Brass Tacks: My $80 (Feb - August 2011)

Back in February, I tried to start documenting my clothes shopping budget (which is $80/month) to keep myself honest about how much I was spending and if I was spending aligned with my values (vegan, labor, environment). With half a year under my belt, let's see how I did.

In February I bought: vintage shoes from Secretlake on Etsy, a dress and a skirt (sweatshop) (reused & sweatshop. vegan.)

In March and April I bought: a jacket, a sweatshirt (both reused) and a tiny shrew (art) (reused. vegan.)

In May I bought: a With Care pin and bow-tie, a dress from The Clothes Horse (reused) and an American Apparel skirt (jerky company, minimally made in the US) (handmade. vegan. reused/labor.)

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In late May I listed a bunch of items I wanted, and chose to spend my June money on a pair of Melissa Anglomania Ultragrrl shoes. (vegan. labor. eco.)

In June I also stole Grace's goal of saving an extra $100 per month. Through creative definitions, I am on target. ($100 paid to teach a workshop and $500 from a secured credit card I canceled and had the deposit refunded.) I will need to find another $100 between now and December to make this goal for 2011. I had planned to take the $$ for clothes I sold at Beacon's Closet but I just couldn't do it. The credit was a better deal and I know I'll use it. Also. I mean, come on. Mentally it's like FREE CLOTHES so I can't let go of that. I know that is horrible brain math but I don't care.

In July I got stuck in the rain twice in one day with canvas shoes on and ended up buying 2 pairs of pleather oxfords at the shoe store next to my office so I'd have dry shoes (and also because they would be good for bike-riding). They were an impulse buy and while vegan, I'd have preferred to shop around for a brand with better labor practices. (vegan. sweatshop.)


I also broke down and took money out of savings to buy a sweatshop skirt and sweatshop shorts because they'd be easy to bike in and I was sick of not having appropriate clothes. I think that was +$40 spent. (vegan. sweatshop.)

In August I bought: a Vanilla & Lace dress (handmade. vegan. labor.)

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how I spent my money. There are a few sweatshop items that I'm not proud of but given how inundated we are with sweatshop labor items, it's not a tragic failure. Lotta room for improvement though.

For future months -- I find myself poking through my wishlist again. I have an entire list to look for while thrift shopping, a tailoring list and then an entire retail list as well. The retail wishlist includes good brands like Vaute Couture and Everday Apparel. Now I just have to keep my eye on the prize.


  1. Well done, thou good and faithful budgeteer!

    Are the Melissa shoes comfortable?

    I've been eyeballing the Vaute Couture lookbook, but I really need a jacket, not a coat. I want a new purse, but I haven't found one I feel good about.

  2. I quite like this post. After a few unsuccessful stops and shopping fast lasted fully for a month. Which sounds ridiculously pathetic, but it was trying to get over my thriftshopping thinking (so cheap, such a bargain, so bought it even though didn't need it)...that was difficult. We saved a heap of money too (which means I wasn't being as thrifty as i thought i was!). Since then, I clearly ask myself is this a "need" or "want". the main value I look at when shopping is environmental...which means I have to see an absolute need for it and it can't be new unless impossible to find thrifted. So far, this is working great. And in part my friend, I have you to thank for the concept of aligning spending with my values. So Ta!

  3. @Rebekah - with both of my Melissa shoes, I had t use a shoe stretcher since they tend to be narrow while my feed a wide. After that they have been comfortable and I wear the flats a LOT. The funny thing is that when I put first put them on, before they "warm up" to my body heat, the shape is still slightly narrow but the longer I wear them, the more comfortable they are! I got mine as new-in-box off Ebay for $80 so I didn't pay full price.

    @Teeny - I have struggled (am struggling) with a lot of the same issues you mention and the process you went through not only sounds familiar to me but also makes a lot of sense. Thank you for the kind words re aligning spending to values!

  4. I really enjoy your shopping accounting. Thanks for modeling how to put my money where my politics are, as much as I can.



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