Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pro Tip: "Immersion Therapy"

On the latest episode of Mama JuneBug: From Hot to Not (hey, I never said this blog would discuss how to choose upstanding television programming), Mama June is trying to lose weight but takes her kids to an ice cream shop.  MAKES NO SENSE!

Now I'm sure it was just a staged scene anyway (WE Tv clearly thinks its viewers are all idiots), but it typically is a good rule of thumb to avoid temptation when you're trying to resist it.  At the beginning of the year, this was my hard-and-fast rule.  Avoid shopping websites, avoid fashion blogs, avoid malls, avoid stores, avoid Instagram, etc.  You can't fail if you can't fail!  

But several times this month I've ended up in a department store or at the mall for some good reason or another.  My initial thought was "RUN!," followed by "Ooo that's a cute dress!," followed by "This ain't no thang."  Being in my former natural environment and coming out without spending a dime was actually empowering!  I can see things I want to buy, and I can make the decision not to. 

I joked to my mom as we walked through Dillard's, "this is my immersion therapy."  Maybe "exposure therapy" is a better term, but either way, it strengthened my resolve.  So if you're on this journey with me - maybe you should give it a try as well.  (Not after happy hour though, of course.)  Hit the mall, your favorite boutique, or window shop online and resist the urge!  Let me know how you do, and how you feel after you succeed!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February Recap & More Items Purged

Man did February fly by or what!?  It's crazy to think I am already 1/6 the way through my non-shopping journey.  So far, so good.  I have stuck to my goal without any slip-ups.  Not that it's always easy.

Case-in-point: Just this past week I ran into the super cute kids' boutique MudPie, because I still have a gift card to use for Beckett.  Whelp of course the first thing I see is an adorable woman's dress.  Followed by perfect-for-me wine glasses (Mimosas All Day and If You're Gonna Brunch, Brunch Hard - might as well have had a tag on them that said "These are for Nora!"), super cute $12 tassel bracelets, and awesome home decor pieces.

Seriously, MudPie!?  I thought I was safe here.  I thought this was a store with over-priced but precious CHILDREN'S clothes!  My inner dialog went something like this:  You have a gift card.  You won't be spending any ACTUAL money on yourself.  It's totally fine.  Buy 1 wine glass for yourself and 1 for a friend.  That's a gift.  No, Nora focus.  Your goal is much more important!  

Ridiculous monolog aside, I reminded myself that this journey is not just about saving money but about minimalizing (<--apparently not a real word but I'm going with it) and breaking the addiction to stuff.  I quickly shopped for Beck and then high-tailed it out of there without buying anything for me.  Mission accomplished.  Barely.

As I entered my closet to do my February purge, I decided to switch it up by focusing on one area of the closet each month.  I MUST get rid of at least 10 from each category, but I can go over if there is more to be purged.  Here's my plan for each month in case you want to join me in your own closet!

So here are the 15 tees and tanks I am donating this month:

Let me know if you are purging along with me!  Find more monthly recaps here.  Happy March!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Clothe Yourself in Love

I love sharing this journey with my friends, because just when I need it (but without even asking for it), they offer encouragement!  My sweet friend Jenni texted me this verse last week.

She reminded me that there are more important things to clothe ourselves with than new clothing!

As I've been thinking about this verse, I have been asking the question how.  How do we clothe ourselves with love?  What habits can I purposefully create to help become a more loving person?  Here are some of my ideas.
  • Each day when you get dressed or change clothes, say a prayer.  Ask for help in showing love to others in all circumstances! (Like even when your husband leaves his dirty dishes on the counter for the umpteenth time...)  Or thank the Lord for the unconditional love He shows you.  Make it a prayer of love!  Don't pray?  As you get dressed, set a positive goal for showing love to someone or repeat a love-focused mantra.
  • When you think something positive about someone else - tell them!  How often do we think things in our heads without sharing?  That sweet, encouraging phrase could be exactly what someone needs to keep going.  This applies to strangers, too.  See a mom at the grocery store being sweet to her child?  Tell her she's a good mother!  Love the cashier's sunny attitude?  Thank them for it!  Person next to you at the gym has great sneakers?  Compliment them!  Spread love by just sharing what you are already thinking about others!
  • Remind yourself that EVERYONE deserves love.  Clothing ourselves with love means loving everyone - not just people we really like.  Each week think about who you can show love to even though it might be hard.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why We Buy

Blair Waldorf might not be right, but society sure seems to think so.  I've been thinking a lot lately about why we buy (beyond what we need).  Why is it fun to shop?  Why is it thrilling to acquire a new possession?  Sometimes things we buy make our lives easier or truly add value, but a lot of the time the "value" is just in the fleeting moment of the purchase.  At least for me.  And I'm clearly not alone.  Apparently 60% of what we buy is discretionary.  So why do we buy?

