Buy Nothing New: January Accounting

Remember I declared I wasn't going to buy anything new this year? Well, I am notoriously bad at not following through on resolutions, but that is partly the reason that I keep posting them on the blog. It is far more embarrassing failing in public than in private, so here is my first of twleve public monthly accountings. To keep me honest. And paying attention.

First, the WHY of not spending. To recap, endless production of pointless doohickeys is straining the finite resources of the world unbearably, while ruining the lives, habitats and livelihoods of the vast majority of the world's population, just so we can have another doohickey (I read a fab overview of the injustice of the capitalist system today. I do recommend it). Also, I have accumulated rather a lot of stuff already, and can probably concentrate on making do with the considerable largesse that life has already deposited in various untidy cupboards and storage spaces around my house..

Now for the accounting. Inevitably I have failed of course, but that's ok. Failure is something I am really very good at:) I have been trying to finish Walden (yet again, third time lucky..),  and  here is Thoreau on aiming at a lofty target:

In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.

So my aim was, not to spend on anything new. And how did I do?

Bought new: (this includes actual, manufactured things I buy for myself, the house, for gifts, and for the children. It doesn't include groceries, toiletries, medication, services, or what the children buy with their pocket money) 

One book, which I ordered at a local bookstore late last year, and which arrived in January.

One pair of thongs:

Picture added for illustrative purposes. What do people who don't live in Australia call this type of footware? Recently I was going to write about a domestic incident involving a red-hot, unpopped popcorn seed becoming lodged in my thong, and the resulting blister.. but realised that my non-Australian readers would be picturing an altogether different, and rather more painful first-aid moment. Anyway, my old pair of casual summer footware was a couple of years old and worn through. Bought these from a high street shop. Have no idea if it is even possible to buy such a thing secondhand, or if there are fairtrade versions, and didn't feel qualified to make my own. Thoughts? 

Another pair of thongs for Rosy.

One pair of sturdy school shoes for Posy. Bought them at a local school outfitters, which has been the go-to school uniform shop in town since dinosaurs roamed the countryside. Children sit on an old wooden church pew to get their feet measured for new school shoes.

School supplies. The Man graciously took the girls to buy exercise books and drink bottles and annoying plastic folders. We did manage to reuse a good deal of stationery from last year, which was excellent. The Man also remembered to restock us with printer ink cartridges, which I am always forgetting. Oh, and the girls also persuaded their dad to buy them some more blank cards to make even more home made cards, that should keep us in gift cards until about 2017.

One text book for Rosy. Thankfully everything else she needed was handed down by her older siblings.

I think that is it.

Bought secondhand: Nothing springs to mind... I tried to buy a second-hand school uniform for Rosy, but it was given to us instead:)

Given away: What goes around, comes around. This month I gave away a couch and coffee table to two of The Boy's old school buddies, now uni students, who were using mattresses and cardboard boxes as furniture, as you do. I also gave away a bunch of Posy's outgrown clothes and school uniforms, only to have new hand-me-down uniform for her and Rosy turn up the next week:)

So, I failed at the high target of buying NOTHING, but certainly I bought less than I have ever bought before in the month of January in my entire adult life. I must say it was very relaxing not going near the January sales. Usually I panic and become convinced I need to buy towels or sheets or something, because you know, I might run out of manchester, but this year I just ignored the sales and played Connect Four with Posy instead, and therefore had all that left-over money to spend at the vet and the dentist. Because that is so much more fun than spending money at the sales..

One month down; now let's see if I can buy even less in February. Can you tell I am enjoying this? I really hate shopping. It is a bit of a dream challenge actually. It's a free pass never to go to the shops again. Well, I say this, but it's actually not true. The truth is, challenging myself not to pop into a shop to buy something new off the shelf at the very moment I need it, means I am going to have to do some forward planning. Which is so not my forte. Gifts, children's clothes, my clothes. Where are they all going to come from? My one pair of skinny jeans are wearing out in a rather embarrassing place. I was whining to The Girl about this, and she suggested if I leave them under my pillow the Shopping Fairy might come and replace them with a new pair while I am sleeping. It's worth a try..


CJ said…
You're right, thongs are something else entirely over here in the UK, and you definitely wouldn't want anything red hot lodged in them. We call those feet things flip-flops. You've done really well on not buying much. I'm not a big fan of shopping either, I never feel very good afterwards. It's like the reverse effect to having a lovely country walk, which always leaves me feeling positive, energised and happier. Spending money seems to leave me with anxiety. I shall look forward to seeing how you do in February. CJ xx
Heather said…
In California we call those shoes thongs. However, when my daughter was growing up she hated that I called them that thinking that if I somehow referred to her "thongs" in public that people would think I was talking about her underwear (as if I would buy my child thong underwear!). Anyway, on my quest to become The Best Mother in the World, I started to call them flip flops and still do to this day, although I feel silly using that term. I applaud you for your no spend efforts in January. You are doing great!
Anonymous said…
Stevie-boy calls them flip-flops too. I call them thongs. Red hot popcorn in your thong would hurt no matter where you were choosing to wear it at any given time. Kudos on the not buying anything. We ended up having to buy quite a bit this term thanks to our new course at TAFE and having to upgrade technology. I am sure that this constant upgrading of technology has nothing to do with performance and everything to do with add on profit margins that are factored into the lower prices of the initial purchase. Much like those big square torches that you buy with a battery and that when the battery runs out, it costs you more to buy a new stand alone battery than to just buy another torch and battery combo, build in obsolescence is a terrible thing. Can't wait to see how you go in March but I will give you time to catch your breath first as it's only Feb 4th and you may as well enjoy the rest of February first ;)
Anonymous said…
Definitely thongs at my house (we used to call the other sort of thong a g-banger for some unknown reason, but certainly not mistakable for the type of thong one wears on ones feet. Now I am of a sensible age, my underwear is much more sensible.)

