New Year’s Resolution: Buy Less Stuff
Posted January 17, 2012on:
Why hello there. Did you forget I exist? I nearly did, too. While many bloggers apologize profusely for taking the kind of breaks I take, I actually like to think of my hiatuses (hiati?) as all part of my master plan. You see, while nearly everyone on the face of the planet has already given up on their New Year’s resolutions I’m just getting around to setting mine in stone. See what I did there? Let’s continue.
Last year David and I resolved to Eat More Food. We did a great job making that resolution a reality. I really stepped it up in the kitchen and I rarely buy any kind of processed food anymore. I cook dinner every night, and I make every dessert we eat (except ice cream. Still haven’t tried ice cream…)
There are a few down-sides to the success of last year’s resolution I feel I should recognize. First, David and I have a really hard time going out to eat. We think almost everything is too salty, and 90% of the time we wished we would have stayed home and cooked. We also have an abundance of baked goods in the house at all times. Since we don’t buy cookies or other desserts from the store I make something homemade multiple times a week. It sounds justified in my head– it just doesn’t fare well on the waste line or when you hear yourself say out loud: “Honey, do you want leftover cookies tonight or should I bake us a cake?” Finally, I get stressed out when I don’t have the energy/time/ingredients to make a homemade meal each night. I know cooking is cheaper and healthier for my family so of course that’s what I want to do. But on nights when I’m just drained I have a hard time throwing in the towel and going out to eat.
Now that we’ve properly reflected on 2011 it’s time to move on to 2012. This year’s resolution is to buy less stuff. What is “stuff,” you ask? Stuff is anything and everything that fits in that little magic Target bag. Or the grocery bag. Or the Banana Republic bag. Basically anything that comes in a bag. It’s stuff we want and even stuff we think we need. It’s the stuff you wonder “what the heck did I even buy?” when you’re standing at the checkout, trying to figure out how to pay for the $40 total, when you just came in for cupcake liners and only have $3 cash.
One instance in particular really solidified my desire to buy less stuff this winter. David and I had spent the afternoon running errands and shopping. We went to Target while out and about, and subconsciously knowing we had extra money in the bank we bought lots of stuff we NEEDED around the house. We got busy later that weekend (not THAT way, sickos. Well, probably that way, but I digress…), and the Target bags sat on the kitchen table for days. By the end of the week I decided to finally unpack the bags, more out of my frustration with the clutter than because I needed anything from the bags. As I glanced at the bags and wondered “what’s in these, again?” I realized I was in a ridiculous, elitist, only-in-America situation. Where else in the world do people buy stuff just to buy stuff? (For the record those mystery bags contained gift wrap, razors, a few Christmas presents we ended up returning, and a few other miscellaneous items I can’t even remember).
So what exactly does this resolution mean? At it’s core it’s about a lot of things. It’s about simplicity, it’s about money and it’s about consumerism.
Here are the guidelines:
1. No impulse buys of any kind. This means no unplanned Target runs and no carry-out for lunch. No internet purchases and no Groupons (gasp!).
2. Make and stick to a list. If I’m going grocery shopping I will have a list and I will stick to that list. This guideline is going to take some practice. I get so caught up in “deals” at the grocery store that I just throw things into my cart because they’re on sale: not because I need them for a recipe.
3. Contemplate every purchase over $20. If there’s a single item we want/need that’s over $20 I’m going to think about it for a week before actually buying it. This guideline is like a sneaky one-two punch, because while there’s a good chance I’ll talk myself out of the purchase during the week of contemplation there’s an even better chance I’ll just forget about it.
4. Consider buying second-hand, and don’t throw away ANYTHING without thinking about how to repurpose it. I love the concept of garage sales and Craigslist, yet I feel like I’m not very good at them. I think it’s because in the past I would just browse– this year I need to go with specific items in mind. I think having Pinterest in my life is going to make my DIY/homemade intentions a lot more successful this year.
5. Focus more on experiences than things. David and I have no problem with this guideline: we would both rather go on vacation than just about anything else, including going out to eat, drinking, going shopping, or buying the latest gadget. I think making the connection between shopping less and experiencing more will help keep us motivated throughout the year.
I’m hoping this year’s resolution with help us achieve a lot of things. I hope it helps us save money. I feel like we do a great job 90% of the time sticking to our budget. But then there’s those unplanned, listless trips that set us back a pretty penny. I hope it makes us greener and establishes habits for the rest of our life. I also hope this year’s resolution will make us more mindful of our consumerism. I hate knowing that I contribute to slave labor, or that I am reveling in excess while people struggle around the world without food and shelter.
So do you have a problem with “stuff?” If so, what do you do to simplify your life and reduce the clutter?