Buying less now - Thanks! How about you?

donnamp14June 28, 2007

Hi! I am a frequent lurker and rarely post, but I had to tell you all that you've made my life so much simpler! I am truly organized by nature, but I have just too much stuff. Love to purge, and DH says I live to purge.

DH's birthday is July 4th, and we're entertaining a few people, as usual. I saw (now on sale at Crate and Barrel) cute serving plates that have firecrackers on them. Quite simple, just perfect. I was heading over there at lunch today to pick up 6 of them, and then I stopped midway to my car! I had actually thought:

Do I really need them, even though they are pretty?

Where will I keep them?

Are they worth buying for a once a year event?

I have all of you to thank for the extra $25 in my wallet because I decided I don't need them, I have no where to keep them, and I'd only use them once a year. Then I remembered that my kids would have to dispose of them when we're gone, and I don't want to do that to them because July 4th is such a special day in our lives.

I don't need to waste any more brain power on the cute plates! Thanks!!!

Your turn: Have you ever re-thought a purchase because of something you read on this board?


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Yes Donna! And for so many different reasons:

Wanting to simplify and like you not having the brain power to cope.

Living thru the trauma of having a garage sale. Looking over the tables of "treasures" and realizing that there were probably many hundreds if not a thousand dollars worth of stuff that was being sold for pennies on the dolllar. Sure lots of it we used, wore, out grew> Too much was not worth the money spent or the time I was taking to recoup my losses.

Realizing I'm not going to be happier with the cute plates, its the people.

Wanting to spend my money differently. Experiences tend to last, things don't. As our parents age and our kids grow up and out, travel is very important ( and boy it isn't cheap!)

Wanting to spend my time differently. I want things I don't like to do streamlined so I can spend more time enjoying life. This means my house has to be easy to clean and I don't waste time searching for something. I want to get dressed without agonizing over clothes that are dirty, stained or don't fit. I want to open the drawer and have the lipstick in the right shade. I don't want to flip thru dishes looking for those that aren't chipped.

Those are just the reasons off the top of my head. I give a lot of thanks and credit to this forum. And Donna, I get so much motivation hearing from people like you who love to purge or have those light bulb moments. Thanks. Please keep posting. WE need you.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 4:59PM
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These are such great posts!

Both about the money, and the time.

I've seen some Christmas china that I really like--I think it's beautiful, etc. And I *used to* have a big Christmas party every year, and thought about buying it.

Then I realized, that's a lot of money to spend for such a limited use. And where will I put it? And I already have good china; why wouldn't my Christmas table be considered beautiful, if I used IT? And if a Christmas party isn't good enough for my good china, then why do I have *it*? But I love my good china; why can't I enjoy this oportunity to use IT? Isn't this event the exact sort of thing I had in mind when I chose my china? Isn't there a cheaper, and less bulky, way to make my Christmas table Christmas-y?

In finance, there is a term called "return on investment"--ROI. It's the reason why you're better off w/ big bucks in a money market than in a passbook savings account.

I think it can be applied in other places, though perhaps the "return" will be emotional rather than financial--which is OK. Things like photographs, scrapbooks, clothes we feel beautiful in, expensive plane tickets to BE THERE for someone's wedding--those have emotional returns. Returns that pay back for a LONG time, in memories, or new experiences.

But for Donna, the Fourth of July is already a payoff; how much *more* would be added w/ those dishes? Not much; the $25 would probably be better "invested" in photos, or food. Or not "invested" in the Fourth at all, but "invested" either literally, or "invested" in some OTHER thing that matters more.

Invested literally: What a gift to give your children--that you yourself have savings you can use for disasters, for your old age, etc.? I often think my ILs would give us a better gift if they saved their money, so that when they're older, they don't have to be reliant on us--they'll have their OWN money for doctor bills, a roof over their heads, retirement, etc. That would impact our lives much more positively than another stupid toy for the kids.

