A Friday Chat About Self-Imposed Austerity

Buy what you need, come on, let’s not do this, we have bigger fish to fry.

Photo: Pixabay

MEGAN: Hey it’s Friday, our last Friday of freedom, hello!

NICOLE: Hello! What are we going to do on this “last Friday,” which is also Friday the 13th, as if we needed another kick in the pants right now.

MEGAN: Christ. I mean…carry on, as is, I guess? I considered getting a Friday the 13th tattoo for $31 but decided against it because I’d have to leave my house AND the line has probably been forming since 8am. I think we should all just drink a lot of water and prepare ourselves for whatever is coming.

Or, we could all embark upon a year-long austerity vow like this woman did and see what it yields :-/

NICOLE: I’d really love to rewrite that headline as “one woman limited her spending to her basic overhead expenses and earned enough that she had £22,000 left over.” Because she didn’t really “buy nothing.” She still paid her mortgage. She still ate food. She still had electricity.

MEGAN: YEP. Like…..madam. If you literally bought NOTHINGGG, you would die. Because you wouldn’t be eating. You’d also be in trouble with the bank and you wouldn’t have any means to do your actual job, which is writing the book about how you didn’t buy new pants or go see your freaking grandpa in Ireland(she lives in England! It’s right across the water! Very short distance!)because you were trying to be “mindful.”

NICOLE: I don’t feel as badly about the part where she mentions putting off visiting her grandpa until the year is up, because I’m guessing that for a lot of people with overseas relatives, they do only visit about once a year [EDIT: this woman lives in London, though, so visiting Ireland should be significantly less expensive. Hipmunk says a flight costs $36.] but… it does acknowledge that this “buy nothing” thing is a stunt. It’s not an actual lifestyle change. I’d be interested to see if she continues spending less just out of force of habit, or if she goes back to spending a shocking £400/year on coffee!!!!

MEGAN: I don’t know this woman, but I’d assume that she would probably just spend less because she hasn’t been buying jeans or whatever for a whole year. However, wouldn’t you think that the money she’d have to spend in one lump sum to replace all the things that she could’ve replaced over the year would maybe equal something around the £22,000 she had left over?? Maybe not, but like…it’d make a pretty sizable dent, I’m willing to bet. Why not just BUY THE THINGS YOU NEED WHEN YOU NEED THEM AND THEN BE QUIET ABOUT IT THE REST OF THE TIME.

NICOLE: She says in that article that she essentially wore out all of her clothes. So… how much does it cost to replace “all of clothes?” I notice she’s wearing a sparkling white T-shirt in the photo…

But my real question is “how much was she saving before the no-spend year?” Like, let’s say she saved £10,000 a year already, and spent £12,000 on stuff. That makes “I spent nothing and saved £22,000” a different story. Or maybe she wasn’t saving anything, and she was spending all her money on stuff, which also explains why she was able to have enough stuff to make it through a year.

MEGAN: Yeah, we don’t have enough context for this stunt to actually make any sense. If she was really blowing all her discretionary income on crap, then yeah, sure, give it a go. But, if she was doing okay and just wanted to try something fun, then what the hell, man. Also, I’m willing to bet it costs a lot of money to replace all your clothes. Think about it! Think about if you woke up one day and had literally no clothing, except what you wore to bed. I used to be amazed at how little $5,000 would go on shows like “What Not To Wear,” when they’d throw away all the trash that the people were wearing and replaced them with weird separates and slacks. Like, I don’t know if you can replace ALL THE CLOTHES with £22,000.

NICOLE: I’m going to figure out how much I spent on clothing last year, hang on… yeah, it was a little over $1,200. Which involved replacing some stuff I had put off buying, like bras, but also clothing wears out, especially if you’re buying from the cheaper end of the market. And sometimes you just want to stay on trend.

MEGAN: That feels reasonable to me Conservative, even! I have no idea what I spent on clothing last year, but I know myself and I’m pretty sure it was over $1,200. I like clothes. I spend most of my money on clothes, probably. I’m good with it. I’m still buying the cheap stuff, anyway.

Regardless of that, though, I don’t know, man. These loud declarations of austerity feel like unnecessary self-righteousness. Like, no one cares what you do or don’t buy unless it directly affects them. If you’re spending $5,000 a month on Givenchy shirts and architectural handbags and you make $7,000 a month, then, hey, ya know what? Fix that!

Otherwise, my god, does it matter?

NICOLE: Only to the person (or household) doing the spending.

MEGAN: Yep. Otherwise, no one else is checking for you. Eyes on our own paper, always! Always.