I Didn't Shop for Three Months

And it actually wasn't that hard. I KNOW. I AM THE WORST.
Publish date:
September 19, 2012
shopping, football, vices, dowatchalike, somehow I make everything about sports, filling voids

As many of you know, I’m a rabid football fan. The 49ers, specifically. I’m not shy about the fact that rooting for my team gives me a reason to get out of bed from September to (hopefully) February and that Game Day is unfailingly the highlight of my week.

As we’ve gotten to know each other over time, some of you have pointed out in the comments that perhaps my relationship with football is unhealthy. That maybe I’m using it to compensate for other areas of my life that are lacking. And to that, I say:


I readily admit that I watch football in lieu of feeling feelings. That I use the highs and lows, the elation and the disappointment, and the anticipation and the relief of every game in order to avoid feeling emotions about my actual life. I mean, it’s perfectly fine to stay in bed all day after a playoff loss, but I’d better never catch myself doing that because of a boy. Or the fact that my father totally rejected and never loved me. Unacceptable, I tell you. Un-acceptable.

But here’s the thing. While I may use football to fill a void or escape reality, it’s not like I’m the only person doing this. For you, it just may be something else. Like eating. Or video games. Or being on the Internet. Or reading. Or boozing. Or, and I think this one may hit home with a bunch of you: SHOPPING.

People think it’s insane that I spend tons of money on football, but be honest: How much money are some of you (us) spending on clothes and makeup? How many times have you (we) left a comment on a beauty post saying, “Oooh! I get paid on Friday and I’m totally buying that lipstick as soon as I do.”

And dude. I’m not judging. Like, at all. I barely even wear makeup and I still buy the stuff. Because look! Sparkles! (Just kidding, I don’t wear sparkles. I’m too old. But you get what I mean.) And when I had that horrible no-good boss who basicallyruined my entire existence? I came into work every single day and shopped. Because when you’re miserable at work, the one thing that can cheer you up is getting a present delivered to your desk. I mean, thank god for Shopbop and Gilt Groupe, without whom I may have not survived that boss as long as I did.

Point being, I’ve always been aware of the fact that I fill the voids in my life through a combination of distractions that, for me, are mostly: living and breathing NFL football, snowboarding, drinking wine, reading books, watching (really crappy) TV, getting lots and lots of sleep. And: shopping!!!!!

Which is why when Eva announced on Twitter in June that she was taking a three-month hiatus from buying clothes or makeup and invited others to join in the challenge, I shrugged my shoulders, figured why not, and responded without even bothering to think about what it really meant: “I’m in.”

And here’s where you’ll probably hate me.

Because honestly? It wasn’t really that hard. I’m incredibly stubborn so when faced with a challenge, I’m the type of girl who likes to “win.” That being said, I did cheat. Once. I bought a yellow T-shirt at GAP while on vacation in North Carolina. It was $9.99. I’ve worn it once.

(I also cheated with two days left when I was slightly tipsy at a Niners’ game and bought a slutty 49ers’ sweatshirt and a decidedly NOT slutty 49ers’ trucker hat, but I’m not counting that because, well, I’m just not. *stomps foot*)

So yeah. Turns out not shopping was a lot easier than I thought it would be. All I really had to do was remove the temptation of shopping.

And you can do it too. Here’s how:

  • Put ALL catalogs into the recycling bin immediately. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. DO NOT OPEN THOSE MOTHER F*CKERS. (I really have to work on the cussing.)
  • DO NOT enter any stores. I followed my friend into GAP because she needed pajamas and that’s how I ended up with that stupid $9.99 t-shirt, a constant reminder of my complete and utter failure. Also, GAP doesn't even sell pajamas except at Christmas. The more you know.
  • DELETE ALL E-COMMERCE EMAILS without opening them. Don’t even read the subject line lest you get conned into Intermix’s huge sale. Just kidding. Intermix never has sales. Bitches.
  • Use all of your beauty products before buying new stuff. I know. I’m a horrible person for implementing this rule, especially because it wasn’t actually a rule in the “challenge.” But if you’re anything like me, you actually have lip glosses that you’ve barely ever (if ever) used. There’s probably an eyeliner or two you’ve yet to take out of the box. If you run out of stuff, please, for the love of God (why did He just enter this situation? I have no idea), use the stuff your already have. Mostly because makeup has an actual expiration date and also because your wallet will thank you. Note: You’re obviously allowed to replace the necessary amenities as needed.
  • Don’t read fashion magazines. OMG I AM EVIL.

And seriously? That’s it. That’s all I had to do. Turns out if you don’t bring the temptation into your life, you probably won’t spend the money. (Sadly, this also works for potato chips and cookies, but I don’t really want to talk about that because it makes me cry just a little.)

Again, I can’t speak for everyone, but I imagine the majority of us have plenty of clothes in our closets. I know I do. And sure, there were times I wanted to buy something new –- especially since I was going on a beach vacation in the middle of this hiatus and as a girl from SF, I don’t own a lot of clothing for 90 degree weather -– but ultimately, I forced myself to make do with what I already owned and you know what? That was absolutely fine. Turns out you don’t really need much more at the beach than a few bikinis, a pair of cutoffs, and t-shirts. In fact, only wearing that stuff was incredibly liberating. Seriously.

Even better? Not being able to shop online or in stores forced me to shop my own closet. I rediscovered dresses, coats and shoes I’d totally forgotten I even owned. I mean, if you haven’t worn it in over a year, it’s basically like it’s brand new, right? Kind of? Maybe just a little bit? Bueller?

But here’s the thing. (And let me tell you, sh*t’s about to get real.)

All of that no shopping for three months? All of the money it saved me and all of the therapeutic benefits that arose from realizing I shop to feel a void?

Out the window the second the three-month ban was lifted. Seriously. It’s been like 10 days since I’ve been allowed to shop again and I think I’ve already spent about a grand. (But oh no, I can’t afford the new iPhone 5 because I don’t have any money -- what?)

What did I spend that money on? Who even knows.

I replaced a scarf that I lost. Because I’m a complete asshole who buys nice scarves and then loses them and I don’t even really deserve nice things, ugh.

I bought a Tart leather jacket from Gilt that I totally don’t need at all but was marked down from $880 to $350 and I was sort of feeling like no one loves me, but that jacket would make it all better.

Oh, and that wedding I have in October that I swore I wasn’t buying a dress for no matter what? Oopsie. But I swear it wasn’t my fault. It was marked down from $374 to $139 and I was having a really shitty day. Plus: RED.

And fine. I just had to have the Balenciaga Paris perfume even though now that I’m actually wearing it, I kind of think I smell less like a “lovely paradox” and more like “an old lady.” But my friend Steve’s dog could NOT get enough of me today and I’m pretty sure if a dog loves your perfume that means YOU’RE NEVER GETTING LAID AGAIN.

My point? I guess, for once, I’m not sure I have one. I suppose I just appreciate that I’m at least aware of the ways in which I escape reality. I’m not too hard on myself for doing it, though I do wish I’d choose books over shopping more often, since a $14 book often gives me far more pleasure than a $350 leather jacket, but, hey, like I always say, I don’t have a spouse, I don’t have kids, all I have is me. Might as well enjoy my life. Even if sometimes that means spending money I should be saving for the old folks’ home on lipstick and lingerie.

And besides -- do you KNOW how cold it is in San Francisco? I totally needed that jacket.

OK. YOUR TURN! Make me feel better, pretty please. Tell me the ways in which you escape, especially if they mean you spend money you should be saving. Love you. Mean it. Xx.

Oh, and follow me on Twitter because if you can give me validation that way, you'll save me lots of money.