The Crotchless Shorts Story

by Kim on June 7, 2011 · 37 comments

Brian and I are on a mission to save money.  We are laser-eyed and single-minded.  Every decision we make we make with our RTW travel goal in mind. 

I’ve said it before, but just in case you missed it:

We don’t buy things anymore.

Like, nothing.

(except for food)

(and that absolutely necessary weekend escape to the coast) 

What I’ve learned by buying nothing

I hate to admit it but I am so totally hardwired to buy instead of repair/rejigger/creatively find a solution to what I need. 

I’ll give you an example. 

I own one pair of running shorts (no small feat for someone who runs six days a week).  Because I own only one pair, and because I’ve been wearing them for two years, the seams finally gave out on me. 

I thought, I need to buy new shorts

Then I thought, but you’re not buying anything

Then I went to the gym outfitted in the essentially crotchless shorts, did three sets of highly embarrassing squats, and vowed to come up with a creative solution to my problem.  I needed new shorts, but I couldn’t buy new shorts.  What’s a girl to do?

Finally, it hit me. 

Kim, sew the damn things.

Like, hello. 

I could hear my late grandmother, a seamstress who amassed an impressive collection of thimbles during her lifetime, rolling over in her grave. 

In my former life, when I bought things, I’d have easily justified replacing a pair of shorts I’ve worn almost every day for two years (don’t judge me.  I do own a washing machine). 

But in this new life, this life where I buy nothing, I sewed the damn things up and now they’re good as new. 

How much have I wasted in my life because it was easier to replace instead of repair? 

I’ve been reprioritizing for a little while now.  My challenge is to value, really value, what I already have instead of always wanting more. 

I’m trying to let this simple truth sink in: I already have exactly what I need

By the way…

Do I stand like that all the time?  What the hell?

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

mary June 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

good post…it’s amazing how many times i forget that i can repair, recycle, repurpose, etc. i just go and buy. and often after i’ve bought, i find i already owned a replacement, but couldn’t locate it.

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Kim June 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Yep, I’ve done that a million times.

Another thing that happens (just saw it today) is that when there are “freebies” people will just take and take and take and not even think if they need that stuff at all. We are so totally hardwired to grab that “good deal” or whatever that we consume for no reason. Bad.

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Gillian @OneGiantStep June 7, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Jason has always said that ‘free shit is still shit’…but it’s hard to break out of it!!

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Wendy Gibson June 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm

You stand like that after 20 miles…I know those shorts. I see at least two days a week.

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Kim June 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm

I’m going to be standing like that after 13 miles next weekend.

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Carmel June 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm

My husband and I have not become quite so disciplined yet about not buying anything, but I’m trying to make us more conscious about what we NEED vs. what we think we need. Case in point, when my blow dryer died, I got all pissy about it because I needed a new one. Um…not really. That little one my mom left behind isn’t the greatest blow dryer in the world, but it dries my hair. That’s the purpose, right? So, I use that and it’s fine. Funny how we’re so programmed.

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Kim June 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Exactly Carmel. The same thing happened to me with my blow dryer, actually. BUT, I do have to admit that the universe is testing us because two days ago our coffee maker died. We’ve been using our french press but I may have to cave on this one. Coffee is one thing I cannot survive without.

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Carmel June 8, 2011 at 9:34 am

Oh dear, me neither. I don’t blame you for that one. French press is awesome, but as I found out from camping a couple years ago, too much of it hurts my stomach.

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Scott - Quirky Travel Guy June 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Great post. I think 98% of the time, people do replace instead of repairing and reusing. Replacing feels nice because you get the excitement of bringing a new item into your life. But repairing does save resources and money!
Scott – Quirky Travel Guy recently posted..9 Things You Didn’t Know About Yellowstone National Park

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Kim June 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Hi Scott. I think you’re on to something about that little “high” we feel when we consume. But it goes away and is sometimes replaced with guilt or buyers remorse. I honestly believe that less stuff=more happiness.

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Gillian @OneGiantStep June 7, 2011 at 4:48 pm

That is freaking hilarious!

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Kim June 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm

:) Gillian you will get to meet the shorts in Vancouver.

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Odysseus June 7, 2011 at 5:51 pm

I think all of us who are saving for long-term travel have learned this lesson. It’s kinda amazing to come to the realization after so many years of consumerism that we don’t actually need all those shiny new things and they don’t make us any happier.
Odysseus recently posted..Are You Afraid to Travel

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Kim June 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Hi Odysseus. I definitely think it is one of the steps a long term traveler (and therefore a long-term saver) goes through.

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Sunee June 8, 2011 at 5:21 am

Very good point. I’m just as guilty – I’d rather buy a new pair of pants than take 15 minutes to sew a seam in again. I do fix buttons, although usually with 2 to 3 month waiting period ;)

Apart from the money lost, I think it also shows how skills get lost over generations. I can hardly cook (luckily my husband doesn’t have this setback), never mind catch a chicken or milk a cow. I shudder to think how unhandy my (future) children will be….
Sunee recently posted..Nuts for Cheeky Chipmunks

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Kim June 10, 2011 at 4:30 pm

OMG no kidding. Brian is really handy and still has skills like fixing a car, changing a tire, repairing stuff, etc. Everyone should know how to do those things (I don’t). Have you read The Last American Man? If not- you should! It addresses some of these issues. I’m afraid my kids will also be unhandy. What’s that movie where everyone sort of unevolves into TV watching blobs… Idiocrity or something like that? Too close for comfort these days!

