Before Quarantine Times (BQT), I wouldn’t say that my relationship to money was healthy. Actually, I can say with authority that it wasn’t.
I’ve held jobs that were (at least) fashion-adjacent for about four years now, and that, at times, has sent me into a very specific spiral of purchasing above my means. A pair of Marni sandals are on sale! It’s okay—it’s just one pair of sandals. And won’t they make it look like I have taste to the people I most want to impress? The shoes turned into the leather jacket turned into the pearl earrings turned into the oversized blazer. After a phase of irresponsible spending, a bruised bank account, and some debt, my big epiphany moment came after a particularly irresponsible purchase of a giant faux fur robe-coat I definitely didn’t need. (Oh, but she’s still so PRETTY in my closet.)
Since then? Budgeting has been an act of self-care, as well as an act of will. It’s taken me months to unlearn the impulsive free-fall from “add to cart” to “purchase.” In some cases I have stumbled, yet I’ve learned to flex my willpower like a muscle, propelled by the conversation around sustainability and excess. But, interestingly, it has never felt easier than now.
This is my personal experience, so I’ll make that very clear before I say the following: I have never wanted “stuff” in my life less than I do right now. Well, I guess certain kinds of stuff. Like shoes. And sweaters. And little bags that fit only your AirPods. It could be a product of not having real financial security at the moment. Perhaps it’s because I’m not getting up and getting dressed every day, letting my self-presentation define me. Maybe it’s because a global disaster has made me realize what’s most important to me is not the things in my closet, but the connections I have with the people I love. IDK!!!
Is this feeling going to last? If I’ve learned anything about this time period, it’s that these sentiments are subject to change. In a few weeks, when the temperature climbs and warm breezes fill my apartment, maybe I’ll start having the itch to really buy that sundress missing from my closet, as opposed to thinking, hey, I have something in here that can fit that need.
Since quarantine has started, I’ve bought a puzzle and a bed skirt, and netted out pretty much equally on a dresser swap. The puzzle was a joint decision with me and my roommate and it brought us joy, madness, and everything in between. The bedskirt was because I was sick of looking at all the shit under my bed. And the dresser was because my stupid Danish teak dresser I’ve had for four years was pretty much intended for lingerie only, and WHO HAS THAT MUCH LINGERIE???
It felt strange to be much more excited by these purchases than I might normally be. Which begs the question from me to you: What are you buying right now? What’s your relationship to “stuff” looking like? Why do you think you’re spending the way you are? Just want to make clear: there is no judgment. I laid bare my reality just a few sentences ago, which means I invite you, and those reading your answers, to breathe everything in with compassion and understanding. There’s no right answer!
Animation by Lorenza Centi.