When I first started Project 201, my biggest trepidation was whether or not to post the actual amount I spent on my non-necessity items. I had the typical insecurities that I always have about what will people think. Surely some will say what I spend is nickles compared to what they spend. Others would be shocked that this is what I consider "budgeting". But I decided to lay it all out there regardless because if I didn't, it really wasn't being honest.
January was easy because aside from home improvement and some new nail polish I didn't buy anything. February was a little tricky though. I spent $270 on various items of shoes and clothes for 3 members of the family. I bought 15 items which averaged out to $18 an item. Not bad for shoes, clothes and accessories that were all, for the most part, high quality.
But as I suspected, I got a mixed bag of reactions to my "budget". Funny how no one balked at spending $250 on painting Syd's room, but the same amount on clothes and shoes? Have mercy! I had one friend say that honestly my budget was very reasonable and she confessed that she spends much more on clothes than I do. And then several other friends poked fun and teased. One even said that's what they spend on food for an entire month.
I can justify it however I want. For the time being I pull in a second salary that, while I don't make gobs and gobs of money, I do do well for myself. I can also say that I work in the fashion industry and I have to maintain a certain level of appearance, but really that's not entirely true being that I get all my work clothes for free, a perk I will sorely miss.
The bottom line is $270 is a lot of money, and 18 items of clothing and shoes is a lot of stuff for 3 people. I don't plan on doing that on a monthly basis, but honestly, I easily could. And I probably would if I wasn't doing this monthly project to keep myself in check.
March has not been good so far and I have fallen more times than I care to admit. I have been lusting for far too much "stuff". In fact my wish list is a mile long. And I have gotten into the ugly cycle this month of buy/return. I buy the item I want because at the time I can spin together a story in my head of why I need it or why now is the perfect time to buy it, or why blah, blah, blah. It's on sale, it's triple points time, it's friends and family time. But I take the stuff home and then feel guilty and have buyer's remorse and take it back. It's a cycle that is all too familiar to me and I need to stop it. I bought a pair of Ray Ban aviators last week after I vowed to give up my March budget, and within an hour felt like shit. They are going back. I also took back that belt I bought last month and put $30 back into my savings account.
I just quit my job for goodness sake, a fact that was made very real yesterday after it was finally announced to the company. And last night we signed the contract for the pool construction to start. I have had a chronic case of heartburn now for the last 12 hours. Money makes me nauseous and gives me hives and it can be a very sticky and uncomfortable subject to talk about. Some people groan about how they don't have enough, yet go on vacations and get their hair done on a weekly basis. Others truly don't have enough. Others have plenty and like to flash it around while others prefer to be modest and humble.
I like to be honest and real when it comes to money talk. I didn't start this project because we were in debt or couldn't make our mortgage. We would fit into the typical middle class income model I guess. My husband makes a decent living and can provide for us just fine. Sure it's a little up and down from month to month, as is the case with most small business owners, but at the end of the day our cars are paid off and we are not in credit card debt. I started the project because I recognized the need to scale down on the stuff I brought into my house from all categories. A big category just happens to be clothes.
The biggest thing I have learned this far in Project 2011 is that if I want the life that I truly crave and a future I desire, I need to plan better and be more creative. But what I am learning too is that it's not just the type of life "I want" but the type of life my God wants for me. A life that I can be proud living and where I can be a good steward of the money that God has trusted us with.
I often times don't feel like I deserve this life I have. A husband that is smart and works his tail off and loves me despite all of my nagging. A house in a wonderful and safe neighborhood, and children that make me want to be a better person on a constant basis. I have fears that one day something bad will happen and everything will be taken away; that God will say, "that's enough for now, here's a slice of humble pie."
But I am reminding myself lately that God is always good, and if we loose it all then He will help us rebuild. Until then, I need to do the best I can with what I have been given. And that starts with not buying $140 sunglasses on a whim.
How do you struggle with wants versus needs and tackling the ever growing list of things to lust after? I see it everyday on twitter, on blogs, on Facebook. There's whole blog posts and linky parties dedicated to "what I want." Clothes, shoes, furniture, curtains, designer humidifiers. It's all just too much "stuff."
I am still trying to figure out the answer to the fundamental question that started this project: "How does a fashion obsessed person truly change their spending habits over the course of a year?" Three months in, I certainly don't have all the answers, but I'm starting to figure it out.