Monday, January 31, 2011

Nothing new in Chicago- Mrs. Sick of Spending

I was laughing this weekend, as I was spending time in Chicago reconnecting with so many familiar faces, swimming in my extroversion. I was laughing as I walked into the hotel and IMMEDIATELY ran into a on old friend, Anthony, whose family and mine were intertwined for four years. I was laughing over what I was going to bring back for “Little sickofspendings” as a gift. I was laughing remembering this is a Year of Nothing New, realizing I may have to pull an “Anthony” and find some shower caps in our hotel bathroom to gift them. Free and Fun! We all win! But seriously. When I look back on the five days in Chicago, I did need to remind myself about Nothing New here and there.

Our first stop was our hotel, a quick chat with Anthony, and out the door to the Chicago Institute of Arts. We walked right by Millenium Park, took the obligatory pictures at the Bean, and considered ice skating. Instead, we got out of the snow and spent the afternoon feeding our senses for FREE (AIC – it’s free weekdays in the winter)! It was here I had to first remind myself of our Year. Usually, I feel like perusing the gift shops of museums. As I walked from the traditional art toward the contemporary through the hallway-made-gift-shop (what’s THAT about?), I noticed my lust-filled gaze toward some pottery (it was so pretty! I was just looking!). Ashamed, I scolded myself and remembered my commitments, my vows, my integrity, before I moved on to walls of Picassos.

One of the perks of this weekend was the free stuff given us. This event is made for connecting and refreshing, and the coordinators shower “free” on you: free books, free bags, free food, free cards to eat at Johnny Jims, free public transportation day passes, etc…I realize this is all a part of the cost, but I had to sort through our “rules” in my head. In a Year of Nothing New, I don’t want stuff just because it is free. I’m buying Nothing New partly so there is not a never-ending cycle of consumption. Usually, when I get to a hotel, I take whatever sample sized bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, lotion, soap, etc, made available and stick it in my bags so it will be replaced while the room is cleaned (FYI we actually USE these items for camp, but still!) and I repeat this UNTIL WE LEAVE. Again I found myself ashamed as I thought of stashing my bag with the “forbidden”. Again I had to remind myself of Nothing New.

When we were walking from the El to our hotel, one of Mr. sickofspending's suitcase wheel’s fell off. Annoying, but workable. A few minutes later, I turned around to see him struggling as he pulled it over a sidewalk bump and watched his handle break off – for those of you who know him, I’m sure you are laughing as hard as I am typing this. Want to know what is even more hilarious? We were standing, I’m NOT kidding, RIGHT IN FRONT OF A LUGGAGE STORE! I stood there, laughing hysterically with my pretty little suitcase, while he sighed and grunted dramatically. This time I became the temptress saying, “Maybe you just need to buy a new suitcase, it’s only $50, LOOK!” I meant it, he paused. Ashamed, we continued walking to the hotel.

As the five days were ending, I was feeling revived about the connections made, the conversations had, and I found myself debriefing in thought over it’s entirety. I had steered myself away from New and Frivolously Free, instead enjoying amazing food (a girls gotta eat) and dynamic people. I was thinking this over while walking into the hotel on our last night when Mr. sickofspending said, “What should we buy our kids to take back?” I just looked at him. Ashamed he responded to himself, “Oh yeah.” Those sample bottles were looking mighty luscious, after all.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We Bought something new! Noooooooooo!- Mrs. Sickofspending

This is a excerpt from a longer post...

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our actual Nothing New progress. This week we found ourselves in need of some clothing for our older kids, mostly pants. Usually, for them, I would just hop on over to Target for their very plain, cheap, and goes with everything pants. They HATE the thrift store, HATE the clothing, HATE the idea of it. I took them anyway. As we looked through the rows and rows of pants, I noticed a marked change in their attitudes. They were smiling and helpful in the process, they had an excitement in buying Nothing New. We ended up leaving with six pair of jeans from Gap and Levi and a pair of recycled sole Teva’s. We spent only $33. I am NOT a thrift store shopper, I hate it too, but was excited for the challenge. My kids don’t care about brands (yet), but we found some quality (at least, over Circo), for so much less. We all found it thrilling to have a bagful of necessity, while not creating a need for more – not taking from a rack that will be refilled with the same exact item.

We did find ourselves buying Something New. We almost never do this. We don’t usually have the sentiment or feel the need to buy ”picture packages” offered us by the given teams our children play on. However, it meant so much to our daughter to have a picture of her current traveling basketball team. We caved (?) I guess. We bought the package that was both the least amount of stuff and money. Honestly, it didn’t even occur to me that I was “cheating” until later. Not a success if you look at it from our Year, still a success in our daughters fun and commitment as she is growing. No loss, no success. I’ll take it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Resisting Temptation

We are now 15 days into buying nothing new and I can say we are doing fairly well. This project has me thinking about how often I can use shopping as entertainment. I was near a Barnes and Noble the other day and my natural reaction walking by was, "I should stop by and see what books and dvds are new?" I then asked, "Why would I put myself through that?" It really is amazing how simply browsing can tempt you to want to buy more.

