Nothing New 2013: January In Review


One month down, eleven more to go!

In case, you missed why our family is buying nothing new this year, you can read about our reasons and guidelines.

Readers have been wondering if it’s been difficult and what kind of impact it has had on us. I keep a journal and jot down notes every time this resolution affects us so I’ll walk you through Week 1 in detail and then give a more general summary for the rest of the month. It was action-packed!

Buying Nothing New in 2013 – January

Day 1:

Tim was running an errand at a local gaming store and came across a board game he wanted to buy for him and the kids. Normally, we wouldn’t hesitate to spend $25 on something we know the entire family will do together but this time, we couldn’t! Tim came home and bought the game (used) online, for $20.

Day 2:

I find myself getting pangs of longing as I drive by store signs. Weird because I don’t typically spend a lot of time shopping. I chalk it up to the “forbidden fruit” syndrome, kind of like when you’re on a diet and suddenly want to shove everything in your face.

Day 3:

After collecting things for years and realizing that he barely uses any of it, Tim lists almost all of his gaming books, models, and figurines on Ebay. They eventually sell for over $350.

Inspired by the lack of clutter in our home, we decided to move the TV into our office/den and rearranged our living room furniture. Felt like we gained a whole new living space now that our living room isn’t focused around a TV.

Said goodbye to the TV and now we have a much more inviting space.

Said goodbye to the TV and now we have a much more inviting space. Although not in 2013, the lamp was a garage sale find ($5) which I painted brown, the Mission style coffee table was bought off Craigslist for $20, a matching end table at Goodwill for $12, the IKEA armchair used for $20, and the oil painting was a $15 estate sale purchase.  Best of all though? The $3,000 antique area rug which I got at a flea market while living in Switzerland – for $200! I would have carried that thing home on my back if I had to!

Day 4:

Went to fill in my family calendar (where we keep track of everyone’s schedules) and discover that it only went to the end of December. Shoot! Can’t buy a new one! Thankfully, I had another (short-range) weekly planner that we keep on the fridge. I decide to just make do with it and will see if I can find a secondhand planner at some point. Saved $10.

Had some boys’ clothes that needed to be exchanged for different sizes. Although we had bought this back in 2012 (so technically, it didn’t really count as buying something new in 2013), I didn’t feel right about it. Returned the clothes instead and trusted that I would find the things we need at thrift stores and garage sales. Saved $35.

Day 5:

On a mommy-son date in Japan Town, San Francisco, Jack was elated to find a plethora of Pickachu toys! He was upset when I wouldn't buy him something but because he knew of the Resolution, he didn't feel like I was being "mean" by not buying him a toy.

On a mommy-son date in Japan Town (San Francisco), Jack was elated to find a plethora of Pikachu toys! He was upset when I wouldn’t buy him something but because he knew of the Resolution, he didn’t feel like I was being “mean” by not buying him a toy.

Went to a few garage sales. Scored a massive garbage bag full of nearly-new boys’ name brand clothes (in all the right sizes) – Ralph Lauren, REI, European brands, etc – and for just ten bucks. Even one of the 20 or so pieces I got would have cost $40 new. Some still had tags on! If new, the lot would have cost me at least $250.

Unsubscribed to all my shopping emails (e.g. Macy’s). Removed all my Pinterest boards that revolved around shopping (e.g. wardrobe boards). Cancelled consumer credit cards (e.g. Banana Republic, JC Penney). Went on a “date” with my son Jack and didn’t buy him a $10 Pikachu toy that I probably would have bought for him if not for the Resolution.

Day 6:

Went thrifting and found an old peanut butter jar (complete with peanut butter still inside) being sold in glasswares for $0.79. Seriously?!

This old peanut butter jar being sold for $0.79 takes "secondhand" to a whole new level...

This old peanut butter jar being sold for $0.79 takes “secondhand” to a whole new level…

Thankfully, I did find something other than an old jar — scored an adorable 2-piece Janie & Jack newborn girl outfit for a friend’s baby shower gift. Knowing this brand, it would have cost at least $75 new. Got it for $3.50! Found a pair of mint condition $25 name brand boys jeans for $4.

Starting to feel incredible freedom in not having to face the temptation of buying stuff, going into stores, etc.

Day 7:

Found my subscription order form for Bon Appetit magazine — I guess I forgot to mail it in. Can’t now — saved $10.


