Thursday, April 26, 2007

Anti-Consumer Challenge

On Tuesday night I was attemping to tidy up our study, and I ended up spending an hour going through our receipts folder and shredding any and all unnecessary and outdated receipts. I filled up two grocery bags with shredded receipts, some of which dated back to '04.

Skip ahead to Wednesday when I was searching for a rubber stamp to loan to a friend and realized that I can't find anything in my craft area because I've apparently bought half of Hobby Lobby without ever using any of it.

Fast forward to today, where I spend several hours going through the front hall closet and realized that, collectively, our family of five owns 26 jackets and coats, which is especially ridiculous considering we're in South Texas.

And finally tonight, I discovered that my son and his friend destroyed the brand new Spurs trashcan that I had just bought yesterday. I found myself extremely angry over a $12.99 metal trashcan that the boys had apparently sat on or jumped on several times until it was flattened.

Even though I've never liked the gross level of materialism in America, I've become one of it's major consumers. I can't remember the last time I ever asked myself whether I really needed what I was buying. Scrapbook paper is on sale? Great, I'll stock up. Not in the mood for a sandwich at home? No problem -- I can grab something at Taco Cabana. And I won't even admit how many pairs of shoes I have. I get so excited when I actually find a pair of shoes in my size that I tend to snatch them up whether or not I actually need yet another pair of summer sandals.

So here's my plan. I've decided to go on a fast from consumerism. Starting tomorrow morning, I'm only going to purchase the basic necessities for my family. Groceries, but only the minimal basics and only from a list based on a definite menu plan. (I'm also going to challenge myself to get creative and use up the stash in my pantry and freezer.) There will be no drive-thru meals (unless I'm using a freebie coupon). There will be no impulse buys just because it's on sale or tempting. There will be no decoration purchases, clothing purchases, or scrapbooking or craft purchases. No books. No CDs. Basically, no stuff.

I'm not going to give myself a timeline, partly because I'm just curious to see how long I can last. Also, I don't want to beat myself up too badly if I don't last a week.

Here's the tough part -- I work as a mystery shopper. Even worse, tomorrow I have to go to Target for a job. I'm required to spend $50 in cash, so I'm going to keep myself accountable by only bringing $60 to the store. And I know we need a new cordless phone so that will be the bulk or entirety of the purchase. If the phone is less than $50, I'm going to do my darndest to find an actual necessity, such as supplies for Caelyn's upcoming birthday party.

Also, I have to bend the eating-out rules just a little bit since I have several restaurant mystery shops in the next couple weeks. Sometimes the shop only covers two adult entrees, but we often need to take our kids and would like to feed them, too. So, I'm going to allow meals for the kids when I'm doing a mystery shop, but we're going to try and share meals and limit the food waste.

I can't even begin to imagine how hard this is going to be for me and the kids. Tune in for further reflection after I last a few days.


Amy Soupiset said...

You have inspired me! I have also been cleaning up around the house and have been overwhelmed by the abundance of items that I am attempting to store in my very small house. I just reorganized my scrapbooking supplies and I don't think that I will ever need to buy anything again. I think that I will join you in your challenge.

Stephanie said...

You go, girls! We all have way more than we need. I love the feeling of purging things from my home, knowing that it's that much less I'll ever have to organize again.

You could just try my extreme tactic that we've been using the past 6 months: have no vehicle to use during the day, and have absolutely no credit cards to use ever again! Ha! Are you having heart palpitations yet? Trust me, it works, and it only hurts for a little while... ;)