Cast your vote for good [day 22 & 23]

The purpose of doing a challenge is to stretch our thinking and to initiate lifestyle changes for good purposes.  For that reason, I’m not too legalistic with my rules.  The idea is to make good and logical choices.  I have decided to make a small change in my shopping habits for the remainder of this challenge.

the-shiftThe Shift

I’m adding 100% recyclable packaging to my list of approved things to purchase.  Why?  Because it’s near impossible to live this way.  I could do it, but not with a full-time job and being a full-time single mom.  It’s not sustainable.  There are parts of it that are sustainable though.  This process is all about how to make some simple lifestyle changes that have a positive impact on our lives, the lives of others and our resources.  Continue reading

minimalist challenge update… 88% depreciation?!

With a goal of 365 items, downsizing one item a day over a one year period, has proven to be more difficult than I imagined.  With the exception of my garage, there’s just not much left to downsize in my house.  When I open a cabinet or a drawer, thinking I might be able to find some things I’m not using anymore, I’m rarely able to find anything.  This is good, as I don’t have a lot of clutter and a lot of stuff, but on the other hand, I still have 214 items to go.

Now I still have a lot in my garage.  Way less than I had a few months ago, but still way more than I need.  The problem with that right now is the heat.  It’s too hot to clean anything out, as my garage faces west. It’s a sauna x3.

At 150 items, here’s some financial info… that makes me want to cry.  Think we don’t spend a lot on stuff we don’t need?  Take a look at this.

If I bought these 150 items right now at the store, full price, it would cost me $12,320.36.

I paid $8,523.89 for these items, mostly shopping second hand and discount stores.

I didn’t sell much, as I gave most of it away.  I have made $180.00, with an estimated potential of $1,487.00.  Best case scenario, my stuff depreciated by 88%!!  If this isn’t a reality check, I don’t know what is.

Wow.  Even I’m astonished at these numbers.  Even though I’ve had much of this stuff for many years, it’s still a disturbing snapshot of how much money I can waste.  Have you ever added up how much money you’ve spent like this?  If so, please share.

The 3 most difficult things to part with so far 

Continue reading

I paid full price… twice

Yes, I paid full price.  Two times.  But it was planned.

As I said early on in the no retail shopping challenge, I would love to have a pair of TOMS shoes.  I love what they’re doing and if I buy a pair of shoes, a child that is in need of shoes gets a pair.  The one-for-one model.  [day 295]  I went to the mall… I know, but let me explain!  I went to the mall to go have my phone checked out at the Apple store.  I told my son I would take him to the Lego store too.

After going both of those places, wondering how I’m going to lower my blood pressure, I made my way back to Nordstrom’s, where I parked.  The ambient noise included crowds of people doing their weekend shopping routine and the louder noises of my son chatting about plastic crap and how Lego pieces are not crap and his friend begging to go to girl stores to clothes shop.  Why are these kids with me??!?

We stopped in Nordstrom’s in the shoe department to try on some TOMS.  I guess I could have bought them there, and I might have, but they didn’t have the color I wanted in the right size.  I decided to go home and buy them online.  The shopping experience is just not my happy place.

I bought my ash gray canvas TOMS online.  I paid about the same price I would have at Nordstrom’s when you calculate shipping for the online order versus tax that I would have paid retail.  I also bought a pair of TOMS boots, or botas, as they call them.  These were not an impulse buy, as I’ve been planning on buying boots for months.  I’ve been looking at thrift stores but either women don’t have boots or they don’t give them away.  Now that I have two pairs of TOMS, I feel like I bought two pairs of blank canvases to paint.

While thinking of what I will paint on my TOMS, I found a pair of beige Sanuk’s at Plato’s Closet for $10.  Screaming deal, but I’m allergic to beige.  Yes, these are perfect to paint!  I can practice my painting techniques and ideas on these.  I used fabric paint, fabric dye, old fabric scraps, glue and acrylic paint.  I also used a piece of iridescent plastic and some paint pens. So what happened?  All of my ideas worked just fine.  They’re a bit bright, so my next pair of painted shoes will be toned down a bit, but all in all, they turned out good.

