When I was working in the corporate world, I had two very distinct selections of clothing: “work” clothes, and “weekend” clothes.
If you opened my closet, you would have been easily able to identify which items belonged in which category. Work clothes consisted of lots of dry-clean-only type of stuff from Gap, Banana Republic, and Nordstrom in shades of black/brown/gray/cream– things like slacks, pencil skirts, suits, button down blouses, blazers, nice dresses, nylons, and lots and lots of high heeled boots and pumps. Weekend clothes were comfy and colorful things like jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, socks, flats, and sneakers. Having two totally different styles of clothing for the work and non-work parts of my life were part of the reason why my closets and dressers were so jammed full of stuff–the other part being due to my unfortunate shopaholic tendencies.
I recently got an email from a clothing store advertising a sale on “weekend wear”, and it occurred to me that I no longer have a wardrobe that distinguishes between the two styles – pretty much most of my daily wardrobe is weekend wear, with a few slightly more dressed up options. As a full time actor, there are some mornings when I have to get up, dress presentably, put on makeup, fix my hair, and either go to auditions, a recording studio, meetings, rehearsals, or other events that put me out in public. But there are more mornings where I get up, put on workout clothes, walk Stella, eat breakfast, work out, answer email, and then start working from home on recording/auditioning/reading scripts/memorizing lines and before I know it Ron is almost due home from the office and I’ve yet to shower or officially get dressed or even stop to eat lunch. I may talk to a lot of people via phone or email during the day, but no one actually SEES me, so I don’t spend much time worrying about what I look like or how I’m dressed, especially if I’m on a deadline.
This means that things like my slippers get a ton of wear. I used to have (unsurprisingly) about four pairs of slippers, but in one of my early decluttering sessions after I started this blog, I got rid of all but my one favorite pair. They aren’t particularly expensive or fancy, but I really like the style and how comfortable they are. I’ve had them for easily 10 years, and have worn them a LOT (I am one of those people whose hands and feet are often cold – just ask Ron, who has to endure me getting into bed at night and putting my icy fingers and toes against his perpetually heat-radiating body to warm up). Last year, while we were still in debt-pay down mode, I was sitting on the couch with my feet propped up facing Ron, and I saw him stare at the soles of my slippers and then gently say, “Uhhh…honey, I know money is tight, but I’m sure we could figure out a way to get you a new pair of slippers.”
I knew why he was saying it. From the top, my slippers looked totally normal:
But from the bottom, they were definitely looking a bit worse for wear:
And you have to see the side view too, to really appreciate how
gross loved they were:
The thing was, I knew I could have afforded a new pair – Fred Meyer, Kmart, or even a Walgreens sell slippers very inexpensively, and often offer coupons as well. But since my mission has been to buy fewer, better things, and because slippers are something I knew I would wear really often, I wanted them to be a high quality pair that I LOVED.
Which made the process of finding a new pair become way too important and painstaking. It took me MONTHS. Well, to be fair, some of those months were in the summer, when it’s way too hot for slippers, but I cannot tell you how many online and in person searches I did to find a good replacement. I scoured countless websites, read hundreds of reviews, stalked various shoe departments, and still couldn’t find anything I felt was right – or more accurately, “perfect”. I was even wiling to shell out a lot of money for them – I saw some really similar but ridiculously expensive ones by Ugg, for nearly $90, and was seriously considering them, until I noticed that most of the reviews said the sizing was consistently either too big or too small if you’re a half size, like me.
And then, I finally had to remind myself that no matter how much I loved my new pair, or how much money I spent on them, much like my old pair, the new pair would wear out someday, and I’d have to buy new ones. And while I was wasting all this stupid time fretting over finding something “perfect”, I was spending every day of my present life walking around with holes in my soles.
A day after I had this thought, I happened to be walking past J. Crew, and they were in the midst a huge sale. In multiple baskets on the display tables were pretty pastel piles of cozy slippers. Next to the baskets were signs that said, “Additional 40% off.” And in the lavender color that I liked the most, they had exactly one pair left in my size. So I bought them – for a very reasonable $27.