Invested in some OTHER event: I have "mad money" in the drawer that lets me know it is safe to do things like, travel to my cousin's wedding, grab a fast weekend to fly to a pseudo and impromptu "family reunion," give a generous gift to my just-graduated-from-high-school niece.

If I piddle away my money--$25 for firecracker plates here, $17 for a pretty vase there--I won't have the cushion that lets me grab those other "investments."

It's made me really cheap. It does sometimes make it hard for me even to spent money on stuff I actually need (replacement chinos, anyone?)

When I look at thrift shops and yard sales, I see all this economic power that was diverted, dissipated, broken into little, wimpy rivulets instead of being collected into one powerful river. I wonder, how many larger dreams or goals were sacrificed for that steady trickle of little, temporarily gratifying expenditures?

I agree w/ tre3, Donna--that's a really inspiring moment, and I'm glad you shared it w/ us. I know it will inspire me, and it'll make it easiest next time I pass something up, to know that there are other people like me, making the same sort of choices.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 11:01AM
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Oh yes Donna, every time I look through a new catalog I see something I think is cute, practical or would be nice to have. Thanks to these guys here though, I now ask myself those same three questions! I then go about my business for the day and usually forget all about it anyway! The folks on this site are awesome, AND you save me money!! LOL

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 1:58PM
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I agree with Pinkcarnation about catalogs. I look thru them , think this or that might be nice to have. I mark the pages of things I like. Then I wait a while,just a few days or more, then look again at the marked pages. So far, I haven't felt the need to order anything. My husband is delighted. He used to complain that the UPS truck stopped at our house too often. He thought I was having an affair with the UPS guy!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 2:58PM
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It's for all those reasons I have started using my good Lenox china a lot! If somebody breaks a piece, oh well, I have a service for 20. Who's going to miss it? My kids will never want it, so I use it. I'm retired so the only nice clothes I need are once a week for church. I love it when sometimes wears out and I can toss it. How in the world did we accumulate so much junk?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 3:52PM
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Here's an update. I really did "have to" get a picture frame for my daughter. (A great pic of her Dad in the kayak that she and her brother gave him!) So, I went to HomeGoods on Friday on my way home. I wandered through, looked at all the pretty things and remembered that just because it's pretty, on sale and/or will look great in my house, I really don't "need" this stuff. I walked out proudly with a lovely frame for the picture that I know will mean a lot to her. I enjoyed the break from the traffic, and I paid cash for the one thing I set out to get. I really feel liberated.

I started a few years ago (after I found this site) saying that just because I have it doesn't mean I have to keep it, and just because it's lovely, doesn't mean I have to have it!

When my Mom was placed in a nursing home I was saddened to find her 4 Waterford Hock glasss were still untouched, brought home from a trip about 15 years ago. She was saving them. Luckily, she gave me a set of 4 and I have since made sure that we use them often! What's the sense if you're not going to enjoy what you have?

It has been so wonderful to find you people on this site. It's great to find like-minded people, and people who will help with the struggle to make our lives enriched by living a little more simply!


    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 8:22PM
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vannie: Good for you!! You SHOULD use your good China. It isn't enough to pass by it every day and just LOOK at it! This may sound silly, but I think one has to actually touch and use China to really appreciate it! It belongs to YOU and YOU should be the one to enjoy it! I am proud of you!


    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 11:03PM
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Thanks to all these posts I got our wedding china out to use for dinner last night. Our two DDs looked at it and couldn't remember the last time we had used it (neither could I!). There were some objections to its use because it would have to be hand washed. But 4 plates, it took no time at all.
I agree with Jackie that we need to touch and use the things in our lives for them to have meaning.
Thanks for encouraging me to live the way I really want to, using the things we have not simply storing them.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 8:58AM
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Good for you!!! As I mentioned on another post, my Mom never used her beautiful things. I don't believe they can be enjoyed, when stored away where they cannot even be seen or touched!! JMHO


    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 4:46PM
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Talley Sue, these words of yours really struck me:
When I look at thrift shops and yard sales, I see all this economic power that was diverted, dissipated, broken into little, wimpy rivulets instead of being collected into one powerful river. I wonder, how many larger dreams or goals were sacrificed for that steady trickle of little, temporarily gratifying expenditures?