I feel good about all three of these purchases.  Why?

Goodwill. Two kids somewhere got a pair of shoes they desperately needed.  TOMS are not cheap, but what they’re doing is awesome.  I will gladly support a company that helps people in need.

Good deal. the Sanuk’s were a good deal.  They retail for $54 and I paid $10.  Not my best deal, but still good.  Very comfortable shoes!

Good practice. I was glad to have a pair of practice shoes to paint before painting my TOMS.  I’ve painted shoes before [day 145] but these would be a little different.  $10 is not a bad investment.  I had all of the painting and embellishment supplies.

I also thought of a fundraising idea to do with TOMS to help the kids down at Casa Hogar Elim, and the ball is rolling on that.  Great stuff!  Yes, I feel good about these purchases.  :)

I really tried, but I just couldn’t do it

Since the no retail challenge ended over a month ago, I stil haven’t shopped retail very much.  Shortly after it ended, I thought I would buy a car charger for my phone and a case to protect my iPad 2.  No, I didn’t buy the iPad, I won it.  I’ve been carrying it around in a Ziplock baggie and my friends say it looks like an evidence bag.

Off to Best Buy.  I had no desire to go in there, but I reluctantly crossed the threshold into the air-conditioned abyss of electronics and accessories.  I quickly found the iPad cases, ranging from $39 to $69.  I picked them up, touched them, then I set them right back down.  I just couldn’t spend that kind of money on a case.

I then found the car charger.  $29.99 for the cheapest one.  I carried it around for a little while, then put it back.  I thought maybe I should get one of those car plug converters that change the car outlet into a standard plug outlet.  That was $35.  Again, I picked it up, held it for a moment pondering this purchase, then I put it back.

I left the store feeling like I had wasted time.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to make those purchases and be okay with them.  I ended up using my evidence bag for a couple more weeks until I got my faux leather case for $12.00, including shipping, on eBay.  As for the charger, I ended up buying one retail at the Apple store out of necessity.  I paid $24.99 for it.  I don’t feel great about it and I doubt I will do that again anytime soon.

After a year of no retail shopping, I have really changed.  Honestly, I don’t have less stuff than other people and I don’t live much differently than other people, I just go about my shopping process a lot differently.  Retail shopping just isn’t my thing.  So what if I need something?

Plan. If I plan ahead, I don’t have to buy it right away and I can ‘shop’ around for the best deal.

Need. Do I really need it?  The iPad case was a need, as I have two boys that use it.  It needed protection.  But before I buy something, I like to look for alternatives.  The baggie worked nice for a little while, for screen protection anyway.

Think. Had I really thought about it, I would have realized that buying these things at a retail store would cost more than what I was willing to spend.  And I would have been right.  There’s an hour I’ll never get back.

I’ll retail shop again at some point, but those visits will be few and far between.

do I look fat in this dress? [day 348]

Okay, so maybe I have taken this paperless thing a bit too far… or have I?  Yesterday, Lindsey, my friend and coworker, said the most awesome thing to me.  She said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” and followed that up with something like, “I was going to get you a card, but then I thought you wouldn’t like a card because it’s paper, so I didn’t get you one.”  That completely made my day!  When someone takes the time to get to know you and expresses that in some form or fashion, it just feels really good.  That’s the perfect example of “it’s the thought that counts.”  I spent time with my boys for Mother’s Day, no cards, no flowers, just quality time.

Some of the best and most meaningful thoughts on paper that I’ve ever received were written on recycled paper scraps, on the back of a daily devotional or on the inside of a book.  These aren’t paperless, but they also didn’t cost $3.99 and say Hallmark on the back.

Later in the afternoon we went over to my friend Shannon’s house for waffles.  I told my boys to get plates and get their food.  Next thing I know, they’re both standing in front of me, looking angry, holding the paper plates in front of them like they’re showing me some art pieces.  Cole starts in on the “wasteful” speech.  I quickly realized there’s some sort of balance here that I have neglected to teach my kids.  Yes, stand up for what you believe in, but I guess I need to work a little harder on teaching them to take people’s feelings into consideration.  And manners?  I’m teaching my kids to always be honest.  If I ask, “…do I look fat in this dress?”  I’m looking for an honest opinion, not fishing for a compliment of lies about how thin I’m not.  It’s okay for my kids to stand up for what they believe in, but I guess I need to help them with some filters.  Be honest, but find a nice way to do it?

