I crocheted this ear warmer all by myself!
I crocheted this ear warmer all by myself!

If you really want to watch your budget this year, I recommend you try a “No New Clothes” policy. Pick an amount of time (3 months, a year) and make a point to only buy from thrift stores if you need to purchase any clothes (except for things like underwear and socks… gotta draw a line there). N and I did this for a year, and we both learned a lot about our spending habits.

First thing I noticed: “No New Clothes” saved me a lot of TIME by keeping me clear of the mall and the outlets. And I definitely saved money by not buying designer clothing on impulse. I found I was less susceptible to the “what’s hot” marketing ploy that stores use to make us buy their nice, shiny new clothing. The thrift store is full of the unique. Outfits aren’t pre-packaged. There’s usually only one of each item, so you have to take your time and make your own best decisions about what goes together.  Beauty standard? What beauty standard?

Still, in a lot of places, clothing is so cheap that “No New Clothes” isn’t really even about how much you’re spending. It’s more about checking yourself before you spend. You know how it is. You go into Target for… shampoo and a new bowl because you broke one… and you leave with a cart full of t-shirts and shoes that you may or may not wear more than once, but they were so cheap so how could you not buy them?

That kind of spending adds up, not just monetarily, but societal-ly, as well. It’s the kind of thoughtless consumption that corporations nurture, because it benefits them. But it doesn’t always benefit you, and it definitely doesn’t benefit the people at the bottom of the manufacturing food chain.

We could argue both ways and until hell freezes over about how our spending habits do or do not affect the rest of the world, and I’m not gonna do that. I haven’t run the statistical models. I don’t have any facts for you that will blow this thing wide open. And that’s not really my point, anyhow.

But I will tell you that spending a YEAR consciously not buying new clothing made me a better, more mindful spender in the long run. I began to break the instinctive habit of just throwing that cheap pair of pants in my cart because they were so cheap, or buying that designer’s mass produced outfit because it’s trendy. I now stop to think about my closet, and about my budget, before I spend. And I think about who benefits from my dollars more. I try to buy things from the people who made them when I can. Because it’s important to me.

So if you want to work on your brain and some of the ingrained notions of beauty that society has force on you, but not shaving is just not something you’re willing to handle right now, why not try “No New Clothes” for a few months or a year?

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