Crazy. That is what some of you will think I am by the end of this post, if you don’t already. However, this issue has been stewing in my mind for quite some time. It all revolves around shopping. Shoes, purses, sunglasses, shirts, dresses, pants, swimsuits, jackets…I love them all. I love to shop. I love Banana Republic, in fact I am a Luxe card member. I love Macy’s, especially the cosmetics department. I can always find something to buy. I can always justify a reason to buy it. This is the problem.
This time last year, Kevin and I had about $3000 on a credit card due to some entirely ridiculous car repairs on his very old Toyota. It was a necessary evil to put the charges on the card, which had previously been at zero, and we labored over having to go into debt. Fast forward to a year later and that total has increased six fold. More than a quarter of that total is directly related to the move and getting our house prepared to sell. Another quarter can be attributed to miscellaneous purchases that seemed necessary at the time, a golf game, a dinner out, tickets to a concert – all of which managed to linger and not get paid off. That brings me to the final quarter of what is sitting on the credit card, my clothes. I would say it is safe to estimate my clothing purchases for a year’s time in the $5000 range. And that doesn’t include purchases in cash, which were also varied and many. Seems like a crazy figure when you think of it as a lump sum. However, when it happens $75 at a time, it is more palatable and justified.
I have worked in an office for 9 years, requiring a wardrobe that includes suits, which are not cheap. I have justified these purchases for so long, I never stopped to realize that I was spending progressively more each year on the items. I once settled for a suit on major sale at Macy’s and now I only order from Banana Republic and have recently been eyeing full priced Tahari suits. Much like an alcoholic who begins with one drink and then eventually is swilling directly from the bottle, my disease has progressed. So much so, that in the past year, I have twice dropped $1000 in one shopping trip. When we moved, my shoes alone were contained in 4 separate moving boxes. I do not make enough money to support this habit and it is time to change.
I am not proud of this part of me; especially because it means my family has a chunk of debt to shoulder because I like clothes. It just has to stop. I have been inspired by stories of families who give up shopping for anything new for a year. I have never felt compelled to join them. However, as I have struggled with this new job and the pressure to work because we need the money, my thoughts on this “no-shopping” concept have begun to change.
What if I didn’t buy clothes for a year? Could I do it? What would I learn and how hard would it be? Obviously I have to buy clothes for the kids but what if I just wore what I already have? Would I cease to exist if I didn’t have the new pair of Steve Madden heels or the new linen jacket from Gap? I have a feeling that my urge to shop comes from a much deeper, more intimate place than I would like to recognize. I believe it comes from deep seeded insecurity and discomfort – something that clothes will never change, just mask.
So, I did a little research on this topic and two years ago author Judith Levine undertook this very challenge, only she didn’t shop for anything. There is also a blogger that gave up shopping because she had too much stuff. I am not ready to go so far as to give up shopping for everything and like I said I don’t want to include my family in this, it is about me and my spending habits. I want to learn to stop and really feel the emotions that come up when I am just dying to go shopping – what am I trying to fulfill? Can I learn to keep clothing a necessary item and not a coveted idol? Also, could I actually get that credit card paid off?
So, I am going to start with 90 days. I will not buy any clothes for 90 days and after that, if I am still breathing, I will extend it to 6 months and then maybe a year. My goal is that every time I feel like I have disposable money for clothes, I will make a payment to the credit card. Maybe by the end of 2008, both my credit and I will be better for this experiment.
As a part of the process there will be a weekly post on the subject regarding how I am doing with the plan and how much I’ve paid to the credit card. Since this goal is a bit like a fast, I am thinking I will call it Friday’s Fasting Update. I don’t expect this challenge to be easy, in fact I think it is going to be terribly hard but isn’t anything in life worth doing usually so?
Please feel free to leave comments and share your opinion about this idea– also would some of you like to join me? Do you find yourselves in the same position both financially and personally? Are clothes filling a void in your life that isn’t appropriate or healthy? I would love to have some guest posts on Friday’s from your experiences if you chose to join in.
So ladies, let’s do this!