I LOVE my new slippers. They are cozy, pretty, and sooooo comfortable:
And even better, they have non-slip rubber soles, with no holes in them:
And even better than THAT, I have them right NOW, and I am wearing them every day. (And yes, in case you’re wondering, I did throw the old ones away).
In the end, of course, we’re just talking about a silly pair of slippers. But the experience was a good reminder for me that if seeking perfection becomes your entire focus, you’re a) probably never going to achieve it, and b) you will spend way too much time during that process living with circumstances or things you really need to release.
What about you? Is there an area in your life where you are seeking the perfect something, to the point where you’re living without something you could really use right now? Share in the comments if you feel so inclined!
Last week Ron and I celebrated nine years of marriage. I still can’t believe it’s been that long! For the first time this year, we exchanged gifts to celebrate an occasion. As usual, Ron’s gift was easy- I gave him wine for his collection. This time, however, it was an extra special bottle, because we got it while wine tasting in Napa Valley at Groth, his favorite winery, and the owner happened to walk by while we were there and not only did Ron get a chance to chat him up and take a photo with him, but he signed the bottle. I have a feeling that’s one bottle of wine that will never get opened.
Also as usual, I picked out my own gift, which I really have no shame about. I would much prefer to get something I really want or need than be surprised with something that I would potentially end up returning. And this year, I did specifically have my eye on something I needed – a new wallet. I’ve been window shopping wallets for months – my old one was getting pretty worn, and I was interested in experimenting with a new style.
My old wallet was a traditional trifold style:
with a coin purse on the outside:
I initially bought it because I loved how much stuff it held. Look at all the credit card slots inside:
there were even two pockets behind the credit card slots where you could stuff even MORE cards, and believe me, I did:
Which adds up to a fat little wallet that weighs a ton, especially when I have a lot of pennies in the coin purse.
The new ones I was considering would require me to manage my wallet very differently, and I have to admit that made me nervous. I had it narrowed down to two styles, both of which were zipper enclosed all the way around. One had a center coin purse with a fair amount of slots for cards flanking the coin section on both sides, and the other wallet opened like a little book, with a TINY amount of slots for cards and a small coin/currency section on one side, and then a compartment to hold a cell phone on the other side.
For months I had been vacillating between the two styles mentally, and then it was suddenly the day before our anniversary and Ron said, “Uh…were you going to go pick out your gift?” Both wallets were at Nordstrom, so that afternoon I decided to go in and try to fit some of my actual crap into them and see which one might work best.
When I arrived I headed over to where I had seen them on display, but on my way I passed a discount table and the saleslady chirped, “We just marked down a ton of stuff so you might want to take a look!” And lo and behold, both wallets, in the exact colors I wanted, were on the markdown table. Fate.
I took the wallets over to some free counter space and began fitting my various cards into the slots and comparing the two. The wallet with the middle coin purse and the larger amount of card slots definitely fit my stuff better. But…I hated the way it functioned and how I would have to dig around in it. The wallet with the phone holder was a much better, much sleeker design, and I knew in my gut I loved it more. But it didn’t hold even a quarter of what I was used to carrying.
I started to sort my cards out on the counter, trying to figure out which ones were essential, and which ones weren’t. I was able to immediately put aside about five cards that were expired or for businesses I no longer frequented, but that was about it. It’s not like I use a ton of cards on a regular basis, but there were things that I knew I would want on me if were to need them – things like my library cards, a couple store credit cards, member/rewards cards from various stores, and some partially filled punch cards. As much as I often WANT to live a sleeker, pared down lifestyle, I am frequently faced with having to honestly admit that some of my clutter is useful to me. And the thought of buying a new wallet in a style I didn’t love that would help me continue to haul a bunch of crap around was…depressing.
I was dejectedly stuffing my cards back into my old wallet, starting to wonder if I should even bother with a new wallet until I learned how to travel a little more lightly, when the saleslady came over to see if she could help. I gestured helplessly at the mess of cards and coins all over her counters and explained that I while I loved the smaller phone wallet, I didn’t think it would go with my lifestyle.
