August Blocked Spending

My July low to no spend was a great idea. Too bad old habits die hard.

I started off doing well but I went to a convention at the end of the month and bought books, Athleta had a big sale so I bought a sweatshirt (more than 50% off and was green), and I had to order more wicking leggings. I am so over summer humidity.

One thing that will help curb my fiscal irresponsibility is that my credit card got hacked, again. The first time was for camping equipment in Minnesota. The second time was groceries in Texas. This time it was almost $900 in cell phones. So that card has been canceled and I won’t get another one until sometime next week.

In August, I’m going to try doing a week-ish long block on certain items and see how that goes. For example, until August 12, I’m not supposed to buy books or makeup. During August 13-19 I will be on vacation in the mountains so no new jewelry or clothing or mobile spending. I’m not sure how I’m going to block off the final two weeks of the month. Given my track record, I’m not sure how well I’ll do with the first half.

Fatshion Struggles

BuzzFeed posted a great list about the fashion struggles of being fat. These struggles are real and frustrating.

We are limited in where we can shop. I had a say she was jealous I could still shop in Torrid. You get the entire rest of the mall so pipe down size 6. This is the same friend who had me tag along with her and one other person to a store that stopped at a size 12. It was an hour of me sitting bored out of my mind in the husband chair while they shopped.

Lots of department and big box stores like to shove the fat clothes off in some far-off corner. It’s even worse if it’s directly next to maternity. Nice subtext assholes. Only pregnant women should be this fat. How kind of you.

The price thing is so fucking annoying. Yes, I’d like a shirt that will fit my body. Oh, it’s an extra $5? Well, fuck you then. Every time I discover I can buy something in a non-fat store, I feel like I just got one over on them. That product wasn’t meant for me but I get it anyway. Mwahahahaha Madewell. Your tees are belong to me.

Needing to try things on before committing is a huge pain. It’s part of why I am semi-brand loyal to some unethical fashion retailers. I can go online, order wicking capris or a pair of jeans and know it will fit. I got a pair of black bootcut jeans off Poshmark this way. Or I’ll go into a store, try a ton of stuff on, and buy nothing just so I know for later. In a glorious display of masochism, I did this with jeans, bras, and bathing suits in the same store.

Most of my pants are tailored because of my waist to hip ratio and the dreaded butt gap. It got to a point where my old alterations place would see me and prep the changing area. I went to have a maxi skirt hemmed and the 2 inches I needed taken in would make it shorter in the back. I’d just like to not trip over it in the front. #bigbootyproblems

Chub rub is real so I must wear shorts under skirts. I finally figured, if I need to wear shorts anyway, why not just cut out the middle man? I’ve had 2 pairs of jeans die on me in the last couple of years and it was because the wore out on the inner thigh. On the plus side, my need for shorts and leggings has ensured I never get dresses riding up where they don’t belong.

Button up shirts are a nightmare because I have big upper arms and broad shoulders. Even the fat people ones just don’t work on me. This also goes for blazers and jackets. Some of my hoodies are men’s/unisex because I know the shoulders will fit.

When I was a kid, other kids called me fat. That alone was never enough to get to me. My attitude was “Fat? Is that the best you’ve got?” As an adult, it’s just an adjective. I had a very skinny friend correct when I said I was fat. I’m not a TLC-special super-fat but I’m not skinny either. Besides, I said I was fat, not ugly.

Fast Fashion Fast Slowed

I was bad. While I didn’t give my business to some of the more notorious fast fashion brands (Zara, Forever 21), I didn’t participate in ethical fashion either.

I needed more wicking capris for work. I need to walk half a mile to the metro and I get overheated easily. I’m sweating like crazy by the time I get to the station and the mediocre temperature controls aren’t great there either. Basically, if I wear it out, it’s going in the laundry. I don’t have in-unit laundry so I’m at the mercy of my floor on when I can do laundry. Usually it’s not a problem but I don’t like my wardrobe decisions being at the mercy of strangers.

I checked Poshmark but they didn’t have what I needed so I caved and went to Kohl’s website. I got some wicking clothes there for Firefly so I knew what brands I preferred and what sizes I needed. I got a couple of capri leggings, one wicking shirt, and a new sports bra.

I wasn’t happy but I’m fat and have a limited budget. Meeting those needs is not that easy so I tried to just keep it simple. It should have ended there. But it didn’t.

I picked up my order from a local Kohl’s because the shipping was free. I got trapped in the store by an unexpected deluge and started surfing the web. I found Torrid’s new Harry Potter line for the summer.

This kimono will be mailed to a local store for me to pick up (again, free shipping). I could argue that it was on sale and I used ebates and those are totally my colors but those are justifications. I didn’t need it; I just wanted it. Whether Torrid is fast fashion or not is a debate for another post but it’s definitely not ideal.

Either way, I participated in the consumerist machine and am here for atone for my sins. I started this for a reason and I need to remember that reason. I need to change my habits to stop hurting our planet and my bank account.

Love/Hate Athleta

I’d heard my FSIL laud Athleta’s leggings so I poked my head into their store when I was at a local mall. I left with an insanely comfy cardigan that I later figured out was magnetic. I’ve worn it several times since then and love it. Hell, I’m wearing it as I type this.

If you buy something in store, you get a reusable tote bag instead of a regular shopping bag. Another big plus but it also acts as free advertising for them so take that how you will.

Later, I realized some things about Athleta and their history that made me question how great this brand truly was. I love some of their products but some of their history is genuinely troubling. Here are some of the things that contribute to my love/hate relationship with this brand.

Their Sizing

Athleta actually has a pretty generous sizing. It’s unusual for me to walk into a store and walk out with a size XL dress that looks good on me. While most of their extended sizes aren’t stocked in the stores, their return policy is very generous. It still omits the far end of the fat spectrum but many stores don’t bother to include any of us so it’s a nice change.

