Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not Buying it- Could You Go 1 Year Without Shopping?

This morning I got a reminder e-mail about a pledge I signed to Go One Year Without Shopping. It means just that, go one [long painful year] year without buying something unless you absolutely need it. Could you do it? Can I do it?

This challenge was inspired by Judith Levine's Book "Not Buying It". As a social experiment she goes one year without buying anything but necessities. No new clothes, treats, or even entertainment.  Released following former president Bush's plea for Americans to perform their patriotic duty and shopshopshop (to show the terrorists we've won, naturally!) this book tackles the tough questions.

Can the economy survive without shopping? Are Q-Tips a necessity? I can't wait to read the whole book.

 With an enormous amount of will power I resisted these thrift store toys. But I want them all, Want Want! Can you argue that Dinosaur Finger Puppets and kitty bobble heads are a necessity?

Judith Levine doesn't lecture or take her one-year vow of shopping abstinence too seriously. Instead she says,

"Starting January 1, 2004, Paul and I will purchase only necessities for sustenance, health, and business. ... I won't preach the gospel of the Simple Life or dispense advice on how to live it. I have no illusion that forgoing this CD or that skirt is going to bring down consumer culture." 

Although there was an understandable slip or two Judith miraculously sticks to her guns for a year.

With my thrifting addiction, a year without buying will burn my soul. If I honor my pledge (like I should) this may become more of a "junking" blog than a thrifting blog, where I eye the Craigslist's "Free" section vigilantly, watch for curbside treasures, and swoop in on the discarded furniture of friends and family like a bird of prey.

I'm sure that if I commit to this experiment cold turkey it'll beat me. I don't spend much, I don't go out to movies or concerts. But I do love to support local business and haunt a couple of my favorite cafes, restaurants and bars. I might have to pathetically make my goals as follows:

1. No retail purchases other than food and hygiene products (easy enough)
2. No concerts or movies (cheating, I'm not sacrificing anything here)
3. No buying "unnecessary" art prints & pieces (ouch, my soul)
4. No beer from bars (not sure if I can do this...)
5. No Thrift Store Purchases (NO! Can we just set a tiny budget?! Torture!)

As for not eating out, I don't know if this is possible for me. I work so much that it's incredibly hard to make time for cooking without sacrificing sleep or sanity. I don't do it often but I'm so busy that picking up food keeps me from staying up 'til 3AM cooking or becoming malnourished on cereal-dinner (So sick of cereal-dinner!). 

You know what, I'm failing at this experiment already. But I want you to think about this too. How much could you live without? What can you cut, even for a month instead of one year?

This kind of thinking encourages more thoughtful purchases. You buy only what you need and love. And this is for the best, there's no room in your life for anything else.

Here's the challenge blog: A Year Without Shopping. It starts September 1, 2010. If I commit this gives me time to upgrade some broken furniture and purchase other "non-necessities".

* * *

[Couch Update] The couch I blabbed about in yesterday's post is now mine! The owners kindly offered to deliver it to me tomorrow. It looks much better in person but has a fatal flaw, cat claw damage to its beautiful vintage upholstery. I'll ask for advice on how to repair it and post pictures in a future post. I appreciated all the feedback on it!

This post is linked to: Welcome Wednesday / Works for Me Wednesdays / Creative Therapy Session / Show and Tell / Penny Pinching Party / We Did it Wednesdays / Make it Yours Day / Whatever Goes Wednesday / Room to Inspire/ Women Who do it All / Hoo's Got Talent / We Can Do it Cheaper / Transformation Thursdays


  1. I'd like to think I could, but I know I'd really struggle with not buying craft/sewing supplies because "they're a good deal" or they're "just cute" and "I might need them some day." Interesting proposition.

  2. No thrift store shopping? Ouch!!

  3. Hi there! Visiting from We are that family. This sounds like a brilliant but amazingly difficult challenge. I'd probably work my way up...a week, a month, a few months. A year?!? Wow.

  4. I don't think I could do it! I would get hives without shopping. Thrifting has been my savior throughout my unemployment and I have learned I enjoy it more than regular shopping because of the HUNT.

    Girl, that couch has me jealous! Green green green with envy!!! Such a lucky find.

  5. Wow. You are seriously brave. I KNOW I couldn't do it, and I"m not a big shopper. :)

  6. That sounds really hard. We go to plays, the zoo, and museums occasionally and I think that is a great use of money. I could go without clothes shopping for myself, but my kids are growing like weeds. I don't think I could do it for a whole year, maybe 3 months though. Good luck!

  7. No way no how! Shopping is my cardio! :) If you can do it more power to you!

  8. A year is extreme, But I DO think I'll attempt to survive 1 month. I'll write a point-by-point so all can laugh at my withdrawal symptoms.

  9. Hi there! This is Skylark of the Wordpress blog "YearWithoutShopping." Your blog looks very interesting, too! I'm excited for this journey ahead, so feel free to email or message me anytime.

  10. I couldn't do this. No, I wouldn't do this. I have tried it for a week and it was great. Not for a year though. Maybe when my kids are older?!?

    Good luck!

  11. I read that book about a year ago and I've done plenty of shopping since then. : ) I did recently make a pledge to myself to try and go a year w/o buying clothes for my daughter. She has more clothes than she can wear and so much is given to us for her. I will probably have to buy new tennis shoes and church shoes at some point tho. Those are harder to come by.

  12. I read the book a few years ago and loved it. It really makes you think about what you throw money away on without thinking and opens you up to how you can use more of the free entertainment around town. I've gone a month or two, but that's about it.

    I think it would be a lot harder these days with the family, but we did just cut our cable...

  13. I read this book 3 or 4 years ago and loved it! I need to re-read it. I've tried going a month, it is hard! I want to try it again this January.

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