She regarded my scattered items and then suggested kindly, “You know what some people do? They just keep their most important, most frequently used cards in their wallet, and then they buy something like a little business card holder for all their extra, less frequently used cards. You can keep that in your purse as well so you always have it, but it will allow you to have a much smaller and tidier wallet that you use every day.”
Why. Didn’t. I. Think. Of. THAT?????
So thanks to the nice saleslady and her excellent suggestion, I bought the sleek phone wallet that I really wanted. It’s lovely! Look:
And here is the inside:
A lot less room than I’m used to, but I’m actually looking forward to the change and seeing how I do with it. Not to mention, I love that it holds my phone, and because of the little wrist strap, I could even carry it as an evening purse. And it makes a PERFECT travel wallet. Lovelovelove it.
I had to go through all my cards and figure out what would make the cut. Truth be told, it was not that hard to isolate what my most frequently used cards were: driver’s license, personal debit card, personal credit card, household debit card, household credit card, a rewards card for the grocery store I shop at most often, and two health insurance cards. The money compartment on this wallet is also pretty small, but since I almost never have cash anyway, it shouldn’t be a problem. I will have to carry much fewer coins, but I am totally fine with that – I decided to start a penny jar with Ron and we’ll both unload our pennies into it every day, and use what we accumulate to go to the movies or do something fun.
The remaining cards I tucked into a little pouch which I used to use to carry my foreign money when I was touring a lot, and it’s the perfect size for them:
I’ll reassess how often I use some of them after a few months, and will pare down accordingly. I just made the transfer, so I’m still unsure how the new system will actually work for me, but I really hope it does. Much in the way I initially never thought I could live without all the clothes I’ve gotten rid of over the past year, I have a feeling once I’m used to it, traveling with a smaller wallet will feel totally lagom.*
*And if it doesn’t, I’m returning the damn thing. If you look close you can see I’ve left the tags on it for now.
For the first time in…well, EVER, we have our taxes done this year before April. There was a definitely method to our madness– because we are still making significantly large payments to our credit card debt, we decided we would need to plan ahead and figure out a way to save if we owned any money. We did end up owing some, but not as much (thank God) as we thought we might – in fact, our accountant’s fee was more than what we owed the government, so we are grateful and will be able to pay it in full by the due date.
I asked our accountant how many years of back tax paperwork we truly needed to save – and she said five years was probably enough, but if we wanted to play it safe, seven was the official number. Because nothing freaks me out more than the thought of having to reconstruct a financial year from memory, I decided to go with saving seven years, but was still able to purge about three years worth of excess paperwork, which felt great. I set aside an afternoon, plugged in the shredder, and took savage delight in watching all those old bills and receipts get chewed to bits.
But as I was feeding the papers into the machine, the balance on a couple of our old credit card statements caught my eye, and I stopped to read them more carefully. You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, when you are a shopaholic, so is an old credit card statement. It was like stepping back into a Mall of Shame.
For example, look at the average amount of money I spent just in the month of June several years ago:
Granted this was a couple months before we got married, and it’s true that expenses can be high during that time – I know a couple things on this statement were wedding related. But let’s face it, there is a lot of Nordstrom-ing going on this month. What I also know was that during this month I had left my full time corporate job to take a part time writing job, at a 40% pay cut with no benefits. There is NO WAY I could afford this level of buying. And yet…there it is, in black and white, all the places I bought stuff that I probably didn’t need and definitely couldn’t afford.
I flipped forward to the month of our wedding, to see if our spending slowed down any, now that we’d had time to adjust to my new reduced income, but the bill from our joint credit card reflects no such change:
Again, some more wedding charges, but did we need to go out to eat that much? And how about throwing away $39 on a late fee (which happened ALL THE TIME during those years). It should also be noted that we had just received a crapload of presents and new stuff for our wedding, and spent a bunch of money on souvenirs from our honeymoon in Mexico, so WE DIDN’T NEED ANYTHING. It’s…sad, really.
