It’s been a bit since I last had a look at my empties and I’ve been making some progress in using up my stuff. I realise I hadn’t included an update here for March, so you get a two-fer this month:
All the empty tea pouches are from topping up the tins I have, while the empty tin is from finishing off a tea entirely (pardon the extra text on the first picture, I had to pull it from my instagram stories – this is a one-person blogging team). For the soaps, I finished the last of my bar soap that I used for travelling last month, the lip balm was finished a few days ago after fighting to get the last of it out from the bottom of the tube – and the liquid soap was emptied within around a month (which I include to answer my own question from my last post).
For the bye-bye bin, there’s not as much this month (only 3 items), though I suspect that number will be much higher as I swap in my spring/summer stuff and set aside the long-sleeved and bulkier items.
The French phrases book has been sitting on my reference shelf for about 3 years, and I’ve never once used it as a reference for students in tutoring – I’d either explain the answer to their question, or the student would look it up. The yellow tin is ready to find a new home, as I know if I have more tins, I’ll find a reason to fill it with yet another tea (also, I’m back to an even number of tins, so there’s that too). The dress acting as the background to the flat lay was an impulse purchase last year from an online thrift store that just doesn’t fit right.
While there’s still nothing on my wishlist, I do want to bring it up for the sake of sharing a change in how I’m thinking: there isn’t anything yet on the list since I genuinely don’t need anything, so I’m going to treat it more like a restock “limbo,” where I keep an eye on the stuff I’ve emptied and see whether I actually need more. There aren’t any categories that I’ve emptied out entirely yet, so it will likely be a few months before I have anything to add to the list.
Later this week, I will be looking over my April goals, though for the next few weeks (to May 19th or so), I’ll be aiming for one post a week while I’m leading a budgeting and financial literacy course with students in a local school. Thanks for reading!
As much as I love dinosaurs, I don’t like my skin to be scaley. Winter in Canada is rough on the skin normally, so that majority of the products I use from November to April are all about keeping my skin from painfully chapping or my lips cracking and bleeding. First, I’m focused on finishing off the lipsmackers lip balm that I’ve been working on for most of 2021 – that I got in winter 2018/2019, as a stocking stuffer – which I genuinely thought there was none left, but then opened it today to take photos, and somehow a usable amount has emerged. I do have a second lip balm on the go (also from the same year), which seems to be unending, as I’ve been using it regularly and I still have a few months’ worth of use in it. For hand cream, I’m 2-3 uses away from done with the shea squeeze tube, and likely about a month from done with the body butter. The hand cream is better for warmer months (i.e., when the “Feels Like -37” line is long gone from my weather app), and the body butter is my best friend for now.
What my other categories are:
As I’d mentioned in my No Buy rules post, I have many categories that need to be used up before I bring in more. I wanted to switch it up for the remaining categories and give you visuals instead of numbers this time around, so you can see just how much I’m working with. I just talked about how much yarn I have left, so I’ll continue with the craft supplies theme:
Pens and other writing utensils:
I’ve whittled this collection down over the years, but this is what I have in my stock pile – meaning what’s not currently in my pencil case for planning or what I use at work. I do have a mix of artsy-er pens as well as a fountain pen mixed in with dollar store highlighters (some of which have been in the pencil case since I bought it, in 2012), so some of these will take longer to use. That’s my issue, though, is that I like to have something to use, but then if it’s too nice, I won’t.
I’ve kept every agenda or planner that I’ve had since grade 6/2006, since they tend to function more like a memory book than just a to do list for me (and I’ve never been much of a diary writer). Over time, I figured out highly detailed colour-coding and highlighting systems that I would use to stay on track of my academics, work/volunteering, and personal stuff in between through to the end of my undergrad thesis. Once I was off the shoestring student budget, I was drawn to planner stickers (I also liked stickers as a kid) to bring my weekly planner spreads to life. A lot were bought, and I limited myself to the size of a photobox from Michael’s of how many booklets I could have. I have decluttered a few booklets as well as pulled out sheets that I wouldn’t use at all (the quote-heavy ones, mainly) – and the irony of having three separate sticker books about budgeting is not lost on me.
