In the days before HotFrugal, I spent a LOT of money on clothes and shoes. In fact, I put a much higher priority on shopping than I did on saving for my future. That’s certainly not the case any longer. Now I save one third of my income and live on a pretty strict budget. If I manage to live below my budget in any given month, I take the extra money and put it in a second savings account for vacations, gifts, and shopping. (This isn’t really a savings account since it’s where I keep money I intend to spend, so I’ve borrowed a term from my mom and I call it my “mad money” account.)
When I first began my efforts to live frugally, I really missed going shopping whenever I felt like it. I would anxiously await the time when I had accumulated enough mad money to buy a few things. Then I would gleefully hit up my favorite shopping websites. This was actually a pretty responsible approach to shopping… I spent money I actually had, and I accumulated that money by being disciplined in other areas and coming in under budget. It was truly guilt-free shopping.
But a few months ago, I noticed a change in how I felt about buying new things. Suddenly, I didn’t want to part with my money. I no longer looked forward to shopping with giddy anticipation. Instead, I dreaded having to buy new clothes to replace the ones that were becoming worn and out of date.
It’s good that I’ve become less materialistic. However, I may have taken things too far. When trying to get dressed for work the other morning, I spent ten minutes staring at my closet and I realized that I have very few nice clothes anymore. By “nice” I mean decent quality and in good shape, with a flattering fit, and at least somewhat in keeping with current trends. Much of what I saw in my closet was faded, boring, worn out, and outdated.
It appears that I’m in danger of becoming a bit of a hot mess. HotFrugal: Good. Hot mess: Bad!
There is a balance one must achieve between being frugal and being stylish. Like it or not, clothing does have a major impact on how we look, how we are perceived, and how we feel about ourselves. This is especially true for women. A guy may be able to get away with dressing somewhat sloppily and with little concern for how he looks, but a woman who takes the same approach is going to look like a hobo. I know, I know… It’s not very liberated of me to accept society’s double standards and the importance it places on a woman’s appearance. But damn it, I don’t want to look like a hobo!
So it’s time to go shopping, and it’s time to go shopping in a pretty big way. In an effort to not get completely carried away, I’ve gone through my closet and made a list of all the things I need to get. I need some basic pieces (black blazer, grey pants, denim pencil skirt, etc.) and some more fun and trendy things to make my wardrobe interesting. I’ll spend decent money on the basics since good quality clothes should last two or three years. For the trendy stuff, I’ll hit up sales and discount stores.
I’m excited about looking more put together and less like a hobo, but I’m not looking forward to breaking into my mad money. I’m still a little emotionally traumatized by the realization I had in my last post about the money I wasted in my twenties. That realization will definitely keep me on track in achieving my big picture goals, but it shouldn’t make me feel guilty for spending money on things I can actually afford.
With that little pep talk to myself, I’m off to shop…