As I considered what I wanted to share for an update on our more than enough stuff challenge, I realized that while I’ve talked a lot about some of the ideals, principles, and hopes behind the project, I haven’t addressed very many specific scenarios we’ve encountered. So, this week’s update will be a tell-all of a few of the situations surrounding purchases we have made, and a little bit of the reality that not buying anything has been pretty easy in part because of my flexibility.
One big surprise that I have had as we’ve spent the last four and a half months really conscious of every single purchase, is how much stuff we regularly lose or break. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I have three young kids, and kids are destructive and somewhat careless. It has been eye-opening to recognize that in the hands of kids items that may otherwise not be consumable at all become so.
For example, while I planned initially to buy the kids shoes as they grew out to them this year, I have had to buy some prematurely simply because other pairs were lost! Two pairs in one week, in fact, by my littlest angel who rarely keeps shoes on her feet for more than a few minutes. When we were down to a pair of cheetah print boots (that she loves, but aren’t practical for daily summer use) and a pair of sparkle-toe high tops (that she doesn’t love, and also aren’t practice for daily summer use, not to mention not worth the fight) I finally sucked it up and took her to Target to get a couple new pairs that she would like and wear.
We settled on some “stomping shoes” that light up and make her so happy I couldn’t leave them in the store. I also grabbed a pair of sparkling birkenstock-style sandals that are darling and practical for church and the summer. While we shopped I noticed a few cute pairs for myself, and left them on the shelves. It felt a little weird to be buying things after not for so long, but I also appreciate the flexibility of being able to adjust our family experiment guidelines as things come up. Disappearing shoes was an unexpected thing.
The Gift of Overalls
A couple weeks ago, I received an exciting email from my local Madewell store. The events coordinator was hoping I would be interested in hosting a pop-up shop and DIY event for Mother’s Day. Of course I was interested, I told her in a phone call later that week! I love Madewell, and most of my clothing that isn’t handmade has come from their shelves (including the 3 pairs of identical skinny high rise black jeans I have, love, and wear like a uniform.)
After agreeing to the event, and setting the date, the manager told me she would love for me to come in an choose a pair of denim on them, as a gift. Well, I wasn’t about to tell her that I wasn’t buying clothes this year and so I’d pass. Ha! I happily browsed the inventory, and picked out these amazing skinny overalls that have been on regular rotation ever since.
We already decided as part of our year of not buying, that we would accept gifts graciously, and as added justification I realized that one of my pairs of black skinnies had ripped so much in the knees it’s about time to cut them into summer shorts, so it was sort of like a replacement….sort of? Here’s where the flexibility comes in. Rather than feeling bad about getting a new pair of amazing pants because it feels a little like cheating, I am enjoying wearing, loving, and appreciating them!
Unnecessary but Useful
Okay, okay, not every situation surrounding a purchase has been 100% necessary. My first real fall off the wagon was for a purchase that was a tiny bit impulsive, but quickly proved to be super useful and helpful. I bought myself a canvas laptop bag.
I was teaching a workshop at Vintage Fresh the night before I flew out for a weekend blogging conference. Nothing at home was packed or prepared, and as I was cleaning up I spotted a darling canvas and leather bag from Esperos. Normally $90, it was marked to half-price, and while I was asking the owner about it, she mentioned it was actually even discounted further and would cost me $20.
Ahem. I don’t believe a sale alone is a good reason to buy something. In fact, they usually entice people to buy much more or differently than they otherwise would. But for some reason I bought it. Leslie, the owner, follows along with my life enough to know that we aren’t buying things this year. And I even said “I’m not technically supposed to buy this…but I’m going to anyway.”
My life, my rules. Right?
The truth is I didn’t need it. I easily could have left it there and made do with one of the several bags that I already own. I even have the remains of an old handmade laptop sleeve in the bottom drawer of my dresser. And, worst case scenario was that I could make myself one using fabrics I had on hand at home. But I bought it anyway.
I went home and packed my laptop up properly, tucking the cords into the perfect pockets. It made flying super easy to have the computer in an easy-to-access place. I loved having it feel slim and sleek, with just enough room for my business cards, phone and cord, and pockets to tuck in business cards as I met new friends. Totally not necessary, but so very useful. And if all I buy this year is a laptop bag, I think that’s still pretty awesome.
Milo’s Birthday and Baptism
The last situation that I want to share today hasn’t happened yet, but is something I’m planning for: Milo’s eight birthday next week. We have already talked to him about what type of non-material gift he might like, and settled on a membership to an online learning video game that he loves. I’m also planning to include a couple fun gift cards for movie night dates with mom or dad.
One material purchase that I am going to make an exception for is a suit for his baptism. He has been asking for a suit for over a year. The first time he saw one in his size was while school shopping two years ago, and I told him that he could have one when he turned eight, mostly just as a nice way to say no. Well, any mom knows that kids don’t forget that type of promise, and I am really excited to take him shopping for his first suit.
Baptism is a special occasion, a once-in-a-lifetime event, and he has been looking forward to it so much. And while I recognize I could probably make him a darling suit, in all of my 100s of yards of fabric, I can’t think of anything that would be just right. Not to mention that I’m pretty sure we’ll both enjoy the process of buying one way more than we would the process of me making one.
It will be a special item that he can not only wear and enjoy for his special day, but to church weekly and then pass it on to his little brother when he grows out of it. I think we’ll go try them on at J.Crew or Janie and Jack. I want it to both be good quality and a good price, and both shops offer great options.
So, that is this week’s update.
I hope by sharing some of the real scenarios of the project — how we’re imperfectly navigating this challenge, but certainly doing our best– you might feel inspired to do your best too. It has become pretty normal to not fill my cart with stuff at every store I visit, and I feel more deeply connected and grateful for those things we do have, as well as the few we have bought. I mean, overalls for the win, right?
It means so much to me to hear how this challenge is inspiring and supporting you. Please feel free to always leave a comment or question and engage with us as we focus on the good we already own this year. Cheers!
Five Days to Freedom: Tips for Choosing Less Stuff and More Adventure in your Daily Life
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