What Scientists Say
Back in the day, humans had to search for food by hunting and gathering.  Since we no longer have to do so, our instincts that are wired for this have found a new goal in shopping.  Shopping can also cause a release of dopamine in the brain - the same release that happens in response to food, sex, and drugs.  Just as some people struggle with addictions to those things, some people become addicted to the dopamine release they receive from shopping.  Well, that makes sense!

What Economists Say
America has never done much to encourage its people to save.  We have almost unlimited access to credit, and most credit card companies will let you pay a mere 2% of your balance each month.  This is pretty much unheard of in Europe and the rest of the world.

We also can shop easier and faster than ever with online shopping (Amazon Prime is the bomb, just sayin') and smart phones.

What Psychologists Say
We are heavily influenced by marketing.  Advertisers have gotten very good at creating adverts that create emotional responses within us and in turn lead us to buy those products.  Research has shown that even when we don't think we are affected by an ad, our brain often tells a different story.

We also can't resist a "sale."
Every time we contemplate a purchase, our brain is weighing the pleasure it gets from acquiring the item against the pain it gets from spending money.  The less money you need to spend, the easier it becomes to make the decision to buy.  It makes perfect sense that clothing companies raise the initial prices of their merchandise just so they can put it all on sale.  And we totally fall for it.  "The original price was $50, but I got it for $20!!  Can you believe that!?"

My Additional Thoughts
I love television.  But I do think the attitudes towards shopping shown on many of my favorite shows - always having a new outfit, the importance of knowing and following trends, the normalcy of spending frivolously - have negatively influenced my shopping behaviors.

I also have used shopping as a reward over the years.  It's easier to justify shopping when you have a valid reason why you "earned" it.
Man how I love Tom.

Fashion blogs (and IG) have also helped feed my need to buy.  I love seeing gorgeously styled photos of fashionable women in fab outfits, but that usually leads to clicking one of the gazillion links to possibly purchase something they were wearing.  It also constantly shows me what's new in fashion which leads to wanting those new things.  Because 250 tops aren't enough if you don't have the one with a built-in choker...

I think that generations past could say they overspent because growing up they didn't have any wiggle room for "fun" or "just because" purchases.  They grew up with only the bare necessities (and sometimes didn't have those either), and once they worked their tails off to create a better life as an adult, they wanted to enjoy it and give their children what they never had.  It totally makes sense.  But my generation can't claim this.  We grew up (well most of us - yes, I know there are those that didn't) with not a need in the world and not even usually a want that didn't get fulfilled.
While not a bad thing, this has caused a new problem.  A generation of us who are used to getting what we want, throwing this or that in the cart at Target, not seeing the need to budget.

I believe that by examining why we buy, we can become better equipped to make smarter purchasing decisions and stop the cycle of drunken consumerism.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

January Recap! (& 10 Items Purged)

I totally started writing this post in oh, you know, the actual month of January.  Now somehow we are 1/4 through February.  "Mom brain" is still a valid excuse when your baby is 10 months old, right!?

One month down, 11 to go.  Here's how I fared in January...

-Not a single clothing, jewelry, shoes, or makeup item purchased  (HUZZAH!)
-Survived a trip to Target and the outlet mall
-Borrowed my best friend's clothes for a trip to Chicago
-Survived shopping on the Magnificent Mile without spending a dime
-Resisted the urge to purchase the most beautiful pink Beyond Yoga leggings (best pants in the world) at my Pure Barre Studio

So did I save GOBS of money this month or what!?  Well, no not really.  Whomp whomp.  John and I spent a lot of money in Chicago on food (and maybe drinks, too, full disclosure), and my son Beckett needed real shoes with soles since he's semi-walking now, as well as some 12 month clothes.  That said, I guarantee the credit card bill is lower than it would have been had I also been shopping this month.  Like $400 lower at least.  So that's a win!

I also decided that purging and donating needs to be a part of my challenge as well.  Not only do I need to stop adding to my stuff, I need to get rid of things that I should have never bought in the first place.  Donating them seems like a great way to help others while also helping myself.  So at the end of each month this year, I must get rid of 10 items - they can be shoes, clothing, purses, or jewelry.

