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Monday, January 21, 2008

The New Deal: No Buying for Three Months

Last fall, we felt like we were spending too much money on random things. I'd take a walk and come home with a dress. Alex would surf the web and end up buying a book. Our apartments felt cluttered, and it seemed a little ridiculous.

So Alex and I made a pact: We wouldn't buy any "stuff" for the first three months of 2008. We could get food and toiletries, but we couldn't buy clothes, books, CDs or home decor. I thought it might be hard, but it's actually liberating. I don't feel that weird pressure to buy something when I go into a store, and I'm excited to remix and experiment with the clothes and decor that I already have.

Even though the pact ends on April 1st, I have a feeling we might stick with it for many months to come....
(Photos by Barbara Kruger and Andreas Gursky.)


kevin. said...

good idea. i should try this too. my apt is exploding.

Mary-Laure said...

No book purchases for 3 months? I'd rather go without food - I actually spend more, per month, on books than on food. Plus, without me, would go under in no time.

Elissa said...

I'm not sure if I commented before, but I'm Elissa and I read your blog. :)

I force myself to do buying moratoriums all the time, and it's one of the best things I could do. I keep a little notebook with me and jot down things I might want to get when the time is over. By the end of the month or three months or whatever, I almost always end up throwing out the entire list.

Also during that time, I try to get rid of as much as I would be purchasing. It's even more cathartic when you combine the two.

kimberley said...

Joanna, that is so great. And even more so that you'll probably inspire others to do the same.
I like the way you think :)

Mme. Fabuleux said...

I am sure this would be an insanely good feeling. I am an extreme consumer; so I am sure it would be freeing to move in the opposite direction. I am excited to see how it progresses- if you have the urge to shop two months in- or if you will feel even better about the choice not to buy buy buy.

In(side) the Loop said...

I think I need to buy this. I have a problem. If I see anything in the $30 or below range that I want online...I typically buy it right away. It's only $30 after all. It all adds up!! And I have been out of room in my house for quite some time! You're so inspirational. xx

Cher Ami said...

I should have thought about that this weekend, I went into a shop I really wasn't planning to (only because it was across the street from my original destination) and came out spending WAY too much :/

mette koldkjær højlund said...

this is soo necessary. Ill have to adopt the plan. We just bought an apartment last year and are getting married this summer so we need all the savings we can get, and while I have cut back on clothshopping I could do so much better.
Looking forward to hear how it evolves! maybe Ill join the movement.

Prêt à Voyager said...

That's why I'm over Christmas. I love giving gifts, but I hate giving gifts when I have to- it's like buying just for the sake of buying something. (Aren't spontaneous gifts more fun?...and I'm not as on point as you are with your awesome gift guides).

Good luck with the shopping sabbataical!

Love the Gursky photo. Reminds me of the first huge print of his I saw in the Pompidou.


Joslyn said...

Joanna I love that you're doing this. You may have just inspired me to extend my original “30-day no spend” goal. Knowing that other’s are doing this solidifies my resolve, like in a weird way you don't want to let each other down by falling off the proverbial wagon.

Anonymous said...

where does eating out at restaurants (restaurant week soon!), getting drinks while out, buying a bottle of wine for dinner, taking a cab instead of a subway etc. figure into this? are you just not spending on clothes/books, etc? I find most of my extra money goes to the above mentioned things.

Joanna Goddard said...

thanks everyone! :) and joslyn, that is awesome, we will inspire each other then....

anonymous, good question. we decided that we'd let overselves spend money on "experiences," like dinner and drinks out, but we try to keep things inexpensive. for example, we've been eating dinner at home much more recently, and when we do go out, we choose inexpensive, preferably BYOB places. and i have been making my own lunches instead of going to a deli, and we are trying not to take many cabs. like, we walked all around on saturday even though i was so sleepy!

Chelsea said...

I really like this idea. Maybe I will start in February:)

erica said...

my two weaknesses are eating out and clothing. i don't ever feel bad about buying handmade because i'm supporting artists and making my home beautiful, but honestly, i have too much clothing and i hate cooking.

so i'm trying to live with the clothes i have and learn how to cook more dishes.

i could never stop buying books, especially since i like supporting used book stores. but it wouldn't hurt to borrow novels from the library more often.

good luck with the shopping moratorium! every time i try, i fail miserably. i lack self-control...

Traci said...

that is such a great idea! i lived in slovakia for a short time a few years ago and felt relieved to be removed from so much consumerism. however, when i moved back to the u.s. i fell into my old ways. you've inspired me to take a break as well... thanks for the inspiration!

JLC Studio said...

This is a great idea! I should give it a try...I think my problem is more going out to eat and spending money on that though...I think I need to cook at home more. Keep us updated on how you're doing (have you cheated at all?).

Robin said...

This is good stuff. Lately I have not been as tempted to buy things like clothes/books/stuff because I am feeling really cramped in my apt. But I need to be more careful with my spending on eating out and entertainment. I'm glad to hear you're having such good success with it already!

