Why I Stopped Shopping at the Mall

It’s been about six months since I started wearing the skirts everyday. It was done in part so I could connect with my more bohemian self, and also so I could simplify my outfit choices. It worked wonderfully at first. And then, in one misguided trip to Macy’s I got carried away. I bought about $150 worth of clothing, on sale and all that.  I walked away with two giant bags filled with stuff.

Now that I have many more clothes, I find myself at a loss of what to wear most mornings. Without blogging, I find myself falling back into my old habits. It’s time to purge again and get rid of the junk. (And return to writing, too)

Furthermore, I haven’t had most of this stuff more than a couple of months and some of it already looks like crap.  These clothes aren’t meant to be worn frequently.  I feel like I’ve wasted my money. Many times I don’t want to wear what I have simply because it looks shoddy.  How often does that happen to you? I’m tired of it happening to me, so I have officially quit shopping at the mall.

It is  a shame that these large companies don’t take the time to put together quality clothing, but it’s not surprising.  I mean, they are paying scraps to little kids in China to put these scraps of clothes together.  Clearly, they care more about their profits than anything else.  If profits weren’t their main concern, they’d pay their manufacturers better. Why not cut corners on quality, too?

Do you know what “pilling” is?  It usually happens when a fabric has little tiny balls of fabric stuck all over it. So if a canvas tote bag you’re carrying rubs up against a synthetic, polyester t-shirt, you get pilling. Pilling is the bane of my existence.  It makes relatively new clothing look pretty shoddy. I’m starting to think clothes were only meant to be worn once.  I saw an article on Yahoo! over the weekend, “Britney Spears Explains Why She Wears the Same Outfits in Public.” We as a people in this country have serious problems if we have to explain wearing the same clothes over again. I know it doesn’t apply to me, the regular, not-famous human, but the fact that this even made the tabloids, speaks volumes about our society.  And us normal people don’t want to repeat outfits too frequently either. So of course  clothing manufactures can get away with selling this clothing of such poor quality.  Besides, this low-quality crap is the only thing that most of us can afford.

Nonetheless, I know how to pick out high-quality items on sale.  However, the time required to find the style/color/size I want coupled with the availability of superior quality items (and fair price, anyone?) makes it very difficult to find what I’m looking for, especially last minute–and that, of course, is how I do most of my shopping. It takes work. Work that I’m just not interested in doing. Malls really aren’t my favorite place, ya know?

So at one point, I thought, to save money (and time, and stress, and frustration) I should sew my own clothes.  I thought that going old-fashioned was the solution to the crap at the mall. “Old-fashioned” has been my solution to slowing everything down a bit.  It worked very well for improving my diet, but apparently not for my personal style. See, I’ve had the machine for a while now and the only thing I’ve made is a giant pillow-bed for my dog.  I’ve hemmed a couple of things, but I really don’t think I’m going to do much more sewing than that.  Sewing projects really just aren’t for me. I think it is an important skill to have, but I’m going to stick to crocheting hats and scarves for now. So lately I’ve been perusing Etsy for people who hand-sew clothing.  I bought a hand-sewn purse a good while ago (not online) and it is still in wonderful condition.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything of that quality at the mall. I paid $50 for it. A tote of that quality is worth FAR more than $50 dollars retail. 

It is clear that these big companies, really aren’t looking out for the needs of the consumer.  I need durable clothing (purses and shoes) that can stand frequent wear. I think I would save far more money if my clothing didn’t wear out as quickly as it does now. The items I buy would stay nicer, longer. The reality is, I’m just not going to be able to find that at the mall, for the amount of money I’d like to spend.

P.S. I also decided to stop shopping at the mall because I want to support black businesses.  It is very difficult to do that at the mall.  My community is suffering and the least I can do is spend my money where it’s needed. 

Stop Buying Stuff and Spending Money Right Now

Photo courtesy of Kevin Conners

Stop complaining about the one percent.  I hate to break it to you, but it is partly your fault they are rich.  Yes, they may have had certain social advantages, rich parents, a free college education, and a trust fund worth more money than you will ever see in your lifetime.  Yet as long as you keep buying what they are selling you–iphone? fancy computer? infomercial junk?– you will continue to make them richer, and you poorer.

What we broke, unemployed masses forget, is that the rich absolutely depend on us to keep them rich. If all of us stopped buying the crap they sell us: the overpriced, overseas produced, and poorly made crap, they wouldn’t continue to make money.  And we wouldn’t be broke. Why do you think we are inundated with advertising?  You cant even breathe without someone trying to sell you something. They want you to believe that if you have all the fancy stuff they have (and believe me, they have far better stuff anyway, stuff you probably couldn’t even dream up) you will be just like them: “happy.”  The reality is that none of this is true.

