And what about that New Years resolution…

I know all anyone wants to read about is Beth’s exciting life but hey the rest of us have stories too, albeit not nearly as exciting. 4 months ago I made the resolution to buy nothing new in 2011. One may wonder how that resolution has worked out considering our world travels. Well it hasn’t been perfect but I think I’ve done pretty good, of course there is still room for improvement.

I did have to stop and think about how much my resolution should affect the other people in my family. It’s fine for me to choose to do this for myself but is it fair to expect everyone else in the house to have to live this way too. Obviously, Dan has the means to go buy anything he wants or needs but the kids don’t always have that ability and they do still have some needs that can’t always be met at a thrift store. So while I do still preach the evils of child labor in the clothing industry I have made some necessary purchases for the kids. And since they have heard my mantra many, many times in the past 4 months their expectations for new items are very slim. They have made more purchases for themselves instead of expecting me to buy everything they want.

I am very proud of the fact that for the past 4 months I have not made 1 single trip to a coffee shop unless I was meeting a friend for some social time. No matter how tired I have been I have not stopped and gotten any coffees for just myself. I have gone through the Starbucks drive through a couple times but only when I was picking up coffee for someone besides just myself.

Also up until last week I had not bought anything new for myself. I have had a list of wants that I have been putting on hold until next year (delayed gratification at its best) and I did break down and ask for 1 item that i wanted for my birthday. But last week Beth needed to go buy some new shoes for her trip to London and while we were at the store I did decide to buy a pair of Tom’s for myself. Since my shoes are either too dressy and uncomfortable or just plain ratty I was thinking a new pair of shoes for walking around Las Vegas would be nice. I could justify the purchase of a pair of TOMS because for every pair purchased TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. At least I know that something good came from my purchase even if they are still made in China.

During Beth’s and my time in Europe we managed to buy very little. We did, however, buy some clothes from a vintage store. Not only were the clothes less expensive than buying something new but how cool is that to say, “oh I bought this at a vintage store in Paris!” I did feel like I should buy the boys something touristy since they didn’t get go with us, so I bought them each a t-shirt. Dan got some French mustard and a couple Carmel/ choc candy bars.

Back in Feb was Daniel’s 20th b-day so we had to figure out how we were going to handle that, luckily he wanted tickets to a concert and since that falls into the category of events not stuff it didn’t break any rules. Beth’s 18th b-day was just last week but she had been covered with her laptop that she got at Xmas so she wasn’t expecting anything besides a crepe breakfast.

Easter is coming up so we’ll have to figure out what we’re  going to do about that. It’s already a challenge since I try not to buy the kids any candy, which doesn’t leave much to put in those plastic eggs. I’ll have to do some serious thinking about what I’m going to do for that.

Another thing that I have managed to stick to is putting aside 20% of our paycheck into savings. At this point I should have a nice little chunk of money set aside. Well not exactly that money has helped pay for the Beth’s impromptu New York and European travels. We have managed to get through all of her trips without incurring any credit card debt and for that I am very happy! While I will still put aside the 20% a majority of it is now being claimed by Daniel. In an effort to get him to cut back his work hours and concentrate more fully on his college classes we are taking over paying his rent and utilities. 5 months ago I would have never thought that I could pull that out of our monthly budget but now I know I can and still have a few hundred dollars go into savings.

All that to say I am still embracing he “no new in 2011” rule. I am happy that we are not bringing more stuff into the house and we are working on decluttering as the renovation works its way through the house.

No spending in 2011

Is still going strong, of course I’m only 13 days into the challenge. I am coming up with a mental list of items that I “need” but will have to live without. The plunger for my vita mix that I accidentally chopped up last year, a new lead free crock pot, supplies for my new art class, yet another new camera bag…

My plan for the plunger is to tell the vita mix representative, that I sometimes see at Costco, my sob story of destruction and hope they take pity on my and give me an extra. Last time I was there and mentioning my issue he said he would have given me one but he already gave away all his extras.

As for the crock pot did you know that there have been news stories done on the high lead levels that crock pots leach out during cooking (due to lead in the glaze.) Of course, the worst brand is Rival which is what both my crockpots are. Unfortunately, I can’t really figure out a safe brand to go with. So in the mean time and until 2012 I’ll just quit using my crock pot and switch over to my cast iron pots and slow cooking in the oven. That’s a big bummer!

I’m also trying to figure out how I’m going to cover supplies for an art class that I’m taking. It’s metal working/ jewelry making something I’ve never done before so I don’t already own any of the stuff. However, we do have a pretty well stocked shop so I guess I’ll have to go searching and see what I can come up with. Dan did say he has some sheets of copper out there that I can use, so that’s a start. On the upside if this class works out I think I could end up making some pretty cool gifts.

I’m ready to make another trip to the thrift store, my sweater supply has depleted and I’m right in the midst of making another quilt that needs some additional squares. Not sure if I’ll be able to hold out until 1/2 price day at the end of the month or not I’m, thinking not.