Choosing 10 this month was super easy, but I'm sure by December I'll be struggling.  Here's what is vacating my closet:

2 pairs of booties and 1 pair of flats

2 necklaces

2 t-shirts, 2 long sleeve shirts, and 1 sweater
So yeah it's probably cheating to count old sorority tees, but I'm going with it.

If you set a resolution this year, I hope January went well for you, too!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Pro Tip: Shop Your Bestie's Closet

I've always loved sharing my clothes and jewelry with friends.  And it's always been a crying shame that none of my friends wear a size 6 shoe!  But since I've always just bought new clothes whenever I needed wanted something different to wear, I haven't really been much of a borrower myself.  Well friends, don't be surprised if I raid your closet this year!

But seriously, we should all be sharing our clothes more often!  It's the perfect solution.  You get to wear something that feels new and that you've never been photographed in, without spending a dime.  Well unless you have to pay for dry cleaning after you spill red wine down the front... Oh, just me?

My husband John and I went on a weekend getaway to Chicago last weekend, and in 2016, this would have been the perfect excuse for buying several new outfits to wear.  Since that's not an option this year, I hit up my best friend Tracy and snagged 2 of her adorable tops to take with me to the windy city.  Thank you, Tracy!

I felt great in my borrowed clothes, still experienced the "thrill" of wearing something new, and didn't feel like I missed out on buying something new for the trip.  If you're trying to minimize your spending or shopping habits, but you still love putting together fun and new outfits, hit up your friends!  But maybe switch to white that night.  ;)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Why the Heck Am I in Target!?

So I've been "sober" for 17 days.  Technically it's been longer than that since I didn't buy anything the last few weeks of December, but I've been officially on the wagon since Jan 1st.  It has been a bit easier than I thought, although I still have lots of momentum.  I mean who would I be if I couldn't keep my New Year's Resolution for 17 days!?  I think it's February when we're all allowed to stop hitting the gym and starting eating queso again.  LMK.

To be honest, most of my success isn't because I have strong willpower, but because I have been smarter at avoiding situations that will create temptation.  That's why on Saturday around 11:14am, while walking past the sweater section (oh that is also adjacent to the make-up... so soft, adorable clothing to the right and gorgeous colors and shiny packages to the left) I stopped in my tracks and shouted "Why the heck am I in Target!?"  Well the language might have been a tad more colorful but I'm a lady - at least on paper.

So why would I willingly spend a Saturday morning at the place that sucks money out of women's bank accounts even quicker than I guzzle wine?  Like seriously - do you know anyone that knows how to get out of Target with a bill less than $200?  Or without buying something that wasn't on the list? 

But back to the story, I was there.  And I somehow convinced my husband to join Beckett and I on this shopping excursion so I couldn't back out now.  And y'all - John rather spend 2 hours cleaning toilets than go shopping so this was huge.  I needed to buy Christmas presents for my precious niece (don't ask why I was just now doing that because I don't even have an answer for you), plus some household toiletry type items.

It was hard, but I stayed the course.  We still spent too much money, but I didn't buy a single clothing, jewelry, shoes, or make-up item.  Or home decor which is also important to note because a gorgeous gold table lamp and faux marble coffee mug were both hollering my name.  VICTORY.

I thought I was home-free.  Out of Target without breaking any of my rules and headed home.  Then what should I hear... "Hey babe, let's go by the outlet mall."  WAIT WHAT!?  Since when does John want to go shopping at the outlets - especially on a SATURDAY.  The parking lot of the outlet mall on Saturday is pretty much John's version of hell.  I could have said no, but to be fair, he desperately needs new black work shoes and since he has spent about $100 on clothes in the last 8 years (while I've worn out the strip on my Discover card approximately 76 times), I can't enforce my resolution on him.

So off we went.  And I did it!  To be honest, there was a touch-and-go moment at the Steve Madden outlet when I spotted a pair of camel booties for 80% off (80% off people!!!!!) and had to shut my eyes, hold my baby a little tighter, and remind myself why I don't even come close to qualifying for needing another pair of boots.

Rewind a month or so, and I would have gotten a thrill from coming home with several shopping bags.  I would have hung the things in my closet, placed the booties on my shoe shelf, and felt "happy."  But a few hours later, I wouldn't have still felt happy.  The next week?  Not a chance.  It's been 3.5 days since I went to both Target and the outlet mall - and didn't buy a darn thing - and man do I feel happy about that.

I might need to avoid Target for the next 11.5 months, though.