Check in Time: The Year of Austerity

Remember my New Year’s Resolution to stop buying things? Well, since I started my resolution on November 26, I’ve reached the halfway point. Hurray! Let’s see how I’ve done.

Here are the forbidden purchases (in no particular order). The original assessment is in italics and the update is in red. Continue reading →

The Year of Austerity

It’s the delusional time of year when we all make promises to ourselves that we have no intention of keeping even through the end of January. Mine is to stop buying things. I buy too much stuff. Even though I don’t buy knick-knacks or holiday decorations or home goods or anything that really is just clutter, and even though I only set foot in a Target or Cost Plus World Market or Bed, Bath, & Beyond about twice a year, I still buy too much stuff I don’t need. I’m a sucker for a good deal and tend to amass certain items without using up what I already have first.

When I was 18 and got my first credit cards, I bought all the things because credit cards were “free money.” Woo-hoo! I was living on my own but never sat down and did the basic calculations of income versus expenses, and I got into financial trouble pretty quickly. After defaulting on all four cards and tanking my credit score, I decided I needed to get it together. I started writing down every single item I bought in a journal. Even purchases as a small as a $1.59 cup of coffee at a gas station. Spending those few moments thinking about where your money went and then having a visual record of everything you spend is a great way to see how much you waste on crap and a good motivator to stop. After I got my finances back together, I spent six years living overseas: a few semesters abroad in undergrad and then working abroad after I finished my BA. This is a great plan for anyone who is trying to be less materialistic. When you are bouncing around from country to country, living out of two suitcases, and the baggage limit on an airplane is 20kg, you really have no interest in buying anything at all. Continue reading →

Girly Things

I spent my most impressionable years in a world of flannel, Doc Martens, carpenter jeans, and Skechers before they became soccer mom shoes. I never would have suspected that one day I would be addicted to Ann Taylor and Banana Republic and New York & Company. The only cosmetic I wore was the heavy black eyeliner required for qualification as an American teenager in the 1990s. I had lots of choke collar necklaces and leather band bracelets, and plenty of body jewelry including a tongue ring and plugs that I eventually stretched out to zero gauge (and no, they don’t ever shrink back all the way. Mostly, but not all the way.). I did wear normal nail polish from time to time, not that I would have ever gone to a professional salon to have it applied, not even had I gone to prom. Continue reading →