I had no problem not shopping in St. Louis last weekend. But this coming weekend my mom, Beth, Melissa and I are going for an all weekend scrapbooking event. I’ll need to pack up all the supplies I think I may need because I won’t be buying any extras while I’m there! Since we tend to only scrapbook once a year at this weekend event I really don’t need to buy anything else!

It will be much harder to stay strong this weekend but I’m gonna do it!

never-ending non-shopping

Man for someone that has given up buying anything new for the next year I sure am spending a lot of time in stores. The kids had some Xmas money and gift cards that they wanted to use so yesterday I took Thomas to GameStop and Target to look at video games. He ended up with 2 used games for his “new” used PSP, both games together came to $10 since they were used, that was a great deal since new games average around $30 each. Thomas didn’t buy anything at Target but I did pick up some Kleenex since Thomas’ cold has returned.

Then Beth had $200 to spend at American Apparel so we spent a couple hours trying to find clothing that she could wear in Ohio and not just New York, their clothes seem a bit out of place in the Midwest. What made it even trickier was she had 4, $50 vouchers to spend so she had to make 4 separate purchases that were at least $50 but because she didn’t want to spend too much of her money she didn’t want to go over $50 any more than she’d have to. We were in the store so long my meter expired and I had to go put more change in it. She did finally get it all figured out (after trying on everything in the store!) She ended up spending $40 of her own money but walked out of the store with $240 worth of clothing. Since all 4 vouchers only cost $50 it did end up being a pretty good deal, even with their very expensive clothing. But at least it all made in America!

Then today I made a stop at the thrift store while Thomas was at an art class down the street. I found some awesome deals and did end up spending money but used items are allowed so I’m still following the rules. I got 3 leather belts (2 were from Old Navy and 1 was from Structure) they were 1.99 each. Thomas insisted I buy a nice looking tripod for $4, we have been looking at tripods for quite awhile but had been hesitant to spend $100 or more on one. I also got 18 forks and knives, all matching with a nice heavy feel to them for .10 each (for some reason we keep running out of forks so we had been wanting to buy some for awhile.) I also got 6 metal tart pans for .59, a torte pan for 3.99, a fathers day gift for Dan (Beth found it and insisted I buy it since he had seen the same thing at the store recently and really wanted it but didn’t want to pay $40 for it) I got it for 4.99 (it was unused with stickers still on it) and last and definitely least was a mini mannequin that Beth had to have, she claims she’ll be able to practice draping on it. All said and done I spent $32 at the thrift store.

Yesterday when I was paying bills I put aside my first 20% into savings, oh my that is way more money than I anticipated. Previously I’ve not been able to save $100 a month how I’m going to make the budget work with putting $760 a month into savings is beyond me. These trips to the thrift store are NOT going to happen very often, that’s for sure.

The ground rules

Since I’m not the first person to think of this no new purchases plan there are plenty of blogs and website to check out showing how other people managed. One blog that I’m enjoying reading is No New is Good News, the author made the same resolution for 2010 then logged her daily achievements and struggles. She put some planning into the resolution before the actual start date so she went and made several purchases before the Jan 1 deadline. I didn’t think to do that so I’ll have to live with what I have. I think my underwear will hold out just fine and I got about 20 pairs of socks for Xmas so I’m good there too.

She also put together a set of ground rules that I think are a good place to start. And since there is no need to reinvent the wheel I’ll be following most of her rules with just a little tweaking. Here is a brief summary of the rules (if interested follow the link to read more about the ideas behind the rules.) My notes are in purple:

Okay to buy in 2010:
-food and drink for home
-toothpaste, soap, shampoo etc.
-eating out when it is part of a social gathering
-coffee out-only as part of social gathering (not for convenience) I love this rule, I didn’t know how to fit in my trips to Caribou, so as long as I’m meeting a friend then its ok, but if I’ve just got a craving for a coffee then I need to make it at home.

-health expenses as needed (i.e.: glasses, meds, chiropractor)
-esthetics-specifically hair removal. I do have to interface with the world, and if you’ve seen my eyebrows, you’ll understand. But pedicures are on me. Ugh. This is funny, we seem to have the same issues so I’ll stick with her rule here too. Hair removal is ok but other indulgences are out for the year. The only exception will be during my April trip to Las Vegas. We have plans for visiting a different spa everyday and even I don’t have that much hair that needs to be removed.

-travel-I can travel, but no souvenirs! I agree, plus I hate souvenirs, just more clutter

-live shows and performances etc. (experiences are good, remember!) I agree, experiences are good and are not adding to the abundance of stuff that ends up in landfills or clutters up my house. Good thing too because I already have tickets for 2 ballets this spring.

-fabric and yarn within reason for make-it-myself projects, but try to find recycled first. I’m still not sure how I’m going to handle this rule, I am really enjoying sewing right now but I’m not enjoying how much my projects often cost me to make. So I think I’m going to stick with getting supplies at the thrift store and just try to be more creative.

Now on to my more specific rules:

Home Improvement purchases are allowed since we’re in the midst of a renovation. But I will still try to find vintage/ used items whenever possible.

While Dan is on board with my plan he has not committed himself to no purchases. So I will be the quiet voice of reason when he suggests there is something we should buy but for the most part he really doesn’t buy things unless he needs it for work. He will be buying seeds for the garden soon but I think that falls under the food category.

