How long could you go?

tre3June 1, 2007

While I don't feel I am making much progress on the culling and organizing side of things...too busy playing in the dirt, I have begun to notice a change in my thoughts as it relates to acquiring more "stuff". I'm not very interested in shopping! I know for those of you that dread shopping you are simply shrugging your shoulders. I love to, more, I love to look. It's those darned possibilities again. Still, it is hard to look alot without bringing something home. Recently I have had several opportunities to shop. And I could have shopped in NEW areas with NEW stores not my same home circuit. I didn't. To paraphrase (hopefully) another post, I want a life rich in experiences and not rich in stuff.

This is a really long way of asking how long do you think you could go without purchasing or bringing home any "stuff"? Obviously this doesn't include food or essentials like tp, deodorant, toothpaste...those things most people NEED in polite, hygenic society. Nor does it include the essentials for your four legged dependents!

Watch what "stuff" you bring home in the next few days. Did you leave the house intending to cart it home? Or was it an ah-ha, that's a great widget, I should get it because I could use it on.., it's such a great price..., I've always wanted one..., I don't have anything better to do..., Susie is buying one.... How do you justify to yourself the purchases that you make? Once home, do you have regrets? One way to simplify is to simply not bring it home in the first place! HOW LONG CAN YOU GO?

Me, I predict less han a weekend. How about you?

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I can go quite awhile - simply because I don't have ANY extra money. However, FREE stuff seems to follow me home.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 9:07AM
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I went 3 years without buying anything but the essentials.

I was desperate to eliminate my credit-card debt, and I was choking on stuff.

Put the two together, and I didn't go in a store for weeks and months, and I didn't go in any stores but the ones I absolutely needed to for 3 years. No clothes shopping for me; only for the kids.

It completely changed the way I think about shopping. And spending. And stuff.

I actually value shopping under its NEW definition more--to me, shopping NOW is about research. I go in stores like Bed Bath & Beyond intending not to buy anything at all, and I can walk out empty handed. I do not walk out empty HEADED, however. I walk out knowing:
- that there are ready-made light-blocking curtains now (there weren't 8 years ago), and that they come in 3 set sizes, so when I'm ready to deal w/ window treatments in the bedroom, I know where to get them
-knowing how some curtain rods attach to the wall, and what sorts of styles are available, and about how much they cost
-knowing that the relatively inexpensive clothes steamer looks flimsier than I'd like, and so I'm going to keep saving up for a big model.

I walk in clothing stores and don't even try stuff on. But I walk out knowing
-which skirt or dress styles are in this year
-what colors are common, and whether I like them
-what cuts of tops are going to be easy to find
-whether a certain store carries stuff I think I might like, and whether I should go back there someday when I'm ready to actually buy clothes.

That sort of stuff. So that when I *do* need it, I have some info to guide me.

I don't do this very often, but now and then when I find myself w/ a little time to kill, that's the sort of shopping I do. Research.

(I love the Container Store, as you can imagine. It's hard to go in there without buying something, even if it's only a little gadget. But I can do it!)

I have the opportunity to end up w/lots of free stuff--I work at a magazine-publishing company, and manufacturers are always sending us stuff to get us to put it in the magazine. I don't bring it home anymore. Sometimes I do, if I really really think it will actually be useful, but most of the time I pass it up.

Because, where will I put it?

I also am much more tight-fisted w/ my money. I found that I could pay off my credit card pretty fast once I stopped spending money. Now, I look at stuff and think, "it's just not worth the money!" I've gotten really cheap!

One way to simplify is to simply not bring it home in the first place!

THAT is the origin of my mantra: "First, do no harm."

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 9:32AM
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I'm one of those who doesn't like to shop, except at bookstores maybe, and now I get almost all of my books from the library. I'm paying taxes for it, and we have a great county library system here, so why not use it? I have to exercise patience, though, as often a book will need to be delivered to my local library from somewhere else in the county. I'm learning delayed gratification. Oops, I did pick up a book yesterday at Goodwill on a lark, so I'm not perfect on this. And sometimes I want to keep a book, so I'll buy it.

But up until a few years ago I was functioning under the mentality of "That's pretty, I want that in my house" or "I need a souvenir from this trip" or similar thoughts. After starting on the slow track to decluttering I discovered, one day, that I was able to admire something in a store and not buy it. And souvenirs come in the way of photos I took, or a postcard or ticket stubs that I'll (someday) put in a memory book.

