I’m very excited to feature my friend Lindsay Terrell as a guest blogger this week! When Lindsay responded to one of my posts with her own story about online shopping, I immediately asked her if she’d be willing to share it here. I will fully admit that while I spend much less time shopping in actual stores these days, I still do more than my fair share of online window shopping, that every now and then devolves into purchasing. And unlike shopping where you have to walk into a store, face another human being, pull money or credit cards out of your wallet, and then take the bag home and either hide it or admit to your partner that yes, you bought more stuff, online shopping can be done much more stealthily and feel much less real. Until, of course, you get your credit card bill. Read on to hear about Lindsay’s online shopping adventures…
Finding Lagom resonates soundly with me. It is a relief to know that someone else is ardently wrestling with the same demons as me, even while yearning to lead a simpler and more meaningful life. Unfortunately, this isn’t a story about a mostly sane woman who lost it for a few weeks. This is a cautionary tale about how I already have too much stuff, and how I managed to add to it with what I like to call “eBay Roulette”.
It actually began innocently enough. Since 2011, I have moved across the country twice, and that type of moving can really make a person pare down. I also became pregnant and gave birth. When I was pregnant and my body was getting bigger, shopping wasn’t any fun. And while I lost weight swiftly as my daughter grew, I knew many of my clothes would never fit again. I gave away scads of clothing over those two years and promised myself I would stop shopping in stores that produced clothes which lasted for two whole washes (like Forever 21). My pile of giveaways was about 3’ tall and was comprised of clothes that no longer fit, cast offs from my sister, and clothes I had found at Goodwill, “Naked Ladies” Parties and in Free boxes (each of which could spark their own blog post).
But I recently decided to leave my job and was feeling low. My favorite mom blog was encouraging me to treat myself to a new pair of boots. I thought back to the last time I had bought myself a pair of high-quality, long-lasting, fashionable boots that I knew I would love. It had been over five years! But the boots I really wanted cost nearly $300 new, which I knew I couldn’t justify if I wasn’t going to have a steady income in the near future.
I checked on Craigslist – none in my size. Then I ventured onto eBay for the first time in a long time. I was rewarded with pages and pages of beautifully crafted genuine leather boots in various shades and price levels. I set my sights on my favorite pair and typed in my maximum bid: $200. And then, heart rushing, I hit “Confirm Bid.”
I was suddenly filled with adrenaline and panic. I would be quitting my job in a matter of weeks, with no prospects in sight, and my husband was in between gigs as well. We were supposed to be budgeting, being tight and smart with money, and I had just blown between $150-200 on boots. I was too embarrassed to share my concern with my husband, but I was on pins and needles. Moments later I had texted my confession to my sister, my mom, and my college roommate.
My sister texted back that she had recently committed a shopping binge herself, my mom offered to buy me the same boots in black, and my girlfriend squeeeed and asked for a picture of the boots. Clearly I would not find penance or solace in my choices from these sources. Fortunately, two hours later, I received an email letting me off the hook: I had been outbid. I vowed not to go after them again.
But soon enough I was wallowing in the same self-pity that I had been feeling before the boots bid began. I opened eBay in my browser again just to surf–I call it “faux shopping”. This method has soothed my gimmies before–it’s like window-shopping, but since it’s online and you have to pay for shipping, it’s typically enough of a deterrent for me. But today, I really needed to know that something would be arriving in my mailbox soon to cheer me up. I needed something to look forward to.
So I started to make up rules. I wouldn’t buy any crap. It had to be something high-quality, well-made, long-lasting, and genuinely beautiful. And I wasn’t allowed to bid more than $10. I’d bid $10 and leave it alone, leaving the decision of whether or not I’d be awarded the beautiful thing to fate.
Thus, eBay roulette was born.
