Not Buying It
Lifestyle

Not Buying It! Part 2

By on January 14, 2017

This is Part 2 of a 90-day “Not Buying It” challenge.  You can read Part 1 here.  My goals are to break my consumer habit, spend my time and money more intentionally, use and waste less, and pay down some debt.

Here are my rules for the 90 days:
* No shopping except food and essential items
* No new books, clothes, or music
* No eating in restaurants or buying take-out
* Try to use up food items that are already in the house
* I’m still allowed to pay for dance and yoga :)

Day 8: Damn it.  I was charged $37.66 in interest on my credit card.  Ugh.  I’m annoyed I let this happen.  But I’m happy I’m taking drastic steps to take care of it as quickly as possible. I just looked it up and the average American household is carrying over $16,000 in credit card debt!!!  That’s terrible!!  And that’s a lot of interest!

Part of my challenge is to use up food that’s been in my cupboards for too long.  I pulled out four containers of dried beans.  Mung beans, adzuki beans, black gram, and french lentils.  I think those adzuki beans have been there for a long time.  I decided to use the first three and make some kitchari, which is an Indian Ayurvedic dish used for balancing and cleansing.  It’s a one pot meal, with protein, carbohydrates, spices and vegetables all in one!  When used for a cleanse it can be eaten exclusively for days on end.  I have lots of brown basmati rice to use up.  I added cauliflower, peas, coconut milk, lots of fresh ginger, turmeric, and cumin seeds.  Now I have a back-up lunch for the whole week and don’t have to worry about needing take-out!! I eat it with fresh cilantro on top.  Yum!

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Day 9: I had a make-up emergency this morning.  Well, okay, nothing involving make-up could be that much of an emergency.  I left the house in a hurry, and forgot my make-up bag at home.  I wear make-up every day, and was not at all comfortable with the idea of showing up to work without it.  Because my co-workers are used to seeing me that way, I think without it I would look sick, or like I just rolled out of bed.  And plus, I’m just vain like that 😉  I’m not sure if this was the right decision based on my challenge, but I had $12 in extrabucks, a $3 coupon for cosmetics, and 30 minutes before my morning meeting.  I stopped at CVS, and bought a lipstick, and an eyeliner.  I paid $2.12.  I’ll keep them in my computer bag so this won’t ever happen again!

And I have an actual emergency.  I came home to find the second floor heated at about 90 degrees.  The thermostat broke!!  Now it’s off completely, and considering it’s been in the single digits, this isn’t an option.  C’est la vie!! Things break!  Things need to be replaced!!  Within three clicks on Amazon, a new one is on it’s way.  So easy.  It’s a blessing and a curse!

My mom made a return to LLBean and gave me the credit.  I think it’s for about $100.  I like to use these gift cards and credits right away so I don’t lose them or forget about them.  I’ve been thinking about this.  If I buy something with it now, on the one hand it will be free, a gift, and won’t effect my goal to pay down my credit card, but on the other hand it’s shopping and it will be continuing my consumerism.  I’d like a new pair of winter boots because mine are very low and the deep snow gets in them.  Plus they’re ugly.  I look up boots on the LLBean website.  And now there are three pairs of boots I desperately want that will surely be gone by April 1st.  Winter boots, black leather, and brown leather.  I might get one pair…

Day 10: What??  The thermostat fixed itself!  I am such a procrastinator when it comes to household repairs.  My garbage disposal has been broken for years.  It takes me months to change a light bulb.  This may be the first time in my life that I took care of a problem so promptly, and the thing fixed itself and now I have a new thermostat I don’t need!!  Too late to cancel.  I’ll have to return it.

I’ve had a sore throat for several weeks, and I finally went to the doctor.  She said it is most likely post nasal drip causing irritation and inflammation.  This is great news because it felt like my throat was closing and I was kind of worried I was having a slow onset of anaphylactic shock and I might die.  Phew! She recommended taking a decongestant.  Normally I would have gone straight to the pharmacy and bought some pseudophedrine even though I have some at home.  I wanted to take it right away!  I thought about this the whole drive to work, and decided that I could survive one more day of post nasal drip, especially since it’s most likely not life threatening 😉  I feel like I have redeemed myself after my make-up purchase yesterday.

Day 11: You don’t understand.  I really need those boots.  All three pairs.  Really.

Day 12: I return a hardcover book that my daughter bought for our Cuba trip.  There was no wifi there, but alas, the kids discovered how to download Netflix onto their phones.  The book was never read.  $27 back on my card.

The self-repairing thermostat is still working, so I return the new one.  $68 back on my card.