I am going to print this out and literally tape it to the outside of my wallet with packing tape so I have to look at them whenever I am about to make a purchase. My husband earns a comfortable salary, but I tend to piddle it away on little things.

And more so, my sister, who struggles to make ends meet, does the same... I will share your words with her.

So grateful to have found this forum!


    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 12:34AM
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I love different plates for different events. My mom was the same way, but there's only so much cupboard space...

After Christmas a few years ago I bought red salad plates on sale at Target for 75 cents each. A white tablecloth and blue paper napkins make a lovely July 4th display. Have the kids make a "disposable" centerpiece and spray-paint some pine cones red, white and blue! I use my cheapo red plates throughout the year and dress them up for special occasions. Love them!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 2:43AM
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see, now, that's smart--you bought something you KNOW you will use, and you actually use it. If you're the sort that *wants* a different table, red's a great way to go. Works for Christmas, 4th of July, Valentine's, birthdays. Even Thanksgiving, if you want it to.

But I won't be joining you. I'll just use my good china and serving platters.

Amy, I hope that thought helps you--I know it has helped me a lot, once I finally *had* it! I'm trying hard to teach my kids that idea--that it's worth waiting, and saving up the money, so you can buy something you *really* want, and not just something you think you'd like, today.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 9:33AM
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Talley Sue, once again your eloquent phrasing makes the idea of wimpy economic rivulets a mantra.

I had the opportunity to go into the big city to see someone off. We needed to go the night before and so of course, we shopped a little. I went with a mental list of two things; a premade yummy lemon curd and lotion that I "need" (especially after making my way thru all those travel and sample sizes!). At first the sheer volume and color was so exciting. I ran my hands over beautiful table settings at Pottery Barn, contemplated bedding and knick knacks. Everything is on sale! I tried on a couple of jackets, glanced at some skirts and dresses and wished my feet were easier to fit. In the end I happily bought my lotion....okay it was buy 2 get one free but I love this stuff and USE it. I also bought my lemon curd. I felt good. I also felt like I could trust myself to go out have fun looking and still stay true to the changes I am making. It will all be consumed and used up. Down the road I'll have a couple more bottles to put in the recycling bin. In the meantime, I've identified a few small luxuries to add some spice to day to day life.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 1:05PM
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The rivulets is a great analogy and is akin to things in the Tightwad Gazette series. In those newsletters and books, the tightwad author was not saying you couldn't have and fulfill "thing" desires, or even spend large amounts of money, but that you should acknowledge your spending habits and see whether something you say you want to accomplish, but don't have the $$ for, is really due to the fact that you are frittering your $$ away on other things. Her husband retired early, they both loved large families so had 6 children, and bought a farmhouse with acreage--things many people dream of (well, maybe not the 6 kids) but can't "afford" do--because they made a lifestyle and a lucrative business out of ways to not spend in other areas that were not important to their goals.

A typical example we would think of is buying coffee daily from Starbucks and picking up dinner 3 times a week & then saying you can't take a fun vacation, or save for a house, or whatever. Yet, it can be taken much farther than that, depending on how much you want something.

I also can really relate to the idea of, just because it's pretty I don't have to have it. This really hit me awhile back. I had not really been doing much decorating and accessorizing, then started to enjoy doing that, to fill in some gaps, was having fun. Seemed like things I saw were so unique, just fit the bill, so I bought a number of furnishings and other things. So far so good, as many of these were needed. I assumed that I would only encounter a limited number of things that seemed "right" plus are in an acceptable price range, etc. Then after a time of shopping stores, catalogs, antique malls, not to mention realizing later than some folks what all is on e-Bay and elsewhere, I came to a startling and somewhat scary realization--if I really look hard enough, I will never stop finding things that I "love", because we all have literally the world at our fingertips, including things that, for any one purchase, are in my price range.