I began bidding on dozens of items. Drawing logic from my experience with the boots, I didn’t believe I would win many, if any, of the items, and the gambling was such a thrill. I come from a long line of people with very addictive personalities, but for the most part I’ve largely seemed to escape it. I’m the only one in my family who doesn’t smoke, and with the exception of a few wild nights in college, I don’t seem to be drawn in by booze. But I may have found my Achilles heel in gambling. I ended up “winning” dozens of times, and more than once I broke my $10 rule on items I really wanted.
This went on for weeks. At first I didn’t tell my husband. I was less concerned about the dollar amount I was spending than I was embarrassed about my behavior. I was still working – in fact I actually had to email the women who watched my daughter during the day to ask them to hide the packages, or I’d have them rerouted to my office. But my husband and I aren’t dishonest with each other, and I soon told him about my ridiculous behavior. He was entirely understanding and compassionate. Speaking with him about what I was doing and why I was doing it turned out to be the real salve to my pain, and I stopped bidding.
It was a relief to come down from this particular high. The bid, the win, the shipping notification, seeing the package arrive, opening it, and trying it on had all been a rush with several high points. But while I wish I could say that I fell in love with every piece, it’s so far from the truth.
At least half of what I’ve won in eBay Roulette I have been really disappointed with. The $10 rule seemed to release me, and I really didn’t pay much attention to the first rule – that I had to LOVE it. In fact, I even passed up one item I really did love, because it didn’t fit within the $10 price range.
My pile of giveaway items is now 4 – 4.5’ tall, about the height of my dresser. I know that I will get good resale value on many of the newer items that I won, but I still have to iron them, load ‘em into my car, schlep them around to resale, and wait for judgment. Are these treasures really worth that, or anything at all? I doubt it.
Today marks a full year that I’ve been writing this blog. I can’t believe it. I’ve started and dropped so many blogs in the past, so I’m really proud that I’ve stuck with this one, and I’m grateful that it’s given me a place to reflect on this journey.
I have learned so much about myself in this process, and keeping a blog has made me accountable to my goals in ways I never thought it would. There were a lot of times when I was tempted to buy more stuff, or hang on to things, or go my usual lazy route and not bother to declutter something, but my desire to keep an accurate record of what I was doing, coupled with the thought of having to admit that behavior on my blog (even though I wasn’t always successful), did wonders to curb some bad habits.
And I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised by how completely nonjudgmental people’s responses have been. I know there are probably those who do judge me, but they have been nice enough to keep it to themselves. If anything, the feedback I’ve gotten has been wonderfully supportive and often filled with empathy and admissions of similar behavior, which has made me feel less alone.
So I guess the big question is, did I find lagom?
Nope, not yet.
But from what I have learned in a year of focusing on this goal, I think achieving a state of lagom in just 12 months is not really realistic, especially having spent most of my life functioning from a mindset of constant acquisition. I am so proud of what I have accomplished in this year, but as I was noting in a post earlier this week, what I thought was lagom only two months ago continues to change as I continue to change and see my stuff in a new way. Things I thought I loved and couldn’t part with only a month ago suddenly feel superfluous, and letting them go is no big deal. I am more acutely tuned in to what I value, what I actually use, and what I truly love than I have ever been in my life.
The fact I’m not “done” with this journey doesn’t bother me. I remember hearing Marianne Williamson say something once about how the distance between the person she currently was and the person she wanted to be felt less depressing when she considered the distance between the person she currently was and person she had once been. I may be far from my ideal, but compared to a year ago? I’ve come a long way.
So what have I learned? Here are the big things:
- I always believed having tons of options where my possessions were concerned would make me feel happier, fuller, and more secure. But it actually causes me a lot of stress and unhappiness. I feel like I SHOULD be using all my stuff, knowing how much money I spent on it, and not wanting to be wasteful, but it’s very clear that I have my favorite things, and that is what I always want to reach for. Having a smaller set of options, of only things I really love (or sometimes, even just one perfect thing I really love), has made me feel a lot less anxious. This has especially been true where my wardrobe was concerned, which was also the category where I did the most acquiring. I currently have a smaller wardrobe than I’ve had since maybe high school, and while there are some items I would like to replace, and one or two specific things I want to add, I am happier with what I own right now than I’ve ever been.
