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

kill the plastic squirrels: retail entertainment

Rethink shopping.  I really am not a huge fan of shopping in most situations.  We practice the ‘no impulse buys’ philosophy.  If you see something you want, and you remember it 24 hours later, then you can go back and get it.  This saves us HUGE amounts of money!

We went to Garden Ridge to look for some planters for the yard, and only because we were in the area.  We found nothing of interest to buy, but we sure had fun playing in the store.  It’s amazing we didn’t get kicked out.

You might be asking why I would even go into a store since I have no intention of purchasing anything.  Sometimes I just need to get out of the house.  Other times I just like to see about all the current purchasing hype and expensive fashion trends.  We have enough self-control to go into a store and know we’re not going to buy anything, so we go to look around and have some fun.  There are so many phone-camera photo ops in retail stores.

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no retail shopping challenge: 1 year later

It’s the one year anniversary since I finished the no retail shopping challenge.  Why did I do the challenge?  Straight from my original blog post:

I wanted to live differently, meaning finding creative ways to not buy stuff I really don’t need, to share stuff with others, to not be wasteful and to be more environmentally friendly.

So what did this accomplish?  Looking at it one year later, it accomplished a lot more than I could have ever imagined.  Since I blogged it every day for the entire year, I have a great record of how the year progressed and all of the lessons I learned through the challenge that many called crazy.  Let me share a few of the posts with you.

Top 3 blog posts, as chosen by readers:

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rethinking good in frisco style magazine

Thanks so much to Frisco Style Magazine for rethinking good in their August 2011 arts issue.  No retail shopping for one year has proven to be a great way to rethink no only shopping, but the way we live life.  Here’s a few of the blog posts related to the article if you would like more details.  Thanks again for rethinking good!

What is the no retail shopping challenge? [info]

Back to school [day 58]

School supply update [day 83] 

To Infiniti and beyond! [day 175]

Airing my dirty laundry… and clean laundry [day 235]

My new minimalist challenge [day 266]

Cost analysis, kid style [day 309]

Do you share your household budget with your kids? [day 337]

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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.

a sign of peace [day 363]

I decided to take the day off yesterday and spend some time playing.  I haven’t been to a thrift store in a while but I needed to find some flip flops for my boys and boots for all of us.  Yes, I know it’s summer, but I’m tired of ruining shoes on my urban explorations and them when they go hunting with their dad.

I went to Half Price books to look around while waiting for the nail place to open.  What?  It’s my once-a-year pedicure.  It’s a service.  I found this while browsing the store.

Charge Large.  A board game that encourages you to borrow money to buy big and build big.  Ages 12 and up.  First of all, my kids would chew me out for buying something like this, which is good.  Second, isn’t this teaching your kids that credit is good?  And fun?  I can’t believe this even exists.  And the people that buy it, do they put it on credit?  It would seem a little wrong not to.

So I made it to the nail place, started getting my pedicure when the girl asked me, “Do you want me to do your eyebrows?”  I said, “No.”  I don’t tweeze my eyebrows and I sure don’t let anyone else do it.  I like my eyebrows.  She then asked one more time, only this time she said she could fix them.  Fix them?  I had a flashback of a Mary Kay thing I went to for a friend, with the promise that I didn’t have to put on any makeup.  I remember this complicated chart of what my eyebrows are supposed to look like.  I’m pretty sure God knew what he was doing when he made my eyebrows.  I like them, so I’m not ‘fixing’ them with tweezers, string, lasers or any other crazy methods.  If my eyebrows are so hideous that you can’t look at me, just look away.  I really don’t get most of this girl stuff, and although I do participate in a small amount of it, it just seems like a lot of work.

Then I went to the thrift store, found the flip flops, had lunch with Elizabeth, then I decided to visit the Henna Salon.  I turned really old yesterday, so the henna place was to get a tattoo.  A tat that lasts only two weeks is not much of a mid life crisis, but it was something out of the ordinary.

I went inside the Henna Salon, which is typical Frisco, with the addition of an Indian flair.  I asked about the tattoos and they were reasonably priced and it didn’t take a long time to do.  The girl said I could bring my own design or choose from one in their book.  I wasn’t prepared with my own design so I chose one from their photos.  I asked the girl if she could add a peace sign to the middle of the one I chose.  She said that would be no problem.  I sat down and she started working on my henna tattoo.  It was difficult to be still but I managed.  The tat is on the side of my left leg, so I could see her working, but not the work itself.

After a period of time, she looked up and asked if I would like a large peace sign next to the design.  She pointed to the side of it and I said, “Yes, that would be great.”  She went back to work and in a minute or so, she pointed to my leg and asked if I liked my peace sign.

I looked down expecting to find a peace sign, but I had a “P” sign.  ??!!?!?!?!?  Well, something was definitely lost in the translation here!  I now have “P” on my leg.  Actually there’s two P’s…  I wanted to burst out in laughter so I had to rush to get out of there.  I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe!  Good thing it’s not permanent!  So to answer the question most people are asking, no, I didn’t say anything or ask her to fix it.  I decided not to get one on my hand, as there’s no telling what that would have had on it.  As my friend said, “You wouldn’t want “P” on your hand!”

I plan to go back.  I did have someone challenge me on this being a retail purchase.  I see it as a service, tinting my skin.  I didn’t buy some object that will sit around my house, and no, the henna wasn’t used.  I keep laughing every time I look at it though.  You just need a sense of humor in life.  I think I like the “P” better than the peace sign.  My friends are using and emphasizing all “P” words and it’s just a funny story to tell.  Some other person might have been angry or asked them to fix it, but I’m personally enjoying it.  I will go back there again, but next time with my own artwork.  Oh, the possibilities!  Peace is a choice.  I’ll embrace my “P” for two weeks, and who knows, maybe I’ll ask for another “P” sign.