Shoes Now Save Later

What I am about to admit has been a life-long struggle for me. The internal arguments with myself over this issue has occupied my mind and although those who are close to me may be aware of it, it’s only now that I have decided to take a leap of faith and let it go…

I am a self-confessed shopaholic.

There I said it!

I like many other women around the world find pure bliss in purchasing products including but not limited to: dresses, shoes, make-up, shoes, scarves, nail polish, oh and did I mention shoes?

The thought of inserting that credit card into the machine as I delicately type the pin in and the sound of the ‘approved’ beep going off, is enough to send me into a frenzy of giggles and excitement.

The sound of bags rustling as I sneak them into the house while trying to avoid my father’s shopping walk of shame gaze sends adrenaline rippling through me.

The thrill of trying on my new dress and showcasing it to my sisters as they stare in adoration while they squeal… (probably at the thought of me allowing them to eventually borrow it- foolish girls)elevates me to a shopping high.

But as my wardrobe grows, my bank balance rapidly diminishes. Recently I was proudly talking to a close friend of mine about my immaculate wardrobe arrangement, the colour coordination, the perfectly folded cardigans, and the neatly stacked shoes… while doing this we were also ironically enjoying your average teenage whinge about how difficult it is to save.

The discussion led to what our weekly spending was. Mine was estimated to be around $150-$200. After discussing the amount of money we waste on things like food, he proposed a challenge that I live on $50 a week for six weeks.

After a couple of minutes of talking myself up and my impeccable money-saving skills to my friend- who clearly at this stage underestimated my ability to save, I willingly accepted.

Week one started off with purchasing my weekly train ticket at the heart-wrenching price of $20.  That was almost half of my budget already gone, I thought to myself. Nevertheless I carried on.

As I walked along the pavement heading to work the aroma of coffee lingered pass my nose. It’s alluring smell immediately diverted my body to the nearby Gloria Jean’s cafe, ignoring my brain’s desperate warning signs that I am left with only $30 for the rest of the week.  I walked out clutching at my cup of morning glory with a receipt that read $3.50 and a smile on my face.

The following couple of days I continued my coffee trend.  ‘I am packing food from home so I can spoil myself with this little bit of necessity to help me get by’ I reassured myself. By the time Thursday came around and after three coffees and an iced coffee date with a friend, I was left on $3.50.

After informing my friend of the remaining budget he chuckled, “HA! Goodluck for the rest of the week!” he snickered.

Despite his inability to conceal his excitement at the thought that he was on the verge of been proven right- that I am unable to live on $50 a week, I simply said, ‘You’ll see,” as I pictured his face in shock when Sunday would come around and I would have successfully finished the first week of the challenge.

Much to my friend’s surprise and perhaps annoyance- although he won’t admit it, I made it to Sunday without spending the remaining $3.50. After a few minutes of performing my dorky celebratory dance I prepared for the coming week.  I felt as if I was at war with limited means, rationing my $50 amongst the bare essentials.

Week two started off great… or so I thought it was until I went for a stroll on my work break. As a safety precaution I left my purse in the office and walked out the building. As I made my way to Pitt St Mall the shopaholic within me awakened from its deep slumber.

All of a sudden, the white, lace long-sleeved top with a high neck cut that was draped on the mannequin’s petite upper body became a ‘bare essential’. The gleaming $150, nude Tony Biancos with spikes on the heels were a match made in heaven for my feet.

‘Don’t do it Widyan’ the voice in my head warned itself.  ‘You cannot lose this challenge’ and it was right. I painstakingly dragged myself and walked away as my hand prints on the windows faded right before the pair of heels.

Week 2 ended on a high… well a high personal achievement wise, but my budget finished off on 50 cents. Yes I know pathetic right? But hey I remained within the given budget and no one was going to take my sense of satisfaction away from me.

