Friday, April 02, 2010

Fitting into my financial jeans for summer.

I have probably bought about 4 dresses in the last month. Then there was the pair of Louboutins that I ordered on that great sale online. The shoes, mind you, don't actually go with any of the dresses. They don't really go with much in fact. They were just sort of fantastic, you know? I'll need to get additional pumps to match my new dresses. In time for the weddings for which I'm still in need of gifts. And hotel rooms. And airfare. There have also been the dinners. The dinners and the lunches and the brunches out. Out at nice restaurants because I just can't be bothered to cook.

Which is all to say that I've gone a bit over budget in recent weeks. I know this first because one couldn't possibly buy that many dresses and stay under budget, second because I came daringly close to a scarcity of funds come rent time, and lastly because I have an account with which emails me regularly to let me know I've gone over my budget for shopping and dining out or rental cars and all sorts of other categories of my financial life in which I'd love to spend frivolously.

And while I've miraculously not hit rock bottom yet (there's only so far down you can go when you don't possess a credit card), I decided I'd better put a stop to all this tossing around of money I've got no business spending so long as I still live in a cruddy studio apartment in Koreatown. So I've declared a spending freeze for myself. Well, more like a spending diet as there are some things a girl can't live without. In fact, I've listed just these things that I can't live without and these are the only things I'm permitting myself to buy between the diet's start date (this past Monday) and its completion on April 16th (that is 19 long days away).

Things I'm allowed:

* Groceries (not of the overpriced Whole Foods variety--just normal, staple items which should prevent one from achieving malnutrition)
* Toilet Paper
* Gasoline (not for long road trips, but for the necessary rides to work and other places sprawling Los Angeles demands one travel to)
* Rent & Bills (I am not trying to get evicted during this experiment)

What this means for me...

* Finding a suitable dress out of my own closet should yet another wedding, function or excuse for new clothing crop up between now and the 16th.
* Deleting each of the 10+ shopping newsletters and alerts which appear in my inbox each day. Even if the sale seems too good to pass on. Even if the sale is so unbelievably wonderful that it seems completely irrational and crazy and stupid not to buy and buy now.
* Packing my lunch. Which seems unnecessarily cruel to myself (you would agree if you knew what a poor cook I was).
* Resisting the desire to go to Target to 'see if there's anything I need.' (As it turns out, there is always something I need when I walk into a shop with more than 1 aisle. And usually 'something' costs upwards of $100.)

What my goals are...

* I'm hoping to successfully resist the desire to jump on this season's trend bandwagons until the season has passed. No one really needs a platform wedge for Spring.
* To come out of this experimental diet both alive and with the funds to purchase a new Mac Book Pro and DSLR camera--items with which I can get both practical work done and begin on creative projects I've been stalling on.
* To pad my savings account by at least $500 more than was in there previously.

It all seems pretty simple, yes? Well, let me tell you that this frugality business is hard. And I will also, in the name of full disclosure, tell you that I had a moment of weakness last night. Yes, it was only day 4. And no, it wasn't for toilet paper. I was cold. I needed an extra layer. I didn't have time to stop home to grab something. And yes, I stopped into the nearest American Apparel and I came face to face with this season's nautical trend which I'd promised myself I wouldn't succumb to (nautical was so 2004 after all). And I bought that red and blue striped sweater, damn me. And next thing you know I'm thinking of that one floral accent piece I could really use to finish my Spring wardrobe and the sandals I should really pick up before they're sold out of stores before Summer. But...I will return that sweater tonight. And I will [try not to] think twice about it. It will be a wash and one I can live with.

And thus begins my financial dietary journey. Check back with me in the coming weeks to see how I'm doing, share your budgeting tips, and possibly offer to buy me a drink.

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