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Topic: Frugal for a Year

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Subject: Frugal for a Year
Date Posted: 12/18/2008 9:18 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2008
Posts: 1,362
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I am getting ready to embark on a year of not shopping.  I tend to over-shop and spend way too much money.  I was inspired to not shop for an entire year by 1) my nearly overdrawn bank account, 2) the sheer amount of clutter in my house and 3) by the need to have a viable thesis topic that I'm actually interested in.  I thought about it and decided that the best way to solve all my problems was to give up shopping for a year.  Hopefully by the end of this experience I will have broken myslelf of the so-called "bargin shopping" to which I have become so accustomed.  Shopping and looking for bargins has been a part of my life since I was a child, some of my earliest memories are of haggling with vendors over the price of toys and beads at a local flea market. While this is a good thing, and I'm an excellent bargain shopper, this shopping has lead to a very cluttered house and impoverished bank account (even bargins add up after awhile)

I'm so happy that this forum was added, it goes along with my topic perfectly.  I'm going to be dealing with the issue of "want" vs. "need" and about how advertising impacts us as consumers.  I will still be buying those things deemed "necessary" for work or for life, but will not be buying anything which could be considered a luxury (such as going out to eat, going to the movies, etc).  In the interest of my mental health, I am allowing myself $20 a month of "mad money" which I can use to eat out or go to the thrift store.  I'm not sure about clothes yet, since these are technically necessary (I recently underwent weight loss surgery and am going down clothing sizes rapidly).  The only thing that I'm keeping luxury-wise is my cable television...I rationalize this because I have a nice 3 in 1 package and pay $100 a month for unlimited phone, internet and cable and I have to have internet and phone services for my work. 

If you have any suggestions for books which might be helpful / websites / people to talk to, I would appreciate it.  So that I can "afford" to get all the books I need to read for this project, I am offering an ongoing deal of a 4 for 2 on any books on my bookshelf, since part of the deal is that I cannot buy any new books from a bookstore, even for this project (another promise I made myself is that I will not get any new "for fun" reading books, even used until EVERY book on my bookshelves are read...who knows, maybe I'll have actually read some of those classics by the end of the year).  If you're interested in my little experiment, check out my blog (http://yearoffrugality.blogspot.com/) or the website I just created (http://yearoffrugality.webs.com/).  I'm quite proud of myself as I've never created a blog or website before. 

As January 1, 2009 draws closer I'm both looking forward to my year of "not shopping" and dreading it at the same time.  I will certainly be going shopping several times this next week so that I can get my shopping fix before the moratorium sets in.  Wish me luck!

Erin

Here is a link to my blog:  http://yearoffrugality.blogspot.com/  If you're interested in this project, feel free to follow along or post your own story.



Last Edited on: 12/28/08 2:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/18/2008 9:39 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 1,356
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If you need something I would suggest www.freecycle.com.  I decided this year to get rid of some stuff on that website.  I was disappointed to see the local Goodwill store throwing a bunch of stuff in the dumpster that had been donated.  I know some stuff needs to go in the dumpster, but this was flower arrangements that were in really good shape.  So, I decided to try to give my stuff to people who really wanted it as opposed to a charity who might throw it away if it does not meet their criteria.  I have also found that when my computer crashed and I decided to upgrade to a newer computer instead of replacing the harddrive, that people wanted what was left....monitor, cpu w/out harddrive, speakers etc.  It did not go in the landfill.  I am decluttering and helping perserve the environment :)  That gives  me a warm fuzzy feeling ;D. 

Good Luck,

Wendy

 

Date Posted: 12/19/2008 4:36 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,696
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You definitely need to read "Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping" by Judith Levine. Her family failed quite often, but it's an interesting picture of exactly how hard it is. It's also interesting to see the excuses people can come up with to justify why something is a "need" rather than just a "want."

A Year Without Made in China is a good one to check out as well. I had never realized before reading it exactly how hard it was to find certain products made anywhere other than China these days.

Date Posted: 12/25/2008 10:33 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
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A local lady did (or is still doing?) something like that. She vowed to not spend over $20 on any item for a year and blogged about her experiences. She has even been on the local news off and on. Here is the link to her site http://cheapbutnoteasy.net/ Some of the info would only be helpful to someone in my area, but she has lots of great ideas that you should be able to use as well.

Last Edited on: 12/25/08 10:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/26/2008 4:39 PM ET
Member Since: 7/3/2008
Posts: 284
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I would suggest that you set up a free blog to track your experiences.  I think this will help you when you go to write up your thesis later, since you might be more inclined to add in little tidbits in your blog that normally you wouldn't record in MS Word on your computer.  I like www.blogger.com, but I haven't triend any other ones.

Date Posted: 12/26/2008 10:49 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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thanks Bren! my library has that book so I requested it!

Date Posted: 12/27/2008 6:57 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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i might try this to degree . buy just hat i need  ...i love to do this too.

Date Posted: 12/28/2008 1:07 AM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2008
Posts: 1,362
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Thank you so much for all of your advice.  I've ready "Not Buying It:  My Year Without Shopping" and loved it, I'm between books at the moment, trying to get things set up for my project.  I just set up a blog available at http://yearoffrugality.blogspot.com/ .  I've put what I've written so far on there, and I plan on updating it frequently (I'm thinking of putting what I have written so far on there).  Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday...I know I took advantage of my last few shopping days :). 

Erin



Last Edited on: 12/28/08 12:40 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/30/2008 1:45 AM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2008
Posts: 84
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I loved reading about this family while they were going through their challenge. Very extreme. Not to spend anything for six months on food, power, water or transport.

http://www.lintrezza.com/six_months.html

Now they are building a house somewhere else, they've been at it for a while.