I get another check in the mail!  This is actually the third check I’ve gotten this week.  So strange.  Together they total $80!  You may wonder, How does one randomly receive unexpected checks in the mail?  Well, don’t get too excited.  These are all reimbursements of things I had somehow overpaid.  So it’s just my own money being sent back to me.  For example, I bought clothes on a store credit card.  Paid the credit card in full.  But then returned some of the clothes.  So a few months later they mailed me a check.

My friend compares me to an alcoholic who goes into a bar and says, I’ll just have one drink.  Moral of the story?  No boots for Amber :(

Day 13: Here is my confession: I just bought an $80 ticket to see Erykah Badu, one of my favorite artists.  I’ve never seen her live before and I’m sure it’s going to be an amazing show.  I have no regrets!  But I do feel bad if I’ve already broken my resolution!  Have I? I did what I could to minimize the purchase.  I always buy at least two tickets, and have even bought up to 8 tickets, to ensure my friends can come with me.  This is an open dance floor, not assigned seats, so I only bought one ticket and will hope for the best that I’ll find some friends going!  The website said I’m eligible for a $30 rebate on the ticket, so I’ll try to do that.  I only go to concerts a couple of times a year, for artists that I really love.  Honestly if I had thought of it ahead of time I would have made an exemption for this category!! I know I said no music, but I meant MP3s and vinyl and such.  In my mind this is more in the category of going out dancing which I’ve totally still planned on doing.  It’s an activity, not a material purchase, right?  Am I just making excuses? Does it count for anything that the concert isn’t until April?  My only regret might be buying one ticket instead of two!!

I ate kitchari 4 out of 5 lunches this week, and to tell the truth I’m sick of it!! I put the rest of the batch in the freezer.  But I did great at bringing a lunch to work every day, and not buying any take-out.

My mother has a terrible sweet tooth, but is often on a diet.  She likes to live vicariously through me by gifting me with sweets.  Often.  She has literally given me gallons (gallons!!) of honey.  I finally broke her of this habit because I try to eat vegan and prefer to use agave nectar.  So, she has switched to maple syrup.  I currently have two liters of maple syrup in my fridge (you think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not!!) I barely ever use sweetener.  How am I ever going to use all that syrup??  I guess I should surprise the kids with waffles or pancakes every weekend for the next few months.  In the meantime, I put some in my coffee this morning.  It wasn’t terrible, but I’m not impressed.

Day 14:  I make pancakes for my son, extra syrup.  I find a second package of gluten-free pancake mix in the cupboard (used the first package last week.)  Pancakes and syrup for Mama too 😉

I have some baobab fruit powder that’s been here for a while.  You may be wondering what the heck is that, and why on earth I would buy it?!  I actually used to have this in Senegal all the time, and thought it was hilariously awesome when I saw it at Marshall’s.  Apparently it’s high in antioxidants.  Time to use it up!!  I mix some with water and make a juice.  Yum!

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I also have a jar of rosebud tea that I bought from a Japanese grocery store, I don’t know how many years ago.  Truth is I’m very boring in my beverage consumption.  95% of the time I just drink water and coffee.  I’ll have tea if I’m taking a break from coffee, or if I want something warm.  I’m going to use these rosebuds but it will take some effort!!  I put it in some green tea.

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Oh jeesh.  I go into every room in the house and gather all the bottles of detangler.  A few are empty, most are half-used, and some are brand new.  No wonder I’m so broke!! This is more than $200 worth of detangler!!  And, don’t my kids know how to recycle??  My kids both have really long and curly hair, and I swear by this stuff, but I guess I got carried away!! I combine all the mostly-empty bottles, and recycle half of these.  Won’t need more anytime soon!

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I look online for my dream boots and I can’t find them anywhere!!!  WTF?  Where the hell did they go??? Is the Universe conspiring to make sure I keep my resolution?  It’s like they never existed!

I made another payment on my credit card yesterday.  I’ve also been using cash for all expenses for the past two weeks with money I didn’t spend on our vacation.  My card balance is down to $1,163!!!  This is amazing!!!  But I have to keep in mind that my next paycheck is going towards mortgage, condo fee, car payment, and other expenses.  I won’t be able to make another significant payment for a month.  And the balance is going to go way up by then.  Still need new tires…

To be continued!

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Amber
Cambridge, MA

From nine to five, I am a Senior Program Officer at a small non-profit working in International Public Health. In the rest of my hours I am a yoga and meditation teacher, a health enthusiast, an aspiring vegan, an amateur photographer, and most importantly, a mother of two.

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