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STATUS ANXIETY WEEK: Old habits die hard

Well, it's Thursday (in New York.. almost Thursday in Seattle). You've almost made it thought Status Anxiety Week. Hasn't it been fun?

Did you know you guys left 133 comments on the "What Do You Make" post? (Felt good to get it all out, huh?)

I was sitting here thinking, "What else do we talk about this week? We've already covered the big ones - salaries, real estate, and outsized social ambitions... what else could we possibly cover?"

Then I was thinking.. how else do people show wealth (or fake it... or not care...) and started thinking about cars and clothes and hair and shoes.

My friend T who is *quite* the fashionista totally shocked me by driving a Jetta. I was proud of her for it, really. I just figured that a girl who rocks Loeffler Randall shoes, a Goldenbleu leather capelet, and whatever brand of skinny jeans is on the verge, well, she would drive... I dunno... an Audi, a Mini, a zippy little Kompressor.


When I asked her, she was hardly apologetic. She basically said, "No one in Seattle cares anyway, so I spend my money on clothes." And if you know Seattle, well, they don't give a shit about that, so what Tracy really meant is, "I indulge in what I love (clothes) and I can give a fuck what people think (about cars)." At least that's how I took it.

I dressed like a moron until maybe 5 years ago. I mean, my lameness has been diminishing gradually over the years, but your inner Anna Wintour would cry to see photos of me in middle school. And then a few years ago I started trying to figure it out. I also got a fashion/accessories-related job and had to, well, kind of care about those things. So, since these things do seem to matter in my job, I try to throw in a few bit ticket items with my uniform of jeans and some kind of black top. The only things that spice it up are aggressively large snotty handbags and shoes. I am partial to Louboutin, Zanotti, and Costume National. I am not going to lie.

Now that the economy is, well, having a bit of a correction, I do look at some of my shoe/handbag spending and think, as Scooby Doo would say, "Ruh Roe." The hard thing is that you can't go back. I try looking at $79 shoes and can't do it. I can't buy a shoe without a leather sole. Cannot. You slip and slide in them... the construction is wonky, they fall apart, you wouldn't bother to keep and re-sole them. Plus, shoes is my business. You learn to love the craft of shoes. And once you live in a pair of shoes that treat you right, shoes that are really well made, you can't go back. It's a bad new habit I just can't kick.

So - - after all that, here's the question:

Now that we've all upgraded
Now that middle class chicks in Seattle are buying $400 shoes
Now that we're spending $6 bucks a day at Starbucks
Now that you're spending $225 on hair cut/color a month
Now that you have that Mercedes payment
Now that the kids are in private school
Now that you eat out at restaurants 3 nights a week
Now that you go to pilates class or the gym
Now that you buy fresh flowers every week
Now that you are getting used to a big vacation every year (I mean... that's our birthright, no?)

...can you cut back? And if so, on what?

What indulgence have you adopted in the last 5 years that you are willing (or have had) to abandon? Or are you keeping up the new habit, and just scrimping in other areas (like... keep going blond, but no trip to Mexico this year?)


mamacita said...

I used to have a cleaning lady, before I stopped working to stay at home with my. ahem, darling children. I would sell a kidney to have her back.

Anonymous said...

Another inspiring topic, D.

I am old enough to have lived through a few slow-downs. My trick is keeping a tight leash on extravagances during the boom times because 1) the unfettered spending I see around me is vulgar and I do not want to buy into the same values/ trends as Those People 2) during the downturns, it's fantastic to have savings to fall back on rather than expensive habits to curb.

I never spend significant sums on cars. In the Northeast, they take a beating all winter, every winter. No matter how much $ one spends at the dealership, a vehicle in this neck of the woods is going to look like crap after a few years. Besides, I truly think it's cool to have enough money for a fancy car but opt to drive something modest. YAY for your friend and her Jetta.

modernemama said...

I give up all spending except food for a couple of weeks, then I think of all the money I must have saved and spend twice as much as usual in the next two days.....

Anonymous said...

I am similar to anon 1:09 although I do drive a 3yo (big, paid for) Lexus. I hate to spend lots of $$ at hairdresser, but even the crappy places are $$$, so I lengthen the time between color/cut. I never had a cleaning lady, I spend $70 max on shoes, I -sometimes- buy the $3 medium latte, I work out on a treadmill someone gave me, & I grow flowers in my garden. I am the SAHM from other thead who doesn't want to be 'poor' again, so this is what I do. There is nothing left to 'cut' as I don't spend it in the first place. (I still do a big annual family vaca though, & that wouldn't get cut)

Anonymous said...

I have given up healthy food.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the midwest with very comfortable but fairly frugal parents so I learned how to save it at an early age.