“A congratulations is in order,” I proudly demanded from my friend. “I’ll congratulate you when you win the challenge. If you finish on $10 next week then and only then will I consider you to be a threat.” I thought about it for a few seconds, ‘that would mean cutting down the coffee, think of the coffee’ the voice in my head screamed. “Deal!” I said ignoring it.

Monday came around and I was confident that I could finish on $10, perhaps I was a little foolish in believing so because come Monday night at a community event  things were about to get very interesting.

After having an early lunch, then heading to the event which I was a volunteer for, I was well and truly in starvation mode. By the end of the event I tried to ignore the stomach rumbles until I got home, but the feeling of my stomach eating itself and the peer pressure of a group dinner became too much to bare.

‘There are plenty of inexpensive options on the menu Widyan. You have $30, you got this’ I encouraged as I read through the menu. I settled for the mushroom chicken, chips and salad with a glass of peach ice tea, bringing my total order to the amount of $25. I smiled to myself knowing I didn’t go over my budget… only to realise I failed my friend’s $10 challenge… the smile quickly disappeared.

‘Just enjoy the chicken’ I told myself as I took a mouth full picturing my friend’s face after I would reveal to him my expenditure.

Later that night as I was straddling the line of consciousness and deep sleep my phone buzzed. I reached for it and opened the most heart wrenching text message… it was from my service provider. ‘You have less than $5 remaining of your credit’ I stared at the text message re-reading the sentence hoping it would disappear…it didn’t.

“You have got to be joking?” I asked in sheer desperation as I looked at the inanimate object in my hand, as if it was going to answer my question. I deleted the message and called my friend since I had 200 free minutes.

“So um I think I may have to buy credit tomorrow since I have less than $5 left and my budget has only $5 remaining on it,” I said in a soft voice in the hope that he wouldn’t hear me or perhaps unconsciously I hoped he would feel sorry for me make an exception this one time… he didn’t.

Laughter erupted from the phone’s speaker, “I knew it!” he screamed as he laughed even harder at what had now become a failed challenge. “You win so bask in the glory while you can,” I said half heartedly. “Yes I do win. Good try though,” he said in an attempt at pretending to comfort me from the disappointment.

“I would have won the challenge had it not been for me having to recharge you know,” I said as he was finally recovering from his laughing fit… and I truly believe I would have.

People asked me why I was doing the challenge, questions like ‘Are you going through financial difficulties?  And ‘Do you need money?’ were asked and re asked over the course of the two weeks. Truth is no, I was not going through any financial difficulties, as a matter of fact I am earning now more than at any other time in my life and that was the problem.

I am privileged enough to have a good paying job and money is at my disposal… too much of it. I would purchase things even when I did not need to. I would spoil myself to the point when it was no longer ‘spoiling’ but became more of a routine… an expensive routine. After all it was my money and I did work hard for it, I told myself every time I was at the check-out.

But somewhere down the line, somewhere amongst the new dresses, the stacked shoes and the draws full of make up, I had lost the meaning of the value of a dollar.

That is why I took on this challenge, not only to improve my money saving skills but to appreciate all that I had already possessed. It was about relearning and reclaiming how to be content and what it means to be content with what I have.

Having money is dangerous because it blurs the line between needs and wants. A new dress becomes a need rather than a want or a new shade of lipstick all of a sudden is boxed in the ‘bare essentials’ category.

While I will never be able to break free entirely from the consumer chains courtesy of my passion and love affair with fashion, the challenge taught me how to be resourceful and wise with my money.

I now still pack lunch from home, although I buy a chocolate bar here and there. I’m saving at least $100 a week on food alone, I set aside more than half of my fortnightly payment on savings and finally my bank account is growing at a rate that’s catching up with the growth rate of my wardrobe… well almost.

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Widyan Al Ubudy

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~ by widyanalubudy on February 8, 2013.

One Response to “Shoes Now Save Later”

  1. Gotta say 100$ is very impressive.. Sadly I wouldn’t survive such experience, I just don’t have the will lol. Enjoyed reading this btw!

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