I was overwhelmed with how interested people were in my January recap of Buying Nothing New in 2013! It is now my most virally-shared post of all time. Seeing all the Facebook Shares and comments made me realize that my family is not alone in our opinions on consumerism affecting our kids, clutter affecting our sanity, and a throw-away culture affecting our environment. I didn’t expect to inspire others with our resolution and yet many of you responded by committing to a “nothing new” challenge of your own. How fabulous!
I truly believe we learn much about ourselves (and not just our spending habits) when we go even just one month without buying new things.
Before sharing how February went (it was a doozie!), my husband brought up a good point that requires some clarification. In my January recap, I added up all the money we saved and it totaled around $1,000 (wow!) but as my factual computer science hubby was quick to point out, it’s not that we would have actually spent $1,000 last month had we still been buying new. And yet by the same token, purchasing things secondhand afforded us the luxury of getting high-priced name brands and quality pieces that we typically wouldn’t splurge for. Sure, I would never buy a $100 newborn outfit (that will probably see more spit-up than actual baby-wearing). But secondhand and only a few bucks? You bet I will! I probably wouldn’t have spent $70 on a designer wicker basket for our dirty laundry. But getting it for two bucks at an estate sale? Of course! So the money “saved” was sort of like “quality earned”.
Although our family strongly believes in investing in quality, it’s not always possible (unless you really do have a thousand bucks sitting around each month!). For example, our original laundry hamper that broke in January was a five-dollar piece of junk IKEA hamper which lasted less than a year (surprise, surprise!). But that $70 wicker hamper I got for two bucks at an estate sale? That well-made beast outlived the old lady who originally owned it and could very well outlive me, too!
The best way to afford quality over cheap knock-offs is to buy secondhand or better yet, just buy less.
So on that note, let us recap our second month of buying nothing new!
Buying Nothing New in 2013 – February
The month started off great. And then things got crazy…
I have been keeping my eye out for a scale as I need one to better estimate the shipping charges for my Etsy store. After weeks of searching, I see an OXO 11-lb digital scale (which retails for $50) for $13 at Goodwill. Never used and still in the original box! I practically do a happy dance. Okay, I actually did a happy dance.
At the same Goodwill, I find this J-Crew white denim jacket for my sister’s February birthday. The person who originally spent $128 on this coat would probably be miffed that I snagged it for $5.50.
In my next thrift store adventure, I find the exact size of Pyrex bowl that I need in order to make bigger batches of homemade yogurt. And with the added bonus of having an awesome vintage design! I would have spent $15 on a new bowl without much thought but instead, found it for $3.49.
In the same visit, I find this flawless set of 12 ceramic napkin rings for only $2.49. You can’t even buy ONE napkin ring for that price! I know this because I’ve been waiting for years to finally buy napkin rings. Even when I found ones that I liked, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend $80 for a set of napkin rings. I later find a set of formal pewter rings to round out my collection! And yes, those red napkins were secondhand, too.
Time for our Spring garage sale (gotta love California!). We made $250 selling unneeded stuff that was cluttering our garage and taking up mental energy!
Getting ready for a last minute trip to the UK and the weather is frightful (says the California girl who just had a garage sale in February). It’s supposed to be fairly wet while we are there and I will need some sort of rain coat so another quick trip to a local Goodwill and I find a perfect condition Sierra Hurricane Rain Jacket (retail price, $75) for $5! At this point, I am starting to realize that my “good fortune” in being able to find exactly what I need just when I need it is really not coincidence. It’s just another way God likes to show up in my life. To just bless me over and above anything I actually deserve. He sure knows how to romance a girl.
The boys tag along for a local estate sale. Liam, who has recently developed a fear of the dark, unearths a gaudy Santa Claus night light amidst some poor deceased woman’s piles and piles of holiday decorations. Since he’s been waiting patiently for a nightlight, he cries out for everyone to hear, “A NIGHT LIGHT!!!!! YESSSSS!”
Two bucks well spent.
A few other February highlights:
- Find a dry erase monthly calendar that’s been on my homeschool supplies wish list. A few coats of spray paint and it’s jarring black look is replaced with a calm white.
- The ladies at the Santa Clause nightlight estate sale give us a stack of unopened Easter egg dye kits for FREE. In this year of buying nothing new, I’m actually more prepared for Easter than I have ever been before!
- Score a sweet vintage pillbox hat (with the tags still on!) for $2. Another name crossed off my Christmas list!
- Replace my broken sunglasses for $1.99. I struggle with this one because I enjoy having quality sunglasses. Cheap sunglasses just don’t cut it. Yes, first world problems. I know, I know.
- The boys are invited to their first birthday party of 2013. Clearly we’re not going to buy the kid anything new so we opt for a gift card to the movie theaters instead. Experiences over plastic stuff? Yes please!
And then there were the CHALLENGES.
My Le Crueset kettle is one of my favourite thrifting finds of 2012! But last week, my little diamond in the rough was no match for being left on high heat without the whistle down for me to hear it boiling. I came into the kitchen twenty minutes later to the smell of burning plastic and my bone-dry kettle melted into the red-hot stove element.
And then Tim went to his masters swim class, only to realize the next day that he left his $80 triathlon swim trunks in the change room.
…with his wedding ring inside.
The trunks were never turned in and just like that, his ring was gone.
So we’ll find him a secondhand wedding band and I’ll boil water in a pot. We’ll be tempted to shamefully consider it as “suffering” to not just go out and replace these “needed” things and then we’ll give our heads a shake and be thankful that we even get such luxuries in the first place.
And I’ll remind myself of the Santa Clause estate sale. With the mounds and mounds of Christmas decorations covering every square inch of the house. And the little old lady who left them all behind may have very well enjoyed them during her lifetime — but in the end, she still left them all behind.
“If you live for having it all, what you have is never enough.”
― Vicki Robin