Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Experiment

Some of you may know that I've been doing a sort of experiment this year. I set myself the task of doing no personal shopping for myself at all for an entire year. That includes clothes, shoes, yarn, cosmetics, books, magazines, good-smelling lotions and potions, tools and gadgets and pretty much everything else that I tend to buy for myself. Don't get me wrong, we're not desperate or anything, in fact we're the opposite and that was part of the problem for me. It became too easy to buy stuff.  It of course, does not include things like anti-perspirant, stuff I need for teaching, or other essential items, such as chocolate. And I haven't involved my family. They still get their allowance and can do what they want with it. 

To achieve my goal, I've tried to make things, fix things, get stains out, use the library and bookmooch, use what I have in my house, and just generally shift my thinking back to a sense that I have what I need not solely because of money, but also because my husband and I are smart, resourceful and capable.  I have made a few concessions ahead of time:  If I do miraculously lose my 30 pounds and am forced to buy new clothing, if I can't sew something  from fabric that I have or alter things, I'll allow myself to go to the thrift store. That's totally fine because I adore the thrift store. If I really need a particular lens for a photoshoot, I'm allowed to rent it, and if I need new running shoes, I'll buy those, and not from the thrift store.

Why, you may ask? Well, when I really think about it, I have to say that the biggest reason was curiosity on my part. Sure, it was a financial decision as we enter the years of having multiple children in college, but it was mostly just to see if I could do it, and to try and return myself to a state of production and creativity rather than buying and consuming. It's just time to shop my own stash, as we say in the knitting world.

So, now that the year is nearly 1/3 over, I can say that I really have experienced what the self-help folks call a paradigm shift. That means I'm looking at things in a different way.  I don't really want any more stuff. I've developed a reflex to look in my own drawers and shelves before I think of buying anything. It's kind of empowering. Please don't feel like I'm judging people that have a happy, normal relationship with shopping. There is nothing wrong with stuff. Remember that I like stuff. That's why I have so much of it. I just felt like I was drowning in it.  So, now I am trying to avoid getting any more.  That's all.  Oh, and just so you know,  the things that tempt me most are shoes, books, pens, magazines, and strangely enough, garden tools.  I know, I am so weird.

Has it made a difference, you may also ask? Overall, yes it has. We've saved a bit more each month, and I feel an emerging sense of peace about the future and a feeling that whatever comes, I'll be okay, even if I can't buy a single thing. If I say so myself, it's kinda cool.


  1. Interesting experiment. I always love to read your blog. :) It is fun to see how we can "make it do or do without".
    ps-I got the most adorable RED shoes at Goodwill the other day! :) Hope to see you soon so I can show them to you.

  2. Great experiment. I don't know if I could do it. :-) I think it would be interesting to try. It was great to hear from you today. :-)

  3. Wow, that is great! I'm going to think of you and what you are doing this year when I get tempted by cookbooks and cooking gadgets (my own personal shopping temptations). I will try to shop my own stash because heaven knows I have enough cookbooks! You are a totally cool Kellie!!

  4. I love it. (I also love that chocolate is on the "essentials" list. :)) It's interesting to read this from my point in life, where, for years now, I have had no other option but to use what I've got on hand, shop the thrift stores, or do without. Sometimes I can resent our financial situation. But it's good to remember that stuff isn't that important and the reason we are where we are financially is because I'm at home with our kids, and we're working hard to build a future that will give us more freedom, financially.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble like that, but I'm happy for the added measure of peace your experiment has brought you.

  5. i've been thinking about your experiment ever since you mentioned it at rs back in february. i think about it at target now. :) i haven't committed to a full-fledged experiment myself, but i have had similar feelings about drowning in STUFF. so thanks for giving us an update on how it's going.

  6. You go, girl! I look forward to hearing how it goes throughout the year :D

  7. Oh, and if you're ever short of something to read, you're welcome to come raid my stash ;) Same goes with fabric, yarn, whatever I have you might want (I'm trying to clear the clutter out of my house)


Thank you for sharing your insights!