I know I’m teaching them everything against what our culture is teaching them.  I guess I should teach them something like this; let people know what you’re about and what you stand for, but don’t impose your beliefs on others.  Show them your reasons in pleasant, non-aggressive ways, be open minded to other viewpoints and appreciate any differences. I’ve started their therapy funds just in case.  😉

the anatomy of a gift [day 336]

Let me start by asking a few of the big questions here.

Is re-gifting good or bad?

Is it okay to get rid of a gift?

Should you ever give a used gift?

I think people mostly view these as bad things, and although there’s no simple answer to these questions, there are some instances when they’re good.  Let’s first look at the anatomy of a gift.

Okay, so there’s no image that perfectly represents all gifts, as they’re as different as snowflakes.  “It’s the thought that counts…” is the first thing you hear about gifts.  If this is true, then is re-gifting or giving away a gift you received considered symbolic of the thought, the gift, both or neither?  I suppose it all depends on the gift itself, the person that gave it to you, the occasion and the thought behind it.  Again, there’s no easy answer.

I’m blogging on this topic, as it’s been on my mind a lot as I downsize.  I have gotten rid of things people have given me, and yes, even put them on my blog.  I won’t lie, it feels a little weird, but at least it’s honest.  I haven’t re-gifted anything, probably because I don’t really get many gifts.  Don’t get me wrong here, I actually like this gift status.  I’m not married, my kids are young and I don’t have any family close by to share holidays with.  Considering that I’m not a fan of holidays, this works fine in my life.  But when I do get a gift, it’s usually something meaningful.  Continue reading

must… fill… shelves.. [day 329]

I bought an ebook yesterday.  I never really set any challenge rules around electronic media, so I thought I would share my though process around this purchase.

I bought the ebook Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  I’m well aware that I own enough print books to build a small house if I wanted to, but I really wanted this book.  A friend of mine gave me a couple of devotionals out of it, devotionals that were not only perfect for me those days, but in a short ADHD format.

So I could have bought a used copy of this book in print, so why did I go electronic?

Cost savings. Including shipping, a used copy of this book cost more than the new print one and more than the electronic version.  Although the challenge of no retail shopping had nothing to do with money, it’s been a nice benefit.

Environmental savings. No words printed on dead trees.  So I have some mixed feelings here.  I like printed books.  I like to hold them, feel them, smell the ink and paper, but most important, I like writing in them.  The electronic version takes away these things, or in some way, changes them.  I can highlight, take notes, look up words and phrases, but it’s limiting.  The juxtaposition here is I still have to own a device to view the ebooks and it still takes electricity to run these devices.  Not sure which is better.  A future blog post?  More than likely.

Empty bookshelf. This is where I get weird.  It was driving me crazy to have the ‘digitally empty’ bookshelf.  My hope is to write a book at the end of this challenge, not just a book about the experience, but a take-action book.  I also had the desire to do an extreme shelf makeover, as this oak bookcase is not working for me.  Does this make me a digital hoarder?  I believe they designed this empty bookshelf for people like me that will want to fill it up with books.  I don’t have any empty bookshelves in my house, why would I have a digital one?

All in all, I’m loving the book.  And my kids love the electronic devices a little too much, so I think I’ll get them the kids ebook Jesus Calling for Kids.  After all, they use my electronic devices more than I do… most of the time.  😉

What are your thoughts on electronic media versus print media? I didn’t buy a physical thing, I bought an electronic file.  It feels a little odd.

cost analysis, kid style [day 309]

My youngest son came home with this a few weeks ago.

I’m not sure why he decided to draw this, but I’m glad he gets it.  Joe likes money and likes to spend money, but he also lives in the real world.  He’s 10 years old and somewhat budgets his money, that is, enough budgeting to get what he wants to buy.  He talks about buying stuff all the time, but he’s selective when it comes to actually making a purchase.