That being said, I would like to post some "wants" that I will have a hard time resisting during this project. Maybe by verbalizing it here it will get it out of my system.

New Things that I will not buy in 2011, or in other words gift ideas for Joshua in 2011.

1. A Kindle- I am a sucker for gadgets. I am currently in grad school and have found that so many of my books are now available for purchase on Kindle. However, nothing beats borrowing books from the library. Honestly, I rarely go back and reference any of my school books anyway.

2. New running shoes- This is a tough one. Later this year I will be running a half marathon for Team World Vision. I did this last year, and good running shoes seem essential to successful training and injury prevention. Used running shoes are just not an option. When it comes time to run, I will consider asking my uncle to donate shoes from his store as a donation to Team World Vision.

3. A new cell phone/iPhone- My iPhone is a great tool for my work. I use it for so many things. I currently have an iPhone 3G. I will be due for an upgrade in May. Do I NEED an upgrade?Probably not, however as the phone ages it tends to get more and more sluggish in performance.

4. Geocaching stuff- Geocaching is my main hobby. There are always temptations to buy new geocaching coins, gpsr devices, and cache containers. I must resist! I will.

This is my list so far. What do you have a tough time resisting?

Friday, January 14, 2011

A CSA? - Mrs. Sick of Spending

In preparation for our Year, Mr Sickofspending and I talked very briefly about a couple ground rules we agreed on. One, was that we were both okay with continuing our lifestyle of supporting local artisans, musicians, actors. We live in a thriving community of creativity and inspiration, our devotion to supporting these endeavors is something we value greatly. Somehow, it seems, even if the respective “art” purchased is new, there is something greater in buying and supporting locally. We, like many of you, gravitate to small business owners, not chains, when we need to get services serviced. Further, we tend to rely on our community of people surrounding us to give and take, sharing love and dependence on one another, humbly accepting and giving. AS IT SHOULD BE.

Second, we discussed FINALLY getting on the ball soon enough to become a part of a CSA this year. We have talked about it year after year, and year after year missed the full growing season (I’m taking suggestions from any of your favorites). I’ve been spotty about shopping our local farmer’s markets as life takes over and I’ve chosen convenience. I visit our co-op only for specific items. Neither is our life conducive to a garden as we travel a lot throughout the summer. I think we are finally ripe (get it?) for something we value. Even if all food and “necessities” can be new, I’m hoping to look a little closer at using the community I’m presently in.

Nothing profound, here, just some thoughts as we continue on…

For more from Mrs. SickofSpending click here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nothing New in the Lunch...or is there! - Mrs. Sick of Spending

Every night after dinner, we clean up the dishes from the table and, in turn, the kitchen. Somewhere in there I (FINALLY!) realized this was the best time to make the lunches for school the next day. My kids, since they started school six years ago, REFUSE to eat school lunches. My daughter, like a broken record, tells me of how the lunch room smell makes her stomach hurt. My son assures me the food will make him sick. Listen, six years ago, I WANTED this. I nurtured it. I controlled it. I have made lunches full of leftovers or the latest “favorite” foods or some “organic pre-packaged” delight. However, as parenting has evolved naturally and I have let go of controlling a few things (shut up), sometimes I just want them to eat! a school! lunch! FOR THE LOVE! *ahem* This is exactly what I wanted, good for me, yeah, I know, I know.

Before this Year started, a mailer arrived from The Container Store that had these adorably perfect reusable sandwich/snack bags. I kept the mailer right next to the french press, knowing I would see it everyday and be reminded I needed to pick them up BEFORE OUR YEAR! I forgot (now THAT’s Nothing New if you know me at all). Tonight, while preparing tomorrow’s lunches, I was sick of filling bag number who knows and remembered what I had forgotten, again. Washing and reusing those little baggies? Been there, done that, over it. My best solution is a joyride to The Container Store. Alas…

See, I was thinking, “It’s okay if I buy THESE new, because, ultimately, they are reUSABLE and then….” No. “It’s okay if I buy THESE new because I want to reduce my footprint and….” No. “It’s okay if I buy THESE new because it will save us money and Mr. inBetween will love the…” No. I couldn’t get around it because something like this is what I found. I have all the equipment and materials and am excited to try Something New. I’ll just use the baggies until my procrastination runs out.

