A Capsule for Next Year?

A lot of capsule wardrobes feel very extreme or very small. Going from a standard America closet to 33 items for a season is very drastic. I thought maybe going somewhere in the middle might be a better compromise. What about 150 items?

I did a thorough count and realized that was almost every item including coats that I owned. It’s strange to realize that I own less than 200 items of clothing excluding workout gear, PJs/lounge wear, and occasion wear. I saw this on Pinterest and thought it might be an interesting idea. Then I read through the actual list.

There is no circumstance where I need 15 pairs of shoes for regular use. 80% of my shoe usage rotates between 4 pairs of shoes: casual sandals, arch supporting sandals, sneakers, and black slip-ons. The last ones are like a flat Mary Jane. My other shoes are my dressy wedges, snow boots, Uggs, skele-toe shoes, and cowboy boots. I have a back up pair of wedges that haven’t been put to use yet because finding dressy shoes in my size is that difficult. Drag queens have an easier time than I do.

If I started counting all my costume only pieces, I might have a problem but I could stand to cut down on some of them. I think I want to start off 2018 by doing another closet purge. Dump everything on my bed and go through it all.

I’ve got some stuff set aside that doesn’t fit at my current size stored away. If my lifestyle changes as I’m hoping, I may fit into those again and don’t want to start from scratch on clothing in that size. I could definitely stand to downsize more so I’ll brainstorm a bit and see what I come up with.


The Privilege of Minimalism

I’ve been watching a lot of minimalist videos on YouTube since I’ve been especially broke lately. I came across an article by Chelsea Fagan of The Financial Diet. She has some serious vitriol for minimalism.

Her critique of the ‘no-makeup makeup’ reminded me of The Anna Edit, who freely admits to liking that look. Anna has professional photographers take a lot of her insta photos, rocks purses that cost hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars, and uses makeup that would kill a week’s worth of my pay. While she makes some fun videos, that life is not attainable.

Anna probably had money to start with and, through hard work and luck, created a life on YouTube and Insta that makes some people hate themselves. So much on social media screams, to quote Fagan, “Look at me! Look at all of the things I have refused to buy, and the incredibly-expensive, sparse items I have deemed worthy instead!”

Part of the minimalist mystique is that it’s voluntary. I think this is why the KonMari method blew up the way it did. You can look at your stuff, decide what brings you ‘joy’ and get rid of excess. Some people can’t get rid of a beat up old coat that doesn’t spark joy because they don’t have a replacement.

“The only people who can “practice” minimalism in any meaningful way are people upon whom it isn’t forced by financial or logistical circumstances”
I missed half a paycheck to take a vacation and it definitely screwed up my finances. I’m forced to not spend extraneously because I have bills to pay. However, I like that I’m being forced to change my ways. I don’t like being this broke but I’m hoping to learn something from this crappy situation.

I don’t live in poverty but it can warp your thinking in ways people who’ve never struggled with it don’t understand. According to John Cheese, you develop tastes for cheap, processed food and often don’t know how to handle money. They will buy the cheaper shoes even if it will fall apart sooner and investing in a better quality item would save them money in the long run. This concept well described by Terry Pratchett.

Some important tenants of minimalism could be useful to people in low income situations where an extra $50 a month could make a huge difference. However, a lot of the more visible minimalists can be pretentious shits so a lot of folks in dire straits aren’t interested in what they have to say.

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, now famous for their devotion to minimalism, write about exactly this but do it in such a way you kind of want to smack them. “If we have less money, then we must be more intentional with how we spend it” is a perfect point that gets overshadowed by the ‘look how smart I am’ name drops in the last paragraph.

I think minimalism started as a natural response to the economic bust of the late aughts. People getting loans they couldn’t pay to buy houses they couldn’t fill eventually tanked out economy. Rather than dive into the consumerist lifestyle that impacted an entire generation, people started going tiny, buying locally, and trying to learn from those mistakes.

As with any major social change, you have people who go to the extreme. These are the spiritual minimalists like Nicodemus and Millburn who promise total life satisfaction. They have a documentary, a podcast, books, and tours. They got rich off capitalizing on this movement. If they’re smart with their money, they will be able to live off this for the rest of their lives.

I think there are important takeaways from consuming less, consuming consciously, and spending wisely. You do not have to be all in or voluntarily participating to find what about minimalism resonates with you. Making it your lifestyle doesn’t make you a bad person; failing to see your own privilege makes you a bad person. I aspire to be more minimal in a lot of aspects of my life. That doesn’t make me a bad or more enlightened person; it just means I’m figuring out what works best for me.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Low to No: Stop Money from Going Out

One of the main points of a low to no spend time is to stop money from going out and instead keeping it in the bank. Here are some of strategies to stop the cash flow going out.

-During the work week, I’m going to block all retail websites I’ve been known to poke around. If I’m on a retail website, it’s because I’m adding something to wedding registry (which is almost done).

-I can only go to the (work) grocery store on Mondays and Thursdays. I can pick up meds when they’re ready but other pharmacy purchases must have a coupon.

-Any store trips will require a list. I am not allowed to deviate from the list.

-Since I’ll have some time, I need to start focusing on getting some wedding prep done. At this point, that’s a no-spend time suck.

Low to No Spend Month

I have been very bad with excess spending. I bought too many things at Awesome Con, had a $1200 car repair, bought new glasses (including the eye exam) without vision insurance, participated in reddit’s Arbitrary Day gift exchange, fell victim to Elhoffer’s latest design, and finally supplemented my non-disposable period collection.

To add to that, in August, I’ll be missing a week of work for FHub’s family vacation. I can get some things done while I’m there but not a full week’s worth of hours. September is when the wedding spending will be increasing dramatically. I’ll have to finish paying for various vendors, do trial runs, and finally get decorations.

I have done too much damage to my current credit card and need to build up my savings. I am trying to make July my month of low to no spending. No clothes, makeup, extra toiletries, music, books or other frivolities.

Basic groceries, medications, public transit, and putting gas in the car one time are all a reasonable addition to our budget. I shouldn’t need any toiletries but if I can get a good deal on something, I’ll consider splurging.

One thing that will help is that the only convention I’m going to is one I’m working at. Two other days will be spent at a festival (low spend for food) and playing D&D (low spend to bring food). One Sunday will be spent having dinner with my future ILs so that will be another low key day (probably a no spend). I might actually be able to pull this off.