So, I could fill up my house 10 times over in a few years and something "better" or just as neat or pretty would be right around the corner.

I also realized that I would rather occasionally be able to buy something, and to still think I might discover something neat, every so often over the rest of my life, rather than say, I'm never going to buy anything else for the next 30 yrs! And, that I would be more likely to be successful with the former.

So this was a real awakening, that I would have to both find a way to reduce the number of times I "found" something--that is, don't look-- and would have to also be able to go further when I did encounter something and say, well, I see this and it is just great and I can afford it, but I don't have to have it. It is harder for me to do the second, so I am having to realize that for me, I must not "hunt" for things as often as I was--I am likely to become attached.

I also include giving things away as part of a good plan--one thing in/one thing out for the clutter problem-- but, as in the rivulets, I know that I would prefer to use less of my income to supply Goodwill with my used objects. I would rather funnel my $$ directly to charities of my choice.

I have not got complete control of all this yet, but as I said, some light bulbs are on, at least.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 2:59PM
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I think it was from something I had read on this forum years ago that I found my way of buying less. If I see something that I "think" I must have, I don't just buy it but wait to see if I keep thinking about it later that shopping trip or even a few days later. If I get worried that it won't be available for me to still buy, I'll go back and buy it. This certainly has stopped impulse buying on my part.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 4:34PM
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" I also felt like I could trust myself to go out have fun looking and still stay true to the changes I am making."

Hooray! Isn't that fun? Window shopping can be a pasttime, and ONLY a pasttime!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 5:34PM
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This is a great thread. The missing piece for me, though, has always been how to actually turn the little bits of money I don't spend into a bigger pool of money I can spend on something more important to me. I'd feel like, "Well, if I don't buy this pizza now, I'll just spend the money on something else later, so why not buy now?"

Recently, I started making note of when I passed up something I'd usually buy almost without thinking. Then, when I get home, I make a deposit in that amount from my regular checking account into an Ing savings account I keep just for that purpose. I suppose I could just put the cash in a jar, but I know I'd spend that.:)

Just an idea that someone might want to try!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 3:24PM
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It's much more than just the purchase price. As the OP mentioned, it's also about the overhead of storing and taking care of the stuff. That's a really big issue for me.

For example, DH and I love art and are more than willing to pay the price. But we don't want to get rid of what we've already collected, so our next purchase will be a doozey, because we'll need to add on or buy a new house to get more wall space. (We no longer want to store and rotate paintings since too many things we loved were damaged that way.)

I don't want to move or remodel to make room for more stuff. I don't need a bigger house to take care of, or more storage to keep track of, just to have more stuff. So unless it is something new that we also have room to store, we have to get rid of something we now have when we want a new one. That's fine when something has worn out or we no longer like it. But when an item has to pass the test of being better than what we currently have, it's surprising how little we're willing to buy.

Or even accept for free. I joined our local Freecycle to give away stuff we don't need any more. I've been amazed at the amount of really neat stuff other people are giving away too. But whether or not it has a purchase price, that stuff still needs to be stored and therefore needs to meet our criteria.

I doubt that skipping small indulgent purchases actually saves money. I suspect that most people, myself included, make up for it by indulging in other things. But having less clutter in our homes -- priceless.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 6:12PM
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I doubt that skipping small indulgent purchases actually saves money. I suspect that most people, myself included, make up for it by indulging in other things.

I can tell you that it does for me! Especially if I am actively thinking of it that way.

For one thing, the only thing I would indulge in is stuff. I don't buy fancy coffee, or clothes, etc. (clothes fall under the "too much stuff" category)

Or, even if I don't end up w/ more actual cash, I might end up w/ more of the stuff that I truly NEED. I need new khaki pants; the old ones are getting frayed at the corners. It seems like a lot of money. But if I know I've been passing up all sorts of indulgences, I will know that I have enough to actually buy 3 pairs, to replace the 3 that are wearing out.

And that's "economic power," actually--power that is being USED, and used properly.

