June 15, 2009

Make It Work

I have pledged to not buy anything until Labor Day 2009. By "anything," I mean clothes, books, music, movies, essentially, think of the word "shopping," and know that I won't be doing that for a while (except for food shopping). Excluded from this are activities like going to the movies, traveling, the occasional night out to dinner (must cut down on that as well). I have accepted this challenge with my good friend, Emily, and our co-worker, Zach. Our hope is to cleanse our bad habits, reap the results of a fuller savings account, and essentially, readjust our lives to a more fulfilling purpose. Our motto is "Make It Work," meaning make do with what you have instead of thinking (obsessing) about what you don't have.

This challenge was brought about due to my increasing feeling of oppression from my material objects. Do you ever get that feeling? Like you want to give everything away because it feels like such a burden? I am downtrodden by the mass over-consumption of our culture. We are all at fault for this current recession. We buy things with money we don't have. The credit card companies make it sound so appealing with those blasted points, but in the end, we're just hurting ourselves and our futures. As David Brooks said in his recent column (interesting take on the current economy), Americans need to save more and borrow less.

I've been shopping a lot lately. It feels like more than usual. I always enjoy a good bargain but in looking at my credit card bill this month I am not pleased. The amount is death knell to my plan for saving more than spending. I wouldn't say that I am a shopaholic (although I would like to do the tango with Hugh Dancy), but I think that it's fun to buy things for oneself. When I was younger, desired items like CDs or trendy blouses had to be purchased with my own hard-earned baby-sitting money, which was always a modest amount.

I enjoy my young professional lifestyle where I can spend my money on pretty things like Marc By Marc Jacobs purses at super-reduced prices. But it's still a significant amount spent and if I continue to buy many things, even on sale, that equals to a whole lot of dough that I won't ever get back. Buying that cute sweater at J.Crew won't advance my life in any significant way. However, that money saved equals a day's car rental, which I could use to drive along the Big Sur on a sunny day during that trip to northern California I have been planning for a long time. In the end, the drive would be more memorable and character-forming than that sweater could ever be.

I require a major re-prioritization of my values, and I think (hope) that this pledge is a good start, a good recalibration of my behaviors. I am grateful to have the support of others (okay now I am sounding like an Intervention episode). I look forward to the end of the summer when I will have enough saved to afford me more life opportunities or at the very least, the pride of a sum saved to be used in future chapters. Wish me luck!

Image found here.


  1. Sooo true. Yay for savings and the pact!

  2. Long time reader, first time commenter...

    Thanks for the shoutout! Yes, the Make It Work (MIW) pact is a great idea in this economy and I'm glad to be included.

    The problem I've run into recently, is that due to the crap economy, retail stores are practically giving stuff away, making it much more difficult to not indulge. It's like, "huh, I don't really need another $60 video game... but they're on sale for $30!? Well then I should buy two..." But none of that changes the fact that I didn't need one in the first place.

    So for the next few months: I'm just going to MAKE IT WORK!


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