Thursday, August 18, 2011

those crazy girls who swear off shopping

i've become one of them

a long time ago i borrowed the book animal, vegetable, miracle (about a family who goes a year without shopping) from my soccer friend anne. and it resonated with me (not so much that i was willing to forgo buying everything, including growing all my own food, but still there was something appealing about it -- for the interesting and more everyday aware life it provided) add to that all the bloggers who were tracking their month without spending and i started giving it more thought. so i did it. here's how it went:

1 month no spending. conciousness experiment, savings booster. (allowed -- groceries, gas, necessities and experiences but not STUFF)
day 1: started on the middleschooler's 14th bday, already had his gifts but nothing to wrap them in. settled on sketched on lined paper, turned out cuter than store bought wrap.
day2: finding the hardest expenditures to give up are the little ones -- no mini reno supplies, magazines (even thrift store ones), dollar store makeup
day3: dreamed that i had gone out shopping -- panicked upon waking up (clearly this is deeper seated than i thought ;)
day6:forgot and invited a friend to go thrifting, she couldn't so i avoided trying to get out of it after the mis-invite, having a writing and home renovating surge of creativity (glazed the kitchen cupboards using stain and rags i already had on hand) tackling my magazine obession by reading DIY blogs
day7: surprisingly, the absence of the shopping distraction has spilled over into constructive long term planning and short term bill cutting (brainstormed and reconfigured hundreds of dollars of budget room in only a couple of days) everything from banking fees to digital cable holiday pause. sent e-cards to friends when i thought of them, bartered to get what i wanted.
day8: i've never been a fan of telling the kids when payday is -- like setting them up for a paycheque to paycheque mentality -- so we never have. so they still haven't clued in that we're through week 1 of no spending
day9: yesterday i feigned errands and went to the library by myself and read an hour's worth of new magazines. i also keep having book buying urges so i have pulled out the books i have bought in the past for their acclaim or interesting covers that didn't grab me from first read and am attempting them again with fairly good results
day10: a friend asked what i plan to do without my regular thrifty chicks sourcing. i said i have a bit of a stockpile to rotate through and plan to purge my personal stock as well. started doing some of that for today's listings.
day11: looking through catalogues and magazines usually enables me to write long lists of things that i want to acquire, a third of the way through this experiment, i'm finding i'm less interested in doing the lists. also, delaying gratification has been better for life planning across the board (less impulsive decisions and better thought out ones that are more efficient)
day12: i'm finding the spending i am doing is lifestyle based -- the kind i usually try and cut back. the truth is stuff can be acquired by recycling (today's project was a wreath using supplies i already had on hand, in this month i also tweaked the closet with an old shower rod, and made a new valance out of old curtains)what i have and tweaking hand-me-downs, but spending on doing things and entertaining -- that's where memories are made and abundance is felt.
day14: when talking to friends about books (and keeping in mind my dwindling pile of reads), i thought of joining the quality paperback book club. if i wasn't on the 30day plan, it would be an impulse even though it doesn't line up with my plan to cut down monthly spending committments (lower bills etc). but i usually wouldn't put the two together. on the plus side, i am having a way easier time not throwing in doo-dads, makeup, or magazines into the shopping cart when grocery shopping so the pantry pickings are that much better.
day15: cut flowers on the table beats another knick knack for feel good factor
day16: good for my magazine compulsion, i inherited a few stacks of decor magazines from my aunt. while reading the color for my upstairs library occured to me (a light lemonade) so i painted test strips with blended acrylic and wrote the "buy the paint" date on the calendar. lesson: delaying gratification hones the look you really want. i always pass on the magazines when i am done and my girlfriends do the same.
day18: a friend with a newly reno-ed house gave me her discard can of paint, (she didn't like the way it turned out) a few shades darker than the yellow i had first conceptualized for the library. as i was painting it (not shopping makes more time for house fixing), i realized that same space has been painted with others' discard paint by me two times already -- both times the results were less than i had hoped. third time's the charm.
day19: there are many items i put on my list that i researched with the intent of buying them at month's end, that i land up crossing off. had it not been "no spending month" this month, they probably would have been impulse purchases. lesson: delayed gratification means having a better picture of what i wanted. often that meant something more specific to me or an experience i could treasure longer than the thrill of new stuff.
day20: resurrecting an old promotion for the online store (enter a coffee gift card draw with your donation) means a steady stream of new stock for thrilled customers. also, my reorganizing stock (i had to move it out of the library area in order to paint) and relisting meant older stock un-noticed the first go round also sold.
day24: my book wishlist is growing, (specific ones i've read reviews on) but i haven't run out of reads like i'd feared i would -- friends have lent me good ones and i found ones i have previously bought but not read (i am not a library checker-outer -- i always accrue the giantest of fines that would have been better spent funding the dream library d and i want -- the kind with the tall ladders and too many books to count)
day26: not buying stuff meant filling my time in other ways -- i took the kids to the ocean, a new waterpark, hosted girlfriends and playdates and sleepovers. i also have worn more of my jewelry i had already but had not worn and found new ways to wear outfits i already had but consistently wore the same way.
day30: organized the boys' backpacks, shoes, in house school supplies, and found out where we still have to fill in the blanks. love that we don't have a big shopping tradition as a family -- more time for memories that don't take place in a mall ;)
post script: loved this experience more than i thought i would. more for the efficiency realization (using what i have, saving the shopping time), shopping purposefully, and for spending on experiences a bit more of the time.

(also realized i love the 30 day format and all it's applications -- organization, increased writing, exercise... it gets addicting)

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