And you too distracted playing with all those apps to realize it.  We are like children to them: They show us something new, shiny and colorful, and we are like “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”  We spend our last pennies buying overpriced, fancy crap that we don’t need.  So while we are sitting in our over-cluttered house, unhappy, with all of our expensive but worthless things, they are using the money you spent on it to have a month long vacation in Fiji.

The day I realized this was the day I decided to stop buying stuff.  It started with me not buying a patch to repair my security blanket.  If I could, I would live on a self sustaining farm, where my expenses would be minimal, and I wouldn’t have the stress of making enough money to pay rent.  Yet that is not realistic given my current situation, nor do I care to be a farmer.  I’m not saying I wont buy anything ever again; I’m just saying I wont buy more stuff I don’t need.

In this society, what we are led to believe that we should buy newer, fancier stuff the second we get more money. Get a promotion=get a new car. Tax refund= buy a big screen TV. Buying stuff the second I get cash in hand is the biggest mistake I have ever made.  Spending more money when you get more money doesn’t make you richer.  All it does is allow you to spend more time with your stuff, and less time with the people, activities, and places that make life meaningful.

When your expenses stay the same, and your income goes up you have two options: Buy newer, fancier stuff or buy a more fulfilling life. What do I mean when I say buy a more fulfilling life? I mean work less, take more vacations, and learn new skills you’ve been itching to acquire. It’s up to you, but I’ve decided to spend my money on living life.

The reason why I keep going back to “stop buying” and “stop spending” is because all of the things you “want” force you to work and work and work to pay for them…until you die. That is no way to live. Quitting the spending addiction is a long, arduous process.  I have to stop spending money so I can save money and pay off debt first. Once I’ve paid off debt, I wont be a slave to a job I don’t like, need, or want because it’s the only thing I’ve got. But it won’t happen overnight.

The True Cost of Materialism

I didn’t have a job until my second semester in college.  I worked at the gym, earning a little money to spend here and there on fun stuff, like getting my nails done, going to the movies, joining student groups, or whatever (not beer). I didn’t absolutely need that job until my sophomore year of college when I started using a credit card.  Then, I had no choice to work to pay for the things I couldn’t afford.  And that was the beginning of the end.

It’s funny how the system works.  Before the new laws came into effect, credit card companies marketed credit cards to unsuspecting college students and gave them ridiculously high limits. Those college students would begin spending out of control to keep up with their richer, more materialistic peers.  Thus, the student would have no choice to work some crappy part-time job to pay for the monthly bill for the stuff they couldn’t afford.  They were told as long as they paid their bills on time, their credit would be great.  They were told they needed those credit cards to build credit, so one day they could buy a house or a car, or some big expensive item after they graduated.

But if the student “needed” a credit card in college, just to maintain an active social life, he/she probably also needed student loans just to go to college. So by the time the student graduated, they would have amassed a fair amount of credit card debt on top of an enormous student loan debt, and be slaves to paying back all of the borrowed money. We would be forever have to work a job instead of becoming competition to the big companies out there, which would in the end keep the markets fair.

Instead of spending our free time in college developing business ideas, working on our craft, networking and building a freelance client base, we spent time at stupid, mindless part-time jobs where we answered stupid questions, and wore stupid uniforms.   It never mattered what ideas we had or what we wanted to do, we had to pay back all the money we owed.

It’s kind of like Feudal System of Medieval Europe, where peasants couldn’t afford their own land so they had to work for the lords and pay a hefty tithe to the church, tax to the government  and rent to their lords. This would forever perpetuate their poverty; they could never get ahead because the peasants were always indebted to someone.  Sound familiar? (Why do you think we still have “landlords?”)

We all assumed there would be a job waiting for us when graduated; a place for us to become a cog on the wheel of endless work until retirement.  We all know how that ended up with the economy and all, so it has us playing with the debt monster even more frequently.

I’ve realized that my debt is due cause of a materialistic lifestyle. The only way to to be free to live the life I want, is to free myself from the chains of consumerism.  If I stop buying all of the things they want me to buy, and get rid of all the things I thought I needed, I will be well on my way to more free time.  Getting rid of everything, however, is a bit more complicated than just throwing it all in the trash.

I’d like to spend a considerable amount of time talking about how I plan on getting rid of things (like my forever-on-a-contract cell phone), but that my friends is for another day.

Until next time, have a great week.