no-buy 2019

No-Buy 2019: New (free) Couch!

One of the more interesting aspects of this project is that, even just three weeks in, I’m stretching my creative muscles to figure out ways to make things work. Part of that is being on the lookout for opportunities and being willing to jump at them when they present themselves.

Case in point– our old couch has been needing to be spruced up for a while. I have had the intention of getting it reupholstered at some point, but never got the chance with my furniture place in Chicago. Now that we are in San Diego, I needed to research a new place….and from the estimates I was seeing online it looked like it would be $2000+ to reupholster and repair the couch, as the springs were all but shot. OUCH.

Treasure hunting.

Fast forward to last Monday. One of my hobbies is checking the free section on Craigslist once or twice a day. It may sound like a strange habit, but the things people give away are always interesting and sometimes valuable. Monday I saw a sofa pop up that was intriguing– so I sent a message to the poster.

It was an antique reproduction, recently reupholstered in the seat, and it was stylistically similar to much of the rest of our living room furniture (Queen Anne, darker finished wood). The person wrote back that if we could come TODAY we could have the couch. Jared and I hopped in the car and drove right over.

What we discovered was a HUGE golden yellow sofa with carved legs that was NOT going to fit in our car. At all. It had gotten a little damp in some unexpected downpour and one of the legs had come off, but it was solid wood and the springs were perfect. So we decided why not?

It took us over 2 hours of waiting around Home Depot to get a flatbed truck to rent, but before too long we were back to pick up the sofa.

Unexpected kindness.

Challenge: the truck’s bed was full of dirt and we accidentally left our twine in our car, which was back at Home Depot.

And this is where the story turns into a tale of the kindness of strangers. While we were staring at the dirty bed (and look at this couch– if it got muddy there wouldn’t be a way to clean it!), one of the couch owner’s neighbors came outside to work on his car. I asked him if we might borrow a broom. At first he looked a little surprised, but when we explained why, he immediately went and got us one to borrow. Win #1!

The truck was clean (and we borrowed some broken down cardboard boxes to put under the sofa so it wouldn’t rub on the truck itself) but we were still without twine…and needing to go down and back up the valley to get home.

Leaving Jared with the truck and sofa, I walked down the block and saw an upholstery shop. When I went inside, the owner was there working on a chair. “This is kind of a weird request,” I said. “But I feel like you might know where someone locally might sell twine? We are moving a couch.” “How much do you need?” the man replied. “I’ve got this stuff that will last 30 years if you treat it well.” Reader, he unspooled YARDS of this twine and just handed it to me, free of charge. (I took his business card and will happily patronize his shop* in the near future.) More kindness from a stranger. Win #2!

We tied the sofa down, wrapped the cushions to make sure they wouldn’t slip, and drove the sofa home before returning the truck and retrieving our own car.

Add a little elbow grease…

When we got home, we put the sofa in the back yard to dry for a bit. Once the sun set, we brought it inside. We reattached the leg– it was a non-load-bearing leg in the back, and we had extra strength wood glue from another project that weekend, plus tiny tack nails to secure it in place. I attacked the few remaining damp spots with my hair drier, and boom: the sofa is installed.

It’s HUGE. You can stretch out completely on it without banging your head into the arm. But the pillows provide enough support you don’t slump either. It goes with our furniture (other than the coffee table which I’ve been meaning to re-stain anyway) and is in great condition. My friend said it was like finding a unicorn.

Oh, and Caspian thinks it’s his new bed.

no-buy 2019

Project: No-Buy 2019

*dusts blog*

*wipes away accumulated ads and other garbage*

*shines monitor*

Whew. Is this thing still on?

HELLO. I think the last time you heard from me was at least three months ago. I could check, but…. nah. Let’s just start this fresh.

This year is going to be a big one for me with a lot of moving pieces (thankfully my household is NOT one of those pieces– we’ll be staying put all year, thankyouverymuch!) and while last year was pretty much one long adjustment period (re-settling in San Diego! getting used to school! figuring out school/writing/other balance!), this year is going to be different. Blooming where you are planted means giving yourself ways to grow, right?

And so I’m starting a project. Well, sort of a project. Don’t consider it a new year’s resolution, even though it’s beginning in January. Rather, consider it as Year Two in San Diego.

Some background.

Usually around the time we’ve been in a home for a year, I finally figure out the space well enough that I can organize it and put everything where it ought to have been in the first place. I know that seems like a long time, but the reality is that we move often enough that I have to be very good at just Putting Everything Away so that we can get on with our lives.

