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Nothing New 2013: April in Review

nothing-new

It’s been four months of Nothing New 2013. January and February started us off with some great insights into our own spending habits and consumer-hungry hearts and March gave us a few unavoidable challenges as we struggled to find winter attire for a last-minute trip abroad. For the past month of April, our commitment to full disclosure means we have a few more sins to divulge but all in all, it was a huge success and gave us even more confirmation that we’re doing the right thing by buying nothing new for 2013!

Some of my favorite not-so-necessary finds this month! Clockwise from top left corner: Oval mirror for my niece's vintage-inspired nursery ($6), vintage lace LBD ($4), vintage leather peeptoe heels ($4), garage sale scores ($8).

Some of my favorite not-so-necessary finds this month! Clockwise from top left: Oval mirror for my niece’s vintage-inspired nursery ($6), vintage lace LBD ($4), vintage leather peep-toe heels ($4), garage sale scores ($8).

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

When we were young and broke, we patiently waited for things simply because we were short on cash. But as we get older and more financially secure (or gain access to more borrowed credit!), most of us no longer have that barrier and can buy what we need without much thought. Forcing ourselves to slow down and think through each purchase has been one of the best parts of buying nothing new!

In April, our family found things secondhand which we have been patiently waiting for:

boy_skateboarding

Bread Box – $7.99 @ Goodwill ($85 new)
The fact that we have people buying $85 bread boxes makes me shake my head at society.

iPhone Car Charger – $6 on Craigslist ($20 new)
As I walked out of the Apple Store with my new car charger, I realized “duh! What are you doing?! This is new!” I searched Craigslist, picked up a secondhand one that night, and returned the new one. You’d think after four months of this, I’d be with the program by now! I think this proves just how flippant most of us are about consuming.

Skateboards and Pads for Jack and Liam – $180 from Skate Works ($400 new)
The boys were set to start skateboard lessons as soon as we could find used boards for them. I scoured Craigslist but wasn’t finding much. So we headed to a well-reviewed local skate shop and asked the owner if he had any used boards for sale. Jason brought out some old boards that people leave behind when they buy a new board and he picked out a few that were still ride-worthy. He then salvaged two sets of decent wheels and bearings, greased them up, and let the boys pick out some stickers to make the boards their own. He didn’t have any used trucks but with how great he had been, I had no problems justifying buying those new (for $40/pair). We also bought new safety gear ($50/pair), which fits under our “Health & Safety” guidelines.

These succulents will soon be a regular fixture in our backyard. Bought on Craigslist by a woman who clearly loved her succulents!

These succulents will soon be a regular fixture in our backyard. Bought on Craigslist by a woman who clearly loved her succulents!

Landscape Supplies
As we revamp the landscaping in our front and back yards, not buying anything new has proven to be extremely difficult! I have scoured Craigslist ads, garage sales, and estate sales — eventually finding a few goodies to add to our landscape:

Succulents – $80 on Craigslist ($160 new)
Grown by a local Russian woman with a passion for cacti! I got 30 succulents of various sizes for $80 (about $2.50 each). That’s half the price we would have paid in the stores.

Stepping Stones – $10 on Craigslist ($60 new)
We are reusing the stepping stones we already had in our yard and a Craigslist ad coughed up 10 more to help us complete our plans. At a buck a piece, these were much cheaper than the new ones I passed up earlier ($6 each).

Garden Veggies – $50 on Craigslist & the Farmer’s Market ($100 new)
The listing on Craigslist was a bit odd. A woman calling herself “The Tomato Lady” promised to deliver organic and healthy tomato plants for a fraction of the price found in stores. Not only did she deliver my tomato plants, she was a wonderful woman with a great story of leaving Corporate America to raise her daughter while turning her love of growing organic tomatoes plants into income. Between Anne and my Farmer’s Market, I scored most my garden for half the price of stores.

chairs

Solid wood dining room chairs cost at least $100 new! With a little patience, I found these for $115 for all 6.

Dining Chairs – $115 @ Estate Sale ($600+ new)
When moving here from Switzerland, we brought our awesome mid-century modern dining table but left our cheap IKEA dining chairs behind. This meant we were in a bind to find dining chairs as soon as we got here. Desperate, I managed to find a set of six antique (150-year-old) ladder back chairs on Craigslist. After using them for a few months, it became clear that the Rush seats (it’s like tightly bound rows of paper) were not in good condition and needed to be redone. Um….pass. So for the past two years, I have been scouring thrift stores and online listings for a different set of chairs that would work with our table — not easy! So when I saw these wooden chairs at a local estate sale, I was immediately drawn to their complementary two-toned design. At $230 for the group, it was still a bit steep for me so I decided to wait until the last day of the sale (when things would be 50% off) and if they were still there, I would snag them. Lo and behold, when returning on Sunday, they were waiting for me. For $115, we took home six fantastic chairs and what’s even better, the pleasure of no longer listening to Tim lamenting about those “rickety, junky chairs”! No respect for his elders, I tell ya!

patio_furniture

I patiently waited until the last day of a local estate sale to snag this set at a serious discount. It cleaned up well and fits perfectly on our patio! No, the ducks are NOT mine!