Then I moved to the East Coast for college. Then I moved to Manhattan. Within 6 months a $500 pair of shoes seemed reasonable, a smart purchase even. I mean, if you're going to live in Manhattan and give up time, space and everything else you give up to live here isn't buying crazy stuff like Sigerson Morrison flats that one can't even find in the Midwest one of the perks? I dunno anymore, but thats certainly what I've been telling myself for 10 years now.

Now that I just turned 30 I'm trying to create a little more "balance". Its tough. You're right Decorno, once you go big you can't go back. I tried to buy a Marc by Marc Jacobs handbag the other day -- in fact I DID buy it on-line -- but the minute it arrived at my office I had to rush to UPS to return it. The $480 handbag looked too cheap.

I could go on and on, and in the process I've lost all track of my point here, which is, I suppose, that I spend too much and I love it. I live in New York City where I have no hope of every owning property so my mortgage downpayment is getting eaten up by Barney's shoe dept.

lk said...

I've given up a lot on the expensive clothes... but mainly becaus I moved to a place where I can't buy them easily. J. Crew is like couture here.

I have the same problem as you with shoes. I try to find a cheap pair that I like, but now they just look so... cheap. The leather isn't as rich, they have weird seams, they're wobbly and uncomfortable, they don't look balanced...

We're thinking about buying a second car and might go with something *gasp* used.

In(side) the Loop said...

Shoes are definitely my vice and I cut in other areas to still buy the ones I love. After working for shoe designers for a few years and being handed $400 shoes for free, I freaked at the thought of not being able to afford them once I left those jobs.

I do afford them, but at a MUCH less quantity rate than before. I'm still happy and I get super excited about my 2-3 times a year shoe purchases!

Anonymous said...

I definitely have the shoe problem. I live in a city and when I first moved here I dressed a lot differently. Think - suburban frump. Thank god I got some style (I owe it all mostly to watching every episode of What Not To Wear a few years back.) So, point is, I buy expensive shoes now and, you're right - you can't go back. I can't so much as look at a Bandolino or Nine West shoe (something I used to think was the best thing ever) without getting a blister. So...yea, my shoe price point has gone up and I'm not willing cut back there. I do try to limit the number of shoes I buy by just not going shopping.

I also NEVER go to Starbucks - I say that emphatically b/c I have on e in my building at work and those around buy one or two a day. We have free coffee available as well - I drink that (and it tastes better).

Although I have been tempted to buy a new car...I haven't. And I won't. Mine will be paid off in May (one more payment YEE HAW!!!) and that'll save me around $250 a month!

It's funny, a friend of mine has a blog called Wealthkick ( and today they posted about ways to "Cut the financial fat - it's interesting and goes along with what we're talking about here - check it out (

Navy & Gray said...

I love this topic!

I wish I could say that I spend alot on clothes, shoes, hair, but in reality, no one really gives a shit here in Tuscaloosa, Alabama once you graduate college. There were the girls who's parents would struggle to pay their sorority bill by working two jobs just so their daughter could drive the newest Land Rover and own a pair of David Yurman earings. I had never even heard of David Yurman until I came to college!

I splurge on decorating my house. Most of my closet is Old Navy (i know, i know, but sometimes you can find cute shit in there!), Gap and a few key items from J.Crew (I agree with lk, it is couture here too, considering the closest J.Crew is an hour away...) But I would rather live in fabulousness than have the latest skinny jeans They make me look like an oompa-loompa anyway.

I think once I started to buy $400 pairs of shoes it would be a crack addiction. The kind where my family rallys around me and sends me to Promises with Lindsey Lohan. Maybe it is a good thing I a broke.

I envy you and your feirce shoe collection Decorno. Hey! Maybe we should have s shoe swap! Anyone wear a size 5?

chris said...

How about you go back to blogging about decor?

Anonymous said...

There are already a gazillion other blogs doing decor. I'm enjoying the break here.

Jessica Claire said...

oh g-d, I always think about this: what would I never give up?

I don't think I'll ever be able to totally ditch high-ticket clothes and accessories. I pride myself on mixing high and low (Target tanks with Theory pants, an H&M cardi over a DVF top), but I fiercely believe in buying quality classic pieces and accesories that you'll have forever and doubt I'll be able to stay away completely.

If I can't buy new at full price I will hit outlets, department store sales and DSW to support my habit.

elaine said...

Jesus you commenters are bitchy...Do you realize that Decorno provides you with free entertainment pretty much all the time? Show some appreciation.

Now, on to me. I know we don't know each other but I really feel like you may be the girl for the job - helping me with my "look." It's disgraceful. Terrible. I need help. Maybe in P.S. we can spend a few hours...???

The other Elaine

Anonymous said...

Ok, this has nothing to do with the question, but it's been bugging me for forever.

Jessica Claire brought up she prides herself on mixing "high with low." Fashion magazines talk about it like it's magic.

