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?

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

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]

Continue reading

hours and hours of fun for only $16

The first thing I do when I’m on vacation in a new city is scope out all of the local thrift stores and resale shops.  It was raining yesterday, so the kids couldn’t do some of the things they had planned, so we hit the thrift stores.  The first one had some cool stuff, but way higher prices than what I’m used to.  The second store was a combo resale-thrift store.  I found a great t-shirt there, but they only take cash.  Of course I didn’t have any cash with me.  The boys found a treasure here, something I had when I was their age, but I said no impulse buys.  If they wanted it, they were going to have to return the next day to get it.  I was going back, after a bank run, to get my t-shirt.

The third thrift store didn’t have much that peaked my interest, that is until I turned the corner and found this little gem for $2.  A vintage Polaroid 600 camera.  Now that there’s a company making film for these, they’re not as easy to find.  These are selling on eBay from $10 to $50.  Replicas are going for up to $150.  This little beauty was only $2, an expenditure that was not part of the $16 hours of fun that I’m about to share with you.  I’ll have to order the film for this.  Did I need this?  No.  My kids and I will have some fun with it, then probably turn around and sell it.

My kids were talking the entire time about the vintage toy back at the second shop.  Honestly, I knew they would appreciate it and it was a cool flashback for me.  When we returned, the nice lady working there greeted us with a big smile and said, “You’re back!”  We bought the vintage toy…

Meet Rex, a 70’s vintage string puppet named after our favorite restaurant in Steamboat Springs, CO.  He cost $16, a price that seemed fair for a real vintage toy.  My boys have a great appreciation for vintage things, as they love our 12 rotary dial phones as much as I do.  We decided to take Rex out on the town!  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.  :)

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 rethinkgood.com 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…