That realization came out of the blue, not something I'd been working on, probably just the result of taking too many pretty-but-unused things and souvenirs to the thrift stores. And I still struggle with it occasionally, when I see something I really like. I may even pick it up to buy, and carry it for a few minutes, then go put it back.

I'm guilty of occasionally buying something that would be useful, that I hadn't planned on buying. Sometimes that's because I didn't know such an item even existed until I happened to see it somewhere. But I really have enough "stuff" that I generally don't need any more just "stuff."

I did have to shop after moving long-distance because we left many items behind that were too cumbersome to move. Easier to buy replacements here. Mostly furniture, garden equipment and other bulky items.

If only I could say no to those pretty packages of M&M candies, and those yummy but expensive drinks at coffee shops ... :-)

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 9:51AM
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I can go (and have gone) for months at a time.

Besides being born organized, I am decluttered and want to keep things that way. So, I have to really NEED something before I buy it.

I have never been a recreational shopper, so that makes things easy. And the fact that we are all tall (and can't shop off the racks much...) makes it even easier.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 11:09AM
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tre3, this is an interesting question. I need to give this some more thought, and I'll stop back. It is something I definitely struggle with and has been on my mind during the process of culling and organizing lately.

Talley sue, as usual, you have such insight!


    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 11:43AM
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I was raised to shop in the manner that Talley Sue describes. I have a hard time going out out and spending money on 'stuff'. I can go for months at a time without shopping. Not to get off-topic, but it's a major hang-up for me during those gift giving times particularly at Christmas when I'm dealing with people who don't want to give/receive practical gifts because I don't like the intrusion into my life that excess shoppping causes.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 11:44AM
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You all are so much more disciplined than I am. Just the other day older DD and younger DD and I were out. Oldest DD needed a card and gift wrap for a wedding present. I went in W/O a purse just so I wouldn't buy anything. I was having no problems until we passed a table of potted orchids. We had just retired an orchid that bloomed non stop for 4 mos in our bathroom. It added the perfect touch of decoration and color. So, I bought another one and had to borrow the $ from my DD! I do hope to get several more months of pleasure and feel that for the price it was well worth the expenditure. I am not able to forgo buying things for months at a time. Hats off to you all.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 11:48AM
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I could go a long time. Like several of you, I'm not a recreational shopper.

I usually don't do any impulse buying. Because of the way my usual schedule goes, it's not convenient for me to do any shopping unless I plan it, and I hate going when it's really crowded, so every few months I'll plan a shopping trip if I need something (new clothes, stuff for the house, etc.). I do buy some things online, but I put a lot of thought into those purchases, taking into account the hassle factor of sending them back if they don't fit or whatever.

It's also not unknown :) for me to buy things and then return them if I have a change of heart after I get them home.

Almost everything I buy goes on one credit card, so it's easy to keep track of how much I'm spending. Most months, it's just groceries, gas for the car (which, btw, I only need to fill up every other month most of the time because I don't use it for commuting), and a restaurant meal or two.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 1:29PM
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Well, I would have bought the orchid too! An orchid that blooms non-stop for four months is great bang for the buck.

I can go for quite a long time without shopping, since I feel like I have everything I need. Oops, well I did buy fertilizer yesterday and some lantana to fill in a bare spot in my garden yesterday. I consider that food though (for my hummingbirds) so in order to have and keep them, I bought flowers that will bloom for the entire season. That doesn't mean there aren't things I don't want however.

I did recently purchase an electric juicer on-line after squeezing 28 limes for Memorial Day mojitos after my arthritis started acting up. Like Talley Sue, I did a fair amount of research first, but most of that was from the internet. I've been staying out of stores, and more focused on living well. (Well, I say that, yet I'm looking for that last antique chair to go around my dining table. I don't feel compelled to buy stuff though.) I've become a better cook, my garden has less weeds and I'm a lot more relaxed these days. It's fun to look sometimes, but I don't always need to let go of my $.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 1:55PM
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That's why I love the Dollar Stores!! I have to get out of the house almost everyday and buy something.!!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 5:14PM
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I'm not a recreational shopper either - but my mother most definitely is! And I'm the one who has to take her shopping. (She always comments that I never buy anything for myself, even offers to buy me things...) One thing I have learned since my decluttering mission began is to ask myself some questions:

Do I have a place to put this (if it's decorative)...

