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The old woman who lived in her shoes

‘I’ve spent $40, 000 on shoes and I have no place to live? I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes!’ (Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City‘s ‘Ring A Ding Ding’)

Sex and the City is full of memorable lines, but this particular witticism has stuck with me like an Aeroplane Jelly jingle. It isn’t hard to see why. $40, 000 is a lot of dosh. It’s a car or a sizeable chunk of one’s mortgage. To have thrown it away on Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choos? Unbelievable.

And yet it resonates. There is truth to the exaggeration. We’ve all spent obscene amounts of money on things that we want but don’t need: my boyfriend has accumulated hundreds of DVDs, my friend buys retro/antique furniture she’ll never use, while I, like Domain’s Carolyn Boyd, ‘have enough threads to dress the people of a smallish nation’ (‘How to Lose the Mortgage Millstone’). Yup. If Carrie’s going to turn into the ‘old woman who lived in her shoes’, I am destined to become the homeless chick with the wardrobe in a shopping trolley.

Why do we keep on consuming pointlessly? ‘It’s just the boredom factor, really’, Boyd says. We go shopping on our days off. We go shopping to catch up with friends. We go shopping because we’re bored of wearing an outfit twice. Even though we know that it’s an environmentally unsustainable activity which hurts our wallets, we still keep on doing it.

This is fine if one isn’t in the red. But I have a mortgage, as well as credit card debt; I can’t afford to get ‘Carried away’. Hence no more new purchases from Chadstone. Taking inspiration from one work colleague’s thrifty nanna (who only buys hosiery and underwear new and everything else secondhand), I shall stick to op shops and flea markets for my fix.

Unfortunately, even op shops require dollars, and every dollar spent represents hundreds sucked into the mortgage black hole. Is there an alternative? I hope so.

24 years and 10 months to go,

M.

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