Back in the day… [day 18 & 19]

On my recent road trip, I found so many interesting things to photograph.  Most of the interesting things were vintage or antique.  What’s the difference?  My boss asked that question on Facebook a few months ago.  Vintage is 7+ years old and antique is 50+ years old.  Just for the record, I’m still vintage.

Life has changed radically over the past few decades.  Here’s a few photos I found interesting.

vw bug slugbugSlug bug!  I just had to stop and take a photo of this VW Bug, sitting in front of an auto salvage yard.  It’s probably out front because people still love these little beauties.  Some turn them into art projects, some restore them and some use them for parts.

This car, brand new, back in 1969 cost about $1,800.  The same car now (44 years later, for those of you who hate math), brand new, costs $19,995 for the basic model.  A restored 1969 model in decent shape is in the $4,000 range.   Continue reading

the 7 shopping holidays

Black Friday:  So I didn’t go out for Black Friday like I did last year… to make fun of people shopping.  Here’s the video from last year.

Small Business Saturday:  Why is this after the big retailers get all the money (applied credit card debt) the day before?  Seems like people supporting this cause may want to skip Black Friday.  I like supporting small businesses whenever I can, and I also like supporting service based businesses.  Less buying stuff, but it still keeps people employed without creating more waste for this planet.

Cyber Monday:  Is there really any money left for this?  Lots of credit I guess.  It seems as though you would want to start with this, as you don’t have to fight crowds and drive around.  If I was going to shop, this would be the way.

So there’s still four more days in the week that are not associated with shopping.  I would like to take this opportunity to use and name all of them now.

No Shopping Sunday:  Just don’t shop.  Do you really need the stuff you’re buying?  Take a break.  Spend some time with friends and family.  Take a long bubble bath.  Do a staring contest with your dog.  Clean your car.  Fix that loose door knob you’ve been ignoring for a year.  Stay out of stores.  Your bank account will thank you.  This particular shopping holiday can be applied any day of the week.

Service Only Tuesday:  Instead of buying stuff, use services.  Get your nails done.  Get your car washed.  Get a massage.  Support people that use their skills for a living instead of filling the planet with more stuff.

Resale Wednesday:  Buy used stuff.  Shop at a thrift store or resale shop.  Buy on eBay or craigslist.  If you buy it with door dings, you don’t have to worry so much about it looking perfectly new.  A lot less stress.

Benefit Others Thursday:  Buy something that benefits other people with your purchase.  Buy a pair of TOMS or a pack of gum from Project 7.  If you just need to spend money, go give a Kiva loan or support a cause through micro lending.

Okay, so I’m being a bit snarky, but at what point do we say enough is enough?  You can try and keep up with the Joneses, but let’s be real.  You really think they paid cash for all that stuff?  I wouldn’t want to be sitting on their nest egg.  Did you notice all of this is based on Christmas, yet I didn’t even have to mention that word.  Did you miss it?

young man! you will eat every bit of that candy!!

Yes, I said candy.  If I ever needed to question how much I dislike wastefulness, this would be the telltale answer.  A few months ago, my youngest asked if he could get some Jelly Bellies at the grocery store.  I agreed after glancing at the rack filled with small packages of assorted beans.  I proceeded to finish my shopping when Joe says, “Mom, they came out really fast.”  What came out fast?  The lady with the runaway shopping cart?  No, the Jelly Belly dispenser.  The bag of beans cost Joe $15.81.

Fast forward to vacation a few weeks ago.  We were on vacation, and in a candy shop.  I told my kids they could each get one thing.  Here we go again…  My oldest wanted rock candy.  Those ‘fill your own bags’ might as well have drugs in them for as much as they cost!  I prefer my candy with price tags, none of this ‘by the pound’ stuff.  $10.00 later, we leave with rock candy.  

Once we returned from our trip, I found the leftovers and gave it to him.  My son says, “I didn’t like it that much.  It’s not as good as I thought it would be.”  Wha??!!!?  Dude, you will eat all of that candy!  I spent over $10 for it and you will eat it.  Seriously?  On my budget, $10 is a lot of money.  It’s so difficult to teach kids the value of a dollar when society says you can have, and should have, everything you want, no matter what the cost.  The candy might not be good for him, but hopefully the lesson will be.

back to school… supplies & demand lessons

Yes, it’s time to start preparing for back-to-school.  My kids are in denial that they’re going back soon.  I’m in denial that I have to spend a lot of money on school supplies.  Of all the challenges a year of no retail shopping posed on our lives, school supplies was the most difficult and time consuming.  (You can read about this: Back to school [day 58] and School supply update [day 83])  I think the difficulty is because of the specific list of “must buys” from the school district.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to providing school supplies for my kids, I just don’t understand why they require brand names and why they don’t let the teachers make their own specific lists.  We have the technology now to do that.