For more from Mrs. SickofSpending click here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

In Hot Water! -Mrs. Sick of Spending

Months ago, our hot water heater seemed to be on it’s way out. Upon entering the shower, one would be doused with steamy streams of hot water that soon turned lukewarm, and quickly, cool. After fifteen minutes, one couldn’t complain, however, if the water turned lukewarm. Complaining seemed so First World; complaining seemed so Entitled, so anti-Simplicity. Fifteen minutes of hot-ish water seemed plenty and lavish, almost. So, we just let it be and quietly took our (quick) business shower. We got the job done and happily turned off the spittle.

As the weeks passed, we discovered (through the wails of our younger children entering the tub) our hot(ish) water was diminishing quickly to nil. I noticed the dishwasher was leaving a lacquer of uneaten meals. I noticed the clothes were more stiff from washing machine to dryer. I sent Mr. inBetween to the dungeon for inspection. The report? No more pilot light. Easy fix, you say. So did we. After weeks of lighting the pilot light no less than three times a day, followed by waiting for 30 minutes of “cooking”, we concluded our hot water heater was living on life support.

This is no big deal in our normal lives, we would visit the local HandyHouse Store and buy ourselves a new hot water heater. In a Year of Nothing New, we were dragging our feet. Count it romantic to live a simpler life. Call it stretching one’s comfort to empathize with those less fortunate. Whatever. Maybe we were waiting to do a “cash only” exchange, but something else happened.

We left town. For the weekend, that is. We had a wedding to attend and I drove, an hour away, knowing a warm shower awaited me there. We laughed, we cried, we celebrated life and community and enjoyed a beautiful weekend with warm connections and hot water. On our way home, in the FREEZING car, we talked of how we needed to “hurry up” and get that pilot light replaced. We could handle buying THAT new, it seemed, until we found a used water heater…

You know what happened? We drove up to our house. It was 11 p.m. We spotted a huge box on our front step. At first, it kind of startled me. What the heck was delivered to us THAT large? Mr. inBetween said almost immediately, “No way, it’s a new water heater.” While we were an hour away, warmly reveling in our family and our old community, our new one was at home reveling in warming us with a blessing, a gift.

I turned the faucet in the kitchen sink on early, early this morning to put away dishes from the previous night’s dinner and was warmed at the presence of steam in the sink. My daughter woke up to shower without having to wake dad to “stoke the fires” (and stayed in for a good 20 minutes!), and my dishwasher supplied me with sparkling clean dishes all before 9 a.m.

10 days and counting…still, Nothing New.

For more from Mrs. SickofSpending click here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Reason why this will be a tough year.

Do I get the coupon and have someone else buy the shoes for me?

What's a Rumspinga?- Mrs. Sick of Spending

Many years ago I happened upon a documentary that was about Rumspringa. If you are not familiar I suggest checking it out. Basically, (not always good with facts and details), it is a season of adolesence in which Amish kids are encouraged to live apart from their community and engage in the “world and its rebellious behaviors” free of judgement. This is a time for them to “sow their wild oats” a “release from their conservative and fundamental rules”. The purpose is then to help them desire and return all prodigal like, yearning after the life they have known in the community. Please don’t regard this as a statment against the Amish traditions. Please don’t educate me about it all. This is just an illustration that came to mind as I was preparing for this Year, as I’ll explain…

So my Christmas just happened and many of the people in my life who knew we were going to attempt to buy nothing new for a year as a family, suggested I go on a big shopping spree. Believe me, they didn’t have to suggest it, I THOUGHT it OFTEN. They suggested I buy a bunch of new things so I wouldn’t need anything. Yep, thought that too. While I joked about it a lot, I didn’t do it. I felt guilty when I informed them of our Year and that if they were getting rid of this or that, think of me.

Today, as I was driving away from dropping Mr. inBetween off at work, I had a few hours alone. I knew I had two gift cards in my pocket. I knew because they were taunting me with their burning and billowing smoke coming from the handmade duct tape wallet where they were tucked. I knew I could go and buy something New. I tripped on that thought a couple of times before I turned left out of the parking lot instead of right, toward Shopping Mall. I knew I could get around the “rules” and that I, in dead seriousness, am not a rule follower. At all. Atall, atall.

Do you see where I am taking you in my thought process? That there are many ways to rebel and “get around the rules”? What exaclty are our rules? I think, as our Year blossoms, they will become clearer. I think that Mr. inBetween and I will have different rules for different reasons. I think our motives are different and may change with each situation presented. I think it will also show that sometimes it is not about a Year of Nothing New, rather something more internal and fiberous. While I am not a rule follower and react mostly out of emotion, I caught myself thinking through and creating a boundary BY MYSELF!

Maybe there needs to be room for a Rumspringa in our Year, with grace and a prodigal like return, but its not time yet.

