Here is a Facebook update from a gal I've known for years:
"SRM is so excited for lunch at Cheesecake Factory and Nordstrom Pre-sale shopping with my girls. Look out Nordy's ."
There are 6 responses so far, she gets lots of comments to her posts because she is cute and spunky and writes funny stuff.
But is she purposely trying to torture me? Because every word is a knife in my no shopping, Nordstrom Pre, During, AND Post Sale avoidance strategy? (No, it doesn't seem like paranoid, drama queen thoughts.)
This is exactly the behavior I would have engaged in pre-experiment. Stuff yourself silly, make friends with the store clerk who can score you the best deals, and spend the equivalent of a semester of college tuition or more. Gosh, I miss it.
I got the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale catalog in the mail today. Traditionally I would text my children I'd be out of reach for a couple of hours, find a quiet spot, open it with a hushed reverence and spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out which of the amazing "sale" items I needed this year. During the sale they roll out the hottest new fall items, and advertise the BEFORE and AFTER sale price. Which makes you feel stupid if you don't buy at the BEFORE price.
"The prices are going up! Alert everyone! Don't be an Idiot! Buy! Buy! Buy!"
The sale starts July 17th. The back of the catalog actually says, "Shop Soon- Prices Go Up August 3rd".
Tonight when I saw it on the mail pile I just blanched and considered torching the whole house to avoid having to deal with the pain of missing the big pilgrimage to the store.
One year, in the heyday of the technology boom, when I was making much more than I've made in years, I remember going to sale and spending about $3,200.00 on new "work" clothes. That was my crutch. But I look back on spending that much money in one swoop and feel like it was crazy.
"I've gotta have power clothes for work!!!"
Since the Stop Shopping, Start Saving initiative, I see things so differently and it continues to amaze me how little I feel I need things. Not that I don't want them. Because that Ruffle-trim jacket on page 24 from Nick & Ro is looking awfully cute… and oh, so me. Temptation.
The sale in my area starts of Friday July 17th, so I'll spend most of that day twitching and forcing myself to drive in the opposite direction. I'll try to talk myself out of "just looking" or scheduling a lunch with someone followed with an innocent "oh my gosh, did you know they were having the Anniversary Sale"?
I just finished a meal of left-over Turkey Tetrazzini from a lunch a
couple of days ago. Normally I eschew any left-overs and turn my nose
up like Oprah with a private chef. But being unemployed has a certain
cause and effect on the luxury of eating out. Mostly it is just
effect, I shouldn't t eat out.
There was a strange phenomenon I noticed after finishing the Tetrazzini, I was full. Usually I think I'm just full after a nice meal of sushi, or 5 Guys Burgers and Fries, or Chinese food, or… well, the list is long.
My boyfriend's family has eaten out for years. They've raised entire
generations of children who don't know what a pot or pan is, or have
never actually turned an oven on, other than to dry socks when the
clothes dryer broke, so it really makes the situation hard. My family
has eaten out more over the last year than I think we ever have, and
coming off that in the throes of unemployment is hard, like when the
doctor told me I had to give up coffee, chocolate, peppermint,alcohol and tomatoes. Huh? Did he just pick the 5 most important foods in my life randomly or was he serious?
This might be hard to believe, but I've spent the equivalent of a gazillion dollars on stuff I don't need.
How does this happen?
Here is a perfect example of something that looked really COOL in a magazine, or on an online website, or when I was high on crack maybe because I can't think of another reason anyone would purchase the following item.
Another excuse might be total boredom, winning the Idaho lottery or loss of the entire frontal lobe.
Fancy phone thing- $7.00 plus shipping, hair tie- $.30 cents.
Otherwise doesn't this solution do just as good a job?
When you can't just run out and replace things, their importance takes on a whole new meaning.
A few weeks ago I spent 5 hours at a girlfriend's house painting. It is a story too long for a blog post, but she needed some serious help. Her ex-husband is dying from cancer, her daughter was graduating from college and she had family descending en masse for the weekend. Typical foundational stuff for a BREAKDOWN, so I went over to help her. I'd just left a volunteer job at a charity event and forgot we were PAINTING and I was trying to scuttle over there as fast as I could before she stuck her head in a 5 gallon bucket of paint. But I did do the most important thing and stop at the liquor store to pick up two bottles of champagne. The Good Kind of Girlfriends just don't show up to comfort you without liquor, and somehow getting drunk before noon on a Saturday seemed like just the thing she needed. Sometimes I just wonder how smart I really am…
When I arrived and remembered we were PAINTING, I realized I had one of my all time favorite pair of jeans on. She offered to let me borrow some or find some of her ex's sweats, but I was too stubborn, or tired, or stupid, or didn't want to impose, or wanted to start drinking, but duh, I left them on. If I'd been smart I would have painted in my underwear.
Trying to be careful was easy at first, but after the first couple of glasses of champagne on an empty stomach, I threw caution to the wind, and at some point in the fuzzy afternoon splattered paint down the leg of those wonderful, well fitting, broken in jeans. These happened to be one of the only pair I can wear to work, a darker wash and a trouser fit. So basically I screwed up and now don't even have the pleasure of going out and finding a replacement pair. That sucks.
