triple win!!!! [day 96]

I saw a friend yesterday doing a random act of kindness.  He was giving something away that he didn’t need anymore, and giving it to someone that could use it.  She kept insisting that she needed to pay him, and he was insisting that she doesn’t need to.

What do you do in these situations?  The person on the receiving end is really feeling a need to pay something for what you’re giving them or they wouldn’t offer several times.  You are sincere about just giving the items away, not expecting or wanting payment.  Solution?  Tell the person on the receiving end that you don’t need the money, but there are many good organizations that do.  Ask the person to give whatever money they would have given you, but give it to your favorite cause.  It’s a win-win-win situation.  You get rid of the stuff you didn’t need, your friend gets something they need without feeling like they owe you and a good cause gets some money to further their work.

Be prepared.

What is your favorite cause?  It’s not only important to have a cause in mind, but know how they accept donations.  Mine is online and they accept donations via check or PayPal.  Okay, so that’s only one of my many favorites…  Also, if the person doesn’t have the money, but still wants to do something, you can encourage them to donate some of their stuff to a thrift store or help serve others through one of the organizations.

a story in photos [day 95]

Sometimes we lock up our stuff in an effort to protect it from potential thieves.

princeton, tx 2009

Some stuff is left out in the open, sitting there for years.

princeton, tx 2009

Other times stuff is placed on the curb for trash, sometimes in hopes that someone will come by and pick it up.

where did that come from??!! [day 94]

I spent the entire day, and part of the evening, cleaning (and painting) my garage.  Where on earth did all of that stuff come from?  I had a few things I didn’t even recognize!  And why do I need all this junk?  I got rid of several SUV loads of stuff, donated to the thrift store over the past couple of months, but there’s still so much left.  My garage is a catch all for all the junk I don’t want in the house, and as much as I wish we had basements here, it’s probably a good thing that we don’t.  For me, that would be more space to clutter up.

I came to several conclusions yesterday:

  • I’m sore.  That was a lot of work.
  • I have too much stuff, a lot of it being art supplies.
  • Plastic tubs are bad, as it hides your stuff.
  • Stuff breeds.  Biologically impossible?  I think not.
  • Our 95 degree cold front did not cool off my west-facing garage.
  • I want it done!  :)

is it really a challenge? [day 93]

I had to stop and ponder the question yesterday, “Is this really a challenge?”  There are times when it feels like one, but for the most part, it’s really not too challenging.  A challenge should make you feel like you’re missing out on something, shouldn’t it?  The purpose is being accomplished and the drive is there, but the difficulty is missing.

I suppose this could mean one of two things:

Not only do we not need a lot of stuff, but we if we don’t buy new things, we don’t miss them.

On rare occasions I like to shop.  At least it’s what I call shopping, or treasure hunting, because the only place I actually like to shop is yard sales, thrift stores and craigslist.  My friend calls shopping ‘retail therapy’.  Me?  I need therapy after shopping!

I also went into the challenge not really needing or wanting anything, which probably means I have too much stuff already.  The only thing I don’t need and really would like to purchase is welding equipment.  If I do purchase that in the future, rest assured it will be used equipment and will get a lot of use.  The garage is about 23% on it’s way to being an art studio.

I’m not challenging myself enough and I should step it up a notch.

What else should I do?  Somehow I need to find better ways to shop for food and toiletries.  Giving up, or modifying fast food purchases might be next on the list.  Any ideas?

sign of the times? [day 92]

I snapped this photo a couple of months ago… I call it ‘sign of the times’.  I love hearing on the radio when someone announces that the recession is over or almost over.  I still have many friends without jobs and also many that are underemployed.  What is the definition of ‘recession’?

re·ces·sion 1 [ri-sesh-uhn]

Economics – a period of an economic contraction, sometimes limited in scope or duration. Compare depression.

a temporary depression in economic activity or prosperity

Cultural Dictionary (I didn’t know there’s actually a cultural dictionary)

general business slump, less severe than a depression.

Our economy is built on our society’s shopping patterns and habits.  If everyone shopped like me, we would have a HUGE recession, and really, for people like me, there would be nothing to purchase.  Supply and demand.  As long as there’s a demand, there will be a supply.

When my friend lost his job a couple of years ago, I took it much harder than he did.  It made me think about a few things.

  • What if I lost my job?
  • Am I living within my means?
  • What short term changes would I have to make?
  • What long term changes would I make?

I decided not to wait and make these changes if I had to, in some sort of crisis situation, I decided to make changes immediately.  Changes meaning no debt, paying myself and my charitable donations first, learning to live within my means, a healthy savings, an emergency fund, planning ahead on purchases, and of course, this challenge.  Doing this progressively and intentionally made it easy.  I hope life doesn’t ever throw me the jobless status, I can’t even imagine how difficult that must be.  I’m living more within my means, but trying to live less than my means now.

1/4 year into the challenge!! [day 91]

Where does the time go???  It’s been that long already?  Today I’ll just do a few updates on the challenge.