Is this useful or do I have something else that will serve the same purpose? (And if I love the "newer" version am I willing to part with the old one?)

Is this something I might regret buying which I will end up freecylcing or dontating to the local rummage sale in less that 6-months?

I pretty much second-guess any item I'm considering, and 9 times out of 10 I will put it down. Upon arriving home, I'm usually relieved about it or have forgotten it altogether, but every once in a while it nags at me to go back for it.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 8:37PM
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Lena M

Not much of a shopper myself, so a LONG time.

Has anyone been following the 'No-Impact Man' story? Kinda extreme, even my depression era family had the Sears Roebuck Catalog for bathroom - err - reading material

I found the stories of their 'before' life even more compelling. Do people in NYC really get their Lattes - and their Bagels delivered???

Land sakes, if that don't beat all.

The Conlin-Beavan family is four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment in environmentalism that they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except said food; producing no trash (except compost); using no paper; and, most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Year Without Toilet Paper Blog

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 9:10PM
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I love to shop, but only in thrift stores. I hate malls and can go several years between visits. The trouble with thrift stores (and yard sales, estate sales, etc.) is that if you don't buy it right then the item will be gone.

Now that I've gotten organized and decluttered, I still frequent the thrift stores, but I don't feel that I must purchase an item just because it's a good deal. I rarely shop sales anymore. They happen constantly anyway. If the kids need socks, I go get them socks. It really saves money in the end because I only purchase what we need instead of feeling like I need to get other items because they are "on sale."

Keep at it tre. You will find your thinking changing more and more as this process continues.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 10:24PM
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OK, I confess I didn't even make it a day without purchasing something. I could ( and will) try to rationalize these purchases as needed items:

Dog toy to celebrate our puppy's (my surrogate baby at home with so many leaving the nest this year :( ) first b-day. We couldn't have her bday without a gift! Scary thought process! Still, the simple joy of seeing her simple joy.

Plumber's Putty (all of .89) to fix leak in birdbath/fountain. Why have something if it doesn't work and can be fixed for under a buck? Just another (useful)container to stash in the garage. Sigh. it is not organic. And perhaps I too can justify it as food for my plants!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 9:14AM
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Harriet mentioned returning things.

I can't. It's enough trouble just GETTING to the store.

My day is limited enough that I have to make a really special effort to go to any store other than Staples and the drug store.

So if I buy something and don't want it, I have to make a special trip to return something.

Once I bought too many plastic bins, and someone here suggested I return it. The thing is, it cost $3.99. A subway trip to return it is $4. And parking, if I take the care, is $5.

My mom talked me into buying stuff thinking I could return it, and it just messed me up completely. All kinds of money trapped in clothes I couldn't/wouldn't wear. And a schedule that had NO room for a special trip anytime soon.

If I have ANY qualms, I just don't buy it.

(I get to stores SO seldom, even the office-supply and drug stores, that when I wrestle my husband for the right to go to the grocery store, I wander around in there for an hour just to get milk)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 12:50PM
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Talley_Sue, I have the same problem RE returning things, but if I don't give myself that option, I probably would never buy anything (and I do need to buy things sometimes!). And then sometimes I've had qualms about things (especially clothes) and found when I got them home that I really liked them.

Although it's true that I don't need to take the subway or pay for parking when I drive to the store.

I try to buy things at stores that have generous return policies (i.e., they will take stuff back for a fairly long time period) so I can plan my returns as part of my next shopping trip.

I often say that if the economy were dependent solely on people like me, it would grind to a halt.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 1:43PM
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A long time I guess. I am not a recreational shopper and feel guilty buying something I don't need. Christmas shopping also stresses me out b/c I feel obligated to shop for things I don't think anyone really needs.

I am most likely to buy things I don't need when I take a child on a shopping errand with me. I don't buy big things spontaneously, but I will give in to a silly pair of socks or Matchbox car to make someone's day.

I have two exceptions to buying things I don't need. Overpriced coffee drinks (but at least they don't add clutter) and books. If I come out of the bookstore empty-handed it is a victory in will power.