My question is, is it really that fucking hard to wear expensive clothes AND cheap clothes on the SAME BODY at the SAME TIME? Is there a smelly chemical reaction of some kind that normally happens, but if you do it the magical way, a bright light surrounds you?

I have some expensive shoes and some cheap-ass jeans, think Academy, and I look good in both, even when worn at the same time. Seriously. Wearing Target tops with $500 shoes is not a talent.

I want to be clear I'm not picking on Jessica Claire, it's just something that's been building up for years it feels like. /rant

Decorno said...

Chris 7:21 - dude. On Tuesday, you got a straight decor post. If you're patient, you will get another one today.

he thing about me is this: I post WAY more than most other decor blogs out there, so when I pick a week to tackle "Status Anxiety" think about it as gravy. Extra.

I'll get back to "Ikat! and "Pretty!" soon enough. I happen to think that talking about what makes us obsessed with decor and money and status is pretty interesting.

Oh, and for the record - I do this shit for free.

The Management

Anonymous said...

Hey Decorno! I now read your blog obsessively, but have never left a comment before! I love it.

Since I only graduated from college a year ago, I don't yet have the extra $400 to spend on shoes... but it's only a matter of time. The problem is, I make more than any of the people I graduated with... so my fancy apartment always gets rather snide comments like, "Wow, how much IS this place?" and "You must make a lot, huh?" (Yes, my friends have no tact). BUT to afford my nearly brand-new apartment with no roommates and an intense security system and fitness center, I don't have cable tv, no internet, and drive my mom's old car from 1993. I'm also unwilling to give up my organic produce and still buy fresh flowers... but I go to the farmer's market "late" when the flowers still look fabulous but are half-price.

I think at any income level you have to make certain sacrifices for the lifestyle you want.

P.S. I'm a Tacoma girl, so I love hearing about your fab finds in Seattle! I'll have to tell you about some of the Tacoma hidden treasures sometime.

Decorno said...

Mamacita - funny as usual. I am going to tell your kids someday that you put "darling" in italics. Naughty, naughty.

Other Elaine - Well, fashion, just like decor, is another area where I profess to be an expert, yet there is wood rot in my bathroom, and I have been known to pick dirty jeans off the floor and wear them to work, so take my advice with a grain of salt. But yes, in PS, my friend JJ and I can help you with you "look."

ModernMama: that seems to be how my spending diets go... it's just a set up for a binge.

marlazz said...

What I'll never give up:
1. Comfortable beautiful leather shoes - my feet are delicate and take me everywhere (I'm a runner). I know it's not PC, but those vegan shoes look like they hurt.
2. Trendy leather handbags (it's the first thing I notice about a woman). Knockoffs will never do, and I don't like anything with a signature. Why does every 3rd woman in my north Toronto suburb own the signature Coach Carly bag?
3. Hot yoga (just try it!)
4. Boot camp
5. Big annual family vacations (while the kids still want to travel with us, we want to make memories)
6. Books and magazines

What I've sacrificed so I can afford the above:
1. The cleaning lady (I miss her dearly, but can clean my own house)
2. Monthly hair appointment for trims, color, highlights (I'm going every other month). Since I'm prematurely grey this is very tough for me, but L'oreal excellence helps while I wait 2 month between appointments.
3. Starbucks (it's not good for you anyway). I can make a decent soy latte at home for nothing!
4. Commuting to the office! I work from home. I'm sure I'm saving tons on gas and parking.
5. Small shopping trips -- those $20 - $50 tops that I bought mindlessly really add up. Now I carefully plan my wardrobe each season and just buy a few key pieces.
6. The naturopath ($50/month to weigh me and tell me what not to eat? buh bye)

I feel blessed that these are my only 'sacrifices'. I pray twice a day that my hubby and his job are safe so we can maintain this lifestyle.

Thanks for letting me 'fess up decorno!

marlazz said...

Oh, I've given up landscaping and gardening too. So while the interior of our house is very comfy and chic, the backyard is a weed-infested square of nothingness.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:38 AM:

The same thing with decor mags: They always speak worshipfully about mixing "high and low," like Christian Liagre with Pier One, as if doing so required some kind of special license or permit or genetic makeup.

The Liz Army said...

I have never bought a pair of shoes worth more than $100. I don't drink coffee unless it's free. I have a younger friend who is fresh out of cosmetology school who cuts and colors my hair for $40 every six weeks. I drive a 2000 Jetta. I have no kids.

I pay for a personal trainer, but I workout in the onsite gym here at my condo (and it's really nice). I do eat out often, but I cut my portions in half and eat the rest later (two meals in one!).

I don't buy flowers... I just wait to get some every once in a while from my nice boyfriend.
As for a vacation, this year I am planning a camping trip to a good 'ol fashioned national park.

