Monday, July 23, 2007
These are the things I have purchased since I took a vow not to buy anything.
In the space of one month last fall I read three separate articles about a group of friends in San Francisco who decided not to purchase anything new for one year. I was struck by the novelty of this idea and though I was not willing to follow the stringent rules they had set for themselves (they were not allowed to buy a new computer if theirs crashed, for example) I was inspired enough to vow to not buy any new clothes for myself or anything new for the house for one year.
There were some allowable exceptions. I can buy cleaning supplies for the house and I can buy new undies for myself (but not fancy lingerie).
So here's how I've done so far, six plus months into it. In a nutshell--not bad--but certainly-- as the picture shows--I've cheated more than a few times. For each purchase I had a justification (lame excuse). The yoga clothes I bought because I forgot to pack them on a vacation. The dress and red shoes are my birthday present. The silver shoes and jewelry were to accessorize a hand-me-down dress from my Grandmother (see, by promoting the use of a used dress I was advancing my cause..no I'm not buying that one either) and the sandals were because I was getting an awful backache from walking around in my flip-flops. In hindsight, the only purchase really necessary was the sandals. On the household side I've done much better. The only thing I have purchased are a few new dischcloths.
It's been a very interesting experiment. Here's what I've learned about my own buying.
1.I shop more than I thought: Although I do not shop for entertainment, I do shop for myself as I go about my day. I found myself lingering over new tops at Target or considering a new dress as I passed the window of Ann Taylor Loft. This surprised me. I always thought I was just a non-shopper.
2.I'm a special-event shopper: If there is a wedding coming up I want a new dress. If I'm going to a Cubs game I want a new Cubs shirt. If I'm on vacation, I want a souvenir. This was a little harder to deprive myself of then I expected.
3.I like sprucing up my seasonal wardrobe with just a few new items: This has also been a challenge. With absolutely nothing new in my summer wardrobe, I'm sick to death of it by mid-July--a full month and a half sooner than I usually start yearning for cooler weather so I can switch to my fall clothes.
4.Knowing that I cannot buy anything is often liberating: I can throw the ads in the Sunday paper out without a glance, I can keep walking past the women's section in Target without pausing, I can flip past the fashion pages in the newspaper. Why look when you know you won't buy? I like this part a lot.
5.People talk about stuff they buy or want to buy a lot: I never noticed this until now. I mean, there are some people who always talk about larger purchases in a braggy way, and that we all notice. But I never realized how much almost everyone talks about stuff--from the acquisition of a little item on a coffee table or a new pair of earrings to a new car, there's a lot of talk about buying stuff.
So those are my observations so far. For the most part I like not having to give it any thought at all. Takes the pressure off when you're at one of those home shopping parties.
I've got five and a half months to go including another fashion season. I'll have trouble saying no to a new outfit for our annual Christmas party but for the most part, I feel pretty good taking a pass on the newest look in fall fashions.