Other Challenges We Faced This Month:

    • Our bedroom laundry hamper breaks. I would usually replace something like this immediately. Start looking for them at thrift stores and garage sales.
    • I’m making homemade granola in the oven and it takes over 18 hours to dry out. Normally I would splurge on buying a dehydrator without hesitation because I know it will be put to good use. Start looking for them at thrift stores, on Craigslist, and at garage sales.
    • The boys were invited to a birthday party. We gave the birthday boy a gift card to the movies instead of buying a toy.
    • My daily journal is nearly out of pages. This is something that’s super important to me and I’m tempted to claim it as a “necessity/supplies” but will trust that I can find a decent one secondhand.
    • My hair brush breaks. This is in the “health/safety” category so I buy a new one. The first thing I’ve bought new all month! I would later buy new printer ink and a few health & beauty consumables (e.g. toothpaste) — these make for the only other new things we’ve bought all month.
    • Both the arms of my sunglasses break off. I think about taping the arms back on (ha!) but remember I have an old pair tucked away in storage. Within twenty minutes of wearing the old pair, an arm breaks off and they fall into my lap while driving. Crap! I can’t buy new ones and I live in sunny California…
    • My one pair of skinny jeans are wearing through the bum and need to be retired before something embarrassing happens! I keep looking for a secondhand pair but the right jeans are hard to find even at the best of times.

Other Secondhand Successes This Month:

    • Garage sale stickers for our upcoming yard sale – 50 cents
    • Box of file folders we needed for organizing our office – 75 cents
    • Dehydrator for my homemade granola (YES!) – $5 instead of $60
    • Quality wicker laundry basket – $2 instead of $70
    • Unopened package of tin foil (I was nearly out!) – $2 instead of $5
    • Vintage lace table cloth – 50 cents (and worth way more than that!)
    • Nearly-new Axis & Allies board game for Tim and Liam – $15 instead of $50
    • Ordered a “used” book on Amazon as a birthday gift for my friend and the only sign of being “used” is a crease in the book jacket – $7 instead of $20
    • $75 name brand jeans (for me!) for $5.99. Phew! I was beginning to get a bit worried!
    • While thrifting with me, Jack sees a Pikachu ear peeking out from under a pile of pillows and scores a super-sized plush Pikachu toy for five bucks. Nearly a month later and he still eats, sleeps, and plays with this guy by his side. Doesn’t even compare to the cheap, plastic toy he wanted me to buy on Day 5’s special date!
    • All this garage and estate sale shopping has provided me with some great scores for my vintage Etsy Store! Have already made about $150 net profit from January sales.

In the end, we probably saved over $1,000 this month. The one drawback is that you have to be patient when buying secondhand and you have to be organized in storing things for the future (e.g. labelled bins of all the boys’ clothing in their soon-to-be sizes). You can’t just tickle your consumer fancy any time you need/want something new. Obviously, I am going to replace my sunglasses but if I can’t find something locally, I’ll have to search for a used pair online.

Perhaps the biggest success of the month though was witnessing the changes in our kids. It took a few days before they realized that this was really happening and once that sunk in, they just stopped asking for things! By thrifting with me, I’m teaching them that it’s not lame to buy secondhand stuff and when Jack found that Pikachu plush toy, he experienced his first real “thrifting euphoria”, as I like to call it. That moment when you find something so perfect that it might as well have had your name on it. In addition, the boys have started asking more serious questions about poverty. I’ve never held back in discussing real-life issues with the boys, like homelessness and poverty, but for some reason this month they have started showing a lot more genuine interest in these social issues. I can’t see that as just coincidence and have to believe that buying nothing new is reinforcing a healthier mindset in the boys. A break from the grind of consumerism and a refreshing reminder that we are fortunate to have what we already have and buying more stuff may make you happy for a moment but it’s brief and passes quickly.

Domestically Yours,
Natasha Kay

Did you miss out on the explanation for WHY our family is doing? Find out more in part one of this series: Life Resolutions: Buying Nothing New for 2013.

8 thoughts on “Nothing New 2013: January In Review

  1. b mack says:

    That’s awesome Natasha! I get stubborn about not buying new- for example I wanted to get a waffle maker for christmas morning breakfast (and of course to use regularly thereafter). I was shocked to see these new/on sale at canadian tire even are $50+. I waited and looked around and found one at sally ann for $3.50! It’s missing a latch and some of the anti stick coating but oh well, I hold the lid closed with a stove mitted hand and they turn out just fine. Feels so good to save money! So often this happens! I very occassionally have not been able to find 2nd hand furniture/toys for kids, and often people on used vic give us things for free- crib bedding, last year I got an exercise elliptical for free too 🙂 What an amazing family adventure for you, and change of mindset for the kids… Keep posting your stories!

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