A quick note about rethinking money.
First, let me make a quick announcement about a couple books I've discovered and have been racing through lately. I think they are going to be very beneficial for me in writing this blog and also re-organizing my life and finances. And I think they could be very beneficial for all of you as well.
One is called Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.
This book applies to everyone. Rich, poor, and average alike. Its not about making more money or landing that new job or investing the right way. Its about rethinking your entire life and the way money fits into it. Its about redefining what “success” and “happiness” mean in non-monetary ways (counter to the way most Americans are taught to think) so you can find true contentment instead of working your whole life to achieve the things that “should” make you happy and likely won’t (cars, houses, clothing, etc.). Its about “making a living” not “making a dying.” Read it. Or at least check out the website to get a better sense.
The other is called I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi. This is quite possibly the best personal finance book for people in their 20s and 30s that I have ever come across. I wish I had read this back when it was first published so I could already be following its advice and saving money. I've only been reading it a few weeks and yet its already saved me money by teaching me how to negotiate my APR with credit card companies and move from a card with an annual fee to a similar card with no annual fee (thus reversing the $60 charge on a card I hardly use). Its inspired me to get active about the stuff that frightens me and the stuff I've just been flat out procrastinating on (read: investing). Check it out either online or in hardcopy form. Its light, breezy, funny writing so something as complex as investing money becomes extremely easy to understand.
And now on to the things you just don’t need…
By now, we all know the motto of Thriftstyle Living: Sacrifice for the greater good!
This means getting all the things you really don’t need out of your life (unnecessary spending, useless crap, wasted time) so you have more money and time to spend on the things that matter (your health and the activities and people you enjoy most).
A few posts ago, I wrote about YOU sitting down and deciding for yourselves what you really don’t need in your life. The big things. Like bad (unhealthy) habits, things you spend money on daily (lunches out, morning coffee) that you maybe don’t need, etc. Those are things you have to decide for yourselves that you don’t need. I can’t tell you to get rid of those things. You need to make those decisions on your own.
BUT, today I AM going to tell you about some things you might need, but definitely don’t need to spend a huge amount of money on:
- Workout clothes: There is nothing funnier to me than a bunch of ladies at the gym, sitting around, NOT working out – all while wearing head-to-toe gear from Lululemon. If you don’t know Lululemon, its a crazy-expensive store filled with “trendy” workout clothes. And. Its. Stupid. C’mon people. Do you REALLY need a $58 shirt to work out? Rhetorical question: No. You don’t need a $58 shirt to work out. You know what you need? All those t-shirts you got for FREE in college, a couple pairs of crappy shorts or sweatpants/leggings (you can get for a few bucks at Target, thrift stores, etc.), and, if you’re a lady, maybe one or two decent sports bras so you aren’t in pain while moving around. (I won’t go into shoes because I honestly don’t know anything about shoes. Mostly because I do things like pilates and yoga, neither of which require shoes.) If you feel you really need that $58 shirt to work out, you should probably have a larger conversation with yourself about why that is. Likely, its that you’re not focused on the “working out” portion of working out. I’m obviously not talking about sportswear if you’re a runner, biker, triathelete, etc. – I know certain activities require certain types of clothes that have certain functions. I’m more talking about women who buy expensive workout clothes so they look good while working out. Which is stupid. If all you do is lift a few weights or use the elliptical machine for 30 mins or do a couple core/pilates/yoga classes, you don’t need expensive sportswear.
- Pajamas: You don’t need pajamas. I don’t care what Victoria’s Secret catalogs tell you. You know what you need? See above about t-shirts that you got for free in college. No one sees you while you’re asleep. A $50 pair of pajamas isn’t more comfortable than a free t-shirt, or a tank and underwear, or being completely naked. You don’t NEED hello kitty pajama pants (unless you’re one of the rich Jewish girls I went to college with and you’re on your way to Organic Chemistry). And if your argument for buying fancy sleeping clothes is that you’re going to impress some person you’re sleeping with or dating: you’re wrong. That person will be way more impressed by your lack of pajamas (or any clothing at all). So stop spending unnecessary amounts of money on pajamas. Seriously.