So what is my indulgence? Nothing much. I don't even have a TV.

morrismore said...

Another fascinating post! Citibank sends a statement at the end of each year, showing what and where I’ve charged, and it breaks it all down into categories: hotels, restaurants, merchandise, services, etc. It’s a fascinating glimpse into one’s own lifestyle (“who is this person that spends this much at Whole Foods and the dry cleaners?”) and usually does lead to the elimination --at least, temporarily--of one luxury that I thought I couldn’t live without. This year it was the personal trainer—despite his assurance that “muscle weighs more than fat,” I was not happy that I’d gained weight under his watch, so that was an easy decision.

I would have trouble in giving up things for the house, though I’d have difficulty buying cheap shoes (Ermenegildo Zegna is my current favorite). I won’t even talk about cars—too shaming.

Anonymous said...

Marlazz, you took the words right out of my mouth.

What is up with women and their Coach handbags?!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:38 L f*ing OL. You are totally right.

Anonymous said...

omg I am still lauging at "a bright light surrounds you".

Anonymous said...

I'm a SAHM now, but I worked in the fashion industry for 20 years before I "retired." I can tell you that it was expected of me remain cutting edge-the newest shoes, hottest bags and latest fashion. I sympathize with you professional women because you really are being judged by your clients and peers. If you have good taste in bags somehow that translates to having sound judgement in other matters! Now as I sit at home wearing sweats and flip flops with a closet full of high heels I never wear and designer clothes I spent a fortune on that are two sizes too small, I have a few regrets. By all means, do take care of your feet, and buy quality when you can-but reign yourselves in people. Think of your futures, someday you may have children and ageing parents that need you. And they don't care about your Chanel bag. Go to the library for your magazines and books(yes, they have Domino!) forget about trends and buy classic clothes that fit, shop at T.J's and not Whole Foods,get a simple low maintenance haircut, buy a Prius not a BMW, buy ONE good handbag a year (or two) and learn to love a $10.00 bottle of wine. It does the trick as well as the $100.00 bottle.

maison21 said...

decorno, all this "gravy" you refer to is making my head hurt. i don't like to think much beyond "ikat" and "pretty", you know- every time you post something thought-provoking, i have to take a strong painkiller afterwards- are you trying to turn me into a junkie?

personally, i've cut back on the dinners out- i would rather eat a peanut butter and jelly sammich, all alone in my kitchen, every single night, than give up my cleaning lady. i live for ana's visits!

oh, and ana, my cleaning lady, drives a nicer car than i do- i'm the one person in los angeles who could give a shit about what i drive. i take awful care of cars, so as long as my beat up ol' truck runs, i'm driving it! why invest the money in something new, when it will look old and beat up in no time at all, anyway? (did i mention i'm kind of a careless driver, too? never met a pole, trashcan or curb, i didn't want to hit while parking). plus, no car payment also means more money for fresh flowers and other necessary frivolities...

now, more "ikat" and "pretty" before my head explodes! pleeze?

Anonymous said...

I love Anonymous 10:10. $400 shoes sound great when you are in your 30s, but add 10 years to your age and those amounts look so much better in a value mutual fund.

Anonymous said...

I email pretty often and complain about their new prices. Used to be you could get something decent for $300. Now, most bags are $500 and up, wtf? Who is their customer?

Answer: I guess not me.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon @ 8:38-

Hate to burst your bubble, but mixing the high and the low IS a bona fide talent. If you can't recognize it as one, well then, no wonder you think your head-to-toe cheap-ass outfit looks good on you.


Wrapped in a Bright Light

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Mrs. E. and I met and immediately set about tango'ing through every gin joint and restaurant we could find. A year later we woke up and added up the receipts. Yikes. That was 13 years ago.

Since then, we stopped eating out almost altogether. I cook most nights and enjoy it. We've never had new cars. Only recently did we get (basic) cable TV. I'm also working from home and my income is... well... not even close to what it used to be, at least since the early start-up days 10 years ago.

We indulge ourselves with under USD$20 bottles of sparkling wine and fresh fish from the fishmonger. Netflix eliminated the movieplex expenses (babysitter - $40, tix $20, etc.) Mortgage is the biggest expense.

But, guilty! I refuse to buy off-the-rack clothes anymore. Which means saving up to buy made-to-measure. Not that I have to "dress up" but it seems cheaper than a restaurant habit (at least the way we did it....) My "gym" is a pair of good running shoes, Target dry-release gear and two 20lb. dumbells.

Was it hard to cut back? In the beginning, you bet. But it's what you get used to. "When I have a little money, I buy books. If I have any left over I buy food." Erasmus, right?

