Monday, January 5, 2009

New Beginnings

I had an amazingly challenging and for the most part, fruitless holiday season this past month.  Each year, I desperately yearn for something along the lines of what I think I remember of the holidays from my childhood.  At least, what I remember of the good, happy times.  This year, what with the economy in the gutter, though you wouldn't know it with all the late, bustling shoppers at Target... I had hoped for a holiday full of meaning.  What we couldn't afford in material gifts, we could make up for with sentiment and a deeper understanding of the season.  We actually talked about doing away with gifts altogether to keep focused on what December was really about.  Then I started weighing the impending tantrums of our pubescent boys, and we thought better of that brilliant idea.  Sure, when your kids are 2, you can change all sorts of rules.  But not when they are full of lists of potentially bank account busting, electrified ear bursting gifts of all shapes and sizes.  You'd have thought they saw us win the lottery with all their planning and scheming of how to get this gift or that gift in this color or that.  Kids.  We absolutely love them.  But they don't come cheap!

I began to do some research in living more simply.  I don't mean not showering or washing my clothes, though come to think of it, that would make my day more simple.  I mean challenging myself to make better decisions for the long run.  Do I really need a grocery bill that's through the roof?  Do I need to turn the heat up high enough to wear light clothing indoors rather than put on a silky sweater?  And best of all, can I make small choices now that will enable us to work less in the near future, before our boys decide we're too archaic to spend time with?  I really want to do so much with my time, before I'm too old to do it.  Before I'm too stuck in my grind to want to do it.  And I don't want to be stuck in a job just to pay off some humongous purchase 30 years down the road.  I'm all for living - can I interest anyone else to come along for the ride?

Join me as I rumble down this new road.  So many of you have gone before me and some know no other way of life than being frugal and careful, and beyond that, there are people out there who wonder what's wrong with me that I want something other than what WalMart has to offer.  I hope to learn from you all, yet be a voice of fresh new understanding about making life matter.


Lisa said...

This is great! I too am always on the prowl for a bargain. I shop for clothes and kitchenware at second-hand stores. It feels weird to me to buy new. The big one for me is the grocery bill. Family of four with two teenagers! Feels like I am feeding an army! Plus I really try to buy the best quality I can, but sometimes it comes down to what I can afford. I look forward to seeing tips on how I can cut costs here and there in order to support my organic food bill!

Nancy said...

I, too, have been simplifying recently.
You probably know all of this but let this be information provided to
support you in your endeavor!
I went through my file cabinet and shredded any papers that were no
longer relevant. Literally, it took about a day. The cabinet had
been bursting so much I could no longer put anything in it. Papers
dated back to when we were married.
Kitchen cabinets- went through and tossed out anything where
expiration date had passed. Any food that is left I try to use, like
spices, and I don't buy anymore until gone.
Clothing- anything we don't wear anymore goes to Goodwill if still in
good condition. I do not shop for clothing we don't need. That goes
for anything else in the house. That is REALLY important. We try to
live on only things that are necessary, using everything and not
bringing anything new that does not pertain to day to day living.
This ESPECIALLY goes for impulse buys.
Crafts- I don't buy supplies until I have depleted what I have. I find
this makes me more creative and resourceful when I have only limited
choices. Also, I spend time doing something creative rather than
I am a trash picker so I recycle what's already out there- if and when
you all can come over (perhaps when you have your movie/dinner date in
Kendall or spend your Christina's Spice gift certificates?) you will
see that almost 100% of our furniture has been taken out of someone's
trash, or at a sidewalk sale, and refinished only with paint/supplies
I already have. I am glad for this because it recycles products and
does not put more demand in consumerism.
Groceries- we have a staple diet that does not really vary from week
to week. This way I know what I am going to spend and it rarely
varies. Also, we shop at Market Basket/Demoulas whose prices are
significantly less than Star Market/Shaw's or Stop and Shop. I do not
know whether you have one in your area but we shop the one in
Somerville. Obviously we are only two, but we spend on average $75 a
week. I find that my body prefers routine diet, also. And I make sure
that choices are healthy and leave out the junk food. Do NOT bring
junk food in to the house!!! (Except for special occasions for a
I buy containers that help to sort and tidy things in the house. It
is a long process to find a place for everything, but it is worth it.
My cluttered mind frees up when there is a place for everything. I am
sure you know that Target has good prices on this kind of thing.
Hope this helps!