Friday, January 23, 2009

spending hiatus: 100 monkeys

Bear with me here, complicated story, very simple ending.
A great friend recently told me about the Hundredth Monkey Effect and it had such a profound influence on me that I now keep noticing such effects. (Oops, wikipedia has just debunked the whole shebang so I don't know where that leaves my monkeys, but regardless, I have a point!)

The whole world and more directly my fellow bloggers have been focussing my attention on all things green and ecologically sound. I've been recycling for about a year now, I walk when I can and try to shop eco-aware. While I'm surely not offsetting my carbon footprint yet (or even my carbon toe-print for that matter) I am trying to do my little bit to help out this pretty blue planet of ours.

So during and after the wedding planning, all these thoughts and ideas on reduce, reuse and recycle have been floating through my mind. During this time I also experienced a ridiculous slew of gifting, thanks to my hen night, my birthday, our wedding and Christmas all happening within a 6 week period. By the time it was all over I felt sick of stuff, more over-fed on pretty things I don't really need than on Christmas pudding. I'd even tried to ask my family if we could give each other heart-felt letters in stead of gifts for Christmas but they'd already done their shopping. Damn organised early-birds.

Enter UK Vogue, December 2008 issue. Inside this fantastically beautiful tome to over-spending and wasteful consumerism I found a little article about a woman, who works in fashion, and stopped buying clothing for one whole year. I was fascinated. I immediately raised the issue in conversation and my FIL started laughing at me. He said "No my dear, you shouldn't even consider it. You'll make yourself miserable, and for what?" Then he told my MIL what insanity I was contemplating and she seriously admonished me "Don't do this to yourself, it's not necessary!" When BB joined in on the conversation he also found it laughable, and I believe he still does.

The more everyone found it crazy and laughable, the more they seemed to insinuate that I'm a shopaholic who'd be a wretched wreck without a weekly spend, the more determined I became. So without making an official proclamation or promising anything to anyone, I silently vowed to give this a shot. My extenuating circumstance for such apparent masochism is that I honestly have an extensive wardrobe. I mean, it's stuffed. With beautiful things I maybe wear once a month, every two months. This all came about when I worked in a gorgeous boutique for two years where part of my compensation was a very generous clothing allowance. So apart from my normal thrifty bargain hunting trophys, I also have two year's worth of really good items crammed in there.

To get back to the monkeys, as soon as I came back into blogland, what do I find? A spending hiatus revolution, complete with support group! I've also spotted this on many other great blogs, but this was the first one I found.

Thus. I am joining the spending hiatus, and these are my rules.
I will not buy any clothing or accessories. I'm starting on the three months with the group, but secretly I am aiming for a whole year. There, I said it.

I actually started at beginning of January already, so I'm three weeks in and so far so good. I'm too high on my accomplishment to even miss it.

The only thing I almost bought, that very nearly tempted me, before I'd even formalised the resolution, was a check shirt in the prettiest shades of grey & lavender that I KNOW I would've worn to death with rolled up sleeves in the summer and then layered in the winter. It was only R100 (10 dollars) and I still think of it (obviously!) but that is the price I'm willing to pay...



Whether this plan will save the planet, reduce me to a pleasure-starved, unpleasant person or just put a few extra pounds in my pocket, remains to be seen!

14 comments:

Cassandra Allen said...

Oh I support you! And it is possible, although I am not a big shopper at all. I achieved it the first year I arrived in Switzerland, purely out of having no income and wanting to stay with my beautiful Swiss boy for as long as possible. Eventually Winter came and there was little Aussie me with one suitcase worth of flimsy Summer travelling clothes. So I did some babysitting to buy myself the essentails: a coat, a pair of jeans, boots and 3 pullovers. I am pretty sure that's all I bought for a year, and it didn't cost that much thanks to H+M and thrift stores, woooh-ooooo.
I find if I go shopping on a mission to find a particular item I really NEED, (and stay focused), I feel much more satisfied in the end.
Goodluck, and be strong. Even if it's just to prove the other's wrong, he he heee!

Kitty Cat said...

I love this post, what a brilliant idea. I think I should resolve to not buy any new shoes for a whole year. I am a shoe-aholic and I must admit, I do have more than I really can wear. I've never thought of curbing it, or how unnecessary my spending is. My husband will be super pleased if I stop buying shoes!

Being Brazen said...

What a great idea - GOOD LUCK :)

Cate Subrosa said...

What a great idea. I bet you'll enjoy getting creative with what you have instead of thinking you need to run out and update too.

London bride said...

Sounds great and tough too! I made a decision to try and stop buying cheap crap clothes and just ones which I was really going to wear which has hugely reduced my spend and my wardrobe so I fully support and utterly respect you for what you're doing, I'm not sure I'd manage! Let us know how it goes :) And can you have swap parties which isn't strictly buying but does mean you get new things...

CeeCee said...

I had just been reading about it and considering it myself and then I got sucked into the great sales at Bloomingdale's and J.Crew!
However, with my time in NY coming to an end I resolve that on my return to the UK I will join the hiatus. (ok so i'll be 3 months late but i will try - promise!)

Micaela said...

I totally support you and am leaning towards trying this for at least 3 months! ;) honestly, today is pay day at work and i am SWAMPED paying bills that it seems never ending. Then i came to your post today and felt empowered. Honestly, i spend too much on clothes, and very much like you- i have a full closet of things i could honestly mix and match. I can do this. I NEED to do this, more like it. ;) thanks for the motivation!!! not only will i save $... but i can help save this beautiful world just as well. xo good luck!!! can't wait to hear how you're doing on this honey!

October12 said...

Great resolution and GOOD LUCK! I'm working toward something similar for myself, but it's tough to resist pretty kitchen gadgets sometimes. Clothes I don't really have trouble with, it's toys.

Thanks for sharing the links, I'm going to check it out.

Molly said...

I didn't stop completely, but during our wedding planning I cut my spending way down to save for the wedding. It made such a huge difference that I was able to carry it over post-wedding. Good luck!

Princess in Galoshes said...

I think it's a great idea! I'm sure you can do it. And even if you do stumble, it's still a fantastic lifestyle change, overall, just to be conscious of over-consumption.

Did you hear about the Brown Dress Project? It was actually performance art, somehow, I think. But a woman made and then wore a brown dress every day for a year. She dressed it up and down, but managed to prove you really only need one basic garment. I think she even kept a blog.

Lynne said...

Good luck. Unfortunately my wardrobe is full of moth-eaten clothes with missing buttons, so I hope I will be spending money. How about organising a clothes swap, seems like a good way to get something new!

Paisley said...

I'm impressed at your declaration! I admire it! I'll be routing for you so keep us updated. My will is too weak for such a thought.

P.S. I love this... said...

Good luck. It may be difficult but nonetheless totally do-able. My besty just told me she's going to try to stop buying shoes for a year. That was yesterday and I'm still chuckling about it... but after reading your post, I must call her back and cheer her on..

Thanks for sharing.

Brit said...

Quite the commitment! I'd have to give this some serious thought. How far have/did you made it?