be her only way out?

In my twenties I used to live by the motto “Fake it til’ you make it.”  Then I realized I was spending way too much money faking it. So I decided to put less effort into faking and more into making something happen. No overpriced house. No new car and no expensive habits that I can’t afford.

I know that in some cases perception can be a good thing. Like the time I saw a 100 pound 70 year old security guard at the grocery store. “Safe” was not the word that came to my mind when I looked at him. “Easy target” was more indicative of my thoughts, but I digress.

For some people perception is all they know. They’re lives are built on what others think of them and they teach their children to live the same way. They would rather die with perception than live with reality. But there’s no shame is starting over.

While nobody knows all the answers surrounding the murder/suicide, police said letters revealed the mayor wanted to protect her daughter from knowing about the heavy debt she was in. Now her financial problems are headline news.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting more than you have. It’s having more than you can afford that becomes a problem. If you can’t sleep at night worrying about how you’re going to pay for something then you probably don’t need it. Your peace of mind should mean more than anything else in the world.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments or requests for speaking engagements to Steffanie at [email protected]. And see the video version of her journal at youtube.com/steffanierivers.