So are you going to hand-make Valentine gifts for each other?

Joanna Goddard said...

thank you so much, everyone for your amazing support!

JLC, i cheated one day by buying some amazing high-waisted black pants from Club Monaco, but then I regretted it and returned them.

robin, yes! alex and i are thinking of having a retro date for valentine's day: getting a milkshake w/two straws, taking photo booth photos and going to the movies. we might (gasp) skip presents! we'll have to see.....


jess said...

i am so with you on this one. i now live in a state (western australia) where most stores are closed on sundays. it is amazing how much money we have saved in just eliminating one day of shopping. plus we spend way more time at the park, the zoo, outside hiking around and seeing family. so much healthier. i think even when we move back to the states we will have a family rule of no spending money on sundays.

Mary Young said...

It's amazing how liberated you will feel by not spending as much on "stuff" for awhile. I started my company 3+ years ago, and I had to cut my expenses big time but I swear I'm no less happy not being able to buy all of the things I used to. I think we are on temptation overload nowadays with so many consumer-driven magazines, internet shops and blogs. We don't need all that "stuff" anyway!

When you are tempted, try to remember the true value of what you are wanting to buy vs. what else you can do with the money. (like traveling and experiencing not just accumulating ;-)

Love your blog, I read it every day!

vic said...

This is great and it's something I'd love to try but there is no way I could do it. I suffer from a severe condition I call PMSS (or Pre-Menstrual Shopping Syndrome). Seriously, at certain times of the month I HAVE to shop. It's the only thing that stops me from curling up in a ball and sobbing or yelling at my long-suffering husband.

nichole said...

What a great endeavor! My husband and I are always working to keep our lives simple and uncluttered, and we keep our purchases to a minimum. Or we'll go out shopping and give ourselves a limit. We try to see who can come in lowest to that limit! It's a way to keep ourselves in check. Great inspiration!

JHAYNE said...

what a great idea, good luck! we try to keep our discretionary spending as low as possible, but one "rule" i use is that say if i buy something, i also need to donate/sell something. and we're big into doing regular purges of stuff we just don't use. it is very liberating!

katastrophik said...

some many great ideas! i think i will try a spending moratorium and "stuff" purge for my birthday resolution!

Heather said...

I'm doing this too! At least clothes-wise...

Anonymous said...

I am on an austerity budget,too - but bc of a huge unexpected co-pay on my recent surgery. Make sure you have good health insurance out there, friends, and that you have a cap on yearly out-of-picket expenses!!

lbs said...

Ahhh...I'm so glad others play these games with themselves as well. Sometimes I feel crazy when I go into a store, try a bunch of stuff on and then feel proud of myself for walking out with nothing. What am I doing? I don't know. It's a little crazy, but as soon as I tell myself no buying I can't keep to it at all, so I've just tried to adapt a thrify attitude towards things unless I absolutely love them. and sometimes I remind myself that just because that t-shirt at Target is $10, someone slaved away for a pittance to make it in some 3rd world country.

I really like Elissa's comment on keeping a notebook and writing down the things you see and then waiting to see if you really do want them at all!

Great post!

P.S. Has anyone reading this blog heard of "Freegans" Slightly radical, but interesting.

Joanna Goddard said...

i know! that notebook idea was great. i told alex last night; i think we will do it! xo

Dana said...

Diven the depressing news about the economy I feel just reading blogs on home decor is like shopping vicariously though you all! The Chinese New year is Feb 7th and your suppose to hang red lanterns and clean your home, soo instead of buying, purging is a good thing! Kung Hee Fat Choi!

claudia said...

great idea! i'll join the trend and try not to buy unnecessary things. we are in that way, for example we borrow the books from the library (also new issues) and afterwards IF the book deserves a place in our messy book stacks THEN we buy it. or we wait for the sales for clothing (try to save with 5 cell phones, 2 teenagers, 1 high-tech husband, 1 dog, 1 house, 2 cars, &so on). however...thanks for being in the same path!!

jen said...

you are SO BRAVE!

Joanna Goddard said...

ps. this is really interesting....

100 Percent Cottam said...

oh, i SO need to do this. i feel the same way, i've been such a spender lately. time to curb that. thanks for the inspiration.

Meghan said...

Hi there--I've been doing something similar, and agree that it is completely liberating. Owning things can be stressful and when the stuff turns in to clutter that is the worst. If you're also into crafty things, check out the wardrobe refashion blog--I think you'll find many like-minded people.

MissK said...

Good luck with the plan,I'm not sure i could do it,or I would complete a list of the things I saw and go back and get them on April 1.
I'm a new visitor to your blog,love it!

Abbey said...

I've been meaning to comment on this post -- I think it's genius!


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marisol said...

i just came across this post and i couldnt stop thinking WHAT A CHALLENGE that might've been! :O i do that all the time and so does my boyfriend, he just told me he is getting his shipment of some shirts he bought "ON SALE" lol we are moving in together soon <3 and i think this pact would be such a great idea :) i'll make sure to share this with him :)

Marisol...besos :)

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