That was one of my points about the ways you choose to spend your money--that you spend it on things that TRULY matter to you, and not stuff that's a quick "feel good" that's not really needed.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 8:52PM
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talley sue, you don't disappoint. Your money advice is as right-on and fortright as your kitchen and house selling sagas; I continue to be delighted that you're around.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 11:47PM
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gee, thanks, Kate!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 12:16PM
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As I am about retirement age, we have found that we do not need to buy much anymore, but we do have a lot of things that I would like to get rid of. I see so many houses in my neighborhood that have stuffed garages, boxes of things they will never see or use ever again. I have even known families that had a family room or a bed room full of boxes of stuff stored away. I think of everything that I get rid of or that I just do not buy as a way of buying space in my house. I like all my rooms to be used, but not used as storage. And I like enough room so that my children and grandchildren can gather and have places to sit or move around.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 5:22PM
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This is one of my favorite forums. Just yesterday I did something that I had never done before: as I was going through my mail, I tossed right in the garage (without opening a single cover) all the "drool over" catalogues: Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Williams and Sonoma, etc. I was so proud of myself! Now I am emailing the merchants to remove my name from their mailing lists. Such a liberating feeling!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 5:59PM
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I find that, since I stopped getting the Sunday paper -- stuffed full of circulars -- I see a lot less stuff I think I need to have. Ditto for most of the paper catalogues I used to get; I know where these folks "live" and I can always check out their Web sites.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 7:06PM
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I love this discussion!

I'm MJ, and I lurk here, along with about a dozen other garden web message boards!
I've struggled with many of the things that others have admitted to, and I've discovered that I love to declutter.
Sometimes I feel like I would garage sale just to have the things to declutter.

I need to keep up this mind set!

My eye opening experience was this:
Every year my father and mom give us a weekend at Shipshewana. Anyone know this place? In Indiana? It's an Amish town jammed packed with glitzy overpriced 'stuff'.

My family (including the men!) enjoy shopping. I took my DD age 8 along this year, and she started crying.
I asked her what was wrong, and she said-
Get me out of here. It just makes me want this stuff, and I want to save my money.

Out of the mouths of babes.

thanks for all the continued motivation here!!!


    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 6:03PM
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MJ, Last year we had a get together of Cooking Forum members, one of our day trips was to lovely Shipshewana. I had the same experience...Get me out of here. It just makes me want this stuff, and I want to save my money. I ended up buying only consumables but then had to deal with the inconvenience and cost of shipping it home because I couldn't carry it on the plane. As further confirmation that I didn't need even the consumables, I still have, among other things, 2 unopened jars of Cherry Butter from the American Spoon store.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 10:36AM
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I am a lurker who not only enjoys reading this site, but also gets useful information and reinforcement on many issues. My husband and I are in our mid-70s, down-sized 14 years ago, but now need to do it again! I keep telling our kids and grandkids, PLEASE don't give us any "stuff"! My Mother used to ask for a box of Tide or a book of stamps--anything that would be useful and used.

When I watch a program called "House Hunters" on HGTV, and the folks say they need more space for storage, I always yell at the TV screen, "Get rid of some of your stuff"! Oh well, different strokes for different folks, but I truly am trying to down-size and economize. Thanks again for much useful information and encouragement.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 2:01PM
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Well, Yes Donna I am; thanks for asking! I didn't feel like I had anything that relevant to share until I started reading here. It's funny how so many of the little things you make choices on translate into a simpler life.