Back to school for us means going through all of last years’ stuff.  On the last day of school, my kids ran in the house, threw all of their school stuff in the back of the closet and it hasn’t seen the light of day since.  I pulled it all out.  My 1st find was a lunch bag… with a partially eaten sandwich.

Lesson #1:  Go through this stuff before it goes into the closet.

On to the backpacks and reusable shopping bags that are filled with who knows what.  Yikes!  Could they really have used this much paper??!?  All of this went into the recycling bin.  Can’t these workbooks be designed to be used more than once?  Is there a way to use less paper?  I’m not a teacher so I’m not even going to pretend that I could suggest a better way.  I think teachers are a huge blessing to our kids.

Lesson #2:  Get backpacks with wheels to avoid future doctor visits for back problems.  Continue reading

last day of the challenge, first day of… [day 365]

Wow!  It’s been a year already.  A year of no retail shopping.  It started off as a year of no retail shopping, however it ended up as a year of so much more than that.  It would be impossible to sum up the year in one blog post, but I can say this.  It’s changed the way I think, not only when it comes to shopping, but how I live my life.

I could write many of the things I learned here, and I started to do that, but it sounded like a way-too-serious, silly infomercial for life transformation.  The truth of the matter is, I’m human and I struggle with all of the same things everyone else does, I’ve just chosen to take a few of those struggles a step further.  I’m not going to go back to retail shopping like I shopped before this year started.  Yes, I will probably start again at some point, but it will be a much different process.  Shopping won’t be a hobby, it won’t be something I do when I’m bored, it won’t be buying on impulse and it won’t be something I do very often.  It will be well thought out when I do make a purchase, always applying the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired through the process.

This might be the last day of the challenge, but it’s the first day of something much bigger.  It’s the first day of whatever I want it to be.  I might do another challenge of some sort because I just do stuff like that.  There are a few things that I plan to do now though.

I’m not going to start shopping or run to the store, but I am going to take a short break from blogging.  I will continue using to do post-challenge updates, including telling you what I have purchased retail.  I can’t even imagine shopping now.  How uncomfortable will that be?!?

I need to take some time to regroup.  One part of that is making my blog into a resource for living differently than the way society says we should.  I also need to take some time and think about moving forward out of the challenge.  I already feel like I’m in some sort of directionless limbo.  I know where I’m not going, but where am I going?

I’ve talked about writing a book, and along with that, I have many other ideas of what I can do with this year of online journaling.  It’s time to seriously ponder that, make some plans and implement them!  This will all be a waste if I don’t take some action on it.

This is not the end of something really great, it’s the beginning of something even greater!  Now that I think about it, this has been my identity over the past year.  It’s been a rare occasion that I would meet someone, or be introduced to someone without the “…she’s doing a year of no retail shopping…”  Explain.  Answer questions.  Give them my blog name.  But now what?  If this has truly been my identity, then in this case, I hope someone steals my identity.  A good case of identity theft?  Redefine bad, rethink good.  :)

tomorrow is the last day! [day 364]

No, I’m not predicting the end of the world.  It’s the last day of the challenge!  It’s been a really good year.  I thought I might look back at the post from day 1.  Wow!  A lot has changed since then!!  Here’s the first post.

Day one of any long time period challenge is more of a normal time than a reality check of the radical decision you just committed to.  I decided to do this challenge very early in the morning, which is the time my monkeys are the most active.  Yeah, I should probably explain that.  My friend Steve says my thoughts are like a bunch of monkeys next to a banana tree, so we frequently refer to the monkeys in my head.  Monkeys are fun and cute, so we’ll go with it.

