Thursday, 2 January 2014

NY Resolution - 'J to J Shopping Challenge'

Do you make New Year Resolutions? I don't usually, though at this time of year I do tend to stop and think about what is important to me.

Just before the New Year I discovered this blog: Frugal in Tasmania and her decision to try to go 365 days without shopping got me thinking. Now it isn't 365 days completely without shopping, just not shopping for un-needed items - you know, 'stuff' - food, drink, essential clothing etc are all OK.

Now I am guilty of buying stuff I want but don't need, just like the next person, often spur of the moment, but I also get quite stressed by 'clutter' and am forever trying to clear the house of things grown out of or no longer (or never) needed in order to clear my mind. How much better not to acquire it in the first place! I also actually rather dislike shopping (aside from op-shopping), the crowds and decisions are a cause of stress.

Too much STUFF! Though, aside from the alcohol (believe it or not), most of this gets fairly regular use. Still wish it were tidier though.

So I think I might take a cue from Frugal in Tasmania and give this not shopping a try, though I am only going to aim for 6 months. I'm calling it the 'J to J shopping challenge'. Along with this I intend to continue to declutter.

So - what is on the 'Naughty List' and what is on the 'Nice List'? It seems important to have some idea (and write it down) at the start - so I can't cheat.

Food & drink - including coffee with friends, eating out & occasional take-away.
School clothes.
Replacements for worn out clothes, shoes and other regularly used items (if they can't be repaired).
Items necessary for repairs.
School and University books & supplies.
Photo books (I do one each year for the kids).
Children's birthday presents.
Basic toiletry items.
Cleaning supplies (consumables).
Vegetable seedlings & other plants for the garden.
Medicine & first-aid items.

Ornaments / Decorations.
Make-up (exception - replacement of used up items).
Books (except as required for school or uni).
Clothes (except replacements).
Fabric (yes, this is going to be hard, but I do really have plenty to be going on with).
Tools, including Garden tools (unless absolutely needed for an already planned project, or a repair, and where I can't borrow it from Dad).
Household goods.
Camping equipment.
Sporting equipment.
Tupperware (even if it is from the op-shop).
Cake at the coffee shop.
Bicycle gear (except for repair & maintenance & to enable us to achieve our plan of independent cycle touring).

Can you think of anything else that I should add? Suggestions welcome.

I will also take another piece of inspiration from 'Frugal' and aim for more days where I don't spend any money than days on which I do. This should have the effect of making me more efficient in my shopping habits, which will in turn reduce the stress of having to go to the shops, the chance of being tempted to make unnecessary purchases, and give me more time for other things.

Intended (and hoped for) outcomes: Less 'stuff' cluttering up our home and our lives; lower stress levels; an increased consciousness about consumerism and needs vs wants; more money saved; less time spent exposed to commercial settings.

I'll try to keep a running record of how I am going here - just like Frugal (though I don't know that my writing style is as interesting to read) - starting with the first two days.
NY day - no spend (not too hard).
Today (2/1/14) - pre-planned spending mainly on items to take my boys for their first overnight hike: extra tent pegs; water bladders; micro fibre towels; water purification tabs; camping cutlery & crockery (this is actually a birthday present); plus iron on patches to repair a couple of pairs of jeans. And a coffee. Thankfully all of these items are on the 'Nice List' as they are replacements for irreparable items needed for an activity that the family participates in regularly, or to enable other items to be repaired.  I also have to go and get petrol, vegetables and medicine on the way home.

Now, I've made the commitment in writing, anyone want to join me for moral support? Or just add the odd helpful tip or comment as I go along?

Here's to 2014!


  1. Dear Ravs,
    I wish you all the best. I am embarking on a month's shopping fast which judging by the summary of my 2013 spending, needs to last all year and then some. I did this fast in March, June and August last year and it really makes one conscious of their spending. As other than the grocery shopping all mine is done in charity shops so I will miss that 'thrill' of finding something to repurpose but I have everything I need. I don't face the extra challenge you do as I am only have myself to care for, but the challenge will give you a buzz. I find one of the easiest ways to save money is to NOT go in the shop in the first place (including online shops).
    I would love to be able to ride my bike to work but as it is 5 miles of continual hills it just isn't an option for me but it has just occurred to me that where I work offers free bus transportation, so must investigate! I hope your new habits get ingrained in your children, mine had already left the nest by the time I discovered this marvelous way of life. I wish you success and joy and remember, every little thing you do helps!
    Another tip is to pay for everything you can in cash. Using plastic is not like spending 'real' money. Cash hits home.
    Best, from a Virginia frugalist

    1. Thanks for your support. I agree about the cash being more effective at bringing it home that the money has been spent, but would then entail finding my way to a cash point again and therefore taking me into the shopping centre! Yuk. Although I only use plastic in a debit fashion (i.e. money we already have) the spending still isn't as obvious as cash. I will think on this further.
      BTW - which Virginia? USA or the suburb down the road from us in Brisbane?

  2. I like that you have included 'sanity savers' in the necessaries - if we don't have small treats (for us, it's Thai for lunch every 1-2 months), we really do set ourselves up to fail.

    The only other thing I would suggest is, if you plan to do a toss-out of stuff, that you be brutal. We went from a 3 befroom house (2 of us) to a 21foot caravan. Brutality was my watchword - his, not so much. I still have a 50litre tub of stuff, but it's extremely sentimental, a cushion my youngest made at school, my Nan's cake plate and knife (heading to 100 years old, that), a divinely beautiful jumper my mum made me (wool, can't wear it, but the love in each stitch...), Great-Nan's blanket that Nan made her. When I was sorting and tossing, I got rid of a lot of other stuff (partly because I had lost a lot of weight and everything, feet included, had shrunk), but that collection stayed the same size.

    If you do do a toss, give to Vinnies or the Salvos. They always need stuff, both clothing and homewares, in good order, more now than ever.

  3. Hey Ravs, Similar Named Woman from the library here to say HNY and I like your reduced spending plan, shall be watching with great interest. Am sort of aiming for something similar - more days when I come home after the school run, instead of touring op shops to avoid the mess at home - but last year those trips *were* my sanity savers so I'll just see how we go at school this year. Best, R

    1. Was thinking of you R when I was at the library the other day! HNY to you too. Library is another good place to save the sanity - but I do tend to buy a coffee when I am there, so not so good for the No Spend day rate.