5.05.2008

Steady Diet of Nothing

For a long time now, I've been trying to exercise serious control when it comes to spending money. You may remember that when I turned thirty (see number 7), I changed my approach to shopping. I cut way back on my "just looking" trips, and tried to avoid planning my free days around hitting shopping destinations (and if you live in New York City, that can be tough - there are shopping destinations galore there). And I desperately tried to shake a nasty buy-and-return cycle I'd gotten into. Wanting to live a little more simply played a big role in our move and job changes last year, and cutting down on the number of things that we bring into our home is a part of the simplicity I'm striving for. That, coupled with the fact that I'd really love for us to be home owners one day, has led me to develop into quite the penny pincher.

Through all of this spending discipline, though, thrift stores have been a sticking point for me. When everything costs less than five bucks, it's easy to rationalize purchases - my cupboards full of adorable little chotchkies prove it. But lots of little two, three, four dollar purchases add up, so I've instituted a little safety net of a game for myself at Goodwill to rein in the purchasing. I scope the houseware aisles for things I'd formerly not be able to live without (bright kitchen plastics, wood trays, etched glasses, mod mugs, enameled pots and pans, various pyrex pieces...); I pick up and carry around my finds for a while, collecting several pieces as I go; and when I've spent enough time with the beauties, I arrange a little still life with them in an empty spot on a shelf, where I hope someone will find them and appreciate my editing job. I've been able to leave the Goodwill empty-handed for almost nine months now by using this little technique. I will admit to spending $3.97 (no sales tax in Oregon!) a couple months back on an irresistible set of espresso mugs for my caffeine-loving husband and a vintage Heller tray for myself, but based on the almost daily use of these pieces, I'd say it was worth it:


Now, for the sake of a working little simplicity into my blog space, I'm going to be cutting back a bit on the text in upcoming weeks (my gosh, I really go on and on - when in someone going to finally tell me to shut my pie hole?). Beki and Erin have inspired me to shoot more - photos, that is - and talk less. Success with the shopping diet, now to try the rambling diet...

14 comments:

mariss said...

Yo, Susan. Shut your damn pie hole! Sooo just kidding. I love when you write about your life. But if you think you need to take some time off on the verbage, go right ahead!

Great job on buying less. I have that in effect too, but may need to splurge a little on work clothes with my Dubya money...

Knitsonya said...

I love that you walk around with your purchase and then stage them - conceptual art. I've been avoiding the buying bug as well. Jeez. For me it's the raw materials as well as the finished goods.

beki said...

Girl, I WISH I had your strength on the buying front. I've been bad, bad, bad!

Jamie Watson said...

The staging technique you are implementing is way cool! But I'm really commenting to tell you that you don't ramble too much! Honest. Your words are very good. Of course, everyone loves your photos so any form of expression will be fine I am sure, by your readers. Cheers.

Ashley said...

For the record, I like your pie hole open :)

house on hill road said...

i could take some shopping trips from you!
love your photos AND your words. whatever you do will be great!

Mrs.French said...

I love a woman who uses the word "chotchkies." Honestly, one of my favorite words. I am not sure such a wordsmith should cut back on text...

Mom said...

Dear Suzy,

Please don't shorten the verbage! With the 3 hour time difference between Portland and Cleveland, phone calls are difficult to coordinate! I like to read about what you're thinking and doing!

I have cut down somewhat on my buying and returning but must confess to a $41 credit on my last Macy's bill! You will be pleased however to know that I took that blue pitcher off the chest in the dining area never to see the light of day in our house again.

Still do need to weed out though some of the other chotchkies so am looking forward very much to your next visit home. Dad, of course, is always thrilled to see stuff leaving and not being replaced!

Still reliving the great week we had with you and Barry, remembering your wonderful hospitality, the delicious meals and most of all just being together. Love, Mom

angie said...

oooh! I love your idea of gathering, arranging and leaving at the goodwill. I'll be looking for your good work and I might do a little of my own too. I was thinking I would like to include more pictures as well … writing is very time consuming. Thanks so much again for coming to the 24 hour show and for checking out my Constellations work! I will be visiting you at Tumbleweed sometime this week.

silvercocoon said...

i love this...shopping-diet. i, too, have been feeling the need to simplify, de-clutter and buy less (or perhaps buy more meaningfully?) ... have you taken pictures of your empty-self arrangments of non-purchased items? i would love to see them!

silvercocoon said...

empty-sHelf... empty SHELF arrangements.....

amandajean said...

see, I love your ramblings, as you call them. I also love your photography. so lucky me, I win both ways.

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

So, as you know I worked down the street from The Goodwill Outleyt for years, where those couple dollar items are pretty much reduced to 50 cents- UH! The temptation! I drive by our town's Goodwill to and from work- UH! The temptation! But then I think about the stuff I need to get rid of (yet to have that post-move yard sale) and have been pretty good at resisting temptation.

shy_smiley said...

Must be some kind of spring thing because I, too, am feeling the need to simplify, declutter, spend less... my family is definitely feeling this not-recession. I barely shop anymore, whereas I used to visit my local thrift stores every other day. I have a friend who welcomes this not-recession as a sort of natural correction for those who have been living beyond their means... an interesting concept though I'm not sure I fit that category. I prefer to think of myself as caught unawares. Still.