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Darcy June 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Awesome post! I remember the first patches I put on the Kier’s pants. I’m sure you’ll be happier with your new habit anyway…like you said, you already have everything you need. Keep it going!

Darcy
http://www.sustainablefamilyfinances.com

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Kim June 9, 2011 at 7:25 am

Thanks Darcy :)

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Kieron June 8, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Haha love this story! With sacrifices like that, you’re bound to smash your savings target! :)
Kieron recently posted..Our Proposed West Coast USA Itinerary

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Kim June 9, 2011 at 7:25 am

Thanks Kieron. We are on track… the little things add up!

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Megan June 9, 2011 at 1:47 am

This post made me giggle – I did a similar thing when I was saving for my RTW – only it was my yoga leggings and after a couple of classes with some holes in some not great spots I had to get some new ones for the sake of the rest of the class!

I also had my boots re-soled, and it was like a major epiphany – to be honest I would have previously just bought a new pair of boots. Crazy!
Megan recently posted..Taking a breather in Rishikesh

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Kim June 9, 2011 at 7:26 am

Hehe. Yep, when I was doing those squats I sort of realized that everyone in that room was paying for my trip at that moment, not just me. Hahaha. Anyway, the boots re-soled is a big thing. I need to find a place to have that done in Portland. I sometimes dream of turning an old strip mall into a gigantic reuse center where you could go to get everything fixed. How awesome would that be?

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Therese June 10, 2011 at 10:05 am

Love this, Kim! I have recently started cutting back on my spending in order to save for an upcoming trip to Europe. I thought that this would make me feeler “poorer” and emptier… instead, it has strangely filled me with a sense of gratitude for everything I already have. I’ve truly realized that “I already have exactly what I need.” It’s a freeing experience to come by, don’t you think?? And p.s.- Glad to have met you last weekend. Your writing is very readable, real, entertaining and wise. :)

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Kim June 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Thanks Therese- great to have met you too. I love what you’re doing with your site, such a fantastic idea… wish I would have found something like it when I was in my early twenties.

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Greg June 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I can absolutely relate to this. When I was saving to go abroad for the first time I went rock climbing with a group of friends. Needless to say, harness+worn shorts=split seam at the rear. Oops!

Wait until you’re on the road and sewing the button back on your world travelling pants over and over—pin pricked fingers are a small price to pay for adventure!

Anyway, great to meet you last weekend, I love the blog!
Greg recently posted..Fairmont Lifestyles Menu Mini-Review

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Kim June 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Oops! It’s funny because this problem is more common than I knew- all of us poor travelers with split seams.

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Mack Reynolds July 21, 2011 at 8:10 am

this is hilarious. i teach a karate class, and one night my pants split while doing some move or other. needless to say it was a bit embarrassing. i could’ve used your needle skills right then and there. i just kinda tried to explain more so than show for the rest of the night. congrats on saving!

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Kim July 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm

LOL! I won’t tell you the story about when I split my pants at work!!!! :)

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Mack Reynolds August 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm

no matter where you are, it’s just a bad situation you know?!

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Kim August 1, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Yes, unfortunately I am well aware!

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Alice August 9, 2011 at 9:46 am

Hey Kim, sounds like repairing damaged goods like your shorts works for you. For me, I rather just buy a new one. It just seems it’s not worth the time repairing. If I spend the same time working, it feels like I’ll usually earn more money than I can save by repairing.
Alice recently posted..Erase Credit Card Debt Easily

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Kim August 9, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Hi Alice. Well, that’s one way of looking at it. But when you only think about money you forget to consider all of the other things that went in to making those shorts, like all of the resources that the earth provided and then the fuel it took to ship the shorts to the store and then the fuel it took for you to get to the store to buy them. There are lots of hidden costs behind everything that own. So, sometimes it does make sense to just buy something new but in my opinion most of the time the prudent thing to do is fix what you already have.

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Runaway Brit December 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm

I have just read this post and really admire your thriftiness – I am terrible for throwing things out the moment as soon as they fall into disrepair. I think I’ll make a New Year’s Resolution to be more resourceful!

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Kim December 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm

That’s a fantastic New Year’s Resolution. It’s amazing how much you can save (stuff and money) just by spending ten minutes focusing on fixing whatever is broken.

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tunimaal December 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm

That’s a pretty smart way of saving money. Most of people just forget that they can always re-use their stuff so they just buy new ones. Actually I was like this, and then I started to travel around the world in November 2009, so I had to change my habits…

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Kim December 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I bet traveling definitely changes your perspective. It’s so easy to buy new, it’s almost work to fix what you already have which is just backwards…

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