I live by Talley Sue's ROI rule...for clothing, my sister calls it CPW (cost per wearing). I recently hit the summer sales because I had some events I needed clothing for, but didn't want to spend much money on. I hate to clothes shop so much that I usually end up paying far too much to buy an item for an event, simply because I don't want to invest the energy or the time. I decided this year to take advantage and make a marathon of it and really think about my purchases. Listing all the events I knew I had coming up, I went from there. I purchased items I never would have in the past, yet shopped much smarter than I ever have. For example, I can never find jeans...and on that trip, I bought two pair of outrageous designer jeans that fit. (I have never spent so much money on JEANS, but it was the right thing to do.) They were on sale, I got them altered for free, they look fantastic and I'll wear them until they fall off in tatters. On the other hand, because of the sales, I bought two dresses, one for a party and another for a wedding I'll be attending in the fall; both for $16 ea. That made me feel great, since I won't wear those much. I filled in my wardrobe with some black pants, and a number of tops that will take me to most events, all at ridiculous 75% off prices. I tried everything on, and refused to buy anything that didn't fit perfectly. What this did for me was allow me to pull any of those clothes out of my closet and wear them without a moment's hesitation. I went home and vowed to spend an afternoon in my closet trying everything on so I could purge ALL my clothes to that same extent. It's a lot more fun to shop my closet now! You know, I dressed for a party last week and didn't even look in the mirror before I left. There's a lot of freedom in knowing everything fits and looks great!

Another discovery I made recently had to do with the number of hummingbird feeders I have. I hesitated to put them out this year because I have quite a few and have to clean them often to refill, especially in the heat. Since hummingbirds are one of the highlights of my life, I decided to keep half of them on reserve in the fridge. That saved me a bit of a chore, I have a place for the reserve food, and they're all ready to go. The hummers eat until they're empty, and resources of food and energy (mine!) are saved. That definitely made my life easier and simplified the process for me.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 12:53PM
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My husband loves to yard sale and every Saturday that is our "date"- we go to yard and estate sales and then go out to a nice lunch. But now I don't actually buy anything, unless it replaces something I'm getting rid of.

Last month I visited my mom, who has lived in the same house for 30 years - and has almost no clutter. I asked her how she managed to keep stuff from piling up and she said, "I just don't buy things I don't need." Period. So simple and so right.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 4:45PM
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Picture this: You arrive home with your car loaded with bags, groceries and things you bought at the dept store, hardware store, 99 cent store,etc. You carry the bags indoors and put everythiung away. Two days later , you dump an equally large amount in the garbage can for the hauler to take away. If it comes in, it has to go out! Personally,I have been avoiding garage sales this summer. If I don't see it,I won't be tempted to buy it!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 11:22AM
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Yes, I have been buying less for the last 10 years or so. Seems I became aware of just how much 'stuff' we acquire after the arrival of our children, and all the customary gifts and hand me downs we would get. I would feel guilty with the thought of throwing something out that someone I loved had spent their hard earned dollars on, yet plenty of what my kids would receive would hardly be played with. Then...we had to move! Yikes, I became so overwhelmed with all the stuff I had packed away for safekeeping/to use later/to give away/to sell, plus all the stuff we had for supposed everyday use, and I realized we had too much. Luckily I happened upon a series of clutter themed books by Don Aslett (he also believes 75% of the work the average woman has to do in her home belongs to the other 3 people who also live there - so cheers to him) that changed my way of thinking and buying. Coming across this website a couple of years later was like heaven, because it so confirmed how I felt and let me know I wasn't the only one who was trying to rein in what I was receiving from others. I felt some people around me viewed me as a miser, or cheap, or weird, because I would say I don't need a birthday gift, an outing and time together would be great - my kids don't need 5 gifts from you at Christmas...they would be happy with one (and if they weren't, now's the time for them to learn to be).

I do worry though that if everyone cut back on their spending and purchasing, what would happen to our economy? Seems North America is so focussed on spending, and buying things, would the world crumble?

~ k ~

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 7:56PM
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Great Topic!

I stopped buying "thngs" a few years ago because I just did not want to add to my stash of "stuff". My problem is letting everyone else know that I have stopped accumulating!

I went through a storage closet last week and found 3 sets of holiday and other themed snack plates, 8 sets of candle holders and napkin rings and a punch set and several other gifts that I will never use.

Whenever I have the opportunity, I always tell people that I am no longer accumulating, but no one pays atention. They just think they have to buy me gifts for Birthdays and Christmas and always think of me as the entertaining party giver I was 15 years ago!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 1:40PM
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