Monday, January 2, 2012

Making a Statement

It's the beginning of a new year, so as always I find myself doing things that should be done on a regular basis but that I, like many, often ignore.  Today's bout of responsible adulthood came in the form of reviewing my bank statements from the last year to see what I've been up to.  The good news is that I have more money in the bank now than I did this time last year (yeah for my first full year of a real job!), so all in all the year went pretty well.

What didn't actually surprise me at all was the frequency with which places like TJ Maxx, The Gap, JC Penny and even The Valley Thrift showed up on my statement.  You see, over the past couple months I have been constantly battling a large pile of clothes that keeps ending up on my floor. Sadly, the reason the pile exists is that I now own too much clothes that I don't have enough space to keep it all (and I still have clothes at my parents house too!).  I learned from Twitter that this is something called a #FirstWorldProblem and it is gross (on so many levels).  So I'm cutting back.

Even after the addition of my new dresser and extra closet I don't have enough room.

My first step was to get an idea of the problem. I sorted through the years worth of bank statements and added up the debited amounts (I also subtracted any amounts posted for returns) for all stores that sell mostly clothes and then sometimes added partial amounts from places like Target where I do purchase clothes but purchase household items too.  

What I got was a rough estimate of $1976.66*
*Note: I generally don't like to spend more than $20 on one item of clothes or pair of shoes.

Almost two thousand dollars.  The amount I spent on clothes this year is roughly equal to the average annual income for persons in these countries...

Countries or areas surveyed with average annual incomes of $2,000 or less include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Kenya, Kosovo, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Burma (Myanmar), Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.*

*This information was extracted from a Gallup Poll that also showed that people in these poorer countries think that religion is more important to daily life than people who live in countries where the average annual income is over $25,000.

Why did I spend so much? 
(I do understand that to some people $2000 doesn't qualify as "so much", but to me it does.)

This was the first full year of my new job which ranges in attire from nice casual to business professional.  I did have a somewhat work ready wardrobe from my days at AAA and Macy's but many of those close no longer fit (That gym membership was worth it!) or were worn to the bone.  My favorite pair of black slacks (They were branded from The Limited but I purchased them at TJ Maxx for likely about $16.99) had become pilly and were starting to hang weird from repeated cleaning and wearing.  Also, they had lost the top button nearly 2 years ago and even though I am completely capable of replacing a button I wore them several times a week using a safety pin as a closure.*  So many of my purchases were replacements or new fits/sizes of old staples.  But somewhere along the line I got crazy and started having fun buying lots of exciting statement pieces.  Who wants to wear a plain black cardigan when they can wear a rhinestoned leopard print one? Not me. And to be honest those are most of the things I really enjoy wearing.

*This is not my only case of able-to-fix-but-for-some-reason-never-do-itis.  When I was working at Macy's I had a similar pair of black pants that I'm sure I paid less than $20 for and when the hem came out I continued to wear them several times a week (for at least 7-8 months and even continued wearing them when I started working at AAA) with the loose hem duct taped inside.  That's right, I sold wealthy, fashion conscious Californians slacks that cost several hundred dollars a pair while I wore my $20 pants with the duct tape on the inside - this makes me kind of proud.

So just for fun, this year I'm going to aim to spend less on clothes and shoes.  My goal is to go for just less than half.  Let's say $960 or $80 a month.  Although with my new found love of thrift shopping* (Who needs retail!  Now I get uncomfortable if something costs more than $2.99!) I'm hoping I can keep it to even less!

*Special thanks to Shelly for changing my life by taking me to The Valley Thrift for the first time.  

Let's see if I can make a (fashion) statement while (re)making my (bank) statement!

This post was inspired by one of my favorite blogs : What I Wore 2day


  1. I have the opposite problem. I should actually buy new clothes instead of trudging along in the same old same old...

  2. You are brave. I don't think I could handle adding up my shopping bills from last year. Bill introduced me to a new website where you can connect all of your accounts and get a detailed picture of where all of your spending goes, etc for free! Maybe it would help keep you on track - it just makes me cringe at our grocery bills.