No Pants 2012: Month Four

I am well into month four of my No Pants 2012 Challenge. (Read last month’s update here.)

But if you’re too lazy to click, and I know you are, basically, for six months I vowed not to spend one cent from my clothing budget in order to pay down my remaining school debt.

Here are the highlights:
I muddled through a photo shoot with old clothes;

I wore Pajama Jeans;

I got rid of lots of clothes; and

I paid off a loan.

It used to be that I would browse the clearance rack of stores. Like a stalker ex-girlfriend at her ex boyfriend’s wedding to a newer hotter girl, I plotted ways to win my love back. I could hide that purchase in the grocery budget. Perhaps if I asked that person to purchase this for me and then paid them in hilarious memes? What if I killed Dave and used the Life Insurance money for new clothes?

I got through those moments by promising myself a Coke when I got home or sharing a container of animal crackers with my baby. I’m not proud that I used empty calories to satiate my shopping desires, but I am an American. I can only be so ungluttonous before I need to consume yet again.

Now, I stroll by the clothing section of stores easily and I find that I have little desire to purchase. But it’s given me time to think  about why I spend money.

I grew up the second oldest of eight kids and while we never went without, I didn’t have a lot of new clothes. Especially in college, when I was so poor I lived off Doritos and peanut butter for three weeks and used handsoap as shampoo, I never felt like I had those little nice things that everyone else has. A stylish belt. A fabulous dress. Sassy little rain boots. It’s a little embarrassing to admit that while other people go hungry, you’re coveting rain boots.

And then, when I got a job and made money, I was so excited to spend it. But my inborn sense of cheapness wouldn’t allow me to splurge, but neither would it allow me to pass up on a deal.  And these two desires–the urge to find a deal and the confusion of wants and needs–meant that I amassed piles of cheap clothes.

I never hid my purchases or lied about them. I don’t think I was compulsive about any of this, but it’s so easy to see how money can slip out of your control.  Because it’s never just about things, is it? Sometimes, when I shop I feel like I’m that 20-year-old girl again. Hair smelling of industrial handsoap, trying to calculate what she can buy before she overdraws her account, while the cold nausea of poverty settles into her stomach. Or when Dave talks to me about the budget, I turn 9 again, with skinned-knees listening to my Dad explain why the bank owns our house, why he was let go from his job and why I can’t have Jellies.

And yet, even that is hard to admit, because we never went hungry. We were never unclothed. But money is never just money is it? Spending is never just spending.

Recently, I also quit Facebook. I think the two endeavors are related in a very tangential way. In the same way, I don’t find value in amassing “great deals” is the same way I don’t think there is much value in the way that my relationships were becoming a string of meaningless “Likes.”

I’m tired of mindless clicks and mindless purchases. I crave intention.

I’m also thinking of expanding my goal of not purchasing clothes for six more months. That’s right. A whole year. And you know what’s stupid. There are people in this world who go a whole year without a roof over their head and here I am on my little blog, writing from my upper-middle-class-privileged saying, “It sounds soooo hard!” But, um, it does.

I’ve also been thinking about trying the 1 month, 6 pieces of clothing challenge.

Also, I’d really like a new outfit for when I speak at BlogHer12. But that’s also what the capitalists want me to say.

What I've been wearing this month.

 Could you give up clothes shopping for a month? Six months? A year?


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