1.09.2009

The Resolutions – Part Two


image via the very cool photographic dictionary via Rachel

*Warning, this is a long one!

I wanted to comment a bit on my resolution to not make any new purchases for three months, as I think it might be freaking people out just a smidge... My ultimate motivation for this seemingly crazy undertaking is two-fold.

First, I see it as sort of a “money cleanse.” Most Americans go to the gym religiously in January to make up for all sorts of gastronomical sins, and while I certainly eat a lot over the holidays, I seem to have a bigger issue with spending -- that extra bottle of wine at the grocery store, one more gift for the girls, a few more ornaments for the tree... No matter how diligent I’ve been prior, I somehow lose all focus and get caught up in the abundance of December. Come January, I end up feeling totally bogged down in stuff. So this is partially a sort of purchasing “crash diet.”

My other motivation is environmental. I didn’t put lots of specific “green” resolutions on my list this year, but I’m committed to several things that directly relate to my goal to “minimize.” I’ve totally eschewed ziplock bags (I found a little trio of storage containers that’s perfect for packing the girls' lunches waste free.) I’m also striving to never accept a plastic or paper bag when I’m shopping, which is much harder than I thought, as while I’ve amassed a nice collection of reusable shoppers, I still haven’t mastered remembering to actually take them with me every time I leave the house. But after reading this article in the Washington Post a few months ago, I realized my thinking was a bit skewed… Purchasing something I don’t truly need makes a much bigger environmental impact than taking home yet another mindless purchase in a environmentally correct canvas bag. These two lines from the article run through my head on a pretty regular basis:

"They could still, in this recession-wary economy, where everyone tries to cut back, subscribe to the crazy notion that conservation was about . . . conserving. Says Garrett, "The greenest products are the ones you don't buy."

"Really going green, Hawken says, means having less. It does mean less. Everyone is saying, 'You don't have to change your lifestyle.' Well, yes, actually, you do."

Honestly I’m not really scared of this undertaking, as it’s not my first time. I actually did a three month spending hiatus at the start of 2008, and it was extremely rewarding and successful. But then the hiatus ended and (despite my efforts to create a seemingly fool-proof plan for mindful purchasing moving forward), I kind of lost my focus… So in addition to my “holiday cleansing” and environmental motivations, this is sort of a do-over from last year.

You also might notice that I'm planning to officially start the spending hiatus on January 10th to account for the fact that I did take advantage of the amazing, amazing sales happening right now (really, in all of my years as a *very* good consumer, I have never seen discounts like these.)

In full disclosure, here’s a list of everything I’ve purchased since Christmas:
  • A couple of pretty house plants, including a miniature Meyer lemon tree (I always crave some new greenery in January to fill the void left by the absent Christmas tree)
  • A pair of killer brown suede tall boots to tuck my jeans into (I’ll share a picture later, as they are truly stunning)
  • 3 new “dress over jeans” tops from Calypso and Barneys respectively that were so deeply discounted that they were cheaper than your average top from the Gap.
As of this Saturday I. go. cold. turkey. Anyone care to join me? We could start a support group!

38 comments:

Rachel said...

I think it's an admirable resolution, and a really good way to start being more mindful about your purchases (something I usually try to do, but it dissolved pre-holidays).
I'd like to join you, but can I make an exception for used things? I don't know if I can give up my flea market shopping cold turkey. Isn't it terrible that I have to put caveats on this?

lynne said...

Wow, that's a really thought-provoking quote. I think I want to try, too. And could definitely benefit from a support group!

Jackie said...

I made a similar resolution this year so I appreciate this post a lot. You've put my jumbled thoughts on this issue into words! I hadn't thought about the environmental aspect, but that article from the Washington Post is great. Thanks for sharing!

slowlikehoney.net said...

