Kristin Skarie is a friend of mine whom I met through my son when she did workshops at his college. Like me, she also loves to do life experiments and one of her finest was going a year without buying anything new. It can be done, she’s even written a book about it! Here’s Kristin to tell you about what she learned when she didn’t buy anything new.
Hello and thank you Wendy! In 2010, I made a decision to buy nothing new for a year. A friend had shared her recent nothing new experiment so I decided on the spot to give it a go – no preparation, no stocking up, no plans. In many ways this was an answered prayer to remedy a BAD 2009 (don’t ask!) and it gave me a welcome distraction – an active, positive focus on the pending adventure.
I tailored my Year of Nothing New to allow “new” consumables like food and toiletries. I also allowed new office supplies (mostly consumable) and business materials for my teambuilding work. My car had to keep running and my house had to stay safe so there were a few allowances there. Beyond that, If I needed anything else it was second hand or handmade by me. The dollar amount of anything I did buy new went into a separate account, which I donated at the end of the year – $757.50 to be exact. I tell you that not to impress you but to impress upon you that I was highly aware of privilege to still buy something new if I chose to.
Initially, I simply stopped going to my shopping trouble spots – it was easy really. I was committed to this project and I knew that stopping shopping would benefit me in numerous ways. That year I did not enter a Target or a Pier 1, nor did I set foot in our local mall chock full of fun and favorite stores! I kept my distance from Home Depot too – another danger zone for me (More Spending, More Doing) and switched to small resale shops or markets from almost everything. What are your shopping hot spots?
I started a veggie garden that summer and got way into eating local and seasonal. After the of good habits were safely underway, I added monthly challenges to keep things interesting. No lights on in the house for one month and only foods grown in New York State for another month. I gave up buying plastic for a month (I swear EVERYTHING is made of plastic), tracked my trash production and did a “fashion fast” wearing only 6 items of clothing for a month. Good times!
Did I learn anything? Oh yes. I looked through the microscope at how I spent my money as well as my time and my energy. I saved $5,998.00 by watching every penny spent on clothing, household goods, food, utilities and gas. I decluttered and freed myself from material things, keeping only items that are Beautiful, Useful and/or Memorable. I got way better at saying Yes to the right things instead of Yes to everything. I overhauled my values system serving to clarify what I want, what I need and what I have. The year after that, I turned off my TV, skipped all chain coffee shops, ended 6 committee/co-curricular responsibilities and released 2 friendships. So there’s that. All of my great Nothing New habits from that year have stuck and I continue to learn how to leave a smaller footprint and to appreciate the simple joys.
Freedom, clarity, openness, space, peace…no sale flyer, coupon or special deal needed! I wish you well on your cost saving journeys – may you have Nothing New and all your needs met in this year!
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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