- Keeping things out of guilt (it was expensive, someone I like gave it to me, I pined for it but once I had it I didn’t love it as much as I felt I should) is stupid. Staring everyday at an item that has guilt attached to it only serves to KEEP YOU FEELING GUILTY. Do any of us need more reasons to feel like that? I don’t think so.
- What you’ve convinced yourself is valuable is in most cases worthless. I have felt foolish more than once this year for hanging on to things that I thought were worth something, only to take them to resale or list them on Ebay and have them go for pennies or be rejected completely. There are less than ten possessions in my life that I know have actual value, and I have insurance on all of them because it’s obvious they’re worth something. Everything else I own? Highly replaceable, with the exception of purely sentimental items.
- Letting go of stuff is synonymous with letting go of fear. Fear that the giver will be angry or hurt, fear you might need something just like it someday, fear that you will find out later it was of great value (see previous point). Trusting the future is scary, but not as scary as all the fear thoughts. I’ve given away a ton of stuff this year, and I don’t regret any of it. And as far as I know, no one has been upset with me for letting it go. In many cases they probably don’t even remember giving it to me.
- Forcing myself to use up large stashes of stuff I already own has made me VERY careful about what I buy now. If I don’t think I’m going to love it and want to use it to the last drop, I’m hesitant to buy it. This is a huge shift for someone who frequently bought stuff out of boredom or mild curiosity.
- I don’t need new things to feel better when I’m upset. Shopping used to be my favorite therapy. I still get a thrill on the occasions when I get to buy something new, but that’s partly because now I have researched and dreamed and thought about the purchase for so long beforehand, it feels really exciting and special. I have mentioned that 2013 was a really horrible year for me, and sometimes I wonder if it felt that way because it really WAS that bad, or because for the first time in my adult life I didn’t deal with my problems by shopping. But I made it out of 2013 all in one piece, and I didn’t rack up my credit card to cope. I’m proud of that.
- I love having some empty space in our house. There aren’t tons of empty spaces yet, but I’m really excited about the few we have. The fact that our guest room closet is now always guest ready is still a huge novelty for me – I sometimes like to just go in and gaze at it. Yes, I know, weird. But it’s true. And you have to celebrate victories like that.
- Selling your unwanted stuff is a pain in the ass. When I was on the fence about buying something in the past, I used to just think, “Oh, if I don’t end up liking it, maybe I can sell it.” And because we’ve needed the money, we haven’t been in a position to just give stuff away. But it is a serious drag to go through the process of standing in line at resale, or listing things on ebay. Now I will actually look at stuff I’m considering buying and think, “If you don’t end up liking it, you are going to have to try to sell it”, and that is often enough to make me reconsider.
- Nothing has been more exciting to me this year than watching our debt steadily go down. We are still not out of the woods, but we have made incredible progress. If we manage to stay on track with our payment plan, and nothing disastrous happens, we should be out of credit card debt by the middle of this year. It has been a really frustrating and often discouraging process, but we are committed to seeing it through. I no longer feel a horrible sick pit in my stomach like I might truly throw up when I see our credit card bill.
- I am lucky to have a partner like Ron who has embraced and in some ways surpassed me in this process – I am amazed at how unattached he can be to his things. If I were trying to do this with someone who was highly resistant and attached to things, I don’t know how much progress I would have made. But Ron has been wonderfully supportive and open to the changes I’ve been making, and as a team, I feel like we’re pretty kickass.