Recently I heard Nando Parrado ("Miracle in the Andes") speak. He claimed to love material things more than anyone in the room, having been through massive deprivation of the most basic things. And then he said: "but if it all goes away? I still have my family that I dreamed about in the Andes. My five companies each lost 90% of their value and my debt went up four times in one day! One day when the economy in Uruguay crashed. I said to my wife: well, if I lose it all, I will take the truck and become a gardner. She said: great! I'll drive the truck."

A topic for the ages. Thanks to you and Nando Parrado for making me think of all that I have instead of what I have not. I need to be reminded of it each day.

Forever Chic said...

I guess the easiest way to cut back is to not live extravagantly in the first place. Even as a 23-year-old I've started realizing that socking away money is much more satisfying than blowing it on a pair of shoes.

That said, I've been driving much less. Biking to work is fun, exhilarating and great exercise. Not to mention that it's FREE. I don't get people who pay $$$ for a gym membership or a personal trainer - is it that hard to run around the block, lift some weights or play tag with your kids?

Also, I've recently discovered the joys of secondhand and vintage clothing.

Lastly, I don't own a TV. For entertainment I make jewelry (a pretty expensive hobby, but fun), volunteer, read books from the library, or watch movies thanks to a Netflix gift subscription.

Anonymous said...

Bright Light:

The girl in the cheap-ass outfit has all the fun.

jamie meares said...

i GOT a jetta, sold an X5 for it, so i wouldn't have to pay 234billion for gas. now i can fill up for $40, and go 500 miles on it. that helped.

now that money goes to the cleaning lady.

oh, and we steal our internet so that helps.

Anonymous said...

The chic-est girl I knew was a sales person at Barney's and wore almost exclusively vintage clothing mixed with a little H&M.And yes, her shoes were expensive! I wanted to throttle her every time I wanted to buy something she was wearing just to learn that it was from the thrift store. I know that not everyone has the time nor stamina to sift through smelly racks of used clothes, but my point is, it's not the amount of money you spend that makes you look good. Spending a lot on clothes is a shortcut when you don't really know style or just don't have time to be creative. Sometimes a small budget yields greater creativity.

Jennifer said...

I gave up buying and consuming expensive wine. Now I'm perfectly happy drinking the $4 La Boca from Trader Joes.

And by the by, these posts are highly entertaining and the naysayers out there can totally suck it! Viva decorno!

Easy and Elegant Life said...

In the interest of full disclosure and having read my comment again, I should say that living within my (present) means is a constant struggle, especially around the holidays when I begin to think that Mrs. E. isn't bedecked enough with sparkling things... . It helps that she curbs my worst instincts.

But if my ship ever comes in, will I revert to my spendthrift ways? Probably. Moderation in everything; including moderation.

The Nerdy Fashionista said...

pretty much everything in my life is ghetto EXCEPT for the shoes. I get a (surprisingly good) $50 haircut every couple months, bottle-dye my hair (though this is also cause I have prematurely gray hair that I dye to approximate my former dark brown, and if I went to a stylist every time those silver roots popped up I'd be going twice a month), and have perfected the self-mani-pedi. And all my clothes come from Loehmann's.

marlazz said...

I have nothing against Coach. I love Coach. I hope to work there someday. I hope Reed and Daphne personally invite me to their Hamptons home and I can touch their Swarovski chandeliers. I just don't understand why everyone has the same bag when there are hundreds they could choose from.

re "I don't get people who pay $$$ for a gym membership or a personal trainer - is it that hard to run around the block, lift some weights or play tag with your kids?". My answer is YES!!! you're young, you will understand this nonsense when you're 40 and you just have to get out of the house to get away from your adorable 'can't live without 'em' offspring in order to maintain your sanity. The gym and yoga studio is my refuge.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I have nothing against Coach either. What I don't get it how it came to be the end all and be all for so many suburban women. WTF? There is so much great shit out there, why stop at Coach? Why exclusively Coach?

marlazz said...

Coach is opening a new store in Thornhill Ontario, in a mall with a giant Asian supermarket. Nothing against the supermarket (it has the best produce and I am there every week), but what does that tell ya about Coach?

Geez, I hope they're not reading this b/c I'm thinking of applying for a parttime job there. ha!

Anonymous said...

I used to be fairly frugal until I bought my townhouse. After writing some many huge checks anything that didn't contain "thousand" in it seemed like a bargain.

That being said, I still don't think I can spend over $100 on shoes though I have many shoe obsessed friends that won't spend less than that.

Sumeba Miyako said...

I just moved to an island in Japan (i.e., not fashion-forward Tokyo), and had to forego my blonde highlights that I've been getting at my Rodeo Drive salon since the virginal age of 19. Japanese salons, while masterful at edgy cuts, haven't mastered blond highlights. So with one little box of Clairol, I went brown again. It is soooo hard to get used to. In college, I used to scrimp and save on FOOD to have enough dough to drive back home to LA to get my blonde on. I used to spend about $300 every 4 months. I didn't mind paying it, it's just that over here, I don't even have the OPTION because I truly am a snob about the right kind of highlights.

