You may remember that I committed to buy nothing new in 2016 with some allowed exceptions. A few people have asked me how it’s going, in which I’d say, pretty splendid. Outside of food and household consumables, the only new purchases I’ve made are three pairs of shoes for my teenage children that were for a birthday and a school related event. No doubt I could have bought the kids used shoes, but sometimes it’s best not to force my own aspirations onto others. My secondhand purchases have been few, but when I have a need to fill, the challenge has been fun.
On Sunday, my husband and I received an invitation to attend a black tie event occurring this Saturday. I had a week to pull together an entire outfit, from dress, shoes, jewelry, wrap, and clutch. I had intended to hit a few high end consignment shops near my home, but with a few minutes to spare on Monday I stopped by my local arc thrift store. I found the prettiest dress, that fit me to a T for a mere $13. I would have paid over $300 if I were to buy the dress new at retail price. My luck continued when I found a pair of shoes that complement the dress nicely for $12. The rest of the accessories will be borrowed from friends. In my former years I would have easily dropped hundreds of dollars on clothing only to be worn once. Instead I walked away spending $25 and I’ll be happy to donate the dress and shoes right back to the store so that it can be found and treasured by someone else.
The shift in my shopping habits and my commitment to buy nothing new has given me the ability to reflect back on an earlier self that consumed with less thought, using more money, and wasting unnecessary resources. I think what’s most surprising to me is that my wants have become fewer and more basic the less I consume. If you ask me what I might buy when my challenge is over, what comes to mind is a pair of running shoes and a new mattress. Although it’s a year-long challenge, I imagine the habits and values established will be with me for life.
The other day my daughter asked me what I might like for Mother’s Day. While this could be a great opportunity to put in a request for something new, the only wish that I had was to spend time with my three children. That feeling of contentment can’t be replaced. If finding contentment while consuming less is something you’re working towards, I’ve shared an update and five tips on my Buy Nothing New Year over at The Center for a New American Dream. For readers new to my site, you may be interested in checking out additional tips here and here, or for further inspiration check out my “buy nothing new” Pinterest board. If you have other questions, please fire away in the comments section. I’m happy to answer your burning questions.