So what’s next? I initially thought I would just keep this blog for a year (if indeed, I even made it that far), but I’ve decided I’m going to keep on writing. I still have a lot I’m continuing to discover, and having done some of the hardest work this year (learning to control my shopaholic urges, getting serious about paying down debt), I’m excited to see what kind of changes I will make. I’m also curious to see if I will backslide when I am out of debt and have some disposable income again. When I started this blog, I said I could never see myself as a minimalist. And I still think that’s probably true, but I’ve also learned that minimalism has a much broader definition than I ever realized, and it doesn’t necessarily mean bare white walls and a single piece of furniture. In fact, I think “lagom” and minimalism are pretty close terms, they just look a little different from person to person. Who know where this path will lead me.
I’m also going to start posting guest blogs this year. People who read Finidng Lagom have contacted me with some great stories about their own struggles with stuff (some resolved, some still unresolved), about getting out of debt, about shopping addiction, and about experiments they’ve decided to try in their own lives based on stuff they’ve read here. I love hearing those stories, and think other readers will too – it’s inspiring to know that there are so many of us puzzling through this issue together.
If you’re a longtime reader, thanks for the support – especially those of you who commented, liked, shared posts, or talked to me about it in person. It’s nice to know you’re out there. I hope 2014 finds everyone happy, healthy, and lagom!
Holy cow…I’m 9 months into this blog and I haven’t quit!
I’m happy to say that I am in a much better place than I was at the six month mark. June SUCKED – I tried to come up with a nicer adjective for it, but couldn’t. It just sucky-suck-sucked. But a lot has changed in three months, and I’m hoping the worst is behind me for this particular year.
One thing that has been making a impact on my lagom mission lately was reading The Joy of Less by Francine Jay (which I got for free, thanks to leftover money on a gift card and the reselling of some books). Ms. Jay is a true minimalist – to see a picture of her “office”, click here. I feel pretty confident in saying I will never be that pared down. But she is also very clear in her book that minimalism looks different for everyone, and she comes across very nonjudgmental about the whole thing. I think I said early on in this blog that I felt I would never be a minimalist – that’s why I was so focused on finding my “lagom”, as opposed to my “inner minimalist”. But the more I read up on minimalism, the more I’m learning that lagom and minimalism are much closer than I realized, since being a minimalist is about only keeping what you use and love, which essentially translates to having “just enough”. For so long I pictured all minimalists as having nearly empty austere white rooms, but I’ve learned now that minimalism can be cozy and colorful and comfortable and have a decent amount of stuff, provided all of it is in service of your life.
Her advice on clearing out different spaces in your home is quite inspiring, and has been driving me to take on projects with new energy. A couple weeks ago Ron and I went through our entire pantry and several of the shelves in our kitchen and cleared out any food we weren’t eating and several kitchen items we weren’t using as well. We consolidated a bunch of like items together and reorganized our cupboards so the stuff we use the most is now easily accessible, and we even moved a few items that weren’t getting a lot of use but were things we wished we used more so they are now easier to access as well. If time passes and those things still go unused, we probably won’t keep them.
I’m still working on getting my wardrobe under control – as fall is now definitely upon us, I took all my summer clothes out of the closet and replaced it with my warmer clothes – or, more accurately, I tried to. I had more winter clothes packed away than I have available hangers and space in the closet, even with my summer things gone. I also took the dry cleaning in (which had been sitting in a bag in the basement for maybe six MONTHS), and when it came back, I realized I had no room for those items either. I am determined not to buy more hangers and cram stuff in to make it work – instead, I’m continuing to question everything I’ve kept, and if I try something on and reject it for something else, I seriously consider whether that item deserves to stay.
We are still out of debt on both our personal cards – well, kind of. Ron is still out of debt, mine went up a little. I had to buy new tires for my car and that was about $500 – ye-OUCH. I knew that expense was coming, and I will be able to pay it off in a couple months, but it does reduce the amount I can contribute to our joint credit card debt for the next couple months. The good news is I feel very in control of that amount, and I had planned for it – although the dealership did try a bit of a bait and switch on me, which resulted in me bursting into tears until a kinder, more experienced salesman interved to get the price back under control and calm me down.