Re: Jettas - that was MY luxury car! But after 6 months it didn't even feel new again, so even though I lived in the carsnob capital of the country (LA) I don't think I'll buy a new car again. Just not worth it.

Anonymous said...

I used to have a very serious shopping and handbag habit that I supported with a well-paid job. I took some time off work and found that I did not miss shopping at all, even though I do really enjoy fashion. However, I too would give a kidney to have my cleaning lady back, despite the fact that I totally have time to clean, I just really hate it. However, I could never give up the yard service, otherwise my neighbors would be sure that my house had been abandoned.

Anonymous said...

I refuse to give up my weekly trip at the hairdresser (wash and set of my unruly hair $30) and the cut and color every 2 months ($150)

We gave up the housekeeper, I think I do a better job and we shop once a week, so we rarely eat out. When we do, its usually restaurant week with a prefix menu.
I've become a pretty good cook as result.....

I just had foot surgery as a result of all of those wonderful high heels, so now its a good pair of Clarks for me. Just ordered them in another color (free shipping, saved a couple of bucks)

Jackie Von Tobel said...

Since closing my design showroom last June to write full time I have done away with:

My bi-weekly manicure & pedicure
Cut my housekeeper down to twice a month ( I can't give her up completely that would be just too much for me to handle)
I've banned myself from shopping at the mall - only discount stores for me
No more Whole Foods - I'm shopping at Vons
Buying all my books on Amazon now- no more trips to the neighborhood Barnes & Noble
Decided to keep my 5 year old car and not buy a new one - will drive it till it drops.

Boss said...

Great topic!

I wouldn't say that I've had to cut back on much b/c prior to now I've been living with my husband on a combined MD and PhD salary (sounds cush, doesn't it!) But I feel like we've always had enough.

Things I don't spend on
1. No Car (no insurance, no gas, no repairs). We walk everywhere (in SF) and occasionally use a zipcar or public transportation
2. No fancy shoes/clothes/bags. My sister bought my first 100+pair of jeans for me last year.
3. No Starbucks. We got an awesome coffee maker for our wedding and I bought paper coffee cups and lids from Costco. Its no more environmentally friendly than starbucks everyday but I've lost 100+ worth of travel coffee mugs. And it *is* cheaper.
4. Occasional "zero dollar diet". See how long you can go eating just what you have in your cabinets. If you're like me - you can eat like a king for weeks just by finding a way to use barley, beans, the shit in your freezer, etc.

Things I spend money on
1. My hair. As someone pointed out - its expensive no matter what. So I get a good stylist who does my highlights so they last 2-3 months (sort of).
2. A cleaning lady. I work 100 hour weeks and will not spend my precious time off cleaning the apartment. Its worth cooking at home all year for this luxury.
3. Dinners out once a week (except when on the zero dollar diet - see above).

Boss said...

I should have said "MD and PhD STUDENT" salary. We're just now getting real jobs.

perchance said...

Try moving to the ass-end of the world - New Zealand. You'll be forced to give up everything you ever loved because it costs a bloody fortune to ship it here. And if you can find it, it will cost an arm and a leg and the other leg. Try a tube of Revlon lipstick for $16 or a Votivo candle at Dyptique prices.

If you compare personal incomes to mortgage payments, it costs more to buy a house here than in LA. No lie. National healthcare is a joke and private insurance costs more here than in the US.

So giving up life's little luxuries isn't hard if it means survival.

Sorry to be so down, but the Kiwi image of a clean, green island paradise is utter bullshit. Great marketing campaign though. Brilliant, in fact.

Enh, back to life down under...

perchance said...

Oh, I forgot to mention what I won't give up: my monthly issues of Elle Decor and Domino airfreighted in at $17 and $14 a pop respectively.

Anonymous said...

I need to start bringing my lunch to work. Paying $10/day to eat a designer tuna sandwich at my desk is ridiculous. Also trying to stop taking taxi's when it's just as fast to take the subway or streetcar (yes, we have streetcars here in Toronto).

I am determined to keep my 2xmonth cleaning lady and my group-training sessions as they are the two best things I have ever done for my mental wellbeing.

I will not give up good shoes, bags and coats...but I am being more selective, less impulsive.

Trying to buy ONLY 1 Euro Decor magazine a month -- not ALL of them....

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a week of interesting, thought provoking topics, Decorno! My husband and I bought our first house in VT late last year and have been pouring every last dime into fixing it up. It's a love/hate thing. We've had to cut back on travel and eating out...but we have a great place to come home to at night. Fabulous bags and shoes aren't really much of an issue here in VT. I don't think I could find a pair of Louboutins if I tried.

