Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the tag “shopping”

How Not Buying Changes Christmas

After my Dad died, we spent a lot of time cleaning out STUFF. His, stuff my Mom wanted to get rid of, my grandmother’s house, and so on. So much ended up in trash, donated, or sold. Yard sale after yard sale, we watched gifts and random purchases go away, in an effort to simplify and downsize.

So three years ago we decided to stop doing presents for Christmas.  We are Santa for Little Man and sometimes do gifts with Q’s family, but overall, we pretty much are a buy nothing family for the holiday season. It’s totally changed the holiday season for us all.

We’re all adults and more Christmases than not, my brother and I were sending emails with links to specific things we wanted/needed to our family, using the holiday to be gifted the items we couldn’t afford or didn’t spoil ourselves with. The Christmas after my divorce, I was most excited about getting a toaster. The Christmas my father passed away, all I wanted was a dual urn/K-Cup coffeemaker. It sort of took some of the magic of the holiday away when the gifts were already known.

Q and I only gave gifts to each other on the first Christmas we were together, and once again, practicality took over. He bought me fancy olive oil, an expensive pillow ( which I still have and is amazing), and some jewelry. I got him some fancy grilling rub, a beer making class, and some special limited edition beer. After that Christmas, we decided to save the money for things we wanted to do together. This year, that extra money is going to pay off the new car ( romantic, I know).

Our no gifts policy extends to birthdays– we all go out for a nice dinner to celebrate the person instead of gifts. It takes a lot of pressure off, but also eliminates the random stuff of life that piles up and always ends up being donated.

Not giving gifts makes us think more about the season and doesn’t leave us with the frantic feeling of buying for everyone on the list. Even for Little Man last year, we didn’t even go get his gifts until the weekend before Christmas. For an A-type, to-do list maker like me, it’s nice to feel relaxed the entire holiday season. I try to make more charitable gifts at the end of the year anyway, and having some extra dollars for that instead of buying another mug or candle for my loved ones makes it a win-win.

I get that it’s not for everyone to forgo gifts with their family and friends, but it’s right for us and our family. It gives us the freedom to enjoy the season, the extra money going towards what we want, and the ability to only have things we want in the house– I think everyone should try it one year!


Clothes Addict

HI. My name is Kristen and I’ve got a bit of a clothes issue.

I’m in the thick of the no spend challenge and I clearly needed to do this by the anxiety ( or excitement?) I feel by seeing so many of my favorite retailers with 50% off sales for summer clearance items. It’s tough to close the window, delete the email, etc. And the fact that I just said that means I clearly have a consumption/clothes shopping/buying things just because they’re on sale issue.  Online shopping is the BEST ( and the worst) invention ever.

Part of it is that I love clothes/fashion.  In fact, a good portion of my job deals with a world-class clothing collection so maybe that’s feeding my addiction a bit too. I can’t tell you how many times ( and how many dollars) over the years that I used shopping as my way to fight boredom, purchasing endless items ‘just because’- Target, TJ Maxx/Marshalls, and Kohl’s are my drugs of choice. Either they were inexpensive or I just wanted something new instead of actually having a need for it. And of course, I can’t tell you many things I’ve sold on ebay, brought to the consignment shop, or given to friends that STILL HAVE TAGS ON IT. So frustrating and obviously a lesson I can’t quite learn.

The other part is  discipline. Part of me thinks, “Well, I went to the store to buy underwear that I desperately needed, and since I’m here, I might as well see what’s on clearance.” And then I make rules with myself– nothing over $20, for example. But it’s a slippery slope and then I find myself buying another dress for work or a wedding in the future ( that I probably already have 3 options for). For the longest time, I worried about repeating outfits, even going so far as making a list of what I wore to big work events so I wouldn’t repeat ( what did I think I was The Queen?). Seriously, people don’t care or notice most of the time if you wore the same black dress twice in one year.

I’ve thought SO MANY times about trying to be more minimal with wardrobe and have considered Project 333 so many times. And while I’m trying to be VERY conscious of what I buy now and bring into the house ( one in, one out policy definitely in effect), somehow I can’t get myself to look through my 20 something tank tops and make the cut. This season I am trying to get a handle on what I’m wearing and what I’m not by hanging clothes on the hanger facing towards me; once I wear it, the item of clothing on the hanger goes back on facing inward. This way I can see what I am and am not wearing- I’m trying when I get dressed to look for the outward facing hangers more too. When I change my clothes over in the fall, the goal is to donate the unworn clothes to a deserving person or charity. Keyword there is GOAL.