This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise with how much effort I put into other “pen and paper” stuff, but I have over 120 blank greeting cards. Some were gifts, but most were a mix of restocking what I’d used, sales while at the mall, and impulse buys from Michael’s (I’m sensing a pattern here). I used to write to friends and family for the fun of it after moving to a different province for work, but that has slowed down significantly with moving more to video calls for the sake of being able to see each other. I do have some ideas of what I can use these for, but that’s in some time from now.
I got into DavidsTea in 2013, and the amount of money I’ve spent could have paid for a trip to Iceland. The amount of tea that I have now is less than half of what I had at my peak around 2016, and the stock pile of specific blends has to do with not wanting to order frequently (reducing emissions from transportation) and not buying outside of the semi-annual sale. Note that the tins aren’t all full – most are half full or less – but I’m not switching the contents of a tin until it’s fully empty and been washed. Also worth noting, about 1/6th of this is from gifts.
Some of these have been on my shelf, unopened, for longer than others – most notably, the Maui shampoo, conditioner and mask sets, which were purchased in January 2020 (on sale). I haven’t been able to finish them yet since I cut off about half of my hair (it was to the small of my back, and now just over my shoulders), so I don’t go through shampoo and conditioner half as quickly as I used to, and the fact that I had another four sets of shampoo and conditioner – bottles and soap bars – to get through before reaching these. Some other stockpiles – the toothpaste, deodorant (medium tins), and body butters – are based on what I know I use regularly and need to have at a moment’s notice when I run out. I do have a pharmacy in walking distance, but I prefer to reduce my number of trips out of the house as much as possible (and I don’t have a car). The bar soaps that are all the same were bought in 2021, and I liked the scent because it smelt like one of my toy sets from my early childhood. Nostalgia as a driving force for consumption? Never heard of that before! I say that jokingly, however, as that wasn’t the intent behind the scent blend that the shop owner made. The rest of it? They’re remnants of gifts kits, sales, or shop displays doing their job. If nothing else has highlighted the excess of the body products stock pile, know that I bought a 3-shelf organiser from Ikea to store all of it.
Later this week, I’ll be talking about what my shopping habits have been like (which will definitely be a series unto itself), and today’s post works as a snapshot of where I’m at right now. Thanks for reading!
The purpose of a No Buy or Low Buy is to reduce how much you are purchasing new things. You set parameters for yourself of what you are limiting (whether entirely or capping), and for how long. You make the rules for yourself according to what your needs are (i.e., it would be incredibly difficult to purchase nothing an entire year if you included essential categories like food and rent), as well as what exceptions you have for your rules – or what you are indeed allowed to spend money on that may not be considered to be essential by others.
I chose my categories based on where I spend the most money: clothing, accessories, shoes, crafting supplies, tea, and body care products. Books are also on the list, but are being treated a bit differently. For clothing, I have more than enough seasonal wear, and I know what colours and styles I like to wear most – and I know that I don’t need more. Accessories – earrings, other jewellery, bags, scrunchies – are just as plentiful as clothing. Shoes are a bit different in that I have a lot, for different events/purposes, but many of those events are not currently taking place, so they are not in use. Crafting supplies is likely the broadest category with stationary, writing tools, stickers, yarn, washi tape, scrapbooking paper, and about par for clothing in sheer volume of materials. For tea, I like(d) to buy in bulk with DavidsTea having moved to being almost an entirely online store, so I have around 1.5 kilos of tea, and I certainly don’t need more. For body care products, I amassed so much of everything from shopping sales, buying in bulk, or thinking that I would need more than I reasonably use. A single person doesn’t need five tubes of toothpaste, but that’s what I got from Costco six months ago. For books, I have a healthy To Be Read stack that I want to complete without rushing myself. Books are a bit different, then, as I’ll still be going to the local library, but I won’t be buying new books.