Be the change..... said...

Well, I'm a guy so that saves a lot of the problems with hair coloring, lots of shoes, bags, etc.
I do buy expensive well-made shoes, but they last longer so I think they're cheaper in the long run. Plus men only need a few pairs of sturdy shoes.

My friends always think I'm rich because I own a condo and shop at whole foods and always have fresh flowers-but thats where i spend my money. Those are my extravagances I care about.
I do not own a car (walk or public transportation), I rarely eat out, I do not go to starbucks, I do not buy expensive clothing, I don't go to concerts, I only have basic cable, the idea of a cleaning lady for my apartment seems ridiculous.

I spend my money on things that actually improve my life, my future (financial and otherwise) and help the environment (only organic and green).

Great topic!

Jessica Claire said...

anon 8:38, thanks for prefacing by saying it's not personal.

I get what you're saying that magazines tend to think they invented the concept and I do know mixing high and low is not akin to a PHD in biochemistry, but you'd be surprised that for some people, it is HARD!

I think anon 11:27 captured what I'm trying to say with:
"Sometimes a small budget yields greater creativity"

By mixing and matching and spending on the worthy items that will take you further, you can look amazing and not have to shell out a head-to-toe designer price.

This process does require a good eye, a committment to look around - not to mention a sense of value - so I do consider this a kind of talent some either do or do not possess.

Anonymous said...

I'm of the mindset that if you don't upgrade on everything, you won't have to cut back later.

Most of the stuff I buy is on sale or a great deal anyway, I go to the library, I make my coffee at home, cook at home most nights, and have the most basic cable there is. I treat myself here and there, but generally keep expenses low and as a result I'm able to save a lot. Having a lot of expensive shoes in my closet would be nice, but having money in a savings account gives me piece of mind that no amount of shoes could.

The one thing I'll never give up though is high speed internet. The thought of going back to dial-up makes me shudder.

alis said...

-No car. I walk or take a taxi on shorter distances, public transportation for any location that will cost more than $10.
-I get bored of clothes too quick, so I buy lots of clothes but don't splurge on anything other than jeans.
-Everything that can be done at a beauty salon, I can do to myself (mani/pedi/hair removal/tan/scrub).
-I go to the most expensive hair salon in the country, but I only go once every 6 months. I don't have to go so often because they cut it sooo good.
-My apartment doesn't look so good.
-I'll go to starbucks once or twice a week, make my own coffee rest of the week.
-When I'm eating out(very often), I don't go for steak but go for something cheaper and lighter!
-I go to the cinema pretty often despite having home cinema, that's my passion.
-Cleaning lady comes twice a month.
-Work out with my gear at home or go running.
-Stay at my boyfriend's home during vacations(southern turkey is be-u-ti-ful and cheap, recommended).
-Actually I'm living off my father and looking for a job for all my indulgences listed above..!

Anonymous said...

I would happily get rid of TV but hubby becomes frantic whenever I suggest it.

Things I will not give up on include:
- gym membership. For stress reduction more than for waistline diminishment
- high speed internet
- personal organizer. I gave up other stuff, like high-end wine, to afford this. The stress reduction it has provided has been mind-boggling.
- cleaning lady once/ month. I can clean some, but having someone else give the kitchens, bathrooms and hardwood a really though clean once/ month makes a big difference
- basic household upkeep/ maintenance. Hubby's parents live with cracking walls and buckets to catch roof leaks for years at a time because it's not a priority to them. Reason #265 I don't see eye to eye with the in-laws

Anonymous said...

I used to buy my lunch nearly every day but have cut back to just once a week and I'm loving the savings. I've also cut back on buying clothes and I do my own nails but I just can't imagine not highlighting my dishwater-blonde hair so I try to stretch my appointments out to 8 to 12 weeks.

Now that summer's coming I have to see if I can cut back on my Frappucino consumption.

I am also a first-time homeowner and we use our bunny ears to pick up two stations and we don't miss cable at all. Besides, I can watch the Hills online w our high speed internet we pay $30 for. We also decided that since we have cell phones there was no point in having a land line since only our moms would be leaving messages for us at home.

susan said...

My income goes way up and way down depending on nothing in particular, as my clients seem to come in waves. It's simple math to me...when I have it, I spend on things I've been wanting/needing, and also stock up. When I don't, I don't (there's always wine in either case.) Good stuff in this post and in the comments.

Anonymous said...

I've given up reading HOBAC. The prose is too fatty.

Teal Chic said...

I'm no longer blond...but I still have the mercedes :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, D. Style Court (I think... read so many of these dang design blogs I'm having problems keeping them straight in my head) just had a great entry describing a few items her hip friend Carson thinks spice up any living space. Illustrated by some drool-worthy photos, of course.

