When someone comes to our house to visit, I remove my ratty old slippers, which are held together with duct tape, now fraying, and put on more respectable shoes. A few months ago, I put the old slippers (originally L.L. Bean) in a wastebasket, but a day later took them out because I thought they had just a little more life left in them.
Apparel is an expense where our radical frugality is apparent. We tend to buy used and wear clothes out. In 2013 we spent a total of $571 on clothes and shoes, and through May this year we spent $197. The only things I buy new are underwear, socks and running shoes.
For the rest, we patronize the Salvation Army store and buy clothes at First Congregational Church’s annual Cranberry Fair. Betsy works in the used clothing department at the fair and is in a position to spot things we need. I have a seemingly endless supply of t-shirts I’ve gotten free, and because I’m a runner I have many old pairs of shoes. Recycling can apply to clothes as well as paper and bottles.
They say that after you retire, clothing expenses decline, but for me that wasn’t true, because they were already low. I worked on a newspaper until 18 months ago, and in this field a certain seediness of attire is expected (and goes along with the low pay). For years I wore high-quality shoes to work that Betsy found for $2 a pair, and they were practically new. I later wore some lesser black shoes, bought at the church fair, and one day I noticed that they didn’t match!
When I was researching the earlier post on Radical Frugality, I found Internet sites saying the average amount of money a person spends on new clothes ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 per year. I guess many people have professional or retail jobs that require an extensive, expensive wardrobe. I may look shabby sometimes, and there are times when Betsy urges me to change my clothes, but I just don’t get the same thrill at buying new clothes that many people do.
And those ratty slippers? They are getting the heave-ho, and I’ll put slippers on my Christmas list next year.