Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wishlist Wednesday: Not Buying It - Judith Levine

I've had shopping and how to avoid shopping and saving money and budgeting and frugality buzzing in my brain for about six weeks now, so when I saw Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping over at Eva's blog, my interest was piqued.

From the reviews I've read, I gathered that Judith Levine is not a frugal zealot like Amy Dacyczyn. Like most Americans, she just got too far into debt and decided to attack it by reining in her consumerism. It's not a how-to book. It's one woman's journey. Levine kept a weekly diary, interviewed or read several secondary sources, and learned a lot about herself in relation to spending during this time. Apparently, most of it was enlightening but some of it required self-re-evaluation.

Not a surprise. Shopping and emotions seem to be closely, almost frighteningly linked. I had no idea how closely until a couple of weeks ago: I wanted to go to Seoul for the weekend, but knew I should stay home and save money. As a compromise, I vowed to travel on a shoestring. I had been skimming The Complete Tightwad Gazette again, so I was fired up, excited and looking forward to the challenge.
All that week, a close relative, X, had a grievance with me, and repeatedly sent me curt messages on Facebook. Then the day I left, X really got some spleen going, making H.L. Mencken and Voltaire look like mealymouthed candy-asses in comparison.

I didn't respond, although I was simmering. I held my anger in, and -- you guessed it. I got to Seoul and immediately unleased my inner spendthrift hounds. I had a delicious lunch and drinks with Mitzi at the Wolfhound, bought several books at What The Book? , spent more than $20 on a tube of L'Oreal [their company's slogan "because I'm worth it" drummed incessantly in my brain] mascara, ate a hearty supper at Quizno's instead of contenting myself with the modest snack I'd planned, and stayed the night at a 3-star hotel instead of the $30 yeogwan I'd been thinking about all week.

As if a fever had broken, the next day I was back to good, riding home on the very cheapest train and I've been rational ever since with my spending decisions. I've gone over budget some days, but it wasn't emotionally fueled. After my wild spending spree, I was asking myself the age-old question "WTF?", but I was also impressed that I'd learned just how quickly I could spin out of control. In the future, I should tell offending parties to get stuffed. Then -- erring in the opposite direction -- I'll feel badly about losing my temper, and won't spend money thinking that I'm such an evil harpy and don't deserve anything. LOL.

I'm doing a double-pronged approach this summer: Teach additional classes for extra money and severely curtail spending. I don't really need someone to tell me how to do the latter -- I just want to read or hear about similar experiences and be able to nod and say "Oh yeah, me too." Therefore, I'm adding Not Buying It to the wishlist. Keeping in the spirit of my thrifty summer, I hope to find this one on Bookmooch!


Anonymous said...

This was fun to read! I can only NOT spend money when I avoid the stores... I've been good about staying out of the websites, too, lately. Blogging consumes my online time so shopping has severely been curtailed.

I see you are a reader in the '-thon'. I'm a cheerleader; GO YOU!

Eva said...

I actually got this one from the library, so I'll do an in-depth review when I get to it. :)

Becky said...

Just wanted to remind you that Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is this Saturday.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this book at the bookstore without buying it because the title intimidates me - "ha ha, you shallow consumer, resist the book that challenges you to not buy it!" - but it's really interesting.

And believe me, I know the artificial high of shopping only too well. My budget usually doesn't let me get too carried away, but I still have many more dresses than my life requires.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently half way through this book, and its making me take a thorough and uncomfortable look at my consumer habits, and by extension, my emotional state. I'm also concurrently reading Peter Singer's 'The ethics of what we eat', and between the two, I'm feeling really inspired to make a number of significant and positive lifestyle changes in the near future! Look forward to hearing what you think. :D

Susan said...

I just got my visa card last month and filled it with all kinds of things for the house, me (books,what else) I've put it away and now have to pay everything off. I know what you mean by emotional spending, though, and i find that when I say I'm going to be frugal, is when I spend the most! Kind of like losing weight....I like the sound of Pete Singer's book, and this one so I'll let you know when I pick them up. thanks for talking about it!