I am on another kick independent of shopping my own closet and making old dresses new that includes spending cold hard cash, no credit line necessary, on clothes. Why? Because when I’m buying something, I really want to feel it. This, of course, will also limit how much I will spend on that which I choose to buy. While I am certainly not above walking into a shop with a wad of cash (if only to confuse bystanders about my vocation of choice), I am also incredibly paranoid. And in a city like New York, a lot of cash + severe paranoia = doors locked, I’m staying at home.
When I was in high school and therefore subsisting on the scant, teetering “salary” my parents would allocate to my social life and beyond, I very strategically delegated exactly 30% of the full dollar amount to weekend activities while the additional 70% went toward a more robust wardrobe. Often after I’d save for weeks and finally accumulate enough capital to buy what was on more than one occasion, the Steve Madden platforms of the season, doling out the singles and tens and sometimes twenties but mostly quarters that would make them mine was much harder than I thought it would have been.
Here I had saved up enough money to make my paltry wallet appear fat and I was going to forgo the liquid assets of my teenage-hood for a measly pair of platform shoes?
Sometimes, hell yeah, but sometimes too, at the brink of acquisition, while standing face to face with the cashier who would strip me of my independence, I zipped my pouch-wallet closed, put it back in my pocket and as I turned around, I would say, “Sorry, never mind.” It always felt good and I never regretted it. (Except like, three or four times.)
When I got older, I wanted a credit card. Those MasterCard commercials were spectacularly enticing, and as evidenced by the American Express ads that looked like Mad Lib pages which would pop up in Fashion Magazines, Beyoncé — and therefore I — were really into plastic spending. The whole process just seemed so much easier than trading dollar bills with bodega owners. Then when I got my first credit card, which came in tandem with opening my own bank account, it was all downhill in the wrong direction.
I’d swipe that seemingly innocent little plastic loan everywhere I deemed fit. A $2 coffee from Lenny’s? Credit card. $6 toilet paper from Duane Reade? Credit card. A cab — any cab — from point A to point B? Sorry, no cash.
And then the bill would come and I would think, what the fuck? When did I buy all this STUFF? Weren’t credit cards supposed to be linked to bank accounts that existed only in the world of Monopoly money thus making my spend not illegal per se but certainly very, very good — too good, obviously, to be true.
This brings me back to my initial point: that when I buy things, I want to know I’m buying them. I want to see the money come out of my wallet and know precisely what I’m doing with it and feel good about it so that when I leave the store, wherever I am, I know the transaction is complete and that it’s been thoughtfully blessed with my own approval. No future what-the-fucks. No crude reality checks about the universe I live in. No swipes that go regretted.
The cash sanction also brings up an interesting game I’ve started playing called Stretching [Insert Dollar Amount Here].
In today’s round, I’ve successfully stretched $100 to afford me a red and black plaid shirt from the mens department at Uniqlo which retailed for $19.90 (the shirt is a men’s small though I am typically prone toward the mediums) and a grey wool mini skirt plus lace inset from Zara, for $39.90.
With the leftover $40.20, I unzipped my childhood pouch wallet, put the money inside, and surmised I’d save it for a rainy day that might require new platforms.