So I had breakfast with my kids and decided to tell them the news!  We will not be shopping retail for a year.  No new toys, no new video games, no new clothes.  After the silence, then denial, they reluctantly agreed that it was a good plan, although they thought a year was a bit excessive.  Well, with all the excess in our society, why not add a little more excess?  LOL

The ironic thing here is that I still have to shop sometimes for work, and this being the first day of the challenge, I had to go to Ikea for stage set stuff.  I had an Ikea gift card for $50 in my wallet, just to complicate things.  So off I went to shop, placing the stage items in the cart, along with a few things that I could buy with the gift card.  Well, as we all justify the stuff we absolutely need, my justification here was that I should use up the gift card since it probably will get lost or decrease in value over a year.  As I was about to check out, I put the stuff back.  I don’t NEED it and I’m not even sure I WANT it.  I was there, I had ‘Ikea’ money and everyone needs more stuff, right?  I still have the gift card and plan to give it to someone I know that is getting his first apartment and actually has a few basic needs.

I told a few people about my plans, or my challenge.  A few people thought it was a good idea and were not surprised.  (They obviously know me well and there’s not many things I can do to surprise anyone)  Others said it was cool, but they could never do it.  Let me just say here that I like to shop, but not like most people.  I hate malls and I hate spending money.  I like material things though.  There.  I said it.  I have an internal struggle with wanting simple and less fighting with a desire for more.  I was raised in a very materialistic house.  I have to call it a house, not a home, because a much higher value was placed on the material things in the house, not the people living in it.

I suppose I’m doing this to prove to myself that I don’t need a lot of stuff.  I’m also doing this for my kids to teach them about another world, a crazy different world that exists outside this wealthy, affluent bubble we live in.  A world where poverty and hunger exist because 20% of the world has 80% of the stuff, including food and water.  As Gandhi said,“There’s enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed.”

This challenge is a very small step.  I know I have a long way to go here, but if everyone just made some really small sacrifice, our world would change in a radically wonderful way.  The monkeys are still processing all of this, along with my kids.  Off to day 2…

I had an art show several years ago called Excessable, all of the photographs depicting the excess in our society, how accessible it is and how it doesn’t fulfill us.  I’ve used some of these before in my blog posts, but today, they have more meaning to me.

Continue reading

act now! only 3 days left! [day 362]

Okay, so there’s really nothing to act on.  They call this anxiety marketing or pressure marketing.  But I’m not marketing anything.  I’m just letting you know there’s only 3 days left in the no retail shopping challenge, but I don’t plan to change my ways.  I’m not making a list of things to buy.  I have no desire to go shopping.  I might do a little landscaping in my yard eventually, but I have no big plans.  I’m not even buying Windex, but only because a great friend gave me a used bottle of it.  The used part makes it even that much better!  I can’t believe it’s been a year already.  I suppose I need to start planning my next challenge?  Hmmm…

air is not free [day 355]

So I did take a day off to pick up the camper and to play a little bit.  I have to ‘fess up.  I had to make a purchase.  There was no possible way around it.  I had to buy a tire and some air. Here’s the story.

The camper had been sitting for 4 years, probably most of it on the flat tires.  We were able to fill them up with air, including the spare, although one of them was looking a little leaky.  Might as well try to use them, right?

We decided that on the way home we should stop and check the tire pressure and see how they’re doing.  One of the tires was a little low, and I didn’t have any cash for the air pump at the gas station.  I made a joke about using a credit card for the air pump, but I honestly had no idea… the pump had a credit option!  I guess I must be old, as I remember the days when air was free.  Now air costs $1.00.  I decided to suck it up and pay for the air because at this point, we still had the pumped up flat tires.  I slid my debit card in the machine, still in disbelief that this air pump took credit cards.  Is buying air really buying anything?  Still shaking my head, I pulled the card out, waited for it to authorize my account for $1.00 and the pump started.  As it turns out, the hose had a leak, so I paid to lose 2 or 3 pounds of precious pressure in the low tire.  So I really did pay for air because I got nothing out of that machine.  On to another gas station to pay for more air.  We filled up with gas and we never did stop again for air, we stopped for the tire blow out.  Continue reading

getting caught up with 10 days to go… [day 354]

I’ve been blogging everyday for almost a year and I’ve never been behind more than a day.  I’m two days behind and trying desperately to catch up.   I was at a staff retreat for two days and spent one day playing.  There’s only 10 days left in the challenge!  Where does the time go?

I’m still getting the same question over and over, “Are you going to go on a shopping spree?”  I’ve answered this several times with the simple answer, “No.”  The other questions is, “What’s the first thing you’re going to buy?”  I do have an answer for that.  This is what I’m going to buy…

Yep, that’s it.  A bottle of Windex.  Real Windex, not the cheap knock-off stuff.  And I don’t know who used up all my Windex at work and refilled the bottle with the blue non-Windex liquid, but I know the difference.