I decided to look at a statement from close to a year later, to see if I’d finally pulled it together:
There may be less line items on this one, but holy crap, look at the amounts spent at each place. $541 in just one trip to Anthropologie? Don’t forget I’d already been there twice already that month, dropping $226 the first time, and $58 the second time. And $478 on boots at Bella Moda? Another $200 on shoes at Johnny Sole? And clearly my dedication to keeping Nordstrom in business hasn’t waned this month – four visits to the tune of about $240. Yes, I did make a $400 payment, but I spent more than that in just ONE visit to Anthropologie – there was no way I was getting ahead of my debt.
If you have been reading this blog for a while, and ever wondered if I was being dramatic about my shopping habit, I hope this clears things up. I have a real problem when it comes to shopping. I almost typed “had”, but I’m not so cocky as to think I’m over it yet – one of the only things that has kept me in check this past year was the cold grip of fear that closed around my heart whenever I thought about our debt to income ratio. I haven’t shopped because I felt like I absolutely couldn’t do it and still cover our basic bills. But as our debt is dwindling down, I find myself wondering what will happen after it’s gone, and I have disposable income again- will I go back to my old ways and rack the debt back up? I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson and I wouldn’t – that from now on I will be responsible and level-headed when it comes to shopping and debt. But the truth is, I really don’t know. I guess only time will tell.
The first Christmas that I knew Ron, I think we exchanged gifts, but I have no memory of what we gave each other. The following Christmas, we were living together, and while I don’t specifically remember what I gave him, I do remember some of his gifts to me – mostly, because I did not like them. None of the gifts were truly awful per se – in fact some of them were quite nice. The problem was that they were not really for “me.” They were items for our home – a home, I might add, that was already full of stuff since we had combined households.
For instance, he bought me a set of coffee mugs that were lovely, but our cupboards were already bursting with mugs, not only with the ones that matched our dishes, but with a dozen random ones I had bought or received as gifts over the years, along with ones Ron had brought into the relationship. He bought me a single pillow sham that was very pretty, but an odd item to have only one of, and didn’t match the bedding we already had. He spent a lot of money to have a print I already owned custom framed, without realizing the reason it wasn’t framed was because I didn’t like it anymore and was considering getting rid of it – and I definitely didn’t like the frame he had picked. It was clear to me as I opened the various items that he had honestly chosen things that HE liked and wanted to own, but I didn’t see myself in any of it, and in a weird way that hurt my feelings, because it made me feel like he didn’t really know or understand me. I don’t hide disappointment well, and I was way too blunt about not liking what he had given me – Ron is one of the most unselfish people I know, and I can guarantee his heart was in the right place. But as I continued to open packages and find things that felt more like gifts for him than me, I started to get mad – especially when he would excitedly take the item out of my hands and say, “Isn’t this cool? I really like this!” I think I finally said something really snotty like, “WHY DON’T I JUST LET YOU OPEN THEM SINCE THEY ARE CLEARLY THINGS YOU BOUGHT FOR YOURSELF?” And then I gave him a mini lecture about how you are supposed to buy the recipient something THEY want, not what YOU want.
Yep, nothing like a little Christmas morning bitchiness to make the holiday really special and memorable.
(Did I mention that I am not going to look good in this story? I’m not. It is not one of my finer moments, but I feel compelled to tell it anyway.)
When Valentine’s Day came around, I decided to circumvent any more household gifts by being very direct about what I wanted. I made him a specific list, and then very sternly said, “NO household items of any kind. NO artwork. ONLY GET THINGS THAT APPEAR ON THIS LIST.” He took the list and nodded silently.
A few days later, we were in Nordstrom’s together, and I saw a pair of shoes that I absolutely loved. They were little kitten heel sling backs – red fabric with orange leather trim, and dainty little orange leather flowers. I tried them on and went all swoony with desire. “THESE would make a great Valentine’s Day gift,” I declared, prancing around the shoe department in them while Ron sat on one of the couches and watched. I couldn’t read his expression, so I decided to hint heavily. “I LOVE these. Something like this would be GREAT. I would be SO HAPPY to receive a pair of these shoes in a size 6.5. They would just make a PERECT gift. Waiting around to buy them would probably be a mistake, because then my size might be sold out, and I would be VERY disappointed not to get them, since they are something I REALLY REALLY want. Because I LOVE THESE SHOES AND I WANT THEM FOR VALENTINE’S DAY.” Again, Ron was silent, and just nodded.