So, if I skip the bookstore and don't take kids with me on errands, I could go a year or so.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 12:08AM
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My frequency in shopping has declined over the past several years for a few reasons. And it's not because I no longer like to shop. I've always been a thrift shop and flea market junkie. I am a collector of art pottery and every so often I get the "bug" and have to go see if something's to be found. I don't buy the high end stuff -- I'm cheap and only spend a few dollars on each item. Part of the thrill is to limit the amount you are willing to spend -- sometimes I go home empty handed, but I never blow my budget. I used to make a day of it, go to several places, sometimes with a friend. When I started out in my late teens, I collected smaller things because I lived at home. As a young adult, it became a way to help me furnish my home with things I love very cheaply. I moved around a bit and it was easy to part with $5 chairs and tables if they didn't work in a new apartment. When my parents moved away, they gave me some pieces of family furniture and I parted with some flea market items. Once I purchased my house (I was 39), I was finally able to purchase furniture and artwork that I could keep for a long time. And so, I have continued to work on renovating my home and decorating it with my "finds". After 11 years, I'm just about "done" except for a few small things. And I've maxed out my pottery collection -- if I buy something new, something has to leave. There's just no more room, and there's no storage space to have the option of rotating pottery or artwork. The lack of storage, and my unwillingness to have closets and cabinets crammed with stuff has changed my attitude toward shopping over time. I have recently purged a lot of older and family things that no longer hold meaning or have lost their usefulness. I am enjoying the clearer spaces and don't have the desire to run out and find more things to fill them. I am trying to focus on new ways to express my creativity and enjoy myself with friends and family.

As far as the mall goes, I get really overstimulated from all the lights and displays. There's just so much stuff I find it hard to focus -- can't see the trees for the forest. Too many choices and it's all spread out. Large department stores overwhelm me, too. This is a natural deterrent of shopping. I only go a couple of times a year to specific shops when I need certain articles of clothing that fit well and I'm not having any luck in thrift shops.

So, how long could I go? I don't know the answer to that. Probably a couple of weeks. Yesterday I bought a few journal books that my husband and I use for keeping lists and a birthday present for a friend. A few days before, I purchased a new bathing suit for our annual trip to the beach.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 10:41AM
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I can (and do) go a long time because I'm naturally frugal. I enjoy shopping sometimes, but often shopping means browsing, not actually buying anything. Or, as Talley Sue said, sometimes it's research. Like when I soak up the atmosphere at Borders but then come home and buy the books used on eBay or Amazon.

I love to browse thrift shops and yard sales, but I'm picky about what I bring matter how cheap it is. On the other hand, if I've done my homework and decide that I really need or want something and can afford it, I'll buy it. Right now I'm thinking about getting a $700+ photo printer to print my dad's b&w negatives. It's a chunk of money, but think of all the dollars I saved when I came home empty-handed! :-)

Now that I'm a widow, I've come to realize that frugality is a real blessing.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 4:43PM
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A pretty long time nowadays. When I used to go to antique shows or shops, I could shop for hours and hours, maybe buying something, but not always. But I've noticed that if I'm shopping for ordinary dull stuff like clothes or food or even presents for someone, I last only about 2 hours before I'm either bored or my feet hurt. Now I go for short trips to get whatever it is that I need. That's probably not a good way to shop, with gas prices so high, but it does keep temptation away. What really frustrates me is shopping for something when I have nothing specific in mind (like a gift). Then I get tired fast!

And catalog shopping is so frustrating. By the time I pick out what I want and need, 3 more catalogs have come in, and I always look at them just in case there's something new, which there usually isn't. I threw out 16 catalogs the other day - Lands End & LLBean only. And I still haven't ordered anything. Think of the money I've saved.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 11:07PM
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Lately if I see something I think I want I ask myself "just how happy is this thing going to make me?". It's amazing if you think it through, owning that item may really mean nothing to you. I've passed on a lot of stuff, usually decorative things, that way.....Linn

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 6:06PM
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I'm not big on shopping for clothes or household items and neither is my husband. We go to the grocery store (of course) and if we go to the mall it's mainly to walk around and browse. Although, I must admit that we have bought some movies lately...trying to get rid of our VHS tapes and get the collection on DVD instead. Then we give the videos away. I also bought a deep fryer about two months ago but I deliberated on it for about 6 months before I finally bought one!
My son on the other hand loves to shop! He is so into computers, gaming and movies that he can spend hours shopping and his room is quite cluttered with all his stuff. Somewhat of an impulse buyer too. I worry about him....

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 4:53PM
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