I don't like the footwear kind of thong because I don't like stuff between my toes. It grosses me out, man! I sometimes wear Sir Reg's thongs because of the fear of metal filings in my feet, but otherwise, bare feet all the way!
Tracy said…
I think there are always going to be things that are required. I think the trick is discerning whether something is a NEED or a WANT. In this day and age it seems the two words are used interchangeably. I often challenge my children about their use of NEED when really they are discussing a WANT. In my current season of unemployment we are revisiting these definitions!!!

I think you've done marvellously well so far.

For me - since reading you blog for the first time a couple of weeks ago - I bought a 50c 2nd hand wine glass for hanging my dangly earrings on, and a 50c Women's Weekly vegetarian cookbook (a newer style one), from which I have already cooked. Pretty good for a buck!

Btw - when reading back through your archives I saw that you had lived in PNG as a kid. Me too!!! I lived for a year in Mt Hagen and then five in Wewak. So, so loved it there.
Bek said…
Well done. You did better than me on the buy nothing new front, but funnily enough I also bought thongs. Mine gave up the ghost by the strap breaking and what Aussie girl is worthy of the name without a pair of thongs?
Jo said…
CJ, yes, exactly, spending money in the shops really doesn't feel like a healthy, humanising activity.
Heather, you are totally there on the best mother in the world quest:)
Fran, yes, aargh, technology. I ordered a new laptop, you know, at an actual shop, but it hasn't arrived yet, so I am wondering if a) my limping along laptop can just keep limping, or b) if I can find a second-hand one instead.. I am going to quietly pursue this in Feb, and can hopefully cancel my order..
Miss Maudy, I am a bare feet girl too, but resort to thongs to walk the dog, because I am too lazy to put actual shoes and socks on..
Tracy, hello to a fellow PNG girl! I lived in Mt Hagen from '73 to '81, then visited in school holidays from '85 through '88. Also visited Wewak a couple of times. When were you in Mt hagen? Maybe we went to the same primary school?
I hear you on differentiating between needs and wants. But what I am really excited about with this project is seeing how many needs I can provide for my family without resorting to buying a new manufactured product. It's kind of fun trying to work my head around a new way of thinking:)
Bek, you are so right, thongs are a complete patriotic necessity, but why can't I buy an Australian-made pair? A friend of mine told me this morning that if I lived in South Africa I could buy a pair made out of old tires. Now there is a niche craft market..
Anonymous said…
Hi Jo,
I'm with you on the shopping (though I used to LOVE to shop before kids!) I've been trying to shop ethically/locally/2nd hand for several years now, and have been pleasantly surprised how many Aussie-made versions of clothing there are. Just bought (my only Jan purchase): some fab undies for me and my daughter, and a pair of leggings from Tuffy's online All Aussie-made, on sale, beautifully made, and I didn't have to leave home to do it!! Oh, and they have 40% off at the moment, and free shipping!! My son needed new boxer shorts for sleeping in and I just don't have the skills to sew them, so I bought 2 pairs on Etsy from a woman in W.A. Don't forget Etsy - there is some great, and cheapish stuff there too.
I'm sure my thongs are made of recycled rubber, yes they are (
There is a good website which is great when you are looking for new clothing. I didn't know that Puma were a huge ethical brand (so that is the only sportswear I will buy my kids - they have to cough up their hard-earned if they want Nike!)
Cheers, Loretta
Anonymous said…
I think thongs are a necessity! (They call them jandals in NZ. Too funny. At least flip flops, although sounds babyish, is very onomatopoeic.)

And those plastic envelop things. I think they breed. But not in a way that leaves them useful. They go all crinkly and scrunchy.)
Jo said…
Loretta, that is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! You have clearly been thinking (and doing something practical) about this issue for quite some time. Brilliant that you only bought underwear new in January, brilliant that it is Australian made. I have looked up all those websites, thanks for the heads up:)
Lucinda, jandals, that is excellent. I am totally using that name for thongs from now on..
Anonymous said…
My absolute pleasure! Being a former librarian, research is my business­čśä Also, you said you needed rashies for your girls? I bought mine from I'm sure they used to be made in Aus, but it doesn't mention it on their website. Anyway, good quality, and not expensive, and they don't fade.

If you are on FB check out Pip Lincolne from Meet me at Mikes, she has set up a page called A year of ethical fashion (also links on her blog)
Jo said…
Ooh, thanks for those links too Loretta. I am totally impressed that those rashies are tested by the Radiation and Nuclear Research Agency. Because that is what you look for you in swimwear:) So far I have solved the rashie problem by ignoring the whining.. after a while it stopped...
but this looks like an excellent place to find a new one when necessary. Of course, I'm hoping to find some 'as new' in the op-shop for my summer thrifting miracle:)
Thanks for all that great research. I will know who to shout for in a research emergency now xx
Unknown said…
My husband is roflhao over your first aid moment.
Jo said…
Glad to provide some comic relief hon:)
Aly said…
Uncle Doug would like something brand new for his birthday from Target! I'm sure birthday gifts for favourite, and only brothers, won't be held against you!
Jo said…
Aly, I already have a birthday present for Doug! I just haven't posted it yet, because, well, you know me. I guarantee this is a present he could not find in Target..

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