Thrift Addiction & Minimalism

January. That time of the year when people start panicking when they see the credit card statements arriving, rummaging through their home trying to rid themselves from extra clutter gained over the course of the previous year and wondering what sort of goals they can achieve this time around. I asked Jeff on New Year’s day if he had any resolutions and his response was short and sweet: I’m the same person today as I was yesterday. This has been my philosophy for quite some time, that improvements can and should be made at any time, there’s no reason to wait for the start of a new year. I read an article today talking about fitness goals no longer being a popular resolution, despite the overwhelming dumping of gym promo postcards in my mailbox this week. People have started acknowledging that time is irrelevant, change can be made today it doesn’t have to wait until tomorrow, or next month, or next year.

I found myself doing a lot of reading this afternoon about thrift culture, shopping trend predictions and minimalist lifestyles. While I have been fascinated by minimalism for years, I have not actually attempted to do it myself. At least not to a note-worthy extent. Now that there are two adults in a 1950’s 1,400 SF bungalow, I feel the need to own less “stuff”. This I’m sure sounds totally strange coming from a woman who was on a routine of visiting the thrift store at least once a week. As much as I’d like to do renovations to the home to make it more user-friendly without the tightly enclosed rooms serving little purpose due to their inaccessibility – I just don’t have the funds. This is a conundrum as you might imagine! To my knowledge scientists have not found a way to grow cash-producing plants… until that day, we need to look closely at our income, our spending and stick to a safe budget.

In my adult life I have spent several years using an Excel based budget which has allowed me to visually see where the money is going and how much is actually coming in. We can easily be carried away with the swiping of cards and not actually seeing the money leave our pockets. With changes in employment and big purchases (house, car, furniture…) you need to pay even closer attention to where you are sitting financially. All the regular daily spending (Tim Horton’s breakfast, Starbucks lattes, convenience store chips) can add up when you don’t have a lot of cash coming your way. For argument’s sake, let’s say every single day you stop at a coffee shop and spend $5, that ends up a whopping $1,305 at the end of the year! I’d like to think I haven’t done that, but these are sneaky expenditures that can go easily unnoticed, especially when using your left-over change.

As much as thrifting has been excellent financially for things I’ve needed and providing a great source of entertainment, it can also become an addiction. When I meet someone in “real life” that has followed my accounts they often ask the same questions right up front: “Do you go thrifting every day?” “How much do you spend a month on thrifting?” “How big is your closet?” While a simple answer would be “once a week”, “not that much” and “not that big”… that isn’t exactly true and I would be lying to both of us unknowingly. At the end of the year I look very closely at my Excel sheet budget and start looking at the “totals” for the course of the year. During the year its not all that exciting but at the end when the last piece of data is entered, you can see a clear picture of what your life was like that year. Quite a heavy concept isn’t it?

While I honestly didn’t go thrifting every day, I went regularly on Sundays as a routine, but occasionally during the week out of boredom or to de-stress. I justified my spending on my well being, entertainment value, my ability to create new content to share… but when you see the numbers glaring back at you at the end of the year you realize you’re as crazy as people suspected! The harsh reality of what you spend on something you thoroughly enjoy is that it isn’t always sustainable and you can begin to feel overwhelmed if this hobby of yours involves accumulation. While reading a blog post about a woman’s 1 year study on living minimally on 41% of her income, a lot of her points had great merit. Do we need the excess? Do we need 5 pairs of this and that? Again, while I don’t believe I could be 100% minimalist, it makes me step back and re-evaluate, if nothing else, the size of my closet.

According to ThreadUp’s 2018 Report, 1 in 3 women wear an item 5 times or less (me!), 43% are impulse buys (me!) and 70% of your closet remains unworn (me!). A new year is a time for change, so a big “life” cleanse is in order!

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