Friday, 25 January 2013

A strange, new experience.

Every month the 25th arrives, and I breathe a huge sigh of relief.  My bank account once again looks healthy, and I can afford to go and stock up on my much depleted food shelves.  And whilst I am in Sainsbury's I have a sneaky look in the clothes section, and more often than not treat myself to a nice new dress or pair of shoes.  Well it would be rude not to, wouldn't it?!

Seems the answer to that question is a big fat NO!  Today is the 25th, and last night I had a rather new and enjoyable experience when I checked my bank balance.  Not only was I in the black, I actually had over £150 left from last month.  I wasn't quite sure I could believe my eyes, but there it was in black and white, my bank balance, with more than the measly £10 usually left in it after a whole month!

Now to a lot of people, this may not seem remarkable.  However to anyone like me, this was like the second coming!  For the last two and a half years that I have been an official 'tax payer', the most I have ever had left was just under £20, and on a fair few occasions I had actually gone into my (pretty expensive) overdraft, and had to borrow money from the boy in order to keep me going for those last few days.  So to have the money for a month's worth of food left over before I had even been paid filled me with a feeling I had not felt since the days of living at home with mother and father; relief.

And in the last month I had not even been particularly frugal with my hard earned cash.  January is a big birthday month in my family (my own plus 3 others), and with a certain sibling turning the big 30, a fair amount of money had been spent on presents.  I have also invested in a new slow cooker, something I have wanted to get for ages but have never quite been able to afford (as obviously another pair of shoes was a much better investment!).  In addition I  also started Alexander technique classes, Pilates classes and my usual Jazz class, as well as having a fair few evenings out with friends and family to celebrate various things.  So clearly this can only mean one thing, that my clothes habit has literally been draining my bank account for the last however many years, and I have been completely oblivious to just how big an effect this was having on my life.

Obviously a big question a lot of people will be asking is has breaking the habit this month been difficult?  In all honestly, no.  By going completely cold turkey, I have not even thought about going shopping as an option, and have simply found other activities to fill my time.  Yes on a few occasions I have looked at a nice dress in a magazine, and thought 'I really, really want that dress'!  However my desire to actually complete this challenge has kept me away from those pesky clothes shops, and I have not entered ebay at all this month.  I must also say that my discovery last night, that it is actually possible to have a decent sum of money left in your bank account at the end of the month, has spurred me on even more to actually save some money and not to have that dull ache in your stomach when you know you are going to have to borrow money from someone again.

So what will I spend my new found fortune on?!  Well for the minute it has been safely transferred to my savings account, where I can't accidentally spend it on a new bag!  I imagine it will probably end up being spent on getting my oh-so-unreliable car fixed (again!).  The next month is likely to be quite tight, with two trips to London for dance lessons, my car to sort out, excess bills to pay etc, so this extra money, plus the fact that I know I won't be buying any clothes to waste said money, means I can relax a little, and not have that feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach I normally have pretty much all the time.  And who know, maybe I will even be able to afford a holiday if I carry on like this for the next 11 months!  Of course, a holiday without a new wardrobe is not something I would normally contemplate, but I am definitely up for the challenge now.  Bring it on!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The ultimate new year's resolution (for me anyway)

As I am sat here typing this, I am starting to wonder why on earth I have decided to do this!  'What have you decided, Carly?' I hear you all cry.  Well basically I have decided to give up buying 'new' clothes for a year.  This means no shopping on the high street, online or on ebay, for a whole year, and anything I do buy has to come from a charity shop.  Crazy?  Yes.  Difficult?  Most definitely yes!  Possible?  I reckon so.

I made the decision to do this on a bit of a whim whilst out (you guessed it) shopping with my mum!  I know I shop too much, and whilst I am not crazy enough to have racked up massive credit card bills due to my shopping habit, I am always a bit skint at the end of the month, and can normally name at least 2 or 3 items of clothing I could have done without, and without which I could most likely have afforded more than just rice cakes to get me to the next pay cheque.

So why have I decided to do this?  Well there are a few reasons really:
1.  Money saving (see above!)
2.  Not wasting things.  I have so many clothes I have bought and never worn, or only worn once, and it is a little bit ridiculous!  And don't even get me started on my shoes!  I must own at least 5 pairs of shoes which don't actually fit, but that for some reason I insisted on buying and keeping, because if I wait long enough, my feet WILL shrink and fit into them!
3.  What money I do spend will be going to Charity shops, which has got to be a good thing right?  And it will make me feel better, and will give me something to grasp onto next time I have to walk past New Look without going in and buying that new dress.
4.  I will have to be more creative with what I wear.  I will hopefully come up with new combinations of clothes, and start what I hope will become habit in the future...not rushing straight to the nearest shop just because I don't want to be photographed in the same outfit twice!  And yes, I completely realise that no one else cares one bit if I do wear the same thing twice, and it is a ridiculous obsession that us women have because we spend too much time watching 'Sex and the City'!  So I want to break this habit now!
5.  It will be a challenge.  And I do love a good challenge.

My original plan was to not buy anything for a month?  But what's the point in that?!  Yes I may have more money at the end of January, but come February, I would be back in my usual conundrum.  And as one of those people who doesn't like to do anything by halves, a year seemed like the next step up!

Now, I do have a few exceptions to the 'Charity shop only', which I think are fair enough:
-  Underwear can be bought new.  I will try to make do with what I have, but should I need new underwear, I don't really fancy wearing other people's cast offs!
-  Same with tights!
-  Black shoes for work.  I have 2 pairs, and am quite happy to get them repaired if possible, but if they do need replacing, there is not a lot I can do.  However, will try wearing flats to and from work to try and minimise wear and tear on them.
-  Dancing shoes.  I tend not to buy more than one pair of these a year anyway, but again, they need to be good quality and fit me right, so new is a must.

So that's it really. And what you people bored enough to have clicked on my link are reading is a blog of my year of no shopping.  Why a blog?  Firstly, I have always wanted to write a blog, but have never had anything interesting to blog about before (whether this classes as an interesting thing to blog about can be debated below!) I'm pretty sure there will probably be a few people out there who also have a slightly unhealthy shopping habit, so this may make a few other people think about working with what they already have (if I am successful that is and don't end up going on a mad shopping spree by the end of next week).  I will just write the occasional blog to say how it's going,  particularly if I have thought of any resourceful ways to use my old clothes, or to vent frustration, especially at times when I would ordinarily buy new clothes, like my birthday in 3 weeks (hint hint!!).  Am also most definitely up for trying some 'shwopping' for things like balls and nights out, think that would actually be as fun as shopping without costing a penny!

Wish me luck!