This is a post from Make Love, Not Debt staff blogger, Abby.
While I generally think of myself as someone incapable of mindless spending, over the past few months I realize that I’ve been putting more money towards a variety of purchases than I would have liked. This has something to do with my current occupation – as I’ve written before, my current (and relatively new) job requires that I dress much more nicely than I’ve previously needed to, and as a result I’ve found myself spending money on clothing, if not quite willy-nilly, then close to it. Yes, there were the justifiable expenses – five identical black turtlenecks from Ann Taylor for winter work attire (I lack creativity, get cold easily, and spill food on myself with such frequency that these have already paid for themselves several times over); black boots from L.L. Bean that are real leather, great for the office, and even better for going out in my freezing cold New England city when I’m meeting friends for dinner or drinks; a few very much on-sale dresses that I can wear for the upcoming onslaught of weddings. But then there were the little things that I could “justify” if I tried, and which, added up, made me uncomfortable with where my spending was going. I may be trying to buy only things that I love and that will serve me well in many capacities for a long time, but that doesn’t mean I have to own all of those things at once.
What finally made me reassess my spending was a Lilly Pulitzer dress I’d had my eye on for a while. This purchase was partly inspired by my lifelong quest to transform myself into someone who at least has the wardrobe, if not the life, of an old-money WASP, and partly by my desire for a cute beach cover-up for the summer. For those of you familiar with Lilly Pulitzer, I can assure you that it was on the low, low end of that clothing line’s cost spectrum. But after I bought it, I thought to myself, “Did I really need this now? Was this something I should have considered a bit more before making the purchase?” I worried that I had purchased it when I did out of a momentary desire to own a Lilly Pulitzer dress, as well as the lure of free-shipping. These motivators, while understandable, should not be my reasoning for making a big purchase.
Spawned by my discomfort, I considered my closet. I feel that over the past few years I’ve made good choices – I’ve bought things that I like, that I really wear, and that will look good for some time. I try not to make frivolous or impulsive purchases. But the fact that I’d bought a few more unnecessary items than my closet needed – and that I’d done so somewhat thoughtlessly – prompted a decision. I won’t be buying any clothes for a few months. I could be less of a coward about this, and say, “I WILL SPEND NO MONEY ON CLOTHES FOR FIVE MONTHS,” but I worry that a rule like that will just breed a self-resentment that will end up in a cranky moment in J.Crew, feeling sorry for myself and pulling out my credit card for something unspeakably useless and expensive. So instead, I’ll be doing my best to be much more thoughtful. When I try to justify that purchase of a dress for a friend’s wedding, I’ll remember that I already have more than enough from which to choose. When I covet that pretty new J.Crew bracelet (sometimes I think J.Crew should pay me for all of the times I mention them on this website), I’ll remember that I have plenty of pretty bracelets that I don’t wear enough as it is. It isn’t about denying myself – it’s about considering what I have.
Have you ever put yourself on a spending hiatus?