image from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (via source)
I was a HUGE fan of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory growing up, and I still am - I love all of the songs, the scenery, the awesome sarcasm of Willy Wonka juxtaposed with the (sometimes arrogant) innocence of the kids. Tthis is also why Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is one of my favorite movies of all time. Goofiness + intelligent sarcasm = total perfection. I still haven't seen the remake Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp - I've heard mixed reviews but still want to see it eventually. Sidenote: the old version with Gene Wilder is actually called Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the newer version with Johnny Depp is actually called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the original book by Roald Dahl is called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I had to clear that up for myself because I was always getting confused about which one was which.
And how can you not love the Condescending Wonka meme? Here's a currently appropriate one:
Anyway, the song lyrics to Pure Imagination have been stuck in my head for weeks, ever since I decided something. I've been blogging for almost 6 months now, and I love it. However, it is really, really easy to get caught up in what I don't have, what new things I want, and generally focus on more rather than being happy with what I have. I wasn't going totally insane (no Louboutins in my closet just yet), but I've been spending more than I'd like on clothes, shoes, etc. and then feeling stressed because I was setting myself back with some financial goals for the year. Confession time (and disclaimer/request: this is a sensitive topic for everyone, myself included, so while I appreciate honest feedback, please - no negative commentary on what we did wrong; believe me, we know). Warning: wordiness ahead.
My husband and I have some serious credit card debt thanks to supporting ourselves through college, my 3 years of law school (during which I did work, but a part time job does not a good salary make), and an entire summer of studying for the Bar and not being able to work, followed by an entire fall/winter of job hunting. We also made some dumb decisions along the way that were probably minor at the time but never got paid off and added up over the years; you know, the pizza you bought in college that ends up costing $75 with interest by the time you pay it off. I'm definitely not making excuses - we know we're responsible for our current situation and that it's up to us to change that. I was really, really lucky to land the job I have, and I am so grateful every day. As soon as I got my first paycheck, we set up a series of aggressive financial goals to pay down our credit card debt, my student loan debt, and set up a savings account for emergencies, eventual home down payment, and vacations. So far I'm on the 10 year repayment plan for my student loans, which is great (great as in it will be paid off faster; it's terrible as in it takes up literally one entire paycheck of mine per month). The savings account is still in process, but we're more focused on less debt right now. We were doing really well with credit card debt from January to April, and we've still paid off what we intended to in May, but we also ended up spending more than we wanted (partly due to our vacation, partly other things), so we didn't make as much progress in May as we wanted.
Because of the shopping I had done this year, I also had quite a few things on credit cards that I had intended to "pay back" with my next check - and before anyone gets all "omg, you should never shop on credit cards!" I get really awesome rewards on one of my cards, so I'm still going to do it, I just need to be smarter about it. Before I knew it, my "to pay back soon" list was a little bit out of control. I sort of had a meltdown about it, and I realized that there is absolutely no reason I should be spending money on things I don't need if I'm getting stressed about our debt to the point of tears. I decided to set a more realistic budget, with the help of my very patient and Excel-savvy husband, where the first things to come out of my paycheck every month are (as always): (1) bills, (2) student loans, (3) allocated extra money to reducing credit card debt. Then I made a schedule for paying back my extra purchases on top of all of that, and I will be paying those all of by July, as long as I don't continue spending money the same way. I also had a bit of cash leftover, which I wanted to keep in my account for unexpected expenses. It's a very reasonable budget, but I was worried about being able to follow through with it because I know how I can get when I see good sales, etc. and I have the mindset that I can easily pay it back with my next paycheck. That would be true, if I hadn't already pre-spent my next 3 paychecks by thinking that way!
All of this boiled down to one thing for me: I am on a clothes, accessories, shoes, makeup, etc. shopping ban for the month of June. It's just ridiculous to spend excess money to the detriment of my financial life. I also needed to prove to myself that I can actually do this and that I don't need to shop every sale or buy every single thing I like. And finally, I already have so many great things that honestly, I don't know if there will be enough time in the summer to wear all of them if I keep getting more! I've become inspired to shop my own closet, put together clothes in new ways, and spend my time this month on improving my blog, being creative with my clothes, indulging in other hobbies, instead of shopping. It does take up a lot of time, you know? I didn't limit myself to "buying nothing at all" because going cold turkey is usually not a good strategy for me, and also because I wanted to lessen the amount I spend and learn from this, not punish myself for having a passion. Plus, part of the point of this was to have extra available cash for things that come up, so I didn't want to be too restrictive. Binging and purging is never a good solution.
It's now June 15, and I have stuck to my guns so far. Literally not one cent spent on clothes, shoes, accessories, or beauty items. It has been tough to ignore the masses of sale emails I get every day, but I've been just immediately deleting them - out of sight, out of mind, right? I have also been avoiding even going in or by any stores that would tempt me. I did "acquire" two new items, but that was because I had to exchange a dress that didn't fit right, so I got a khaki striped blazer (marked down to $42 from $130!) and a tan silk military button-down for work (marked down to $38 from $80!), so it was a straight exchange. Loopholes are cool :) So far I have spent actual dollars on a few things. I got a gift for my husband (the first 4 books of Game of Thrones) for being awesome at work and just in general, Sweet Valley Confidential for $2.99 on the Kindle app (can't wait to read this even though I know it will be awful), two Archie Grand notebooks on Amazon (on sale for $5 each), a new coffee grinder for $22 to replace one that's been broken for 6 months, a new memory foam pillow for $25, and went out for a few drinks with some coworkers, so I spent a guiltless $100. It feels really nice to be able to do that without worrying about it because it's in my available funds budget.
One of the best parts is that I feel like I have more precious free time to keep up with other hobbies, like photography. I'm still learning how to be a good photographer with a DSLR, but the more I practice, the more comfortable it feels. I actually took some pictures that I really like, and coincidentally, my office is doing an art contest right now - submissions are due today, and everyone can submit up to 4 pieces of personal artwork. I think I'm going to submit these 4 pictures I took of my hometown, Chicago. Speaking of looking around and viewing paradise and all :)
One of my fave pics I've ever taken - believe it or not, this was a random iPhone snap!
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