Tuesday, April 01, 2008

If you have clicked on the top button on my left sidebar (Buy Nothing Challenge), you may already know that I have committed to not buying anything unnecessary in the month of April. When I first made the commitment, I thought it would be no big deal...I really wouldn't have to change anything, because I am a naturally pretty frugal person, who doesn't enjoy shopping as recreation. But upon further examination, I have realized that isn't entirely true. Case in point: this morning, we were headed to the park for playgroup that is right next to the "dented can store". Oh, Dented Can Store, how I love thee. Just last week, my friend, Stacy, found eight boxes of the dishwasher detergent I use, Seventh Generation. It is $4.99 at Target. The "dented" had it for $1.15 a box. I had her buy them all for me. I now have about three years worth of dishwashing detergent! :)
So, back to my story. As I was driving down to the park this morning, I decided that I should stop in at the Dented first. I mean, it is about 15 minutes from my house, so I should go while i was already nearby, right?! Well, yes, except for the fact that as I was driving, I couldn't think of a single thing I needed. But, that is where my Dented addiction comes in. They get one truck a week, and unload it all week, so you never know when new stuff will be out...so you (I) go alot, to try to catch the great stuff. Today, I found 17 ounces of olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed, first quality, raw) for $2.50. I just paid $7.99 for 8.5 ounces of THE SAME STUFF, three days ago at Bi-Lo. Good deals to be had, I tell you. But the point is this: I couldn't think of a single thing I needed for our family before I went there, yet still managed to drop $50 while there (and it takes A LOT of stuff to add up to $50 in that place!).

My pantry is the most well stocked it has ever been. I have five jars of Organic, all natural peanut butter. Three jars of capers. Five jars of sun dried tomatoes. All good stuff, that I will use. Stuff that I stock up on when it is at the Dented, because you don't know when it will come around again. But, after taking stock of my pantry this afternoon, I realized that this is just another form of consumerism. It has crept back into my life, subtly. I have called it other things, rationalized it, making myself feel good about it. "I am saving money in the long run", I have told myself. "I had better buy them all, because who knows when they will have more!". And for awhile, when I was doing my experiment, those things were true. But I also had set boundaries for myself...with a goal of spending no more than about $50 a week.

So, with today being the first day of the challenge to not buy anything unnecessary for the month, I am setting some new, stricter parameters for myself. For my family, I define necessary as food and household items, at least for this month. We have plenty of clothes and no other purchases on the horizon that would fall into the "necessary" category. But, because food shopping is my consumerism trap, I am also going to:

1. Not shop at the Discount Food Store for the month of April.
This is going to be hard for me to stick to. But, we have so many pantry items, there is no reason for me to go there.

2. The only food shopping I will do is for fruits and vegetables at the produce stand. If we need milk, butter, or other items I can't get at the produce stand, I will go to Bi-Lo. Normally I choose to shop at IGA, which is locally owned, but it is right next to the Dented Can Store, and that is just too much temptation. So, for the month of April, I will make a shopping exception and go to Bi-Lo.

3. I am going to go through my pantry and freezer and plan out my meals for the month. I have not been cooking much lately, because I have been too lazy to plan my meals. But, this step really helps our home run more smoothly, so I will be doing this again. Plus, we are much less likely to eat out if I already know what is for dinner.

You might think that I am being a little rigid and making too many rules. "Why not just shop when and where you want to shop, not make such a big deal about it?" you might ask. Well, I could do that. But this is a system of checks and balances for me. Each time I have done a challenge like this, or an experiment, I have always learned valuable lessons about our spending habits. Sometimes I can get in a housewife rut, and challenges like this always leave me feeling excited again about doing my job better, and more efficiently. I guess if I were in the corporate world, this would be similar to my boss giving me a sales incentive. It's motivation. As an added bonus, we are planning several family trips for this summer, and could use the money we aren't spending in April to go toward our vacation expenses.

Are you doing this challenge? What are your thoughts on compacting? Is this something you would enjoy trying for your family?

*Image from R.A.M.O.N.E on flickr.com


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  2. I found you by way of Boys Rule My Life. I LOVE this idea. And I applaud you for what you're doing and the lessons you are getting in return.

    This "bargain" habit is something I struggle with too. I often get caught in the trap of spending more money on the bargains than I would buying my normal items. I think it would be good for me to try this - but it will be SO HARD.

  3. Hey, I'm doing it too! I think I have it easy, since my kids are grown. My husband has agreed to give it a go. It'll be interesting to see how we do. The hardest part for me will be that we are trying to do some redecorating, that is very much needed, of the bedrooms the kids grew up in. They very, um, lived in, right now and need painting, if nothing else. But it can wait for a month, I guess.
    By the way, I was most struck be your "crunchy conservative" appelation! So am I!

  4. I'm back again, after having more time to check out your blog and click through some of your blog roll. Wow! Nice stuff here, and it's helping my find some good connections.

  5. First, I must say THANK YOU for being honest! I admit that I'm glad to hear that you have a "downfall", so to say. You always seem to have everything together and I'm glad there's a little bit of "consumerism" in you - only to make you less perfect! ;)

    I, like you, am really going to have to be rigid and make some rules on this challenge. My pitfall is the CVS and Walgreens shopping for free, nearly free, and money making deals. (ie this week with coupons and rebate, I could make $2 by purchasing haircoloring for men) Jeff has no hair, I have no one to donate it to, yet, there's $2 to be made! No, I'm not going to buy it, but what a terrible temptation!!

    From CVS and Wags, I have a stocked pantry and did my grocery shopping this week WELL WITHIN my budget. Once removing all the items I don't need at this moment, I really didn't need much food at all - just some fresh/cold stuff.

    Anyway, I hope you took my first paragraph with a laugh... I'm only picking at you. I love your blog, I love what you stand for, how you live, and that you are reaching your goals. I suppose one might say that YOU are my goal! :)

    have a great day! hug the boys for me!

  6. friend, just don't forget to have fun :) I've never really thought about food purchasing being linked to consumerism b/c it's a need of ours to eat and we normally eat everything that I get as a deal. I'll have to ponder this more :)

  7. Anonymous2:02 PM

    RE: Baby Wearing post. I meant to put Bauer. Tell him that I am so sorry and that I have adjusted the post accordingly. I, too, feel very nurturing when I have my pouch. I was hesitant to wear it at first as I am the only person in my circle of friends that wears one. Once my skin thickened to the jokes and comments, I learned to love this tool. In fact, for a while I felt naked without it. I can not recommend www.sewfunky.ca enough. She's a homeschooler-stay-at-home mama and her pouches are amazing. Her karma, even better. She sent it to me before I had even paid for it! The only thing is Laurel, Beatrice has kind of outgrown it. I think she is supposed to ride on my back in it. I have tried it twice and it seems unstable that way. How big is Bauer? Beatrice ways around 20lbs. Gosh, my comment has gotten long. I would really love to get together with you one day. I have a thousand questions for you. Like what/how do you teach the boys? Where do you get information, tools, support, resources, and techniques for it? Oh, and so many more questions. Have a happy day!

  8. Tag! You're it! http://boysrulemylife.blogspot.com/2008/04/7-things-tag.html

  9. I admire those of you who are abstaining from shopping. I can't because I shop for a profit, but I can understand the inclination. Sometimes shopping can seem more like work than fun, if you HAVE to do it. Good luck on your challenge!