Oh, I need to be a spending freeze as well! I am like you. I will buy little purchases here and there, and by the end of the month, I am out of cash! it's ridiculous... I am in for a spending cleanse. Although I might be moving in a month so that will get tricky. But up until that point, I will try. Starting sunday :)

Jo said...

i tried my very hardest to follow your lead last year and was pretty successful. but this time around i have baby on the way so know i won't be as good at resisting purchases. HOWEVER, i am trying to buy as many gently used baby things when appropriate (strollers, high chair, diapers...kidding) so hopefully that counts for something!

Cassandra said...

I will try. I totally get this post. I'm the same. I had a couple of major spending sprees last year that I am not at all proud of. They leave me depressed. I'm all for joining you in the 3 month no extra buying (because I have to buy groceries ;) And yes. I get the January 10th start date. Because I took advantage of a few sales as well. So my no-spend spree starts tomorrow with you. Here we go...

Kristin said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who gets all the way to the store with her reusable totes in hand, only to forget them in the car and then not remember until i'm in the checkout lane...
This no spending thing is a very good resolution. I'm just trying to wrap my head around no new things for three months...
best of luck!

Roberta Jane said...

A totally amazing idea and something I have often thought of doing... I am sitting down to work on my resolutions this weekend... I might include something like this - thanks for the inspiration!!!

whoorl said...

Joslyn, I think I'm going to do this with you. The prospect of not shopping seriously FRIGHTENS me (I mean, I'm a Power Consumer), but I need to do it.

AHHH!

Alicia said...

I think it's a great idea & I'm totally on board. I find that when I'm not mindful of what I buy I end up with crap like a shirt from Target that's cute but gets worn once maybe twice... I would much rather save that $$ for a trip or if I need* some new attire a really nice piece that's made well & will last for a while. *I really don't need anything in the clothing department but I do have to be realistic!! Good luck!

Loop and Lil said...

Good luck to you Joslyn! I've started following a blog (happilyfrugal.com) where the writer's family has committed to no spending (other than gas/groceries, etc.) for a YEAR!

She has a "mantra" on her home page that I'm trying to put into practice more - Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!

It's also one of my resolutions - Spend less, and enjoy what I already have more!

Joslyn said...

loop and lil...just checked out happily frugal...what a cool blog. she makes what i'm trying to do look like a walk in the park!

Kasey said...

I'm with you!

Rita Finn said...

Joslyn,
(sigh) I will try. It's an honorable goal. I'll try to ignore my longing for that Canon Rebel XT and new boots with kitten heels. I pledge that I will try! Wish me luck!

Smyrna Townie said...

Hi. I just found your blog tonight and love it! I also saw the previous post about Wheaten Terriers...I have one, a 3 year old named Riggs. They are the absolute best dogs in the world! You should so get one! Good luck with all of your resolutions! You are super woman to make them all happen!

Kim said...

i think you're great. :)

southern daze said...

You are an absolute inspiration and while I can't commit to a three month spending freeze, I will commit to making wiser spending choices. I will stop buying things for the sake of buying them or because they're too cheap not to buy. Thank you for motivating me to do something I wanted to do but didn't have the guts to put into words. Good luck!

Aran said...

I so agree joslyn... that is also one of my goals this year, not to over consume and accumulate. it is a form of mind and spirit detox. let's stick to it!

tigermilk said...

I wish i was as noble as you...
:)

Oh and i tagged you! the rules are on my blog!

abigail said...

I'll join you if I am still allowed to buy supplies to make things for friend and relatives upcoming birthdays etc.

ps. I got a meyer lemon tree about a year ago and it is blooming like crazy right now making my house smell delicious.

julie @ letter9 said...

i think it sounds like a great challenge. i'll be eager to see how it goes for you.

I ♥ NY said...

good for you! i was thinking of doing something along the same lines... i might take it week by week though. committing to a whole 3 months seems a little daunting at the moment. good luck to us both!

M. said...

Good for you, and good luck. I might try to do something smaller, maybe a month, and see how it goes. With birthdays coming up, that may be hard.

