20 in 2020 update: A purchase better than clothing

What makes something a good purchase, for you? I recently received my summer teaching paycheck and the anticipation of it hitting my bank account was such an exciting time. I abandoned approximately 1000 online shopping carts full of investment buys–nice bags, cashmere sweaters, and fine leather goods (TREAT YOSELF). But then the money came in and I was faced with extreme decision fatigue…

For me, a good purchase is usually something I really really want, yes, but also something that will make my life better in some way. That’s why most of my clothing budget goes to “upgrades” at this point: comfier walking shoes. Better fitting jeans. A replacement for the dress that alllmost fits perfectly. These choices feel sensible and I like feeling sensible.

But buying clothes is also easy for me because in my own head I’m allowed to do it. Clothes are my usual indulgence when I’m stressed because I know I can afford them and I think they’re fun. There are all kinds of other categories where I would like to spend more money but I think I shouldn’t or it’s too expensive: concert tickets, meal delivery services, boutique-y fitness classes, expensive pottery studio memberships. And you know what? I think this stuff might actually be a better buy than anything in the clothing category.

I read some new professor advice last year that said, and I’m paraphrasing, stress has to go somewhere. Meaning, if you get off work and you had a hard day, you have to find a way to release the stress. If you don’t, the stress will find somewhere to go anyway. This advice hit me like a ton of bricks, as someone who usually suffers at least one terrible cold or flu a year (ask me about the time I traveled to a conference even though I didn’t have a voice?), once had an ulcer (blame the Phd), and regularly has stress dreams (always, always about teaching). It’s pretty obvious that my body absorbs the stress even if my mind doesn’t acknowledge it.

Enter: weight lifting. I know. Is this where you thought my latest low buy post was going? Weight lifting is one of my favorite forms of exercise. You get to feel powerful, you’re doing something very concrete, and somehow time just seems to slow down when I’m doing it. I’ve definitely fallen off the weight lifting wagon in recent years, though, because often the very thing I need to do when I’m stressed is also the thing I refuse to do. This post got me back into the idea.

Contractually obligated to offer you one outfit pic.

But when it came to actually buying weights, I could not commit. They’re expensive and I hate having another thing to store. I found the perfect set to address the storage problems but they were over $300 and my brain was like noooooo! You know where this is going. Sometimes you just have to hit checkout and that is exactly what I did with my summer money (not all of it–but the rest went toward car payments, which is probably a topic I will wax poetic about another time).

Ok, here’s the other problem with weight lifting: there are a ton of “shoulds” about it. You should aim for 3-4 days a week. You should record the amount of weight lifted so you can increase it every week. You should rotate the muscle groups exercised. You should get as much protein as your lean bodyweight throughout the day. The shoulds are part of why I stopped weight lifting. I’m a perfectionist, so if I missed a day of my scheduled routine, or if I knew the workout would take an hour and I only had 30 minutes, I would just skip it.

I have combatted this by committing to the least perfect weight lifting around: 10 minutes is better than none. Just wing it. Yes, you can have The Office on in the background. I’m keeping a simple phone note of exercises I did, for now just so that I don’t have to make up new workouts every time, but maybe eventually to record weight lifted if I feel like it.

I have bought some clothes lately that you can see here. I knew that the bulk of my purchases this year would be for summer (it’s so hot here WHY) and would taper off for fall. So if you need me I will be repeating “I do not need new sweaters” to myself over and over through December 🙂 I am occupying myself by cleaning out fall stuff–I’ll be doing some try ons over on Instagram and need your help deciding what to keep! But I think the best item I purchased this summer was not a new clothing item and instead a way to form a new healthy habit!

How’s your year in purchases going?

2 thoughts on “20 in 2020 update: A purchase better than clothing”

  1. Great post. We also “spent out” on adjustable dumbbells and a rowing machine in April. It’s been fun to use them! And I watch the office during every workout 🙂


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