Their parent company is reprehensible

In 2014, Gap Inc. received the Public Eye Award which are given out to companies with the worst human rights and environmental records. They have had factories permit abuse of workers, child labor, and ignored basic safety regulations.

How does Old Navy sell shirts for just $5? At the expense of workers and our planet.

They have ethically made and/or sustainable clothing

I’m fat so finding something that’s comfortable, flattering, affordable, and good for my conscience is nigh impossible. The fact that Athleta has sustainable and ethically made options in my size is refreshing. While not cheap, they’re not obscene either.

However, nothing is marked as both sustainable and ethically made. You must pick one or the other. Those options only make up a small percentage of what’s available on the website so what about the rest of their stock? Was it made using the deplorable labor practices from this 2013 article? How bad is it for the environment?

The prices

I can readily accept I’ll have to pay more for clothing that is ethically and/or sustainably made. It’s the nature of the beast. However, since only a portion of Athleta’s offerings fall into this category, why is everything else so expensive?

This dress, which I bought on a whim and love, costs $89. It has the sustainable sticker, it’s comfy AF, and looks great. It’s a minimalist’s dream dress in a lot of ways. This dress is incredibly similar except for the hem, slightly longer sleeves, and pockets. It’s also $89 but does sweet FA for your conscience. Since this dress probably cost them less to make, why is it the same price?

Here’s another example. This dress is purple and has spaghetti straps whereas this dress is gray and has short sleeves. They have the same name and the same price. Why does one get the stamp and the other doesn’t? How much more work would it have been to make sure the other dress from the same product line didn’t hurt the planet?

By charging the same price for garments with one being made kindly and the other not, one of them generates a significant markup. They can pretend to be doing some good and still scam customers

Conclusion

Striving to live more minimally means consuming mindfully and knowing yourself. I know I love some of their products but I also know it’s a problematic brand. If/when I buy from them again, I will only buy their fair trade or sustainable products. By putting my dollars toward their more conscious products, I’m letting my dollars say what I want the company to hear. I can also check Poshmark and do some thrifting. It doesn’t count if I buy the bad brand secondhand, right?

Book Borrowing Rules

Much like most bookworms, I’m a bit precious about my books. I value my things and take good care of them so they last. I expect others to do the same. I will absolutely lend out my books but I have a handful of ground rules.

-I do not lend out autographed books. You are welcome to read it in my home but it’s not leaving with you.

-If it’s new and I haven’t read it yet, neither are you.

-You break it, you replace it. If it comes back to me in considerably worse condition than when it left, I expect a new copy.

-If you fold the cover all the way around on my book like so, it is the last time you come near by books.

-Don’t dog-ear the pages. Use a receipt, dollar bill, free bookmark but no dog-earing.

I occasionally borrow books from friends but I always treat them as well as I treat my own, maybe slightly better. One thing that I have gotten a lot of value out of is a book sleeve. It’s a fabric pouch you put your book it so it doesn’t get as beat up riding around in your bag. I got mine from this seller

The Wonders of Coconut Oil

You read that right. I am a huge fan of coconut oil. I’ve only used the kind with a texture like petroleum jelly but I know there is an oil-y form as well.

Moisturizer
I had major issues with dry skin in winter. I wound up using petroleum jelly because it was the only thing that worked but it still left me feeling greasy. Coconut oil goes on lighter, does the same work, but doesn’t feel nearly as greasy. I’ve even used it sparingly on my cheeks and it works great.

Shaving Gel
I’ve been using it to dry shave instead of shaving with soap in the shower. I’m never going back. I can jump in the shower when I’m done and I can wear my glasses and see what I’m doing the entire time. It moisturizers while you shave too.

Conditioner
There are two ways to do this, use a little bit applied directly to hair or use it as a setting treatment and washing it out. I tried the first one. It did the job but it made my hair feel a tiny bit greasy. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it. It will do in a pinch but I think I’ll stick with my current product.

Digestive Help
My little tub of organic coconut oil came with nutritional information. Yes, folks it’s entirely edible. It’s supposed to have a variety of other health benefits so I’m going to try to incorporate it into my morning smoothies.

Makeup Remover?
I have no tried this but I use another kind of oil now. When that runs out, I may see how it measures up.

Cooking?
I think this is meant more for the oil consistency but it’s supposed to be great for things like stir fry.

I’m sure there’s a variety of things but these are the things I can either verify or want to verify. I’m told it can also be used as an organic diaper cream or as part of an organic bug repellent. There are so many good things it can do, you should look into what coconut oil can do to improve your life.

Low to No: Bringing Money In

Since this month isn’t as packed as last month, I’ll hopefully have some time to bring in some extra cash. Here’s some strategies to help pay down my debt.

-Selling old board games: I own a ton of board games and went through them all to decide what goes and what stays. Some are very expensive new and all of them have their original pieces so I’ll be selling what I can of them and donating/giving away the rest.

-Update Poshmark listings: I’ll finally have the time and day light to photograph several items I have to sell. This includes thrift store finds as well as cosmetic bundles.

-Up my app game: I use Perk and Receipt Hog but I’ll have to up my game on using those and adding Ibotta into the mix. Since I’ll have some time, I’ll start ordering some things for the wedding centerpieces and use the extra time to get that going and use Ebates while doing it.

-Sell my books: Part of why I want to read my shelves a lot this month is to clean them out. I already have a big stack of books I want to offer Powell’s. Store credit is better than no credit.

-Advertise my dog sitting: I’ve dog sat for two people in my building and am on the radar for a third. I plan on creating a couple of flyers and posting them in my building to advertise my services to watch people’s pets Friday evening through Sunday.