I'm with you on the bag thing, and I will tell you what has saved me. Grocery shopping is no problem - I keep my gazillion bags in the car, and even if I initially forget to bring them in the store (cough, not that that ever happens to me, cough), it's just a quick jog out to the car. No, it's the little things - something from the pharmacy, the hardware store, the post office - that's where I get killed. I bought 2 of these, and they live in the bottom of my purse, and they are brilliant! In their little stuff sack, they are about the size of 2 Tic Tac boxes, and they hold tons - and they are cheaper than a lot of other trendy and pricey bags out there.

http://www.chicobag.com/p-16-chicobag-original-series.aspx

Of course, I'm realizing that I'm telling you to spend money on something just as you start your "diet" - oops! Well, maybe later!

Joslyn said...

M -- great idea on the purse bags...i'll definitely consider them after the hiatus ;-) acutally i do pretty good at the drugstore etc, as i carry a HUGE purse and just stick it all in there. the checker always looks at me like i'm crazy, but it works!

Kotori said...

I ALWAYS forget my reusable bags... always. I need to put them in the car so they're just a jog away (great idea M). For the lunches, have you looked at Laptop Lunches(www.laptoplunches.com) ? I bought one for Jack this fall and have LOVED it, plus it has saved me tons by not buying those little snack sizes of Goldfish and whatnot and now I don't use any baggies. I actually found it cheaper on eBay and bought it there. Just a thought.

Good luck on the spending hiatus - wish I could join you, but I'm not quite brave enough! I'll be anxious to hear how it's going in future posts!

paula said...

i am in! this has constantly been on my mind since the first mention so I believe this will be my sort of fast. oh, and i too will remember to actually bring my shopping bags to the store. thank you for your inspiration!

Pretty Guide of Art said...

I like your blog :)
see you and best regards.
PGA

Jeanneoli said...

Most of us buy too much. It is a great resolution and one we could all join in some way. I hope you can stay focused....that is when I see everything I really love:-)

Nicola said...

Great Idea! I sort of have the same resolution - inspired by the plan to pay off debt and save for a house deposit.

I'm buying as little as possible and writing down purchases in my diary - everything, even the necessities. It's good to look back the week after to see where the pennies go!

Maybe you could do a post a week of your week's purchases? I was thinking of this on my blog? ..

Tartelette said...

Great idea! Here it started with a conscious effort to use everything in the pantry and freezer before adding more because "it looked good". So far so good. Being frugal and ressourceful always fills me up with the greatest sense of accomplishment.
Happy New Year and the best to you for 2009!

Smiling Mama said...

You are so right. It is great to change your lightbulbs and turn off the water when you brush your teeth. But really? To make real change we all need to do things differently and with less. So hard, though!

Joanna Goddard said...

i also did this last year. it was actually really refreshing because it made you not crave things as much! good luck!! xoxo

Joslyn said...

joanna,
i remember when you did this...you were my sole support group last year ;-)

ms. less is always more said...

I am putting our family (and myself) on a spend freeze for 30 -days my limits are "frivolous" spending. Like you I am such a sucker for a little this and a little that. Pick up a magazine at the grocery store, a snack for the kids at the mall, Starbucks here and there and clothes that are purchased when we don't need anything and I shouldn't be looking anyway! You are what you "eat" or consume... and if I'm not consuming all of the time, hopefully it will make it easier for the whole year!

I'm in!

pve design said...

when the urge strikes to spend, will your heart start to race, you hand start to shake, beads of sweat drip off your forehead or will you be as cool as a cucumber.
I'm so game, sign me up. Bring it on, the game, the challenge and the support. When's the Shopaholic meeting?
Already No dining out, all meals prepared. Saving lots.

redframe said...

I'll join the support group! I intend not to buy any clothing, shoes or accessories this year (eek)and our circle of friends are only doing charity donations for bday gifts... Here's hoping!

Joy said...

Wow! I just read this and I swear, a few minutes ago I blogged about trying to not shop for a whole month! I guess it's late to join your support group but I'll definitely read up on your blog to get advice on how to control the urge!!

The rules I gave myself were - no new things, except toiletries, food, home improvements, entertainment (like going to the movies with friends), and beauty services (like getting my eyebrows done. I can't stop that! LOL).

Wish me luck!

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