My $80 - February (& where should I buy my clothes?)

I'm the proud owner of a budget -- all the responsible funds (retirement, emergency, savings) and then all sorts or random savings accounts for things I know I'll need during the year. They live in separate accounts to make it less likely I'll pillage from the responsible and give to the frivolous.

Clothes shopping gets an $80 monthly allowance. A lot more than some and much less than some others. It's an amount I've felt is reasonable for me. Much less and I feel deprived so I overspend, like a defiant brat. Much more and I feel irresponsible.

Some months I buy $100 bags or $150 shoes and I either don't buy anything the next month or (more likely) I take the balance out of my monthly expenses and go without in another area.

I thought I'd start documenting what I spend my $80 on monthly.


picture is the seller's photo
secretlake @ etsy
secretlake blog


This dress @ retail:

It's a dress

This shirt @ retail:


A bit on labeling, source of clothes and the "big picture"

Nowadays when I write out where my clothes come from I'm noting anything sweatshop retail as such instead of naming the store. I've been trying to discourage myself to buy retail and this is a way to remind me. If I think the store has any redeeming qualities (labor, focus on waste/production, etc.), I'll mention it by name.

Anything purchased resale or thrift will likely say just that, and with the store attached. Ideally I'd like most of my stuff to be thrift/resale, although I think that misses the bigger picture.

Is resale/thrift actually a long-term solution? Right now we have such a surplus, that can very well happen. Will we always? Will we always have so much unwanted clothing floating around that swapping or reselling will be a feasible option? I don't know.

But when I think about who I would buy from if I looked at manufacturing/sourcing/transport/etc, I am too overwhelmed to come up with a good answer as to who I should want to give my money to in exchange for clothing.


  1. $80 seems about right. I reckon I spend about £60, which I think is similar.

    I also agree that thrifting and retail are part of the same system. If everyone thrifted, there would be no new supply for the charity shop!

  2. When I start thrifting/shopping again, I give myself $20/week.
    As for sustainable choices, I'll get back to you on this. I've been investigating corporate social responsibility measures as part of an "exploratory" (I didn't do any original research for it) paper for an upcoming conference. So far, SA8000 is getting very ambiguous vibes from me. As is FTSE4Good indices, the UN Global Compact, and most forms of social auditing. They're not all worthless but they're no panacea.

  3. I agree that that the future of thrifting is certainly complicated. You can already now tell that thrift stores are starting to stock cheap worn-once retail stuff. In thrift stores in Helsinki, H&M is everywhere. Good quality clothing that lasts is tough to find these days, in both retail and thrift.

    And then there is the question of sustainability. I am looking forward to reading about Rad's investigations.

  4. I'd noticed your "sweatshop retail" captions and guessed your motives.

    I've been thinking a lot about wardrobes and ethics for months, and it's a sticky situation. My goal is to buy a few well-made things and wear them to DEATH. In reality, it's very hard to find well-made things, let alone well-made things I'd be caught dead in. I visited my first H&M on Saturday (in Manhattan), and couldn't BELIEVE how cheap everything looked--- I'd been reading about this place for YEARS, and THIS is what all the fuss is about? Disillusioning.

    Shoes are the hardest. I can sew some things, thrift others, splurge or go retail for special things... but I almost never see non-leather shoes I like. Or leather, to be fair. I must be pickier than we knew.

    I like the idea of budgeting, but I fear having too many accounts would drive me crazy. Have you written more about your budgeting method?

  5. @Rebeckah - I hear you on H&M. I used to work by the 5th Ave H&M and I can remember a time where I was impressed by the sheer quantity you could buy. I also have one or two well-made H&M things (purchased @ resale places). So I understood the draw at one point but in recent years have found them too crappily made, to the point where they barely fit correctly.

    I don't know that I've written about my budgeting in detail, because I don't want to bore anyone. It breaks down like this:

    10% of pay into 401k
    $50/month into Roth IRA mutual fund

    ***Bank 1
    Checking account:
    - all recurring bills (rent, utilities, gym, phone, internet)
    - this is where my bulk direct deposit goes

    ***Online Bank 2: pulls from my direct deposit account 1x per month into all these separate accounts...

    Checking account 2 - monthly expenses (groceries, eating out, cat supplies, misc., laundry)...this helps me only spend expense money because when it hits $0, I'm out of money for the month

    Savings - vetting
    Savings - hair/nails
    Savings - clothing
    Savings - vacation
    Savings - gifts
    Savings - donations
    Savings - taxes, record fair, furniture
    Savings/CD - emergency fund 6 mo.

    Savings - regular (I'm looking at putting this into a bond fund at some point)

    So it's really only 2 banks, with a bunch of sub-accounts. If I need to use any sub-account money, I just use my iphone to transfer it to my monthly expenses acct (same bank, usually same day) and use the debit card to purchase it.

    For me, it helps me keep my savings in savings and not use it for clothes, and know that my cats have $1,340 each for vetting at this very moment, and that whatever I have left in each account is the limit to what I'm *supposed* to spend and puts some built-in barriers in place for me.

    It was not too hard to set up once I had a rolling budget and it's all automatic now. The only thing I do manually is take money OUT of the subaccounts to spend.


Post a Comment

Hey there! Thanks for leaving a comment. Please don't apologize for writing a lot - I like long thoughtful comments so bring on the "wall o' text" if you wish and have no shame.

Short comments are, of course, also always welcome.