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A Year of Buying Nothing New

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Happy New Year, and hello again. A little over a year ago, signed off from this space. I didn’t feel called to share our life here (I share on Instagram a few times a week, and this felt a bit redundant). I figured we’d come back when we had things to share … and I think we’re there. Jim has talked about coming back to this space to share our travels – things are pretty different while traveling with two kids.

So, while I don’t have any travel adventures to share, I do have something really big to announce: In 2020, I am doing my best to buy nothing new.

Why?

It’s simple: we are spending more money than we should be, and we have a chunk of credit card debt we want to pay off. Last year, I really focused on making our daily life a little less wasteful (like, using “family cloth” in the bathroom, and using a soap block in the kitchen – I’ll share more soon). Our home is a bit more green, but we’re still using a lot of single use plastic, and the financial aspect of a simpler home wasn’t a consideration. I’d like to do better.

I have a knitting basket full of yarn and patterns I haven’t used or finished. The girls have an overflowing storage area full of crafts we haven’t done. I was paying for a fitness app, and I’m no stronger, because I never opened it. The girls have bins and bins of clothing (mainly hand me downs waiting for Maple to grow into them). My inbox was full of “50% off!!” sales, and I bought things just because they were on sale. I would purchase things I saw on Instagram (new dishes, ceramics,  toys for the kids, underwear, etc.) … advertising is a business because it works really well. And while Amazon has an amazing way of satisfying the “need” for an item, and then getting a little thrill when it’s delivered, I’m no happier with all of the stuff I’ve purchased … in fact, all of this financial stress has proven just how toxic the click and ship culture is. The marketing trap doesn’t result in happiness.

The End Goal? 

Right now, I don’t feel like sharing specific financial details, but I will say, the difference of where we are now, and where I’d like to be (ie: credit card paid off + having additional money in savings) is about $30,000-$40,000. That number seems huge. But, when I think about what it’ll take to pay off our cc and buy a house in Portland, this aggressive financial approach will be important.

We’ll Still Spend Money:

This isn’t a matter of putting 100% of our income into savings. We obviously still have rent, health insurance, utilities, debt (student loans + cc), and tuition (lol at the cost of childcare in Portland). Our monthly overhead is a big number, and this isn’t something we can control (minus the debt, and that’s where our focus is).

There are the spending categories that we aren’t willing (or not able) to eliminate:

  • Adventures & camping: we’re a camping family, and that’s not going to change. In fact, when I think about where I want to spend my time and resources, the answer is: being outside with my family.
    • We can absolutely think about more cost-effective meals while traveling (picnics vs. stopping on the road), and we’ll be very conscious of finding no or low cost places to visit.
  • J and I will still have some date nights. We paid our sitter in advance for 10 date nights, and we still have 5 left to cash in.
    • To make this more cost-effective, we’ll likely eat at home, then walk to a local spot (we live in a great neighborhood) for drinks or dessert.
  • We will still buy groceries, household goods, and seeds/supplies for our garden.
    • I’ll be thinking about ways to reduce plastic, save money, and buy products that will last longer.
  • I make a family photo album every year, and that won’t change. I order prints and put them in simple sleeves. I always buy on sale, and it’s part of our legacy … this brings me joy.
  • I’m obsessed with audiobooks, and in the last year, I’ve listened to (and read some e-books) more titles than I did in the past 5 years combined. I don’t think I’ll be saying goodbye to this. It makes me a happier, more knowledgeable person.
    • I use the Scribd app. It’s amazing. It’s a low monthly fee for unlimited titles. If you want to check it out, here’s my referral link.
  • We have pets and kids … so vet visits and doctor visits will be a thing.
  • I am allowing myself to buy one pair of nice jeans, if needed. Right now, I don’t need them. Let’s say my fitness routine results in my clothes fitting differently … then I’ll consider this allowance.

Buy Nothing, and Especially Nothing New:

Portland is full of amazing consignment stores, and I plan on learning how to shop them (that said, I really only want to utilize these for the kids … I truly don’t need anything for myself). Additionally, we use our local Buy Nothing group on Facebook. Have you heard of the movement? It’s amazing … just in the last two weeks, I got a book about artisan bread making, and a pair of Bogs rain boots for Alba. For zero dollars. It’s all about gifting things you no longer need, and asking others if they have items to gift or let you borrow. Everything is free, and it’s an incredible resource.

Here are some questions I have:

  • We currently have subscriptions to Hulu, Netflix, Starz, and Disney+. Do we need all of these?
  • We have Amazon Prime … If I’m not shopping on Amazon (minus the girls’ vitamins that I buy on subscription), does it make sense to keep that membership?
    • We use Amazon music + our echo dot, and I don’t think I want to let that go. We listen to a lot of music.
    • We watch a lot of shows on Amazon Prime. Again, we’ll have to see if we need these things.
  • How will this work in a partnership? J is mostly on-board, but we definitely have different approaches to finances. Part of my objective is ensuring there’s communication and understanding during this project.

There’s No Easy Way:

We’ve had friends get to a place of financial freedom, but most of them have gotten large gifts of money from their family. I don’t see this happening (hi, family … if this is a thing, please let us know). We will do this the old fashion way – by limiting our spending, and really upping our saving. There’s no other way for us. I’m really excited to hit the tipping point where we go from paying off debt to really saving aggressively (we have a safety net, but I’d love to have a “Oh hey, let’s buy a house” net).

I have more to share – especially some ways that I prepped for this. I’ll be doing a series throughout the year … I promise to be honest about the process. If you’ve done this, I’d love to hear from you! If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know!!

Photo by Orlova Maria on Unsplash

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