It takes about a year to learn exactly how much space is in the spare closet, no I don’t like having my “pantry” on the bottom section of the cabinets, and I can’t reach the shoes in this closet if they are stacked that high. So a year into each place, I pull things out room by room and essentially re-move-in. (This is often accompanied by rearranging the furniture, which Jared has gotten so used to he doesn’t even question anymore why the entire living room set is piled in the middle of the floor at 10pm. This is just life.)

The one-year mark in this house happened to correspond with late December, so it gave me extra incentive to really think about the STUFF we have, and what we need, and how best to organize it. (No, I haven’t been watching that Tidying Up show on Netflix. Everyone asks, and I’m sure the show is helpful for folks, but this isn’t that.)

The Project.

Around that time I also decided that I wanted to try a new approach to my spending habits– and so the idea for a No-Buy 2019 was born.

The usual goal of a “no-buy challenge” is to not spend *anything* for a set amount of time, usually a month. Since I want to last a whole year, I had to make some adjustments. My goal isn’t to stop spending quality time with people or to miss all of the movies coming out this year (or otherwise make myself miserable)– my goal is to stop buying random crap at Target. Yeah, “it’s just $5” or “well, it’s on sale for $7.99” or whatever doesn’t sound like much, but that stuff adds up quickly!

My secondary goal is to really understand (and appreciate!) what I already have. And not only that– to USE what I already have! If I have something in excess (or in sufficient amount even), then I should use that thing and not purchase another one. Yes. Good.

Example: I have STACKS of shoes. (Literally stacks– I stacked them!) But when I have an event to go to or need to dress up, I spend forever fishing through my closet because I can’t find a pair to go with whatever I’m wearing. This is patently absurd. The problem isn’t that I don’t have the right shoes– it’s that I can’t FIND them!

Solution: I pulled every pair of shoes out of my closet (they are all in their original boxes, which helps tremendously) and organized them by type before stacking them back in the closet– in columns. Now when I want a pair of ballet flats? I go to the column of ballet flats and choose a pair! Need some pumps? There’s a column of them! Sneakers? Right here with all of the other athletic/outdoor shoes!

And here’s the magic part: I found shoes in the closet that I forgot I even owned. Shoes that I was so excited about when I bought them, but then forgot. It was like going shopping without spending money!

I’ve gone through my makeup, through my jewelry, through my books and movies, through EVERYTHING and organized it. I’ve even taken a sharpie and written on the boxes when they weren’t clearly labeled (see on the shoes?) to make SURE I know what I have. I want to USE this stuff!

I’ve rambled enough about the Purpose Of This Project. Now how about some nitty gritty?

Here are my No-Buy 2019 guidelines:

  • Purchase nothing on impulse.
  • Use (and use up) what is already here. Clean things out completely.
  • It’s okay to replace consumables. (Mascara runs out. Eyeshadow? I’ve got a drawer full.)
  • No shoes, no clothes.
    • Exemption: if I get a job (volunteer or otherwise) that requires, say, a uniform shirt.
  • Exceptions for:
    • Gifts for others (like the first birthday gift I will send in March to a friend’s kiddo)
    • Tickets to movies/shows/events under $50 (again– the goal isn’t to not DO anything, but to not buy excessive STUFF)
    • Pre-meditated purchases*
    • Organizational tools (like small shelves for the pantry)
    • Tools for repurposing old items (like paint to spiff up an old chair)
    • Haircuts and similar
    • Travel expenses**

That exceptions list is pretty important. I needed to be specific with myself and lay out ground rules, but I also needed to allow myself to function for the year. I don’t want to make myself frustrated after all! I want to be able to maintain this all year, and part of that is leaving room for fun things. The tickets exemption, for instance, is so I can still do fun things, but with a price limit so that I maintain balance.

And that’s it!

Why am I sharing this level of detail? Well, I thought it might be fun to document the year here with you all. I hope you enjoy coming along for this project with me. I’ve already had a couple of adventures, but I’ll save those stories for the next few posts.

Happy 2019!

 

*Pre-meditated purchases include things that I’m looking for long term but waiting for the right specific item– an example would be that I need a new jacket, but I want to get one that I like and that will last for several years. I’ll know it when I see it.
**I am planning some travel this year (more about it later) and would like to be able to bring back a souvenir without guilt.