My oldest talked about an idea he had for an environmentally friendly missile.  While we were sitting in our think tank (hot tub), Cole spent almost 15 minutes telling me about his missile design.  It’s a missile that puts out an environmentally friendly gas that temporarily paralyzes people, allowing the police to ‘go in’ and get the bad guys, place them in prisons, and when the gas wears off, nobody is harmed in the process.  Here’s the blueprints.

Here’s the best part.  Yesterday, he did a cost analysis and figured out was his profit margin will be.  ??!!??!  How does he know how to do this?  He’s eleven years old.  I’ve talked about cost analysis stuff, but I’ve never shown him the process on paper.  Take a look.

Not only did he think of the labor costs, but when Joe talked to him about advertising, he adjusted the analysis accordingly.  I’m guessing Joe’s ad plan for him was to advertise during the Super Bowl.  If my two radically different kids partner together in the future, using their gifts to collaborate for good, they’ll do great things.  Yes, I’m the proud parent today.  :)

used or reused? [day 301]

I decided to check out a little boutique in downtown Frisco.  Yes, I said boutique.  I heard a story about some recycled jeans they are selling and decided to check it out.  The Blue Door Boutique, a cute little shop with a lot of style, carries a lot of interesting clothing and home decor items.  Unfortunately for me, none of it is used.  They did have the jeans I went in to see.  I had heard about these jeans from one of my writer friends.  The jeans, made from recycled textiles, were prominently displayed on a table.

At first, I thought REUSE jeans were jeans that were made from old jeans; in the way of taking old jeans and embellishing them or modifying them by merging pieces from several pairs of old, worn out jeans.  When I first saw them, I knew the story had to be different from what I had in my head.  All of the jeans looked the same in style and in color.  They also had a price tag of $85!

Now, in the world of new jeans, this is an acceptable price.  For me, this is crazy expensive, as I could go to the thrift store and get a pair of USED jeans for $3-$6.  I looked up REUSE to see what they’re all about.  I needed to know the story behind this nice looking, yet expensive, clothing line.

REUSE jeans are made from 80% recycled textiles.  Here’s a blurb from their site about why they recycle.

“In our world of overflowing landfills and global warming, recycling is more relevant than ever. Recycled jeans help counteract the human effect of the disposable fashion industry, while contributing to a cleaner, more sustainable earth.”

I like that they’re utilizing old clothing to make new clothing, but the price point is bothering me.  Here’s some info about that from their site.  Continue reading

transfer of time, from shopping to sharing [day 294]

We’re taught from little on that we should always share.  As we get a little older, we have our own stuff, but we’re still told to share on occasion.  Then we hit our teens.  I don’t think anyone told me I should share anymore at that age.  We start backing off the sharing.  Then as an adult, I guess we’re not really expected to share, although if an opportunity arises, most of the time, we will share.  If we need something, we usually just go out and buy it, resulting in ownership of a lot of stuff.  Stuff that costs money, stuff that uses resources and stuff we simply don’t need.  What if we transferred shopping time into sharing time?  What if we started to share again?

So what is sharing?

share [shair]

— n

1. a part or portion of something owned, allotted to, or contributed by a person or group

— vb  (often foll by out ) (when intr, often foll by  in )

1. to divide or apportion, esp equally

2. to join with another or others in the use of (something): can I share your umbrella?

We all have things sitting around our house that we don’t use regularly.  A few days ago, I used a drill as an example.  Could we lend our drill to a friend?  If you need a hole and you don’t have a drill, could you borrow one?  Let’s do a little exercise.

Think of 3 things you have sitting around your house, not being used or used rarely.

~

Would you be willing to lend these items to someone you know?

If you’re like me, you probably thought of more than 3 items.  What would it look like for you to lend these things out?  With current technology, this is not only possible, it’s easy.  You won’t have to wonder who you lent that book to anymore either.  You can sign up on actsofsharing.com to borrow and lend with only your friends.  Not only will it track your items, but it will also calculate how much you have saved by borrowing, how much you’ve saved your friends by lending them things and tells you how many items in total your friends have listed.  Continue reading