Sunday, November 30, 2008

Buy Nothing Day

Every year, I think I should join in the celebration of Buy Nothing Day. I never quite make it though, and I have mixed feelings about it. Sure, I am trying to limit what I buy. I am not getting rid of all this stuff from my home just so I can cram more stuff into every nook and cranny (and on every flat surface). I also love the whole idea of sitting out on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Black Friday is consumerism at its most rampant. You should see some of these crazy people! I say crazy not because I think they are crazy all the time, but because many of them get an absolutely crazed look on their faces as they pile more and more stuff into their arms, bags and carts. They are caught up in the frenzy, for sure.

On the other hand, I shop on Black Friday with my mother and my aunt. It is our tradition, and it is a nice way to get in some quality time with them. This is the big one, the reason that I get up at an ungodly hour of the morning and face those crowds. Without them, I would not do it, I am pretty sure. But there are a few other benefits.

  • There really are some good deals. If you plan ahead, have a budget, and don’t go overboard, you can save some serious money at these sales. Even in years where I have done some shopping ahead through the year, I like to look at the sales on household goods I need, because they are hard to pass up. And if you go in with a list of things that you need rather than an amount of money that you have to spend (meaning, you don’t buy more stuff with the money you save on your deals), you can actually end up spending less money for the season overall.
  • Shopping on this day actually reinforces my desire to get by with less stuff. When I look at all the people and all the extra merchandise the stores put out, with movies crammed in the clothing sections, and the major aisles filled with extra pallets of goods, I actually want to buy less. I have put stuff back on the shelves after looking around a bit and seeing the excess all around me.
  • I am mostly buying gifts for other people on these days. I try not to buy stuff that will just clutter up their homes, but unless you get things that are truly not wanted or wasteful, the social bonding benefits of gift-giving outweigh the stuff for me. I am thinking though, this is an area I could improve on. If it is the thought that counts, why does it have to be something bought at the store? Still, I like the focus on gift-giving and other people of this shopping trip.

Like I said before, though, the biggest sticking point for me is the time with my mother and my aunt. I don’t have many opportunities to spend such a long stretch with them. I could wish that they wanted to do that with some non-shopping activity, but they don’t. I am willing to make a few compromises for that family togetherness, I think. Well, obviously I am willing to do it, otherwise I wouldn’t be yawning my way through a line at 4:30 AM every year the day after Thanksgiving. At least I am not doing it alone!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The house sucks up new things

Ok, so I am still getting rid of stuff. As I unpack boxes, I am putting many things in the Good Will pile, and I have made a few trips to actually get it out of the house. I have also given a lot of hand-me-downs to a friend, so that freed up some space.

What I am struggling with is the decorating. How much stuff is reasonable to buy to decorate my new home? If I am buying stuff that I love, is it a sign of affluenza? How much do I need to have a stylish home? Why am I never free to go garage-saling? Or, rather, I am now, but now it is cold and people are not having so many sales. When they were having sales, I was going to soccer games. Maybe I will try again this weekend. But I need furniture, and I don't have a truck to haul it--buying new with a delivery person is easier.

I love my house so much, I keep wanting to improve it and make it mine. But this feels like a lot of shopping. I am not aiming to completely eliminate shopping, but I am trying to reduce it to what I really need. The problem is defining "need." Making my home feel beautiful, and like it is mine and in my style feels like a need, but I am not sure. I am trying to make some of my own art, which is saving money at least, and making it more personal.

I am thinking I will just slow down on the decorating for now, much as it kills me. At the very least, that will lower my consumption for any given month, and I will be forced to think things through a bit more, and prioritize.