Wednesday, July 16, 2008

not buying stuff

price tages by lythane on flickr

Just past the mid-year, I thought it might be time to check in on my "not buying stuff" pledge for 2008. I took this pledge because I really wanted to pay down my student loans, and in order to make the big giant monthly payments I wanted to make, it seemed important to trim a bit from the budget.

And also, I realize that I am deeply addicted to Stuff, and Buying Stuff, and Getting New Stuff, and a bit of abstinence wouldn't do me (or the planet) any harm. A bit rough on our consumer-driven ecomony, though... I'm starting to feel a bit guilty about all these banks collapsing. But I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

The main part of the pledge was not buying new clothes. I allowed myself all the thrift store purchases I could want, but nothing new. I took the Wardrobe Refashion 6-month pledge as an inducement, but seeing as how I haven't made a thing to wear, I don't know if I'm still in that club.

I also have tried really hard to limit my purchases of general stuff, mainly by not buying anything on impulse. If there's something that I run across and think I "need," I have been putting it off until I either forget about it, decide I don't need it anymore, or find a free/used/cheaper one someplace else. It seems to be keeping down the general buying.

Also, no credit card use. None. Nada. Zip. Cash only. Very important.

All the same, I am amazed at how much stuff I have bought this year, and at how many consumer items are rattling around in my brain urging me to break out the plastic and make them MINE. I tried to make up as complete a list as I could remember. Here goes:

things i've bought this year (new)
- a SAF t-shirt
- a pair of red sandals
- solar lights for the patio
- yarn
- a recycled banner bag from holly aiken
- notecards
- tomato plants
- a ladder
- a ceiling fan
- a giant 500-gallon water tank
- earrings from yecART.

things i really want but won't buy
- a labradoodle (not really a "thing," is it?!)
- a charcoal grill
- shoes of all sorts, especially some elegant grownup-looking mary janes
- an energy- & water-efficient washer & dryer
- a couch for the living room

stuff i will probably buy before the year is out
- a used iMac
- a gas grill, hopefully in good (used) condition
- a new bathroom exhaust fan
- too many christmas presents
- more yarn

things i plan to make in the (not-too-distant) future
- too many christmas presents
- half a dozen or so baby gifts (!)
- an outdoor potting table/garden storage cabinet

Ugh! You know, listing it all out like this is making the buying impulse easier to resist. I have been struggling most with not buying stuff for the house. For some reason, buying clothes has been easy to abandon (which really surprised me), but buying stuff for the house has not been -- maybe because household goods seem more like "basics" or necessities. A couch. A washing machine. So practical. But maybe not so much when you already have a perfectly good one...

Anyone know a good web tutorial for making your own couch?


  1. i needed to read this (especially since i just made 2 impulse buys in 2 days) so thank you. the tomato plants don't count because you could consider this part of your grocery bill. ;) xo

  2. I can't remember what your couch looks like (which means that I haven't been to your house in a while and that I probably should come over soon, and yes I'm inviting myself and no I'm not ashamed for doing it), but could you recover it?

  3. maybe a new slipcover project for the couch? there've been some neat looking patchwork chair recovers going around the net :) i really think you're doing a great job so far though. and a lot of yr items sound like very practical purchases (ceiling fan, plants, water tank, etc).

  4. I think you are doing very very well, I should do the same thing. (But don't think I have it in me)

    I easily gave up shopping for clothing a while ago mainly because I don't like shopping for my size. It has been surprisingly easy to give up shoe shopping since moving after last Christmas. But I agree about the household items...I love to decorate so that is a downfall. Also, I'm bad about justifying upgrades (to energy/water efficiency items) as saving money in the long run.

    I too would love to get a new washer/dryer but we just can't right now. Instead we did some research and found that using water/electricity during certain hours was costing more, so now we only do laundry on weekends when it is cheaper or late at night. Until we did that, I never knew that water and electricity had prime hours like a cell phone!

    Best I can tell you is try searching Craigslist for the items you need/want. And I agree with the others, you might want to think about making or buying a slipcover for your couch to make it "new" again.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. I am cracking up about the sofa... because if I knew how to make one I would have two:)~ However, in regards to the other items, have you tried to see if there is a freecycle group in your area? We have one locally and they have nice grills givenaway all the time... not to mention you can put your wish list out there and if someone is getting rid of anything that you are looking for you might just get lucky...

  6. Good for you! I think that the "no credit card purchases" is a good one. Too many people live well beyond their means and get into serious trouble all because of a small piece of plastic. Keep up the good work and try not to beat yourself up too bad when you do purchase something.

  7. Oh my, I´ve secretly been planning not to shop this month - what a big failure! I too, needed to read this ;-)

    But I do know of an online tutorial for making your own couch - just take a look here: (it´s a very lovely blog too)

  8. haha- It is so hard... I relate! You should check out Not that you are talking about 'rubbish' which is completely different from 'stuff', but it's a great resource. You may find some alternatives to purchasing some of that stuff???

  9. this is so inspiring to read right now... i am looking over the budget these days and realizing how much the rising price of gas/ airplane tickets is necessitating some trimming in the budget that as of now has not happened. impulse buying is definitely my downfall. i like the idea of making a list... easier to resist when it is written out!
    happy weekend lady!


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