A parsimonious new year: an easy resolution

Christmas wrapping paper for 5 people, 2017

Christmas wrapping paper for 5 people, 2017

When grandchildren are almost grown up, buying fewer gifts could be an easy transition, we hope. Looking at the wrapping for the gifts we shared this year, we’re already on the way. Only a few years ago, I seem to remember the wrappings filled a large rubbish sack.

It’s a sad fact that at 18 and 21, grandchildren #1 and #2 don’t actually believe in Santa any longer, so Santa can take his duties rather lightly. As for me, I gave #1 a voucher for an editing course (with me as tutor), and #2 a Tibetan brass bowl that I’ve had for years. Un-ching! Parsimonious.

A year of non-shopping

I wouldn’t call this a resolution, rather a casual decision that became inevitable. For an entire year, I intend to buy no new clothes or gimmicks or stuff, beyond the necessary.

Relax, I will still buy food. And stationery… when I’ve used every piece of paper in the house. Books: let me buy a maximum of 2 new ebooks per month—that’ll get me active reading classics and using libraries. Clothes: I hope to get by without buying even a pair of socks.

When problem-solving = shopping

The thing is, my default reaction when I encounter a wee glitch is currently to go shopping. It’s pathetic. Smoothies too gritty? Buy a better tool. Ugly, crumbling gym shoes? Buy new. Paper shredder too feeble? Buy a bigger model. Sunblock too sticky? Buy another brand. Jug too small for making kombucha? Buy a bigger jug. And so on.

Once you catch yourself defaulting to an acquisitive mind-set (and by the way, what would your mother say?!) it feels horrible and you want to stop. So I have, already. I like gritty smoothies—call them gritties. My gym shoes are still comfy and strong. I don’t even need a shredder: give it away. Find the other six tubes of sunblock. Use the big coffee plunger.

Don’t get the stuff you love: love the stuff you’ve got

I’ll be interested to see whether any the following come to pass.

  • I get familiar with garments that haven’t been getting much wear lately.
  • I start to use odd items in inventive ways.
  • I discover lost treasures.
  • I give more, not less, to the charity shops.
  • I find an extra hour in every week.
  • I am more mindful of my brain’s behaviour.
  • I exude a sanctimonious glow and my friends flee in droves.

Right now, on 31 December, a year of no (or minimal) shopping holds no fear for me. You see I’ve done the no-shop thing before, for about 6 months, and it was easy and pleasurable. Because when you make that mental switch it feels so good. It’s a relief. And oh, it does make life simpler.


14 thoughts on “A parsimonious new year: an easy resolution

  1. cedar51 says:

    you should “save” what you thought you might have spent – say some nominal monthly amount and then at the end of your non-buying time, buy/do something gorgeous, just for you…

    I have adopted another bloggers idea – instead of the resolution/goal thing have taken 2/3 words (it was supposed to be one…) adventurous, magical and quirky – going to use them wherever possible…

    I’ve not bought much for years in the clothing/shoe line – except last year when a number of things were just tatters, some were still good enough for around home, but going out had got bad! I’m still wearing the 2 summer skirts I bought years ago, even though one has to have a longish overtop as the side seam has bust open a bit (it was 2ndhand with it, too frayed to mend)…but it was a lovely length.

    I’ve been debating a small wok – it’s ongoing since the last one died maybe a year ago…every time I get near to the purchase, I say “well you’ve been using the mini frypan for ages…why do you need a small wok” 🙂

    1. Nice thought (saving what I haven’t spent) but I think I prefer to just enjoy the not-buying, a pleasure in itself. I do like the 3 adjectives replacing resolutions. I love it when a favourite garment lasts forever! Wok/frypan? I confess I have both and use them equally. Happy self-debating!

  2. lifecameos says:

    I had to start considering what I bought when i moved into this little home unit. It was a question of where to put everything , and deciding what I really needed, and the occasional thing I might really want. Considering a few older people i know of, who needed to move into residential care, I also started to consider the concept…”you can’t take it with you…” so do I really want or need it ? A major turn about in my outlook on shopping.

    1. I bet you did! Did you enjoy the discarding process? I’m a born declutterer, so it sounds like fun to me, but no doubt about it — that’s a major mind-shift! I watch and admire people going through this downsizing. So much thinking and deciding, and all at once!

      1. lifecameos says:

        It has been lengthy and gradual. I did not want to throw things out and then decide that I needed them, and have to replace them. My brother and sister and I did not discard all of Mum and Dad’s belongings for the same reason. We are now discarding some of their things as well.

      2. Very wise. It’s an important process and it needs to feel right for you. I hope it’s been satisfying as well as, no doubt, nostalgic.

      3. lifecameos says:

        Yes, it is satisfying to clear spaces, especially in my jam packed little back room.

  3. I still enjoy the act of shopping but find that I can go to a store, fondle whatever it is and leave without purchasing. If I still want it a week later, I go ahead and buy it. I have found that not many things last a week of desire and whatever I do buy is something I truly value. That has worked well for me. Also if I purchase something and have some level (any level!) of buyer’s remorse, back it goes. Stuff I truly love don’t give any remorse at all.

    1. I totally understand that fondle-and-reject process. And for me, the item only gets a second chance if it bludgeons its way into my mind repeatedly in the weeks to come, and that’s very rare. I get a big buzz from just walking out of the shop, away from that temptation. The shopping thrill is 90% in the mind, I conclude, and 10% in the item.

  4. Jane Gealy says:

    Love this post! I started making some of my own clothes a few years back. Being 5′ and a whisper limits the amount of stylish clothes available to buy. I’m not saying my creations are stylish, they are more cost-conscious than style-conscious. Having a wool allergy, I’ve also started knitting after nearly 40 years. We surround ourselves with ‘stuff’ that we simply don’t need. Good luck with your quest.

    1. Ah yes, you know well that just getting dressed can bring delight that goes way beyond mere shopping. I’ve already shortened a hippy skirt that is going to be rather useful.

  5. franklparker says:

    I can see this post does not have the same relevance for me as it does for you ladies – I’m a man in his seventies and tend to leave the shopping to my other half. When it comes to clothes (for me) she has to drag me to the store! But thanks, anyway, for liking a recent post of mine.

  6. Shelley says:

    I can SO relate After my mother died, I spent days, driving to libraries, nursing homes, senior centers donating books, cans of ensure, clothes–lots of STUFF. My friend had a smilier, but even bigger task going through all of her aunts papers and possessions. I don’t want to do that to my one and only son, so we’ve started a task that with any luck, won’t need to be completed for another 20 or 30 years. Following your lead to shop less will make the job so much easier.

    1. That’s great! You may hear a different kind of conversation inside your head at times — it’s interesting! So is the paper-clearing. I find that time does bring a more realistic perspective on what matters, and it’s fun when your sister sends a cutting from long ago. Big tip: get a scanner on your smartphone. Brilliant.

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