the icon of exstupidity [minimalist challenge item #365]

[item] Dumas… I mean a plastic sheep yard ornament.

[purchase info] Given to me by a friend doing some therapeutic downsizing.

[time in my possession] IDK, several months.

[last used] How does one “use” something like this???

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Given back to its original owner now that it has been declared the icon of exstupidity.

[replacement item] None, I hope.

[info] Go read the back story on Dumas.  We all know a Dumas but I just don’t need a Dumas right now, so he seemed like a logical ending for my year of downsizing.  I still have too much stuff.  Maybe I should do another year of it?

christmas lights [minimalist challenge item #339]

[item] LED Christmas lights

[purchase info] Purchased new

[time in my possession] Approximately 3 years

[last used] 3 years ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Freecycle

[replacement item] None

[info] I want to use these, but if I haven’t in 3 years, what makes me think I will in the future?

If it’s the thought that counts, think about it.

I wasn’t going to do much blogging on holiday shopping, but people keep asking me what kind of stuff I’m buying for Christmas gifts or what are good gifts to give that give back to people in need?  So here it is… my brain dump on Christmas shopping.  Yes, I call it Christmas shopping, not holiday shopping.  I suppose we could also call it Black Friday shopping.  It seems as though that’s become a bigger holiday than the actual Christmas holiday we’re shopping for.

Now that I think about it, these principals could apply all year long and to any holiday where it is customary to give a gift.  Birthdays and Christmas are the two big ones.

So what gift shopping is considered good?  Shopping in and of itself is not bad, it’s some of the things associated with it that are bad.  Debt is bad.  Buying gifts for people you don’t want to buy gifts for because you’ve succumbed to the cultural purchasing pressure is bad.  Buying people stuff they don’t want or need is bad.  Spoiling kids with a bunch of stuff they don’t need is bad.  If it’s the thought that counts, then let’s think about it.  There are many positive ways to shop, supporting good for humanity, the environment and for your pocketbook.

Service, not stuff.

You might believe our country is using up most of our planets’ resources and you might be trying to lower your carbon footprint as much as possible, or you might even think that’s all an bunch of hype.  No matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, buying services versus physical goods is, well, all around good.  Why?

  • You’re supporting a skill or a trade.
  • You’re helping the economy without physical stuff.
  • You don’t have to worry if the recipient likes your gift, and the best part? No looking around their house to make sure they’re using the item you gave them and no getting your feelings hurt when they tell you the dog broke it.
  • Maybe the gift recipients will get this concept too, then they won’t give you anymore giant golf ball candles, Chia pets or Santa figures that poop candy.
  • Most service places have gift cards or gift certificates.
  • It takes less time to shop because you can shop at places you do business while everyone else is in line at W*%#@!t.
  • There’s a better chance they’ll have a need for a service than a need for more stuff.  If you need something, or even want something, you go buy it, right?  Why would your giftees be any different?  Well, they could be unemployed.  If that’s the case, they have needs, not wants.

So what are good services to buy?  There are many choices here, some more practical than others.  Some of these services could be provided by you, which means no cost to you other than your time.   Continue reading

…customers will form a line outside the store…

I love reading and making fun of the Black Friday ads, but better than that, reading the fine print can be quite entertaining.  I started this last year on black friday.  I got to do it this year with my friends Jason and Carrie.  You can read last year’s post about this or just read this year’s insanity.  Get out your reading glasses…

Let’s start with the big stuff.

ACADEMY.COM OPEN THANKSGIVING DAY!  Wow!  What a great idea!!  Have your online story open on Thanksgiving day!!  Why didn’t anyone else think of that???  LOWES.COM says you can start on Thursday.  Sure glad they gave me permission!

Guitar Center:  They have happy returns and surprise protection.  And you can shop from your smartphone!  Again, why didn’t I think of that???

Kohl’s Early Bird Deal:  For $19.99 (regularly $49.99) you can get a motion-activated candy dispenser.  (a) It’s plastic crap nobody needs, (b) do you really want candy spilling out on the floor every time you walk by this thing?  (c) It probably takes batteries, and really big ones.  (d) Does your family need candy?  You probably still have leftovers from Halloween.  (e) Candy not included.

Now for some fine print.

Old Navy:  Customers will form a line outside the store.  I guess it’s good to be prepared.  It’s kind of presumptuous though.  And they’re giving out cameras.  If they’re a clothing store, why give out cameras?  I just don’t get it.

Burlington:  *Savings off other fine department stores.  Great!  they’re cheaper than Neiman Marcus!  I’m getting a deal!!

Dick’s Sporting Goods:  Something about a cash bonus.  Here’s a picture of it, because I cannot read it easily and it would take so long to figure out what this deal really is that it’s just not worth it.  The one thing we know is that your $99 purchase must be all the same brand, even though they have 3 brands pictured.  Don’t even think about mixing and matching!

 

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?

it was so big I got stuck in the attic [minimalist challenge item #217]

[item] Christmas ornaments & more

[purchase info] Most purchased new

[time in my possession] Approximately 8-10 years

[last used] A couple of years ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] ???, ummm, not sure where these ended up.

[replacement item] None

[info] I not only got rid of some old Christmas ornaments, but I also got rid of my 10′ pre-lit Christmas tree.  I don’t have a photo of the tree.  I gave it to a friend of mine.  It’s not only too big for my house, it’s difficult to get in and out of the narrow attic opening.  One year, I got stuck up there for over an hour!  The lights got caught on the metal stair piece.  I’m done fighting with it.  We might get a new smaller tree or we might use our 2′ silver fiber-optic tree.  I might go dumpster diving and build one out of old books.  I don’t yet.

retro christmas lights [minimalist challenge item #117]

[item] Retro Christmas lights

[purchase info] Purchased at an antique store years ago

[time in my possession] Approximately 5 years

[last used] Never, other than decor.  Plugged them in once.

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Thrift store

[info] These collected a lot of dust.  No purpose in keeping them.

a bunch of miscellaneous stuff [minimalist challenge item #34]

[item] A large bin and huge bag of miscellaneous stuff

[purchase info] Most of this was purchased new, but on sale.  Some came from thrift stores.

[time in my possession] Many years

[last used] Over a year

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy to medium

[destination] Freecycle

[info] This is a lot of random stuff… Christmas lights, toys, art supplies and office supplies.  I have several storage bins of junk that I still need to go through, but this is a good start.  These bins are like junk drawers on steroids.

weird stuff collection [minimalist challenge item #26]

[item] Items from my weird stuff collection

[purchase info] Mostly purchased from thrift stores

[time in my possession] Approximately 3 years

[last used] 1 year ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Freecycle

[info] I like my collection of weird stuff.  The vintage Humpty Dumpty came from a Gattlinburg thrift store, some of the Christmas ornaments were purchased new.  I just got tired of the clutter and having to clean and dust this stuff all the time.  I kept some pieces, but not a lot.

candy cane pajama pants [minimalist challenge item #6]

[item] Candy cane PJ pants

[purchase info] Purchased for $2 at the thrift store

[time in my possession] 3 months

[last used] 2 weeks ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Thrift store

[info] I bought these and I like them, but they don’t fit well.  Most of the thrift stores don’t have dressing rooms, but if I re-donate it, it’s still a win-win.