First, let me say thank you for the words of support, encouragement, interest and excitement in my year of no shopping challenge. I will need all of the good karma out there to nail this. (Big wry smile on my face.) That said, I had some really wonderful breakthroughs this weekend in terms of my “No New Things” challenge.
My highly fashionable, but extremely socially conscious friend Kevin came to town this weekend. We attended the Sundance Film Festival, ate far too much delicious food, and generally had the chance to hang out and catch up. It was wonderful. Though shopping was not on our schedule, we actually had the chance to pop into some shops in Park City with my husband while Kevin was here.
I was worried that my inner shopper might kick in with Kevin around (no offense, Kev). Not because of Kevin, but because of ME! I have this vivid image, thirteen years ago, a tiny wood-paneled office in the middle of nowhere, scoping out a killer pair of Manolo Blahnik heels that I was drooling over for an upcoming wedding. On this particular day, in Skagway, Alaska, I would find a pair of shoes on my computer and then turn to Kevin for his review of the item online. We simply have always had that kind of exchange over style and fashion. I love it.
Fast forward to now, as we shopped around Park City I paid attention to how I felt looking at clothes, looking at goods. Maybe one of the small breakthroughs for me was that I didn’t feel that persistent need to buy something. It was as if I had released myself from the burden of purchase. I’m not saying that this is how it will feel every time, but it felt really, really good to simply look. To take in the stores, the displays, and even to try on items that are on my “wishlist” like an upgrade on my knee-length puffer jacket without feelings as though that sale was going to allow the “thing” to slip out of my grasp.
Research and Support
One of the other things that has helped me with the emotionality of this no shopping challenge (yes, I realize that I am not even a month in) has been The Art of Money, a book by Bari Tessler that I picked up at my school library. In all honesty I grabbed it because it was one of the books displayed on the top of the shelf, and Bari smiles from the cover with a gorgeous wine lip, the perfect over-sized jade ring, kind eyes, a generous smile, holding an inviting cup of tea. You can almost sense the warmth in it and in her.
There have been two important takeaways for me at this point. One is that I should take the time and space to examine my history with money. Bari talks a lot about how shameful many of us feel about our current relationship with money, but she also suggests that one of the reasons is that many of us don’t trace the roots of our relationship with money back very far.
We look at our present and judge our financial literacy based on where we are right now– “I was given my money through an inheritance, but I don’t deserve it because I didn’t work for it” or “Money is impossible to save, you just need to spend it when you can, as fast as you can” or “I don’t feel safe if I don’t have money so I am going to save as much as I can, I can have experiences later.” But why do we feel this way? Where do these feelings come from? Of course some of our present informs how we interact with money, but there are also many chapters in our history with money that we may not have looked at. I’m looking more at my money history now.
Second, I appreciate Bari’s emphasis on completing some aspect of our relationship with money. This year, along with no new things, I plan to FINALLY set up a way to track my money, get on top of a budget, and release myself from the burden my own perceived money ignorance. There is not better time to start than today! So I’m going to carpe my reality, load Mint onto my phone, track my expenses for a month, set up a savings account that I don’t touch, and generally reorder my finances this year.
The first rule of my year of no shopping is simple– I am not going to buy any clothes. But some questions have already been posed that have allowed me to further define this more general goal. What about consignment? What about replacement items? What about accessories? What about gifts? What about clothing items for my family?
First, I am only limiting my fast on shopping to clothing for myself. If I feel that I have the need to purchase a replacement item I will cross that bridge when I come to it. I honestly don’t think that this problem will arise. When thinking about this challenge, the only thing I could think of that I thought might need to be replaced was my white jeans. They are old, spotted, and sort of worn from my Clorox addiction. But I honestly don’t think they will need to be replaced and I’m not gunning for it.
Clothing for other family members is fair game, though just like replacing any worn out clothing in my own wardrobe, the idea here is not to go nuts shopping for items my boys do not need simply to have the feeling of new. I am limited in giving gifts to others, and I have made it clear to my husband and immediate family members that I can, let me say that again, the I CAN accept gifts.
As far as consignment shopping, thrift shopping, or online purchases of lightly worn clothing, I have removed this from the okay category. I joked with a couple of my friends that I didn’t want them to catch me every weekend at our local thrift store with my reusable grocery bag culling the racks for something, anything that I could BUY. No, thrifting is out for me on this go round. The idea is to use the clothing I have.
At this point, I hope to write weekly updates about my progress. These will be designed to be somewhat short and lively, and combined with other content material. I don’t want to overburden with every detail! In other words, I hope to keep you posted.
The item that really caught my eye this week was a dress from Madewell. It was a beautiful raw umber silk with perfectly placed peacock feathers, and just the right price (read: on sale). I looked at it all week. I put it in my shopping cart, I almost clicked purchase. Then I thought about some of the reasons that I was embarking on this challenge. I do not need to buy a dress simply because it is on sale.
Frankly, I don’t even need to buy the dress simply because it is beautiful. I can appreciate beauty and form in style and fashion, and still not have to be the purchaser. This was another big breakthrough for me. I hope you are finding joy in practicing better habits in 2018, and I hope you have a wonderful Friday and a fabulous weekend!