If you’ve read the “Publications” section of my blog, you’ll see that once upon a time, I had an intense soiree with minimalism. In the spring of 2016 (second semester my junior year of college), I gave away about 60% of my clothing. The article on how I did it can be found here. And after that closet clear out, I’ve found myself having a bit of a conflicted relationship with minimalism. I’ve gotten into thinking that minimalism, for me, simply means not having a lot of stuff. And that translates to clothes shopping every time I get paid (and spending about $300), but justifying it with donating old clothes, so that my closet still remains small, and my number of possessions overall remains small because I can’t afford shit else besides bills and food.
In the last article I wrote for Black Minimalists, I got at the root of what makes me buy things, especially clothes: it feels good. And it gives me the sense that I have wealth. And I spent $149 on clothes on Saturday, and $70 the week before that, and altogether probably $300 last month. Since living on my own and having a salaried job, I’ve fallen into old pre-“minimalism” habits; although, I don’t know if I ever broke them to begin with. I do think that post-grad, I’ve done a personal re-branding of sorts, and part of that meant dressing differently and looking different overall (I wore my hair down a total of maybe twenty times between September 2015 and May 2017. And now, I don’t feel like myself without feeling curls on my neck. Why did I do that for two years?). But I finally feel as if my outside matches my inside, in part thanks to the clothes I’ve bought. Maybe that’s just another excuse I’m making, but I did feel compelled to get some new things to create a distance from my college self.
Right now, I’m doing what I did when I first approached minimalism a year and a half ago. I have a bookmarks folder of (intentionally) expensive, great quality things, so that I’m less inclined to go to TJ Maxx or the mall and spend $200 at once because I’m buying “good” stuff for less than $30 a piece. Instead, I want to think of my purchases as investments. I’ve been able to justify my clothing purchases as being investments, though, by buying name brand everything: a Champion hoodie, two pairs of Levis, Air Max 90s, a Banana Republic blazer. I guess my hope is that envisioning a $200 Louis Vuitton cardholder or a $250 Penfield jacket will make me think twice about buying $12 red velvet pants (which I have to say, I don’t regret).
That’s the thing – I don’t regret the stuff I’ve been buying. The only reason I do is because it means I have less money to spend on other things (or save, which I’m decent at), or I’m putting myself further into credit card debt. But this morning, after listening to the episode of Hey Girl where Alex Elle and Roe of Brown Kids discuss minimalism and financial freedom, I realized that I need to wake the fuck up. I have a very teeny tiny amount of student loans (well under $10,000), and a not-so-teeny amount of credit card debt, because in 2017 I prioritized saving money over using it to pay off debt. I want to change that. I want to be debt-free (I also forget that the 2017 car I drive is a damn loan and thus, debt), or at least rid of my student loans and credit card debt as soon as possible. And to do that, I need to stop buying clothes.
And not only do I need to stop buying clothes – I need to for real interrogate this obsession with clothing and spending. That’s the most important thing. I can set goals for myself (pay off my credit card debt by the time this job ends), but what good is that if I don’t know why I’m like this? It’s a recipe for disaster, because what’s been happening lately is I set a strict-ish budget, so when I get the urge to shop, I’m putting it on my credit card so that that budget doesn’t get fucked up (although it still does, because my credit card balance is not floating in outer space – it’s here and it’s past due). And minimalism might not be the best way for me to approach this. It requires a level of discipline and change of outlook that I don’t think I’m capable of just yet.
So, long story short – I’m trying. Or I’m gonna start trying. I also have to remind myself that having a 700+ credit score and some form of savings, however small it seems, is a good spot to be in. Maybe this will be another post but I often lose sight of how young 22/23 years old is. And so I’m rushing to have this financial stuff figured out because the sooner the better, but considering how old I am, I’m in an okay spot. I have to stop playing myself with clothes, and the sooner I do, the better off I’ll be.