On the morning of Valentine’s Day, Ron set out some wrapped packages for me in the living room, to be opened later that night after dinner. My eyes lit up at the sight of packages, but on closer inspection, I started to seethe. I am a very good gift guesser – it drives people crazy. If I have an opportunity to touch and shake a package, I am right about what’s inside of it probably 98% of the time, unless it’s something totally random. And I could tell from the packages, that not one of them was shoes – in fact, two of them were from categories I had specifically forbid – artwork and household items. I could tell the big tissue wrapped package was a large basket full of bottles – I figured alcohol or maybe Torani syrups, and then there was a long tube that held a rolled up piece of artwork of some kind. There was also a smaller box that I knew held perfume, which was on my list, so that was fine. But I became quietly furious that a) Ron had defied me and gotten more household/artwork stuff, and b) he had ignored my blatant hints for the shoes.
I am not even going to try to defend my bad behavior in this situation, or rationalize why I was so ungracious and materialistic at this point in my life. It’s just where I was at. I’m not proud of it, and in retrospect I know it was an ugly way to behave. It’s kind of hard for me to imagine being that upset about a gift at this point in my life, but I know at the time, it felt like a big deal. And so I spent the entire day sulking and being mad at Ron. I even remember vacuuming the living room and purposely ramming the vacuum into the side of the wrapped basket with violent, vengeful jabs to make myself feel better.
When it came time to open our gifts, I was sullen and listless. “Can you tell what I got you?” Ron asked.
“I have a pretty good guess,” I snarled. “Some kind of alcohol or syrups or something in the basket, which I might add is FOR THE HOUSE, and then some piece of artwork I’ll probably hate, which is also FOR THE STUPID HOUSE. Oh, and perfume. Which I did ask for. Am I right?” Ron just shrugged and kind of smiled, but didn’t meet my eyes.
He handed me the small box to open first. I was right, it was the perfume.
Next he gave me the basket. I was right about that one too — stupid Torani syrups for making flavored coffees. I got free coffee at work at that point in my life, and was perpetually late every day with no time to make a coffee in the morning, so the sight of the bottles totally annoyed me. I muttered a lackluster thank you and shoved the basket aside.
Then he handed me the tube. I glared at him. “I TOLD you didn’t want any artwork,” I said icily, ripping off the paper. I tipped the tube to shake out whatever hateful print lay inside, and was shocked as the red and orange shoes slid neatly into my lap.
I was speechless. And embarrassed. And ashamed of myself. I peeked at Ron, who looked downright smug about the whole thing. He had totally tricked me, and I had behaved like a mean, spoiled brat. It was one of those awkward moments where you have to say, “I’m sorry” before you can say, “thank you.” Very humbling and humiliating.
But here was my real punishment – for the way I had acted, I really didn’t deserve the shoes, and I knew it. I had gotten my heart’s desire, but in such a disgraceful way, I was never able to look at the shoes without being reminded of what a bitch I can be. They came with a heavy price tag of guilt, and as a result, I never wore them as much as I should have – especially considering the fuss I made about wanting them.
That Valentine’s Day was almost ten years ago. But every day, I have seen the shoes in my closet and felt a little cringe of embarrassment. I can’t remember the last time I wore them – they don’t really go with my lifestyle anymore. So I decided to part with not only the shoes, but the feelings attached to them as well. The work I’ve done around my relationship with possessions this past year has caused me to do a lot of self-reflection and has changed me a lot, and I think it’s time to stop feeling bad about my past mistakes. I don’t need a daily reminder of what a bitch I can be – I am well aware. And any items I own that carry the stink of that phase need to be set free.
On Friday, I had an early morning audition, and it happened to be right across from the mall. I had been meaning to visit the Macy’s at that mall, because there was a handbag I had seen online that I was curious about, and I wanted to see it in person. Not to buy it, mind you – I did realize that I JUST pared down my handbag collection like a week ago, and I am still working on my debt and not supposed to be buying stuff, but I didn’t think it would hurt to just visit it. (I’m sure you can see where this is going.)