It seems like at least one item leaves our space every day, and it’s not very often that new ones come in to fill the void, and if they do, it is a very carefully planned, discussed, and thought out purchase. In fact, yesterday I stopped by the bank on my way home to deposit a check, and noticed that my debit card was missing. I searched my purse, my car, and all over the house and couldn’t find it anywhere. I went online to see if maybe it had been stolen and to see if there were any weird charges, and saw that the last time I had used it was on Thursday when I had lunch with my friend Julie. I called the restaurant to see if they had it, but they didn’t, and then I remembered what I had worn that day and checked the pocket of my jacket and finally found it. I was relieved to have my card back, but seriously impressed that from Thursday to Monday, I had not spent any money, and hadn’t even noticed or felt deprived! This is huge growth for someone who in the past never went a day without bringing a shopping bag of some kind into the house.
There isn’t much else new to report – I have a lot of the same cravings for little luxuries, like manicure/pedicures, going out to eat whenever we feel like it, or being able to afford fancy versions of basic things, but other than that, I think we’ve finally settled in to this new way of looking at our stuff and our finances and we’re okay with it. Ron and I do spend a lot of time fantasizing about what we’ll do when we are out of debt and have disposable income again, but other than that, my want monster is sullen and quiet and resigned to not being fed several times a week. I do find that now when I think about buying something – especially from my typical category of clothing/shoes/jewelry, instead of just wanting it and imagining how much I’d love owning it, I am now thinking “where on earth will I PUT that?” since I know my closet is already too full. Or if it’s expensive, I wonder how much I’d actually use it, and if I didn’t use it, I think about what a pain it will be to list that item on Ebay or take it to resale. It’s keeping me in check.
And even I can admit that is a very good change.
My husband and I seem to generate an insane amount of trash. Granted, 85% of what we toss goes in the recycling bin or donation pile, about another 5% is compost, and the remaining 10% is landfill bound. It’s possible things are at a fever pitch lately because we’ve been doing a lot of purging, consolidating, reducing and using up stuff we have – but I am always amazed when garbage day rolls around how much stuff we haul to the curb – especially since we’ve been buying so much less this year.
Every now and then, there is something that can’t be left curbside – it actually needs to be taken to the dump. Because it’s a bit of a process, and you have to pay to dispose of items there, Ron lets a few things accumulate instead of running out every time a dump-bound item pops up. I get that. HOWEVER. There are times when he will let a pile of junk stack up in our side yard until it starts to resemble the set of Bill Cosby’s live portion of the Fat Albert show. Weekend after weekend passes with no action. It drives me crazy. When I walk downstairs in the morning and look outside, that grungy junk pile is the first sight I’m greeted with. So I start nagging. And nagging some more. And then yelling and giving ultimatums.
Recently, we were deep into the nagging phase and on the edge of the yelling/ultimatum phase over a discarded dehumidifier. It had broken down a few months ago so we had replaced it, and Ron had actually made a trip to the dump since it had landed in the junk pile, but for some reason the dehumidifier got left behind. I was annoyed, and getting more irritable by the day every time I looked at it.
And then a couple weeks ago, I got a recall letter in the mail from Kenmore, who had manufactured the dehumidifier, because apparently it was a known fire hazard. I showed the letter to Ron more out of a sense of “Whew, weren’t we lucky ours just quit working and didn’t burn our house down”, but he took the letter and did some online research. I heard him laugh suddenly from the other room.
“Guess what?” he grinned. “As a part of the recall, they’re offering a refund of $100 for the faulty dehumidifier. And all they need is for us to send in the cord.”
“Oh my God!” I cried, jubilant. “A hundred bucks? That’s awesome! Thank God we still have it…” I trailed off as I saw the smug look on Ron’s face.