This is my favorite money blog. While his focus is a bit different from what you are aiming at, he's very interesting and posts almost every day.

http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/

What has worked for me has been to stop going to the Goodwill, since that was where I did my shopping. Since it wasn't much money, I was bringing home lots of Stuff. It has been 6 months, and the kids are finally starting to need new shirts. But for the rest, we've been fine.

Good luck!

Date Posted: 12/30/2008 11:10 AM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2007
Posts: 1,610
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My boyfriend and I decided a while back to do this and you can check out our blog at the links in SIG..

 

I became a follower of yours :)

Date Posted: 12/30/2008 11:56 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2006
Posts: 2,157
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We did this a few years ago as a Lenten sacrafice.  It was such a wonderful and challenging expirience to really think about each item we bought.  Even basics like food - what food do we need vs want?  I'm currently working hard to stop with "bargins" that I don't have a need for.

Good Luck!

Date Posted: 12/31/2008 6:01 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2008
Posts: 11
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I would recommend checking out the MSN Money message boards.  Liz Pulliam Weston had a challenge several months ago for a "buy nothing month".  I found some wonderful cost saving tips while reading the history from this message board.  She also later wrote an article on the group.  Another I would suggest checking for great tips is MP Dunleavey, as she hosts a forum called Women in the Red, although men are welcome as well.  This group is made up solely of people trying to get out of debt and they also share many great tips. 

If you want any good book recommendations let me know.I have spent the last year or so collecting websites with money saving tips, there are many great free resources out there if you are willing to dig for them. 

My best tip though is to always compare any item's cost to the number of hours you will have to work to pay for it.  I find very few things are worth a significant portion of my life.

Good luck!

 

Date Posted: 1/10/2009 10:11 AM ET
Member Since: 4/26/2006
Posts: 3,201
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Read The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacysn (Not sure spelling) it is a great reference book.

Here's a site I have belonged to for years great group of people on the message boards www.frugalliving.about.com

Also, www.stretcher.com also some great people of that message board.

Date Posted: 1/19/2009 1:49 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2006
Posts: 30
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There is a group of people on yahoogroups that also decided not to purchase anything for a year.  The group is called "The Compact".  They might be able to give you some hints.

Date Posted: 1/28/2009 12:08 AM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2006
Posts: 13
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I was going to suggest The Compact group on Yahoo! as well. Those folks are really committed (around the world) and the ideas are great, as well as the info on sustainable living. The File resources there, as well as those on the Freecycle San Francisco sites, are tremendous. It really can change your life to step off the consumerism bandwagon.

Date Posted: 1/28/2009 1:30 AM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2009
Posts: 69
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I see that you mentioned the cluttered-ness of your house. You might be interested in this group (http://community.livejournal.com/unclutter_2009/) on Livejournal. We're all taking on the task to declutter our lives this year and we offer support, as well as helpful links, tips, and thoughts. (It also helps cut down on spending when you start finding things you didn't even remember owning ;) )

Date Posted: 1/28/2009 8:13 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2008
Posts: 1,362
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I got the most amazing e-mail today.  Someone from a Kansas City news station saw my blog and is doing a story about Frugality and wants to interview me.  I'll keep you all updated on it.  I'm happy, perhaps this is one more step towards getting something actually published from all of this.  Wish me luck.

Erin

Date Posted: 1/29/2009 11:45 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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good luck Erin!

Date Posted: 2/12/2009 9:54 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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Erin, I've enjoyed reading your posts on the blog! Nice and newsy! :-)

Date Posted: 4/29/2009 10:43 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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erin, you give me hope . love blog.

Date Posted: 4/30/2009 11:34 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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Carol, did you see in her last post on the blog that she has a new website? I think she's added one entry..she got busy I guess and hasn't been as frequent. On one of the comments though there's hazel nut and I clicked on her profile and found her blog and I like reading it! she's in Canada and is saving for retirement in 5 years and trying to get rid of stuff.

Date Posted: 4/30/2009 9:19 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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yeah i saw that for may .

Subject: no spending for a year..
Date Posted: 5/2/2009 9:45 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2009
Posts: 11
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If you are truely not spending and are losing weight  start a garden and grow some of your own veggies.

even in an apartment you can do salad veggies in a container on a porch or window.

As to want versus need I used to tell my children when they were about 5 "you want to go play but you need to go potty..which one do you really need?"

Can you sew to resize some of your close as you lose weight?

I try to stay out of the walmarts I call it the 100 dollar store because if I go in that is what it cost to get out again. Do you have a store like that?

Have you charted every single penny that you spend for 1-2 weeks to see everywhere you are spending?

Don't forget to check out where you are driving as well excessive errands cost gas time and money combine where you can .

 

Date Posted: 5/2/2009 10:13 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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rhonda i agree about walmart. i only can go there once a year.

Date Posted: 5/2/2009 10:54 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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I avoid sam's club and try to stock up on my basics at walmart though not the weekly trips so much. it's dangerous territory there!

I'm also trying the gardening stuff..problem there is it's easy to go crazy at lowe's and buy enough plants to plant a field instead of a patio! but so far it's been fun..I have 2 pots of peppers - bell and hot - a zucchini, a  yellow squash and 4 tomato plants and a blueberry bush? looks like a tall skinny tree but think it's supposed to be a bush eventually..has 3 little berries still stuck up on top though! also put out some herbs and a few flowers and rearranged some other plants that managed to survive the winter!

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