I looked at the bag, and I liked it, but I resisted the urge to buy it right then and there, even though I really wanted it. I put it down. I walked away. And then, like a shopaholic zombie in search of brains, I found myself wandering among the housewares, pining for a new set of towels. Then I decided I should put the towels on hold, since a sale was going on, and who knew how long they would be there. Then it seemed like a good idea to put the purse on hold too. And then I walked out of the store into the mall, instead of out of one of the doors that led to where my car was parked.
I’ve always loved to window shop. But if I’m honest, there isn’t too much “window” involved. I almost always end up buying something. And that day, my mood was all about wanting something new. When I’m in that mood, a mall is a very dangerous place for me to be.
I drifted from one store to the next, trying on clothes, admiring household items, and smelling new perfumes. And almost every store yielded something I really, really, REALLY wanted. I am aware enough of my own behavior when I get like this to enforce some prevention methods, which for me means putting any items I am interested in on hold, and walking away for at least fifteen minutes till I feel less feverish. That day I put several items on hold, and made notes of what the item was, why I thought I needed it, and the price.
I took a moment to sit down in a neutral zone (one of those little sofas they have in the middle of the mall), and looked over my list of hold items. I can honestly say I really do still want most of the things I put on hold. But as I sat there, it also occurred to me that I have not even begun to purge my wardrobe, and until I do that, and get rid of what I no longer wear, and get a clear idea of where the gaps are, it would be pretty dumb to buy a bunch more stuff. My hope is to get my possessions down to a manageable collection of things I absolutely love – and piling more new stuff into the mix will only create more stress and confusion.
Here is the list of what I wanted to buy:
- Gap: shorts, scarf, t-shirt: $92.95 (possibly a little less, there was a sale going on)
- Victoria’s Secret: Pajamas and a bra: $104
- Macy’s: New towels for the master bath and a handbag: $178
- Ann Taylor: Two blouses: $103.50
- Nordstrom: Perfume: $78
If I had followed my want monster, that window shopping trip would have ultimately cost me $556.45.
So that settled it – I walked out without buying a single thing. I left the mall feeling vaguely depressed, but also kind of proud of myself for not doing my usual buy now/guilt later routine. And I actually wasn’t completely empty handed – I got some perfume samples from the fragrance counter at Nordstrom’s to play with, which I guess is better than nothing. I hope there is a day where I truly learn the art of window shopping – where I can feel just as fulfilled by only looking as when I actually buy something. Right now though? Still a buzzkill.
The bottom of my closet is currently a mess. Yes, it is my goal to shovel it out, pare it down, and organize it. But right now? Hot mess.
It’s mostly full of extra hangers and various bags – tote bags, gym bags, overnight bags, etc. I do use them for stuff, so I’m not ready to get rid of them, but there are probably more than I need, and I should figure out a better way to store them.
This weekend, I was digging around for a tote bag, when I came across another bag that had managed to hide out in the recesses of my closet for a while. If you just looked at the closet, you would never really see it:
But on closer inspection….
Oh, look at that. It’s a Nordstrom’s Christmas bag.
It’s currently April. What does that tell me? I bought something in November/December of last year, and at some point buried it in the closet. I must have REALLLLLLY loved it, wanted it, and needed it. Because that’s exactly what you do with purchases you’re excited about – hide them in your overstuffed closet for 4-5 months, right?
Well, I’m sorry to say, there is some truth to that.
Buying things and keeping them in the bags with the tags on with the idea that I may return them is probably one of the weirder behaviors of my shopping addiction, and it’s been a problem for a long time. It’s a little embarrassing to talk about, even though I’m guessing I am not the only person who’s done it. I know the behavior mostly comes as a defense against the guilt I know I’ll feel after a spree–I figure if I keep it in the bag, ready to return at any time, no damage done right? Unless of course, I charged the item, which means it accrues interest on my card while I decide whether or not I can overcome the guilt and keep it.
And sometimes, I have taken stuff back. Other times, the return grace period expires and I’m stuck with the item whether I like it or not. Before I met Ron and I lived alone, I consistently had a pile of carrier bags in the corner of my bedroom, full of stuff I was debating about returning. Once Ron moved in, and there was a witness to my craziness, I reigned it in significantly, but would still backslide more often than I’d care to admit.