Okay, so I guess he won that round. Do I advocate continual procrastination about taking stuff to the dump because it worked out this once? No. No I don’t. (So don’t get any ideas, RON). But a little windfall of $100 was really helpful at this point, and I couldn’t wait to spend it.
We’ve been hard core about putting every penny towards our credit cards lately, and we’ve made tremendous progress. However, we’ve also had a growing list of things we’ve been putting off replacing due to lack of money. I asked Ron if he minded if we used this unexpected cash to get some things on our list, and he said go for it.
Our downstairs bathroom has been bugging me for a while. We moved from a one-bathroom house to a two-bathroom house six years ago, and we chose to put our money into the decor of the master bath, and just used the decor from the bathroom in our old house for the downstairs bath. Our new downstairs bathroom was tiled in very cool black and white schoolhouse tile, so I figured anything would go in there. But if I’m honest, it does look a bit hodgepodge:
I’ve never bought one new piece of decor for this room. I recently got rid of the fish-top basket you can see in the bottom left hand corner of the picture, and that already opened the room up more. Here’s what I did to the rest of the room:
- Bought a black and white shower curtain on Ebay, for the exact amount of money I had left in my PayPal account ($11).
- Bought two plain, nice quality, all white hand towels for this bathroom – up to this point we’ve used a mix of different towels all from mismatched old sets. I moved the old ones to the laundry area to use as cleaning rags.
- Replaced the blue toilet lid cover with a black one
- Bought a black tissue box cover to pick up the black accent even more
- Bought four nice quality tub mats, two for the downstairs bath, and two for the master bath, so now they are all the same and when we do laundry Ron does not have to be confused as to which goes where. I tossed out all the old mismatched and fraying tub mats we’ve been using.
- Got rid of the rug, since that bathroom gets a lot of foot traffic and the rug just tends to end up looking dirty and gross
I think it looks prettier, and less cluttered – look:
Although nearly every item I bought was on sale or purchased with a coupon after a lot of comparison shopping, I did go about seven dollars over my $100 budget, but I’m not going to sweat it.
Oh, but you know what I WILL sweat? The fact that that dehumidifier is still sitting outside waiting to go to the dump…
Back to nagging…
Ever since I pared down my handbag collection, I’ve been itching to get the other big suitcase out of our bedroom that is currently holding all the sundresses and nice dresses that used to be in the guest room closet. But to do that, I need to do some serious closet purging, and I am totally overwhelmed by that idea. Every time I try to start, my brain kind of locks up and I feel like I can’t make even simple decisions, so I give up and do something else.
But the other night I couldn’t sleep, so rather than toss and turn, I went online and did some research about the processes other people have gone through to pare down their wardrobes. And I came across a few articles about the “capsule wardrobe” – specifically the “French capsule wardrobe”, that seemed pretty interesting, and noticed one woman had written a book where she covered the subject pretty extensively. After reading some excerpts and her blog, I decided I wanted to read her book as well.
And since I recently rekindled my love affair with the public library, I am proud to say I checked for the book there first. They did have some copies, but they all were currently checked out until May, and there were about 13 holds on all their copies.
As I have said before, I am all for saving money and not brining more things into my life, but I have to tell you, I HATE to wait. It makes me super double extra beyond irritable. And while I recognize my impatience is not an attractive trait, and I try to work on it, I have a long way to go, and it’s not going to happen anytime soon. And waiting around for 13 other people to read the book I want to read right NOW? Uh-uh. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. I had to find another way.
So I decided to sell some of the books I already owned in order to afford the new one I wanted to buy. I went online to Powell’s (where I always sell back my used books) and saw they had a copy of the book I wanted, and it was even a used copy for $16.95 (new it retailed for $23). Perfect. I scoured my bookshelves and amassed a stack of books to help my cause:
Two of the books in this stack I’d never even read. One was signed by the author, which was the only reason I had kept it, and the other was a collector’s edition of a book for which I had paid about forty dollars. I had caught the very end of the movie version of the book on television one night, and was intrigued so I decided to buy the book to discover the rest the story. I never got around to reading it though, and a few years later, YouTube hit the internet and I was able to watch the entire movie for free. Nice waste of forty bucks.