I’m noticing already the things I don’t wear or that I have categories of clothes that have only one or two purposes, which is definitely a sign of my previous frivolous shopping habits. I don’t go out enough anymore to justify cute, sparkly tops for Saturday nights, for example. I try to buy work clothes that are multi-season or casual tops that I can dress up on the weekends. Needless to say, I’m working on this clothes thing because I much rather live with no debt than with another cowlneck top.

The Changing of the Closets

Columbus Day weekend is upon us and I always use the three day weekend to do some closet transitioning  putting away the strappy sandals and sundresses to make way for woolens and boots. Even though I know the New England weather will bring its fair share of warm weather still into mid-October, this time of year is perfect to start the change over to fall and (dare I say!) winter clothing.

Except this year, the changing of the closets brings on a whole new meaning.

In an effort to honor the body I have right now, I’m going to be doing some serious purging of the clothes. At the end of last winter, I had a handful of pants and skirts that were snug that I put away in hopes that by the beginning of this cooler weather season, I would fit in them again. I don’t even have to try them on to know this is not true. I have already started slowly sifting through these piles of clothes I had hoped to fit into and bringing them to girlfriends who will love them ( and fit in them!), consignment  or Salvation Army. It feels good to get rid of the stuff that lies around. Taking them out of the closet was an important step to begin with- seeing them there was not motivating me in the way that I had hoped, but mocked me everyday to remind me of what size I wasn’t.

The changing of the closets this time around also is about getting rid of clothes, shoes, purses, etc. that just aren’t part of my lifestyle any more. I don’t need small tiny cocktail purses in six different colors because I don’t go out anywhere near as much as I used to, and super rarely to a place that I dress up so much that I want a purse to compliment my outfit. Those six or seven rhinestone studded low-cut tops have not been worn since senior year of college, but somehow they have stayed in my closet all these years. In the opposite vein, I should not buy any more lounge pants or sweaters to hang around in the house in- while I do spend far more time at home than I used to, a different sweatshirt and lounge pants is not required for each day.  I’m really trying to pare down my wardrobe into the things I love and wear and keep the special items that are really awesome- I’m definitely trying to make it about quality not quantity.

In the past year of tight budgets and watching my bottom line, my shopping habits have changed. I don’t go out at the beginning of every season to pick up the latest trends- I’ve actually started shopping at the END of each season to get an item I need so I get stuff on clearance. This lack of shopping has caused some wear and tear on some favorited items and I will be sad to see those go, but I’m also learning that to feel my best, I have to look the part, and wearing a pilled, discolored sweater that looks tired and worn out will not make me feel like Super Woman.

The biggest change in the closets is a weird one- I now have more flat-ish shoes than super heels.  I recently realized I owned only 2 pairs of work appropriate shoes to bring me into the new season, and both of those have seen better days. Last Saturday I picked up 3 new pairs of work shoes for a great bargain at Famous Footwear. For the first time maybe ever in my life, they were all flats, two made by Naturalizer, who, I can admit, I previously associated as a brand that my mom and aunt wore (sorry gals!) But these three pairs of shoes are CUTE ( a pair in pewter, one in black, one in brown), are work and weekend appropriate for pants or dresses, and ARE SUPER COMFORTABLE. It’s definitely a sign of the times for me; after many many years of this 5 foot 2 inch woman wearing 4 inch high heels, my feet, hips, and Achilles tendon hurt just enough after a day in high heels for me to realize I need more flats in my life. I previously associated this with feeling or looking old, being frumpy, or just plain lazy to not make the commitment to heels all the time.

I’m not sure if the change is just because the pain is becoming more obvious to me now than before ( or less bearable perhaps?) or just because I realize how impractical running around a museum carrying a 50 pound painting is with a pair of stilettos. Needless to say, the changing of my closets reflects a change in my thinking about how I see myself and how I perceive others to see me- I guess I’m “growing up!”

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