What have I learned?

Many good things, but mostly that there are good alternatives to a lot of the purchases I would have normally made without the challenge.  I borrowed tools and gardening equipment, things I would have normally purchased.  (Jeff and Thad, I don’t have the missing shop vac.  LOL)  I also seem to lend out more of my stuff to people that know I’m doing this, as they are rethinking purchases as well.

What’s the biggest change?

I would have to say impulse buys.  With the challenge, I’m not even inside too many stores, but before the challenge I would buy things I just didn’t need, or want for that matter.  I do this thing with my kids when they want something, I make them wait 24 hours, then if they still remember it and still want it, I will take them back and let them buy it.  (with their money)  I will do this myself too, even when the challenge is over.

Where there any surprises?

I’m constantly surprised by the number of people reading my blog and how they have changed some of their shopping habits.  I didn’t expect so many people to follow my progress, and some of them I don’t know very well.

I’m also surprised by the amount of money I’ve saved.  I must have spent a lot on junk I didn’t need!  I have no debt and I won’t even consider changing that.  I didn’t have a lot before the challenge, but I would justify making a purchase before I had the money for it.  I live more within my means now and have money to help others when I have the opportunity.

My house is easier to clean. I just don’t have as much stuff… well, the garage is not included in that area yet, but as soon as it’s not 150 degrees out there, I will be making it into an art studio.  I have taken loads of stuff to the resale shop, and I still have several more to go.

What happens after the challenge?

I get this question a lot.  Hopefully I will still keep many of the lifestyle changes I have made to do this challenge.  I plan to, as that’s the purpose.  I might buy something retail afte it’s over, but that won’t happen without looking for the item second hand or trying to make sure I really need it.

If you have a question about the challenge, post a comment here and I’ll answer.  Thanks for following the challenge!!!!!

gift bags [day 90]

A friend of mine sent me this on Facebook.  Reusable gift bags.  You don’t have to buy the grocery store or retail store logo bags, you can now get reusable bags with festive artwork!  If I read the tag correctly, these are made from recycled materials too.  As long as they hold groceries, they will work for me.  :)

air, water & destructoboy [day 89]

Air

So I realized yesterday that I need to replace the air filter on my air conditioning unit.  It’s about a month past due, and quite frankly, looks like a year past due.  My house is so dusty, I don’t have dust bunnies, I have dust elephants.  I found some filters on Craigslist, not used, but not retail either.  I’m really hoping to get these, as they’re the only ones listed in my area that are the right size.  Clearly they aren’t a toiletry or food, but are necessary to keep my energy use down and keep my AC working properly.  I will keep you posted on this one.

Water

Well, Joe, my amazing destructoboy has struck again!  (photo: Joe helping with the kitchen remodel)  His career started early, as his first act of destruction was trying to hide poop in an electrical outlet.  Then he moved on to bigger and better things like melting all of the PVC pipes on the pool heater.  It didn’t take much thought to figure out who clogged the bathroom drain with toys when the Draino wouldn’t work.  He admitted it.  I’m giving it one more try at the unclogging process and then he’s paying for the plumber to come out and fix it.

at the mall??!!? [day 88]

I went to the mall… yeah, but it was to eat lunch with a friend.  We ate at Potbelly’s, which is really good!  It made me happy because they recycle there.  I must have a thing for trash since we chose to sit next to the trash area…

There’s separate bins for plastic bottles and cans.  They have my business!

When we were walking out, my friend Ryan thought it would be funny to take my photo looking in the window at the Armani store.  I’m sure he was just tired of listening to me gripe about malls.  LOL

I’m quite sure this was my first time looking in, and being in, an Armani store.

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solar panel dilemma [day 87]

I had a great idea!  Solar panels on my house.  They have some great tax incentives, and with the energy savings, that has to be a great plan, right?

I called to get some pricing and to see if my home is a good candidate.  I wasn’t sure if it would be since I have many trees.  The guy on the phone was a huge help.  He asked me some questions about the size of my house and my current energy usage.  He seemed surprised when I told him.  Apparently I use a lot less than other people with the same size house.  Some of that is probably due to my large trees.  He pulled up my house on Google maps, and it felt a little big brotherish when he asked if I had a trampoline and described my property perfectly.  Turns out I have a spot and am a good candidate.

Sit down.  The price for the basic system starts at $23,000.00.  I thought maybe he said it wrong.  I was thinking $10,000.00 maybe?  After tax credits and rebates, my out of pocket would still be over $11,000.00.  Ouch.  Way more than I can afford.  It would also be a while before it paid for itself.  Not to mention I will need a new roof in the next few years and it’s $1500.00 to move them and put them back.  Double ouch.

I did hear the technology is changing rapidly and these might be more affordable in a few years.  Maybe I should get a windmill instead?  I haven’t priced those yet.  And I don’t have an HOA.  If I did, that would require a new blog on how many days before I’m kicked out.  :)