- Underwear: I am all about comfort and buying what works. Ladies: you need decent bras. Gentlemen: you need underwear that doesn’t feel like sandpaper (looking at you, Hanes boxer-briefs). These things are obvious and necessary. That being said, I find that the cheaper bras at Target tend to be better and last longer than the fancy, expensive crap you get at Victoria’s secret that falls apart after one wash. Ditto for most ladies underwear. Now, ladies, don’t get me wrong, I am all about having some fancier pieces on hand for the nights you want to dress-to-impress. Lingerie is important for feeling sexy sometimes, and I encourage you to buy what makes you feel sexy when you have an occasion to wear it. But for everyday wear, there is plenty of cute stuff at Target for much cheaper. Men, same thing. And both ladies and men can find cheap underwear on Amazon too. Never underestimate the power of Amazon, people.
- Socks/Tights/Leggings/Other leg and foot crap: Go to thrift stores/Target/H&M/Forever21/Amazon. Nothing else to say. Hardly anyone will see your socks. The places I just mentioned have cute, cheap socks, tights and leggings for the ladies and durable, comfortable socks for the men. There is no reason to spend more than $5-10 on any of this stuff. Just no reason. (only exception: if you buy one pair of expensive tights/leggings that you plan on wearing all the time. It makes sense to spend the money on something that will last forever. My argument is that the more expensive stuff doesn’t always last longer – and the cheaper stuff can last a really long time if you take care of it).
- Fancy clothing for fancy events: How often do you honestly need to wear fancy clothes? Do you REALLY need a new outfit for every time you go clubbing on the weekend (also, stop going clubbing on the weekend)? Do you REALLY need a new outfit for every birthday and holiday season? I don’t think you do. I know I don’t. And with my job I attend at least three black-tie (or close to it) events per year. Men have the luxury of wearing pretty much the same suit and maybe mixing up the shirt and tie (or this is what they should be doing). Ladies, you can wear the same dress more than once by mixing up something else: jewelry, shoes, add a belt, try new makeup or a new hairstyle. Most people won’t remember what dress you wore a year or two ago, trust me. So recycle old dresses back in every few years. OR, if you REALLY think you need to wear something different each time (lest you feel the wrath of the gods of fashion) try a great site I have used a couple times called Rent the Runway. You can rent designer dresses and accessories for a few days for under $100. That’s WAY less than you would normally spend on such dresses and you also get the perk of not cluttering your closet with dresses you’ll never wear again.
- Email lists for clothing stores: I’m encouraging all of you to shop at thrift stores, but I know some of you won’t be able to stop shopping at your favorite clothing stores. And that’s fine. But get off their email lists. You can go to their site to find when they’re having that mega-crazy-semi-annual sale you love. Being on the email lists of stores WILL tempt you want to buy more (and unnecessarily) just to take advantage of the “crazy awesome” deals they send you. You aren’t saving money that way. You are actually spending more money than you would have otherwise on crap you’ll likely never wear. Trust me. I did this for years before realizing my mistakes (way too late). Do what I told you to do a couple posts ago and make a list of things you NEED for your wardrobe. And then only buy these things. Even if something else is insanely reduced in price. You don’t need it. You won’t wear it. I don’t care how cheap it was or how expensive it used to be.
So those are my suggestions of things to stop spending on immediately. Trust me, you’ll be much happier sharing a few cocktails and dessert with the person you’re dating than sharing your new Victoria’s Secret pajama set.
By the way, if you want to share cocktails and food on the cheap, check out Troquet at the corner of Montrose and Wolcott. On Wednesdays you can get a charcuterie plate and 1 glass of wine for $12 and on Thursdays you can get 1 dessert and 1 cocktail for $10. Date night, done right (or cheaply at least).
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