My daughter and one of her best friends have been searching high and low for certain pairs of "Laguna Beach Jeans." The jeans range in price from $99.00 to a few hundred bucks. I remember buying my first pair of Levi 501 jeans in college for about $19.00.
These aren't the only "high end" jeans out there and I'm sometimes blown away at $200.00, $300.00 and $400.00 dollar jeans. I admit, t I've paid $158.00 for a pair of David Khan jeans at Nordstrom. I've worn them for two years and love them. Are they worth it? I'm not sure, but I'm not going to wear bling bling pockets and white whipped stitching and flaps decorated to high hell as a status symbol. How did I raise such a brand conscious kid? Was it the Coach purses, the MK shoes, the Levis? Seriously, I'm just not sure how it happened. She's not the worst offender I know, but this is the same sweet kid who, when I tried to buy her some Sketchers in 6th grade told me, "Mam, I don't need those fancy shoes, let's just get the $20.00 ones." Some women standing next to me almost fell over and commented on what a great kid I was raising. She's still a great kid, but somehow has morphed into a brand crazed, acquisition hungry teenager. Good thing she's got two jobs.
Last weekend I was finally starting to recover from the "swine flu incident", so my boyfriend and I took our girls and a few of their friends to some property he owns a couple of hours from where we live. Here are the girls at the start of our trip:
Aren't they beautiful?
I wish I had a picture from the end of the trip when they were all weeping from sunburn even though I kept yelling SUNCREEN at the top of my lungs every 15 minutes we were on the boat. I can only imagine how much pain they were in, we were boating for over 5 hours and they seemed to think that sunscreen would prohibit them from ever having another boyfriend and living life as lonely spinsters.
The trip was amazing, we went hiking to a damn the first day and ate dinner at a remote lodge. The accommodations consisted of a trailer and a small cabin, more of a shed really. I always marvel at the simplicity of going up there and leaving everything behind. It reminds me of what I'm striving to accomplish by throwing off many of the trappings that surround my life and resisting filling it with more, more, more!
When I got divorced two years ago, I took my wedding rings to a jeweler with the intent of trading them in and buying myself a big right hand ring. My daughter Emily had other ideas. She said it would be cool if we all got matching rings- (at one point she wanted matching tattoos, but I vetoed that idea). We ended up with cool matching diamonds. Mine is bigger than the two girls, but they all match. Or matched. Here is a picture of Emily just before she dropped hers in the lake.
I'm not sure why she was wearing it wake boarding, but when she tried to take it off, it slipped out of her hand. She looked so sad, and I almost had a heart attack, but in that moment I remembered that things aren't what mattered, and I knew if I yelled at her it wouldn't help, only make her feel worse. So we got her in the boat and she cried and it broke my heart to see her heart broken. At that moment I realized that if I hadn't been out on that lake, so far away from all my own status symbols and possessions, I might have reacted differently and I couldn't stop thinking about how much I have and how little most of it contributes to my happiness. What is important are waterfalls, days on a boat, sunsets, giggling teenage girls, campfires, boyfriends who are so kind and generous to take 6 women to the woods, family, milkshakes and star filled nights with the moon shining- and smores. I've never been so glad to be that far from a mall.
If you've done any research on the best ways to trick yourself into not spending money, using cash is among the top few. Just stopping is the best, but for those of us who need mind tricks, magic and the occasional medication to curb spending, this is a big one.
When I was young mom would cash my dad's paychecks and put a certain amount of money in envelopes marked "grocery", "clothing", "shoes", "entertainment" and so on. When she was out of cash, that was it for the month until another check came along. At the time all I remember thinking was how dangerous it was to carry that much cash around. I've always safety conscious and it made me nervous that we might get car jacked because of my mom's money management skills.
My birthday horde of cash has reminded me of that because I spent two months carrying that cash everywhere I went, hording it and dreading the day it would run out.
A few years ago I tried a software program called Mvelopes which does pretty much the same thing my mom did with real envelopes. Although they would argue it is much better since you have a snapshot of spending and mugging is less likely. They want you to:
Take control of your money
Get out of debt
Reduce financial stress
That's funny because it is exactly what I want to do, but don't remember it helping much when I tried it before.
The past week I've been sick and it has lingered much too long. But it is a great cure for wanting to shop! There hasn't been a moment of weakness the past 10 days or so, I'm just hoping to make it to the next day without blowing my lungs out with this massive cough. Even online shopping seemed too much of an effort.
Perhaps the biggest mistake I've made is promising my daughter that we'd go camping with some of her friends this weekend, when I should be home sleeping all day and trying to recover for another work week.
I'm still chuckling over the flip flop frenzy from last month's trip to Boise. So I'm highly disappointed to know I'll miss $2.00 Tank Top Day today. But I've been felled by the flu (swine or otherwise), and will miss the antics.