Prior to the changes I’ve been making this year, I usually have had anywhere from 2-3 bags lurking in the bedroom with still tagged items. But when I started this blog, I either cut the tags off items and hung them in the closet, or returned them.
Except for this one Christmas bag, which I hid in the closet. Because it wasn’t in front of me, I didn’t think about it too much. But I vaguely knew it was there, and it made me feel better. What was in the bag?
A black tank top.
Nothing extraordinary, but potentially something I would wear. Of course, I have several black tank tops already, but this one was longer than most, and therefore kind of new and interesting. Why didn’t I just make a decision about it? I don’t really know for sure. I think part of me thought that during this stuff diet, I might get desperate for something new and it would come in handy for a quick fix. Part of me rationalized that I had bought it on sale, so why not keep it? And I’m guessing part of me was just taking comfort in my old self-soothing behavior.
Today, I went ahead and made a decision about it. I returned it. I will admit I felt a bit of a pang as I did – because it truly was the last still-tagged item in my possession. There are no more carrier bags with tagged items in my whole house – hidden or otherwise. I don’t have any kind of a “secret stash” for a quick fix.
I am curious if keeping that one item was preventing me from going out and buying something else. Knowing it was there was a bit of a safety net for me – it kept me from feeling desperate, like a talisman of sorts. I’d like to think I don’t need it, that I will be fine – even freed on some level–without it. I guess only time will tell.
Back in November, after spending way too much time on various fashion blogs, I became obsessed with buying a new watch. I guess that wouldn’t seem so bad, if I didn’t already own several watches, and I only really wear one on a regular basis. I love my watch – it’s silver and classic and beautiful. I wear it every single day, and I slowly saved money for two years to be able to afford it. Last year, my husband gave me another silver watch as a gift, and I love that one too, not only because of the way it looks, but because he picked it for me. But I sometimes feel guilty about how much I don’t wear it, because I slightly favor the one I bought for myself.
Even so, I suddenly became fixated on owning another watch – but this time, a gold one. I had two silver watches, but what was I THINKING not owning a gold one too??? I began my hunter/gatherer process of stalking the perfect gold watch online and in stores. It was a daily obsession, and one I’m really good at.
I did find the perfect one – a gold Michael Kors watch that I had seen at Nordstrom’s that was a bit expensive, but on Cyber Monday, right after Thanksgiving, I found it online for 20% off. And I even had rewards points I could contribute to knock the price down about $45. It was a no brainer – I whipped out a credit card and bought it. This was in November of 2012, and it was on backorder till Feb. of 2013, so I waited excitedly for it to arrive.
And then in January, I started writing this blog. It’s made me really think about what I want in my life, and the same themes keep coming up for me – I want to do work I love, with people I like and respect. And I want to be out of debt. Those things make me truly, wholeheartedly happy. In that mindset, any new purchase that puts me in a position to take a job I don’t like or sink deeper into debt starts to wane in appeal.
The watch arrived in January, much earlier than expected. I’ve had it in the box, with the tags still on, for a month now. It’s lovely. Look:
But I was just going over my bills for February, and fretting about how I was going to pay them. And thinking about how much interest rates suck. And I realized that as pretty I think the watch is, I’m not so in love with it that I immediately wanted to cut the tag off and wear it when it landed on my doorstep. I once read that if you’re trying to decide whether or not to buy something, ask yourself “Would I want to wear/use this tonight?” and if the answer is no, put it back, because you don’t love it enough. I looked at the balance on the card I had used to purchase it. Returning the watch would make me completely out of debt on that card – in fact, I’d actually have an account credit.
And THAT thought set my heart racing in a pitter-patter of excitement – more than what I’d felt when I’d first seen the watch.
I’m returning it – it’s boxed up and ready to go. And I don’t feel sad, which is a bit surprising considering how passionately I searched for it and wanted it a month ago. If anything, I feel giddy every time I think about there being one less interest accruing bill waiting for me next month.