Not Buying It

Not Buying It! Part 1

Several years ago I read the book “Not Buying It” and it made a big impression on me.
Disgusted with her credit card debt, and consumer mentality, the author goes a whole year without buying anything but food and household essentials. I could SO relate to her motivations, and I was inspired. A year seems daunting, but a three month challenge seems totally doable.  This isn’t a blog about finances.  But it is about intentional living, and how we spend our time and money is a huge part of that.
Here are my rules for the next 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 🙂
* I’d also like to use this time to think about wasting less, using less, and decluttering
Day 1: I’m excited! Like the author, my goal in doing this 90 day challenge is to pay down some debt, and break my consumer habits. I don’t think of myself as materialistic, but I am always fighting a battle of clutter at my house, and am all too familiar with the instant gratification and convenience of online shopping. As soon as I think of something new that will make my life easier, happier, or more fun, it’s in my online cart and on its way to my house before I can even give it a second thought. I’m usually very good at living within my means and not accruing debt, but at the end of 2016 I had a combination of events that left me with just over $4,000 on my credit card. $4,140.63 to be exact! And having unpaid debt is like having an itch that I can’t scratch!
There were three major expenses that led to my debt: A broken boiler that required four visits from the plumber; a family vacation to Cuba; and a $900 camera that I bought for the family vacation! Not much I could do about the broken boiler, but the camera… I love traveling and I love photography, but, for that kind of money I needed to be totally in love with this camera. When I got the camera home the first thing I did was a comparison test. I compared the photos from my old digital camera, the new digital camera, and my iPhone camera. Well, guess which one won? I actually preferred the rich color quality of the iPhone!! True I wouldn’t be able to zoom, but it would have to do. I returned the camera, and used credit card points to get reimbursed for some of the vacation lodging. On the first day of my challenge my card is already down to $2,957.40!! Off to a good start!
Some photos shot with my iPhone 6S.  Not bad, huh?
Day 2: I am quickly realizing that it is a lot easier to get excited about doing something, than about not doing something. Say for example you make the resolution to do more yoga. When you think about it, you can get up and do some yoga! You can go visit a yoga studio and take a class! You can browse Amazon for books, music, and DVDs on yoga. You can buy a new yoga mat, or a whole new yoga wardrobe! There is a lot you can do, or at least think about doing. The possibilities are endless!
But “not buying it” is more of a non-action than an action. I will have a thought of, Yay, let’s get excited about my New Year’s Resolution! And then… what? Nothing, that’s what. There is nothing to plan, nothing to buy, and nothing to do! It’s kind of anticlimactic. I do the only related action I can think of, I check my bank balance again, and my credit card balance. Again.
Day 3: I broke my resolution… Yup, that’s how long I lasted without online shopping, two full days.  But I later redeemed myself. Last month I sprained my knee pretty badly and have been in PT. It’s been healing very slowly, and I NEED to do some bicycle exercises every day. I am very motivated to get better! Being that it’s January in New England, biking outside doesn’t seem like a reliable option. There is a fitness room at my office, but no bike! I thought about joining a gym, but don’t really want to. So the best solution is to get one of those stands that turns a regular bike into an indoor stationary bike.
I looked on Freecycle, nothing. I looked on Craigslist, and saw one for $25 but it was a 40 minute drive away, and I’ve had bad luck with Craigslist. So I bought one on Amazon, $75, just like that. And it would be at my house in two days, brand new with all the parts. So easy!!
But, I also texted a friend asking if he had one. And an hour later, sure enough, he said he did and that I could borrow it!! I was able to cancel my Amazon order just in time. Yay!! My money and my pride have been saved!
Day 4: In my eagerness to pay down my credit card, I emptied my checking account and bounced a check 🙁 Who the hell even uses checks anymore?? I do, apparently. $35 fee. Sigh.
But on a positive note, I had 7 people come to my lunchtime yoga class at work! I get $8 a person, so a bonus $56!
Maybe my yoga money should go into a special “stupidy fund” for things like bank fees and parking tickets…
Day 5: My dance studio is doing a clothing drive in exchange for discounted classes! Win/win!!! I can get rid of some old clothes I don’t wear anymore, help people living in a local shelter, and get a free class!! Actually, that’s a win/win/win!!
Day 6: Payday!! I put almost my entire paycheck towards my debt. My credit card balance is under $2,000! But, only temporarily. I need new tires for my car. Plus, I might actually have some other expenses 🙂
I’m starting a list of things I’m allowed to buy on April 1st. First item: Beats headphones.
Day 7: Whole Foods has an awesome return policy. I had three things I’ve been meaning to return for months so I finally did it today and got a $34 credit towards my groceries. Nice!!
I also got a $48 check in the mail that I wasn’t expecting!
My daughter lost her scarf and needs a new one. I offered to crochet it. She’s giving me a week, if it’s not done, she gets to buy one. Somewhere in my closet I have a bag full of yarn and a half-finished shawl I started 10 years ago…
As part of my challenge, I’m trying to use up items that have been in my cupboards for way too long (I’m a bit of a food hoarder!) I had some gluten-free pancake mix that was at least a year old, so I baked some zucchini and carrot cake muffins. My daughter says they look like puke, but they actually taste pretty good 🙂
My kids are not on board with my “eat at home” plan, and being teens, they have their own money.  Fine by me! My daughter meets her friends for brunch, my son meets his friends for a Chinese food dinner, I stay at home and eat my zucchini muffins…
To be continued!!