Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Six Month Challenge

I am an amazing saver.  Amazing.  Less in the sense of given $100, I will put $50 away for a rainy day, but more in the sense of "See that gorgeous red DVF wrap dress that retails for $385 at Bloomies? I scored it for $200 on Gilt!"  That's 185 dollars saved!  I've probably saved well over $10K in the last year alone....  Which begs me to ask the question, "How much have I spent?"  Come to think of it,  am I actually a better spender than I am saver?

Our new status as a single income family has forced both T and I to take a closer look at our budget -   something we don't particularly enjoy doing.  That's not to say we've lived a financially irresponsible life.  We save and we certainly don't overspend or live beyond our means, but we also enjoy our hard earned money and seize opportunities to travel, eat good food and drink good wine.

At first pass, it became scarily clear that our monthly surplus, meaning what's left over after the bills are paid, but before the groceries and that to-die-for tuxedo-inspired jacket are bought, has decreased  significantly.  Not only did I give up a particularly shitty commute, I gave up a particularly generous paycheck.  Suddenly ringing up a giant Banana Republic bill any given month doesn't seem like the best idea.  Was it ever?

It doesn't help that T and I are CHAMPION shoppers.  If shopping were an Olympic sport, he and I would be the team to beat.   In fact, I knew I was in love the first time we set out for a day of shopping and didn't return home until 9 hours later exhausted, our arms weighted down with bags, basking in the feeling of success that comes with a 20% off coupon or the Nordstrom half-yearly sale.  In the not-so-long-ago world of 10-14 hour work days where I would see our son for a mere 1 hour total on the average, shopping was my one release.  So much so that when I started my most recent job, I challenged myself to not wear the same outfit for as long as humanly possible.  I went two full months.  It felt damn good.

Now that I'm forced to retire my credit cards for a while (in addition to my over-priced coffee habit, the notion that wine is to be ordered by the case and the every-so-often decision to call a car service home), I've decided to challenge myself in a new way.  The 6 month challenge means that I will go 6 full months without buying a single item of new clothing. Ouch.  Ever the self-proclaimed fashionista, I'm choosing to look at this as an opportunity rather than a challenge.  I now have the opportunity to revisit my wardrobe, find new ways to wear things, cross items over into the next season and re-werk (2 snaps up) what I've got in a new way - the ground rules are as follows:
  • No new clothing purchases at retail (Full disclosure, I've fallen off the wagon already when I bought a new pair of shorts and tank yesterday after a trip to the mall to return something for T.  Whoops.  I am now 24 hours shopping free, do I get one of those sobriety chips?  Also, if I return something does that mean I can get something new as long as it costs the same, if not less?  Say it with me - Loophole!)
  • Free or swapped items are OK (I will be scouring Craigslist for that girl just dying for someone to take those ruby ankle strap platforms off her hands.)
  • I will allow myself to purchase accessories (within reason of course, there's no new LV bag in my future).  Accessories may just be what gets me through.
  • Shoes are only allowed if they are an absolute necessity (I certainly don't need a 5th pair of black closed-toe platform pumps, but if my snow boots suddenly sprout a hole, I obviously have to replace them.  And the new pair OBVIOUSLY has to be cute.)
  • I am allowed to use the $110 credit I have on Rent-the-Runway should we be invited to a worthy event.
Those are the rules and this is me taking a stance against consumerism, saving the planet by reusing any particularly lovely discarded items and living a simpler life.  I'll be sure to share any hidden gems I find hiding in back of my closet or any strokes of genius that allow me to repurpose something that has been worn to death.  Six months feels like a long time, but I always say go big or go home.  Game on.

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