For more from Mrs. SickofSpending click here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Nothing New for the Daughter? - Mrs. Sick of Spending

Today, I laughed at my daughter. I laughed at timing, too. My daughter, the eleven year old? The one who cares not a stitch about her clothing? Ever? The one who wears t-shirts from my bottom drawer and sweat pants because they are soft? The one who wears a stocking hat most days? The one who I will SPECIFICALLY buy clothing I know is her style but yet snubs because, “I don’t like how it feels” or “I don’t need a new shirt” or “it’s nice mom, but…no really, I like it…” JUST so I can see her in something different?? Well, of all days January (what? 6?) 2011, THE YEAR OF NOTHING NEW, is when she decides to get all persnickety and wear something that I picked out and looks adorable on her? Of all days she decides to walk past me in preparation for school and says, “Mom, you need to buy me a bunch of new shirts like this because all the others are *shrugs*, I don’t know, just old.” I guffawed and said, “It hasn’t even been a week of our Year of Nothing New and you say this?” She just nonchalantly responded, “That’s for you and dad, I can have all the new things I want.” No snark (she’s not really like that), just impeccable timing, no? Oh, universe, you tempt me. Bring it on. Ha. Ha. Ha.

For more from Mrs. SickofSpending click here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thrift store stop #1- Jeans

So I discovered that most of my jeans had holes in the knees. That means I must make my first trip to the thrift store. The most that I was hoping for was a lame pair of Wranglers. The Wranglers were on the rack, however I was able to score some sweet Levis for $3.50 instead. Our year of nothing new is off to a good start.

Money saved: $26
Money saved total:$61.82

A Post from Mrs. Sick of Spending

I haven’t figured out where to make a section dedicated to my thoughts and experiences in our “Year of Nothing New”, but I will. I think I have decided I will call all those posts “Nothing New”. This blog, however, is not limited to only that. I have WAY too much to talk about. I think I have decided I want to have a place safe away from the circles I live in, mostly. Some of you are right next to me when I fall asleep at night, some are special in my life and would be a part of this in spite of my desire for some anonymity. Mostly, I want strangers, kindred in season and heart, brought together in community only here. I’m bubbling with anticipation. Scared of expectations. Sickened by saturation. Away we go.

For more from Mrs. SickofSpending click here.

How to buy nothing new: Use the Library

So we have gone official 5 days with buying nothing new. I currently am a grad students and as a part of that I am always needing books. This is a process that I tend to put off till the last minute as prime shipping normally gets me my books in 2 days. This won't work anymore as I can't buy new books. Sure used books are a possibility but isn't it just better to borrow? Enter library. I know this is a no brainer but I am always amazed how the library is neglected. So I have reserved my school books at the library, and better yet they send them to my house for free!

On the library note I have reserved about 10 dvds from the library as well. Sure I am 50th in line for some of them, but hey, waiting builds character!

money saved from using the library: $35.82
money saved this year: $35.82

Saturday, January 1, 2011

An interview of a family that just finished the challenge

Wikihow gives good tips on how to buy nothing.

Tip #21 is the best..."Ask Yourself the 3 Questions - WANT, NEED and AFFORD Can I afford it? Do I Need it? and Do I Want it? If your answer is YES to all the 3 questions then you can buy it."

I think we will be asking ourselves these questions a lot this year.

Buying nothing new for a year

This is something we have been talking about for awhile. Today we went to the “Mall of America” in Bloomington, MN for our last day of buying stuff we don’t really need. I gave each of my kids $10 to buy whatever they wanted. The 4 year old found a stuffed animal at the Disney store, the 8 year old bought gum and a few magic tricks, and the 11 year old bought a Nerf hoop. All stuff that will most likely find its way to the dump in 2-3 years.

Can we not buy anything new for a whole year? Probably not, at least we are going to need to make some exceptions at we go about our year.


For this plan this succeed there needs to be some exceptions to buying nothing new. Here is my starter list, I am sure it will morph as we go through our year.

Here are the guidelines set forth by the Compact:

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of western consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms

2) to reduce clutter and waste in my home

3) to simplify my life

So, here goes for the rules:

· First principle – don’t buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)

· Second principle – borrow or buy used.

· A few exceptions – using the “fair and reasonable person” standard — i.e., you’ll know in your heart when you’re rationalizing a violation:

food, drink, and necessary medicine

necessary cleaning products, but not equipment

socks and underwear

pajamas for the children


· Utilitarian services (plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, veterinarians, dog/house-sitters, fire/paramedics, dry cleaners, house cleaners, etc.) — Support local and encourage used parts (rebuilt transmission, salvaged headlight unit, etc.)

· Recreational services (massage, etc.) & local artisanal items – Good sources for gifts, but should not be over-indulged in for personal gratification

· Charitable contributions– an even better source for gifts

· Plants and cut flowers – Whenever possible, cultivate from free cuttings or seeds. Ok in extreme moderation (yo, incoming oxy) when purchased from local businesses (i.e., not the Target Garden Shop)–and again, within reason

· Magazines, newspapers, Netflix, Quikflix -Consume online, borrow from library.

Away we go, I will update as often as possible.