"No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize." - Julia Child

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The freelancer's new clothes, or, how I've unexpectedly started saving money

One of the unexpected benefits of working from home, especially for a gal on a budget, is that I haven't bought new clothes in months. I think the last time I got something was in December, when I was at my parents' house and got 3 sweaters to keep at their house for when I travel there, to avoid suitcase bulk, and a cardigan for when (if!) the weather ever gets balmy enough that I can shed my puffy coat. And in January I bought one long-sleeved thermal shirt, accidentally a size too big, that I wear around the house (see next paragraph re: heating).

I don't tend to work in pajamas--in fact, I make myself get up and at 'em and wear real clothes even though I'm working at home--but since there's no one else to see me, my outfits tend to be older, dingier pants that would make me look like a schlump if I wore them out and would otherwise have long ago gone to Goodwill but which are fine for wearing in the house, and regular long-sleeved T-shirts, along with a hoodie or sweatshirt over it for warmth. (Because as a gal on a budget in a home where heat is gas-powered and not included in rent, alas, I keep the temperature at a steady 60 degrees in the house and just wear layers, slippers, and fingerless hand warmers. Occasionally I will plug in the space heater if it's really bad. Cheap? I prefer to think of it as frugal. We *are* saving for a wedding after all! And trying to save the earth.)

I'm no fashionista in regards to my personal style, preferring comfort to trends, and when I worked in an office that required leaving the house and being among people each day, I did at least wear somewhat cuter and classier outfits. But I was never super dressy, because it was a casual environment (think lots of jeans) and I'm not a morning person. Putting together an adorable outfit was just not in the cards for me--I tended to oversleep most every morning to the point where I flew out the door to the bus stop with my jewelry in my hand, putting it on while sitting on the bus that inevitably pulled up mere moments after I dashed across the street. But at least I did more or less put together outfits. And in order to keep my wardrobe fresh and updated, I did tend to get items of clothing more regularly when I was still working outside the house--not out of need, necessarily, mostly out of desire. Now I haven't really bought much since I started this job in July. I'm overdue for a new pair of jeans or two, but other than that, I can't really think of much I need. Want is a different story of course, but even that is sort of fading a bit the more I think about it. Wanting some new outfits pales when I think of other things I want, like a lovely wedding and savings for an eventual house.

Being on track to saving for a big event later this year has definitely made me reconsider certain things that I don't consider totally necessary. Do I really need to replenish my wardrobe with every new season? Certainly not. As I mentioned above, I don't usually go for trendy clothing so a lot of things I have are pretty basic: solid-colored shirts, blouses, and sweaters, boot-leg pants (which will never go out of style, and which I will never, ever trade in for skinny jeans, because a woman with a badonk should never wear skinny jeans), a few basic knee-length skirts that I can mix and match with the tops. And I'm set with shoes too. Another benefit of working from home: your shoes don't wear out as quickly. I might get a new pair of sneakers this year if my current ones wear out, but other than that, I'm good.

Knowing that we have a big, meaningful expense coming up later this year really makes me think more carefully about each "frivolous" purchase we make. Will we keep the extra cable channels or nix them? (Still up for debate.) Do we really need to order out tonight, or can we make do with what's in the fridge? (See Tuesday's entry on using up bits from the fridge.) Can I wait to see that movie 2 weeks after it comes out, so I can use some discount movie tickets I have, or even wait till it's on On Demand, so I can save some cash? Do I really need to buy that new book or album? (The Boston Public Library has been an absolute godsend in that regard; their collection is extensive and amazing and practically every single thing I've wanted has been there, down to the Arcade Fire album I really wanted but didn't want to pay for.) I know certain aspects of life would be a lot easier with a car, but can we really afford the cost of the car, cost of insurance, cost of gas, cost of maintenance, and cost of parking? (Not unless we move out of the city, which I am not willing to do.)

We're not broke or dirt-poor, but we are living in an expensive city and need to be aware of the choices we make. Not only does it save money, it's also less wasteful in the long run and keeps the sheer amount of stuff we have down to a more minimal amount. Do I really need to buy a novel I'll only read once, or buy a dozen more wedding idea books I won't need next year? Do I really need to get another fancy top for a nice evening out when we don't go on that many fancy evenings out and the tops I already have will do? Of course not. And in some ways, it's been sort of fun to get creative and find ways to do more with less.

Have you recently cut back on certain "unnecessary" expenses in your life? Are you trying to reduce how much stuff you have for other, nonbudgetary reasons? I want to know! Dish!


Emily said...

we're been getting much better at saving money on food - not letting things go bad, eating out much less and making our lunches as opposed to buying them. when i added up how much we saved on home-made lunches alone, it shocked me that i, personally, was saving about $130 a month!

Looks and Books said...

Though I only work from home about once a week, I definitely spend less time getting ready on those days (however, like you, I do make an effort to at least shower and throw jeans on at SOME point!). For me, though, this is actually something that makes me sad! I really enjoy putting outfits together and trying to think of fun and different combinations, so not having any place to go puts a damper on my creativity and enthusiasm. Also, even if I were a hermit, I would still want to go shopping.

I'm glad you're saving money! I agree that sometimes you just need to really take stock of your priorities when it comes to purchases.

In closing, I have a badonk, and I love my skinny jeans. :)

CatLady said...
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Malanga Mama said...

Not having a car or cable television are my big money savers over the past decade. I haven't paid for cable television since 2000 and I haven't had a car since 2001. Another money-saver: using drugstore.com. It keeps me from making impulse purchases at the local drugstore.

Sadly, all my work-at-home-clothing-savings are negated by what I have to spend on clothing for a child who grows like a weed. And I'm a tad bit vain about having a well-dressed child.