This November marks a year of going without. Not without food, or shelter, or heat, or any of those truly important things. Not without the love of my husband or my friends, so really, I’m not talking about any great hardship here. By a year of going without, I mean going without shopping. Which isn’t an entirely accurate statement – but it has been a year of conscious consumerism, of asking myself if I really need an item and whether it is worth the price I am paying for it. It has been a year of re-discovering myself, in terms of what I value as a consumer and what I value as a person and what I value as a wife.
I have discovered that I will almost always choose race entries or hockey dues over a new outfit (or 10). I have learned that, in fact, you almost never need new shoes. I have discovered that I would rather buy an item that is higher quality and going to last longer, even if it costs a bit more, and I have learned that I should forego entirely purchasing things that are cheap if they are going to fall apart on me shortly thereafter. I have started investing more money in wardrobe basics – my shoes, my suits, and less money in trendy pieces that I will only wear for a year, on weekends. I have learned that if I am working a 9-5 and wearing business attire, I really don’t need to own more than two pairs of jeans. I have learned that if I do more laundry, I need less clothing.
I have also learned that, in attempting to go without, and stretching things further, clothing wears out. After four years of use and abuse, my bras have finally revolted, ripping apart. Like many, I usually replaced my undergarments sporadically, buying them when they were on sale or it struck my fancy, and throwing them away when they were too old or pulled out of shape. When you stop doing that, in fact, it turns out that they fall apart on you.
I have learned that I can alter my own clothes. I’m sitting here typing this in a pair of skinny jeans I made myself, by altering a pair of boot-cut jeans that were well past their prime. I’m incredibly happy with the results. I did the same with a pair of yoga pants that had extremely wide legs but were also too short, and were basically unwearable. I took them in and turned them into capris.
I have learned that I value my husband’s respect, and that he thinks that shopping is silly. He does not understand replacing things that have not totally worn out. I also learned that I am incredibly uncomfortable spending his money on anything I don’t need. The times during the year that I have gone shopping were mostly when I was employed as well, and therefore could feel like I was contributing to the family, and therefore felt like it was okay to buy stuff. There are people that would argue that my husband judgmental nature are exactly why every couple should have separate money – and I understand that, but when you don’t have enough money for it, you don’t have separate money. You have calculated decisions as to what each person can spend on particular items, and you have a partnership deciding the best use of it’s resources. My husband has never ever told me that I can’t buy something. He has said that he doesn’t think a particular thing is a good use of money. I say the same thing about things he buys – it keeps us honest, and it keeps things fair. I will always value peace in my relationship over a new pair of shoes.
I have learned that it is, in fact, possible to have enough pairs of black shoes. For me, this number is 8.
I have learned that I don’t value spending money on certain items. For example, loungewear. Before, I would have told you that you can never have enough lounge wear, that it is vital to every woman’s warddrobe. But now, even though I come home from work every day and put on lounge clothes, I don’t spend money on lounge wear. I make do with what I have, and it’s going pretty well.
How do you spend your money? What do you value?