Broadly, the rule is to not purchase anything from these categories. I know that I can easily make it through the first half of the year without having to think about replacements for anything. That being said, I have thought ahead of what to do if I do need to replace anything (in order): 1) go without for a two-week span (unless it’s related to personal hygiene, like toothpaste or body wash), 2) if after two weeks, I still feel that I need the item on a daily or multiple-times-per-week basis, see if I can find it second hand (preferably from a local thrift store), and 3) buy new from a local/Canadian retailer. I will be spending on groceries, monthly phone bill, and other necessities, and I have both travel (when it’s safe) and experiences budgeted in for the year so I can be intentional about where I’m going, what I’m doing and what I’m not taking back with me. I will also be purchasing gifts, which will include a birthday present for myself, but that’s months and months away at this point.
What makes this goal doable
I did a bit of a test-run last year to see how I would fare in slowing down my spending/shopping, and I was able to figure out what did and didn’t work. What worked was making sure I had frequent visual reminders, both in my agenda and on my wall calendar, as well as following content related to these topics. Shifting my thoughts towards abundance and gratitude as opposed to curating or scarcity have helped in how I see what I own. I feel like I’m ready to jump in headfirst and commit to a full year as I’ve just completed a daily habit for a year that I thought I could never do: gratitude journaling. I kept it simple and wrote at least one thing per day that I was grateful for, and I have at least 365 things listed in my journal – while all other attempts at journaling in other formats have failed. Quitting shopping cold turkey and entirely restricting myself doesn’t work for me at all. If I do choose to spend, then my limit of $0 can turn into $20 or $200 when there’s no reasonable limit – so it’s better that I set aside money for experiences, and that I keep a wishlist for myself. Between small lifestyle changes that I’ve been making throughout 2021 and the desire to downsized my stockpiles, I believe that I can do a no-buy for a year for the categories that I know I need to work on.
What will be tough about the goal
Avoiding sources of temptation will likely be my biggest struggle over the course of the year. Certain stores, like Michaels, DavidsTea, and Simon’s are full of stuff that I like (and that can stay out of my shopping cart), and avoiding them as a whole is my best bet. In 2021, I went to Michael’s twice, once with spending nothing (but I’d already been shopping at thrift stores that day), and the second time with buying more than I intended once I found something that would make a cute gift. I don’t need to say much about tea (see the 1.5 kilos remark above), and Simon’s is a catch all for cute clothing and home goods, and probably my number 1 targeted ad on instagram. I find that thrifting without a physical list has also led to buying more than I intended, and the rush from shopping for new items is the same as it is for thrifted items, with the additional layer of it being an unexpected find. To help prevent these temptations, I’ve already unsubscribed from all emails from these stores (and others) and I don’t follow them on social media anymore.
When it comes to what I’m going to do when faced with decisions of whether or not to purchase something, I want to have a much more intentional and slowed-down approach than I used to. I want to know what I have and what I need (which likely won’t be anything, at least for a few months) and be able to consider what it is that I’m taking into my home. If I don’t want to be in a space where I’m shopping, whether online or in person, I will need to be intentional about how I’m spending my time and what I do in a day. I want the time otherwise lost from online or in-person shopping to be spent on activities that are more meaningful to me, and I want my living space to not be bursting at the seams with stuff. I will be going into this year’s challenge with the mindset that the decisions I make are my own, and that there is no luck involved in the process; if I am tempted by an item, and choose to make a purchase, that is my decision. However, I also recognize that I do make mistakes, stuff happens, and what matters more is what I learn from my decisions and what I choose to do next.
What’s coming up this week:
I’ll be doing a paper-based inventory of my clothing (so I can keep track of number of wears per item), flipping my hangers over, and picking out the two books I’m aiming to read for the month beyond the remaining library book I have on loan.