Patio Furniture – $50 @ Estate Sale ($500 new)
I vowed to not spend an atrocious amount of money on patio furniture and so we’ve gone the last two summers without any. When I saw a cute patio set at that same estate sale last weekend, I knew it was a good score but sadly, I had to leave it seeing as my sporty little car wasn’t going to get the set home. When returning on Sunday to pick up the dining chairs, the patio set was still there and I stood staring at it for a few minutes, dreaming up all sorts of ways I could mount it on my roof rack. A nice kid working at the sale, who I had befriended earlier, came up and tried talking me into taking the set. I sighed and told him that there was no way I could get the set home in my car and he offered to deliver it for me! Being the last day of the sale, I talked them down from their original price of $149 to $50 and insisted on paying the young man $10 for driving it the few miles to my house. Victory is mine!

In April, we also fixed things instead of buying replacements:

Bike Pump – $40 new / fixed for free
When the tube on his bike pump exploded, Tim emailed the company to find a replacement part and they sent him one for FREE!

Leather Shoes – $120 new / fixed for $6
The soles of Tim’s shoes came apart but with some loving attention from our local shoe cobbler, they look brand new!

The Big Purchase

xterra_nothing_newIn what will be our biggest purchase of 2013, in April we bought an off-road vehicle for our crazy family adventures. Over the past few years, we’ve tricked out our little sports car as best as we could (roof rack, roof box, tow hitch, bike rack, etc) but after finding ourselves nearly stuck in the snow of the Mojave Desert during an already eventful camping trip (read: we’re crazy for going to Mojave in March), we knew it was time for an off-road vehicle. Buying nothing new this year forced us to shut out all the tantalizing offers from car dealers trying to convince you to buy new and after spending six weeks searching for just the right one, we settled on a 2009 Xterra and paid for it with cash. I say this not to brag but to illustrate a point: if you can’t afford it NOW, you can’t afford it.

For us, a big part of this journey is learning to not feel so entitled. Feeling entitled, even to things we feel we’ve rightfully “earned”, inevitably leads to losing touch with how fortunate we are to have the things we have. A humble heart will remember that no matter how lofty our lives, we are only one step away from depravity. We are not that different from the homeless guy with a mental illness. It could have just as easily been me in his shoes and best I don’t forget that and think I’m somehow “entitled” to my comfortable life.

In April, we did buy a few other new things:

stock-tank-vegetable-gardenLandscape & Garden Supplies

Stock Tanks for our Vegetable Gardens
As we finish up a ton of work in our front and back yards, we contemplated having wooden beds custom-made (since that would be part of our “handmade” caveat) but felt these metal stock tanks (which can be resold easily) were the wiser investment.

Rocks, Soil, and Mulch
Yes, it’s possible to buy secondhand rocks, soil, and mulch. But after all the time we’ve spent on our yard, the thought of sourcing it from all over the place and then figuring out ways to get it to our house (we didn’t have a truck yet, yo!) was overwhelming and stressful. Instead, I went to a local rock yard, ordered it all in person, and had it delivered. Easy peasey lemon squeezey. Again, this resolution was never meant to be a rake-you-over-the-coals type thing so in this case, we were fine with the decision to buy new.

{Domestica Tip} Your time is also worth money!

The Big Question

Most of us blindly buy needless things (that we don’t actually need) in exchange for a brief flutter in our consumer-hungry hearts. We are swept off our feet as we hold a coveted new treasure in the store and again as we set it up at home. And yet, within weeks, days, or even minutes, the flutter is gone and our hearts are back to searching for the “one” that will truly satisfy our lust for more. It’s a vicious cycle with no end. By buying nothing new, we are learning that one only finds brief satisfaction in thingsAlbeit with a few more barriers, the temptation to fill that hunger is still there with buying secondhand. So we are continually asking ourselves: “do we really need this thing in our life?” More often than not, the answer is no, we don’t genuinely need this thing.

Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, let us not forget our sheer fortune at even being able to ask that question.

Domestically Yours,
Natasha Kay

Check out my new page which archives our #NothingNew journey!

Discussion

One thought on “Nothing New 2013: April in Review

  1. The chairs look wonderful in the dining room! All the changes in the yards, both front and back, are going to make the outside look as warm and inviting as does the interior of your home. Great choices! Sounds like you are loving the garage sales, Craigslist, estate sales and second-hand stores too with all the treasures you have gotten so far!

    Posted by whisperyshadow | May 2, 2013, 5:15 pm