For the 3rd year in a row, I have tracked all the things I bought for myself. (You can catch up on the last 2 years here and here, if you want.) It started as a personal goal about reducing the amount of stuff in my life and focusing my spending on the things that I value the most: experiences and creative activities, mainly.
I actually quite enjoy tracking the purchases I make throughout the year too. The very idea that I know I have to (by my own rules) put all the things on my list and post about them later is sometimes enough to keep me from buying what I don’t really need in the first place.
My self-imposed rules are that only physical items count, and I don’t include supplies that I use for activities, such as yarn for knitting, or consumable things like face cream, or gifts.
Here’s what I bought this year:
- Magazines – I bought a handful of magazines for various reasons, and I don’t think I’ve read all the way through any of them. I still intend to, but the fact that I had to put it on my ‘to do’ list probably says that I shouldn’t bother buying any magazines next year.
- Ceramic log – This item is a little decorative thing I bought from my former pottery teacher. She was selling a bunch of her work and I wanted to have something to commemorate my brief foray into pottery with her. It’s pretty much been sitting abandoned on a shelf since I brought it home though, so it might get shared away at some point.
- T-shirt – Merchandise from a program called Nations Skate Youth that I wanted to support; it’s also a great shirt and I wear it a lot. Who doesn’t need another black t-shirt? Typically I would add a concert T-shirt or two every year, but that hasn’t happened so …
- Headbands – I thought my new do was going to include wearing a headband, but I was wrong. I bought 3 from a Canadian maker on Etsy and though I don’t use them as I had planned, I do require a headband to hold my hair back when I’m washing my face. They should last forever, since I use one for about 2 minutes each day, and I have 3 of them.
- Books – I bought a total of 3 books this year; 2 of them from a local independent bookstore that I wanted to support, and 1 used book I bought online. I searched every library database for the last one and it wasn’t available anywhere so I finally just decided to order it.
- Interchangeable needles – For the past 10 or 15 years I have been knitting everything on a set of interchangeable knitting needles and one of the sizes finally needed to be replaced because the connector was wearing out, so I bought a few other extra replacement parts at the same time. I should be good for about 20 more years now.
- Eddie Vedder CD – This was a pre-order so I won’t even have the album until next year, but I’m putting it in this year’s post. I’m sure it will be worth it.
That is very boring list!
And yet, I don’t really feel like it was a hardship of any kind to limit myself to buying just those items. I don’t even really feel like I was limiting myself, I was just considering all purchases very carefully and only buying the things I really had to have, for whatever reason.
And even after all that, if I was to go back and do it all over again, I’d probably only buy about half of the things.
For the first time this year, I also tried to keep track of the things we bought for our household. I might have missed a few because I haven’t historically paid as much attention to these items, but the things on the list are all pretty reasonable and practical, nothing too extravagant.
We have realized that just about anything we need is going to be available in our share group if we either wait a while, or outright ask if anyone has it. And it feels so much better to be making use of something that’s already out there wasting space in someone’s house rather than buying new, plus it doesn’t cost any money.
I am quite sure that within the boundaries of our little city there is more than enough of everything that anyone could ever need, it just needs a bit of redistributing. There are a few thousand of us working on it now, so we should be in pretty good shape soon!