“Fashion is expensive. Style is not. Some of the most stylish girls I know are certainly not the wealthiest. Ironically, it is often the girls with less money who seem to understand style the best. Maybe it’s because they are forced to be picky and cannot slavishly follow the trends. Maybe it’s because they consider their purchases more carefully. Maybe it’s because they have perfected the art of mixing their more expensive items with their cheaper finds. Or maybe it’s because they know where to splurge and where to save.” — Nina Garcia, The Little Black Book of Style
Disclaimer: I am definitely not here to claim that I am the most stylish.
However, I am here to claim that things are much tighter with baby than they were in the past, and reading the above excerpt in Nina Garcia’s book has struck a chord. I used to lose count of the clothes I’d buy in a year –I think I would optimistically start every January 1st with the self-imposed restriction of one item a month, or forty items total per year. That went swimmingly well (not), thank you for asking. Since I was pregnant, I can count exactly how many pieces I’ve bought in two years. The figure? Nine!
My mind is still reeling from this bit of information… but I’m actually happy to have my shopping tendencies firmly in check.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- One’s own wardrobe is full of treasures. I’ve rediscovered pieces in my wardrobe, in both positive and not-so-positive ways. I’ve learned to truly wear and cherish my favourite pieces, and at other times, I’ve smacked my forehead, wondering what I was thinking buying such and such an item. Then I wore those items, not feeling fully myself or happy in them, but just to feel like I hadn’t wasted my money entirely. Sooner or later, they all ended up in a donation bag.
- If you can’t afford it, you can live without it. I’ve found a balance and have learned how to live without constantly shopping. Before, I always had a perpetual list of “the one last item I need to have”. Now, I’ve found that I simply don’t need all those things, have forgotten half the things I used to think I absolutely needed to own, and that I don’t miss my old habits, not one bit.
- It’s actually easier to figure out what you truly want to have in your closet. Because I immediately stop myself before impulse buying any pretty thing I see, it’s easy for me to hone in on the fact that I truly need a pair of jeggings (for example) because it’s something that repeatedly pops up in my mind and I constantly want to look for a pair or wish for one when I’m getting dressed in the morning. The gaps in my closet become subtle daily nags, and because I know I’m not impulse buying, I can feel free to think about finding and purchasing that item.
- Unsubscribing from email lists of companies that you like but never purchase from is a good idea. For one thing, a cleaner inbox! And for another, if you haven’t bought anything from them in years, it’s time to say goodbye. There’s no need to be tempted by sales you can’t afford. And if you never even look at said sales campaigns when they come around, then truly, farewell was never sweeter. I barely miss any of the emails from companies that I used to want to buy from all the time.
- Fitness became an urgent priority. Coming back from having a baby, and finding I couldn’t just go out and buy a new wardrobe, I made fitness a priority so that I would have things to wear (and by that, I mean actual choices in outfit planning) again. I was kind to myself and didn’t go on any crazy diet/fitness regimens, but with my goal in mind, I was focused and –mostly– disciplined.
I’d love to hear from anyone reading this — what are your tips and tricks when your financial belt is tightened? And what have you consequently learned about yourself and your spending habits?