Monday, January 16, 2006

Debt Hermit

I realized something about myself today. I have become a debt hermit. I came upon this realization today when I went to the mall to pick up a pair of pants that had been tailored. While I was there I decided to go into Forever 21 to look around. I told myself that I was just going to look to see if they had a shawl or something to wear with my dress for Saturday night but ended up finding a few casual tops that I wanted to buy. I thought I really needed these tops because during the conference I'll be forced into situations where I will have to wear non-work clothes and wanted to look nice. For any of you that know Forever 21 you will know that everything is inexpensive and cheaply made so a few tops would have probably cost $50 tops. I had everything ready and was walking to the checkout stand when my logical, frugal self took hold.

I realized I didn't really need these clothes but rather that buying the new clothes was part of a coping mechanism that I use for facing social situations. Somehow I feel much better about being social with people when I am wearing new clothes and if I feel that I have nothing to wear, I will avoid the situation at all costs. This is partly how I got into so much debt in the first place. If I had a date I would have to buy a new outfit. If I was going out with friends I felt the need to buy something new. Now, since I can't run out and buy a new outfit on every occasion (nor should I ever even if I didn't have debt) I avoid the situations and stay at home as much as possible.

I know part of my shopping neurosis is imagined whereas part of shopping neurosis is very real. People are judged so often by what they wear, what they drive, what latest gadget they have that I don't wonder why people have so much debt from trying to live up to what people expect them to be. I think I felt this pressure much less when I lived in northern California because people were much more laid back there.

So I wonder, if they had a map showing the areas with the highest concentration of debt-laden individuals, where would they be?

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Terri said...

I have a very inexpensive car -- the Toyota Echo -- and have owned it while I lived in Seattle, San Francisco, Sunnyvale [Silicon Valley] and Austin, Texas.

Only when I lived in Silicon Valley did people make comments about my car. It was the first time since high school that anyone had so blatantly judged me by a physical possession, and it blew my mind.

I can never remember if Sunnyvale/Palo Alto/Mountain View and the like are considered "Northern CA" or not, even SF to me always seemed like the middle of the state. But if so, it seems to be a pocket of conspicuous materialism.

Will Kirby said...

I feel the same way. I get that frugal craziness every time I goto the grocery store. I actually reason to myself that Kroger brand cheese has comparable taste to that of some of the better brands.

Debt Hater said...

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Anonymous said...

Very insightful post... If you really don't want to feel pressure about how you look or what you drive, move to Iowa where I live. There really isn't as much of that here which I appreciate. People I know who are from here but lived in other places and then moved back say it's strikingly different that way. You can spend very little time and money thinking about what you look like and not stick out from the norm. Also, don't you find that some of the coolest people are people who have a strong sense of self and don't give a crap what other people think and just follow their own heart and style? That's who I want to emulate.

Nicole said...

You said it, sister! Love the site. Keep up the good work. Remember, you can always invite friends to join you for a night in - lately I've been having way more fun at those than at bars anyway...and you can wear your pajamas if you want!

wickedwisdom said...

i can completely relate. i used to go and buy shoes whenever things would get too stressful for me.

i had tons of debt and tons of shoes. i finally got my act together.