Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Compact Part II

I'm back. Did you miss me? We had a stellar vacation. The kind that's actually relaxing. Well, as relaxing as possible with a 4 year-old and a 19 month-old in tow.
Things were off to a great start. Duet got car sick and threw up on herself and the car seat 10 minutes from our destination. After cleaning her off at the gas station (as if one can really clean anything at the gas station, but with limited options, this seemed like the lesser of the two evils), we arrived at the house ready to bathe the girls (particularly poor Duet). We soon discovered that I'd I foolishly left all of the toiletries which had been so thoroughly packed by yours truly at home. Of course. It only makes sense that the one time I forgot the toiletries would be the one time we were in desperate need of them upon our arrival.
This unfortunate circumstance led me to my my first compact test. I went to the store to pick up the basics (toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant, etc.--only consumable items, mind you) and placed some barrettes for Duet in the cart (because they were smaller than the ones at home which don't fit her that well) and a comb for Una (since we usually comb through her long hair when we condition it during bath time). I walked toward the checkout and realized that I didn't actually need the barrettes or the comb. Yes, they would have been nice to have, but I reasoned that we could find a way to get along fine without them. They didn't qualify as necessities in the same way that say toothbrushes and toothpaste do. So, I flipped a u-turn with my cart and placed them back on the shelf. It felt surprisingly good to stick with my plan. And you know what? Duet's hair was just fine in a pony-tail holder and after combing through Una's hair with my fingers, her hair was properly conditioned that night during her bath. Problems solved.

And now I'm ready to outline my plan of attack for the compact.
1. In reassessing my needs and wants I will ask serious questions before making purchases and when deciding what to keep/toss: Do I need it? Do I have another item that fulfills the same function? Do I have room for it?
2. In getting rid of things we do not need I will spend at least 10 minutes each day systematically going through the items in my house asking the aforementioned questions and removing the unnecessary items (i.e. clutter) from my home.
3. In limiting my purchases to consumable items only (read: no more clearance items from Target just because they're a good deal), I will simply not buy anything that we won't be using up. I've also recently started using cash for all purchases and have put my credit cards aside for the time being. I've read that people spend less money by using cash instead of credit cards.


Now to make it even simpler: I've decided that this week I'm tackling #3. By focusing on only one thing at a time I think I'll have a better chance of succeeding. This week each time I go to the store (or get the urge to shop online) I'll remember that I'm only purchasing consumable items. If it's not consumable, I'm putting it back. End of story.

Tonight it was nice to come home. I was even greeted by a long lost friend when I walked in the door: our bag of toiletries.


Liz said...

OK, so I totally have been trying to do this for awhile now. I know that you are not a big TV fan but I like watching this show called Clean House. It's the typical go into an extremely messy cluttered hole and toss, sell, and redo the place for the slobs that live there. I get so grossed out thinking that people live this way that it totally turns me off from buying and cluttering. I too have to have a place for everything and everything needs to be in its place. Yes I agree that it is hard to achieve this in our small places but I will never complain because compared to the living space that most people around the world live in I am living in a mansion. Also, living in London has taught me more about how crazy Americans are with consuming "things". Here people just learn to do without. Their houses are small,their cars are small (if they have one) and if they don't they have to figure out how they are going to get their stuff home on a crowded bus. Anyway this has been very long winded, but I am glad to know I'm not the only one in our "crowd" that thinks this way! Sorry about the toiletries, I have boys and they would careless if we left their tooth brushes at home. Me I NEED those things!

Dodge Party said...

way to have the will power to do it. I love shopping and I think this would be really hard for me to do. I think you have to be careful though and not go to extremes. You still have to have fun and sometimes spoil yourselves and the kiddos.

Mary Poppins said...

liz--i noticed the same thing when i was in europe earlier this year. the families live in smaller spaces and get by with less. i want to more fully embrace that mentality. since you get it, maybe you can help keep me on track.

dodge party--i definitely still plan on having fun. i just want to get away from the idea that we have to buy things to have fun and give rewards. how about celebrating with a trip to the museum or zoo? or spending more time creating something together (art project, cookies, etc.)? i'm viewing this as an experiment and am excited to see how it goes.

Steve and Kenna said...

I think this is great. I would love to be able to do this, maybe some day. Right now I do not have the time to hunt for good deals. For me when I go get something I thinks how much time it would take me to make or find it some other way verse how much it cost me to get it now. (I add my time into the cost.) It is a good idea to revaluate what I am buying, I love that you are doing this. It makes everyone who is reading it think about what they are doing.

Mary Poppins said...

kenna--i think that it's smart of you to factor your time into the cost of objects. that brings up another issue--what is the true cost of each item? when we factor in time, gas money spent to get to the store, etc. things can get out of hand. i'm hoping that by being mindful of my purchases i'll learn to think twice before automatically grabbing for something and putting it in my shopping cart.

Mrs Furious said...

Hey is the header new... or was I just too sleep deprived to notice before?!

Kids are killing me... I'll try to call you tomorrow!

Mary Poppins said...

mrs. f--it is new and i was posting about it as you were writing your comment. can't wait to chat.

Todd and Anna said...

Good for you Mary! Maybe you can add thoughts about your state of happiness while cutting back. I have heard that people who live with less are actually happier, have less stress and feel more connected with the people that are important to them. Let me know.

Mary Poppins said...

anna--excellent suggestion. will do.