Two more items that I had plans to buy this year are bikes for Thomas and me (and Beth since we’ll be sharing a bike,) I was supposed to get a bike for Mothers Day about 3 years ago but due to my inability to commit I still haven’t gone and picked one out. Thomas really wants us to start riding on the bike path that follows the river, so I’ll have to figure out how we’re going to handle that. Before Xmas we did look at some of the used bike stores around the city and they were surprisingly expensive (like more than the new bike I wanted at Target.)

Also Beth needs new dance shoes, we did actually buy some in Dec but they weren’t the right size so we had to send them back, since hers have worn out and since she wears such a large size I think we will need to order her new shoes but that may have to be rolled into her b-day present (and possibly from a g-ma since her Xmas/ b-day/ graduation gift was covered by the laptop we gave her at Xmas.)

I think that’s about it for now but if any other thorny issues come up you’ll be the first to hear about it.

Just say no to consumerism

Today was my first opportunity to put my New Years resolution into play. Mom and I, for many years, have gone out shopping at Target on the Sundays after Christmas buying up the discounted holiday items. It is a good time to buy wrapping paper at 75%-90% off, plus you can squirrel away items for gift exchanges etc. We did still meet at Caribou and head over to Target and CVS to check out the deals but I chose not to buy anything besides some Epsom salt that Dan needed for his baths. The unintentional side affect of my anti-purchasing mantra was my mom also not buying anything. It did help that there just wasn’t much left to choose in the holiday isles at Target.

One thing I thought of that I would like (but not need) is a make up brush for applying eye shadow. Instead of buying one I asked my mom if she had an extra one that she didn’t need. She then attempted to buy me one, that is not the point of this non consumerism plan. If she has one that she has no use for than I feel good about taking it and using it. But if she just buys me one or gives me hers and buys herself a new one than I have not accomplished my goals.

Another item that occurred to me, that I would normally purchase at this time of year is a new calendar. If I had an old calendar sitting around I could print out new 2011 months and just glue them over the 2010 months, but I don’t. Which must mean that I didn’t have a calendar last year, so I guess I don’t really need one. Problem solved.

I’ve decided to keep a list of items that I want or need so when I do make trips to the thrift store I can keep an eye out for them. Right now on my list is a belt, mine is falling apart and needs to be replaced.

The next big event that I need to prepare for is Daniel’s b-day. I’ve already warned the kids that gift giving holidays will be a bit different this year. I’m trying to think of what I can do for him that will stick with my goals but not just make it feel like we’ve become cheap. I’m not sure what exactly my rules are in these situations. Do gift cards for consumables count, such as gas cards, or food cards? Beth suggested I just make everyone a really good cake, and I thought dinner plus a cake would be nice but we always do that anyway (well we always make what they want for dinner but I guess I don’t usually make a cake. Hmm note to self Beth apparently would like a b-day cake this year.)

I have also decided to cancel any store credit cards that I have (but hardly ever use.) Two were cancelled this morning and the last two will be cancelled next month. It was recommended not to cancel them all at once so as not to adversely effect my credit.

Now I’m off to pay the bills and put 20% of our paycheck into savings, woo-hoo!

New Years Resolutions 2011

I’m mixing things up a bit for this year. While I have on-going goals that I plan on sticking to I don’t really consider them New years Resolutions (such as only eating local, humanely raised meat, eating as much organic produce as possible, sticking with local in season fruits and veggies, etc.) Those are life time goals for us and not something new.

So for my New Years Resolution I am picking something that I have never attempted before. First off I am going to start putting 20% of all our paychecks into savings. Dan is usually the one who saves money and it has to be before the checks get to me. I have lots of reasons (excuses) as to why I can’t save any money. I pay all the bills and spend the rest of the money on groceries, gas and the kids classes. But each month money is wasted on unneeded items. So before I do anything 20% is going into savings.

The next part of the resolution is going to help with not needing that 20%. I am going to buy NOTHING new for all of 2011! The only exceptions are food obviously, necessary toiletries, and materials for the house renovation. While my budget for the renovation is pretty much $0 anyway (since I don’t have any money saved for it,) I had already planned on being very frugal with what we purchased. But there are still going to be items that need to be purchased new such as electrical wire and drywall and other items like that. But wherever possible I will first search out previously used items and not automatically run to Lowes for supplies.

This also means no more shopping for new clothes (except to use up any gift cards we were given for Xmas,) and no more trips to Target for “necessary” supplies. Also no more purchased gifts, sorry to say everyone is going to be getting handmade gifts this year. Not only that but I’m not going to go out and buy NEW supplies for making these gifts. I have to use up the abundance of supplies I already own or find magical items at the thrift store to transform. I promise not to give arm warmers for every gift this year!

I think this is going to be a huge challenge but a necessary one. We have gotten used to being able to run to the store and buy whatever we “need” even when those needs are questionable. I have way too much clutter and stuff in this house and part of clearing it out is not bringing in anything new. So for at least 2011 that is the goal!