Since you are a fashion maven as well as a decorating guru, would you do the unstylish amongst us (= me) a huge favour some day and do a post on some clothes, shoes and bags that you think look simply fabulous on all a wide variety of women. I need to get my groove back when it comes to dressing myself and I think you'd be just the woman for the task.

Anonymous said...

I'll continue to drive lower-end cars. This dude from the WSJ sums it up my reasons more eloquently than I can:

Christine in DC said...

Wow, all these comments make me look extremely frugal. I really wish I could cross tab these comments with the salary comments! I just don't understand how people afford extreme luxury habits. I am 31, make a decent salary.

My most expensive pair of shoes was less than $100, but I usually spend $50 or less. At my new job I started a year or so ago, I was introduced to a bunch of young 20-something women who were very brand and fashion-conscious. It was very jarring for me, and it's very clear they have help from their parents. Not that I don't care about looking decent or quality, but it's just never mattered to me that much or anyone I've known. I've tried on expensive shoes, and they just don't seem all that much higher quality than some shoes that cost much much less. I don't get manicures or pedicures very often. I get my hair cut about 4 times per year for $40 which is very cheap here. I clean my own, rented apartment. Most of my furniture is either Ikea or used--my sofa was my big splurge and cost $1,300 including delivery. Buying my laptop for just under $2,000 made my stomach cramp up. I drive a used 2002 chevrolet cavalier, which is about as un-luxurious as you can get.

My big areas where I could cut back are eating out (though I do pack lunch/breakfast and probably don't spend as much as many people I know who seem to have eaten at every restaurant out there) and coffee. Most days I make my own coffee, but maybe a few days a week, I'll get a cup of regular coffee at Sbux. I've thought of getting rid of cable (extended basic plus internet), but even if I got rid of TV, I'd still be plonking down a lot for internet which I am too used to having now. I pay for a gym membership, which is a great release and investment in my health and something I'm not willing to give up!

I don't think there's any mystery as to why women like Coach. It's the same reason they like anything from any brand, be it Jimmy Choo or Coach--marketing and trying to send a message about who they are/what they can afford. Frankly, I liked Coach much better when they had simple leather goods.

About Emily... said...

Gave up dying my hair dark- now do it myself from an $8 box and try to bring my lunch to work..thank god I'm not a coffee drinker! But the little things really do add up and save ya some $$$$ so I can buy more cute stuff for my home :)

Emily @ Material Girls

Anonymous said...

To "Perchance": Sign up for Zinio. If you live overseas it can save you tons of money on some of the U.S. magazines. Unfortunately I think Hearst owns it so while you can get Elle Decor you won't get Domino.

Erica said...

Well, let's see:
*I gave up all of my mag subscriptions, and now just buy them individually...for way more money, while I'm waiting for the train and bored
*We gave up HBO and showtime, and now I buy episodes of shows on itunes...and probably spend the same amount of money as I did when we had tricked out cable
*We gave up our regular phone, thinking it was a waste, and decided to *just* keep cells. Then I bought an iphone...and started talking on it way more than I ever did when I had a crapass cell...and now our phone bill is $120/month instead of $40

I guess I'm not so good at cutting back.

Off topic, is that a pic of Serena from Gossip Girl above? Never once...not even for a few hours, have I e-v-e-r been able to get my hair to look so wavy and fabulous. So if that is not a fake character on TV, but is a real person...with real hair...who gets her hair to look like that every day, can you pretty please do a post on that?

Sarah's Fab Day said...

I'm with Mamacita, since I quit my job to stay home with the kids, I no longer have a cleaning lady (cry) and have just noticed that I dress my kids better than myself. Hmmpf! I can't however give up my hair appointments, with short hair you have to have cut & color every 4 1/2 weeks, I just keep reminding the hubby that he doesn't want a wife with gray...ick!

iaspire said...

I recently got married and my husband refuses to buy soda in the can. As a self-professed diet coke addict (perhaps another cliche), this has had an unexpected negative effect on my overall morale. It's a small thing, but what is it about those liter bottles that make me feel so ghetto? Yet there is a silver lining...I drink way less of the stuff and have opted to go for water instead. I feel healthier!

Anonymous said...

"Trendy leather handbags (it's the first thing I notice about a woman). Knockoffs will never do, and I don't like anything with a signature. Why does every 3rd woman in my north Toronto suburb own the signature Coach Carly bag?"

Holy shit, really? THIS is this first thing you notice about a woman? Not her face? Not any sort of personality? Oh, she carries a snooty handbag, well shit now, I want to meet her.

Sorry. You sound like a bitch.

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Wheelchair said...

Hey, very nice site. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definitely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment. Thanks for sharing.
Karma KM 2500

Keep Posting:)

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