I was pretty confident as I carried my books to the buy-back counter that I would not only be able to afford the book I wanted, but I might make enough in trade to buy TWO books. Or I could take cash and use some of it to buy the book, and use the rest to buy myself a little treat, like a new lipstick or something. I had the money spent twenty different ways before I even hit the front of the line.
When it was my turn, I handed the book buyer the autographed book separate from the others saying, “This one is signed by the author,” and waited for her impressed expression.
She glanced at it, and wrinkled her nose a little. “Yeah, well, for an author like that…it doesn’t make much of a difference.”
I was a little taken aback. I had specifically held on to that book because it was signed, and that made me feel it was valuable. Trying to rally, I showed her my collector’s edition book. She typed some numbers into the computer, and watched the screen with a furrowed brow, her eyes darting back and forth.
“Well,” she sighed, “That book USED to be considered a collector’s edition, but with the internet now, it’s too easy to find a copy of it. I can buy it from you as a reader’s edition if you’re not super attached to it.”
This was getting depressing. And concerning. Those two were the ones I actually thought were valuable and would definitely sell. I numbly agreed to selling the collector’s edition as a reader’s edition, and then watched her rapidly sort through my other books, the majority of which she pushed back across the counter at me as “no thank yous.” In the end, she only bought three of my books.
For a total of $7.25.
I dumped my unsellable books (including the autographed one) into their recycle box, found the book I’d come there to buy, and went to the registers. With the buy-back money, I had knocked down the price to $9.70, which was better than $23, or even $16, but still not free as I had anticipated. I was pretty bummed.
As I waited in line though, I thought about how many times, while doing resale of any kind – clothing, books, music, ebay, craigslist, even yard sales – I have been surprised to find out how little value my stuff actually has to the rest of the world. Things that I have held on to for years because I felt they were special or valuable have often been items I couldn’t even sell for a dollar – I’ve had to just give them away. Which makes it seem a bit crazy that I’ve spent so much money and time and energy acquiring all that stuff, and storing it. I am the one who assigned it value and gave it space in my home. To the rest of the world, it’s just crap. And no one wants my crap. And when I think about it that way, some of it is starting to look more like crap to me too.
So in the end, I got the book I wanted and I didn’t have to wait for it, and I’m finding it really useful as I approach my closet cleaning. I also ended up with less crowded bookshelves since I got rid of twelve books and only bought one new one. And I got a really valuable reminder about, well, value. For $9.70. BARGAIN!
In the past week, I’ve read nineteen plays, finished a book, and have been working non-stop on an audiobook that I thought was due April 22nd, but is actually due April 12th (I realized this on April 3rd). Nothing like panic to make you feel alive, right? Needless to say, if you’re looking for me between now and the 12th, I’ll be in the sound booth.
I did, however, take some time to call my dad yesterday, because it was his birthday. I love my dad. He doesn’t read my blog (unless my mom reads it and finds a post she thinks he’ll like, and then she prints it out for him to read), but from talking to my mom about it, he has an idea of what I’ve been trying to do with this lagom quest, and how I’m trying to get my finances in order. My dad worked full time while my mom stayed home with me and my sister, so we were a one income family for most of my growing up years – my mom went back to work part time when I was in middle school, and then full time when I was in high school to help pay for me and my sister to go to college. But prior to that, we lived pretty simply, and I don’t have childhood memories of being deprived or wanting things all the time – my sister and I knew our family’s financial situation in a very matter of fact way, and we knew that if we wanted to buy stuff, we had to save our allowance/birthday/Christmas money to buy it, or once we were older, we had to find a job to make money to buy it.
When I was talking to my dad yesterday, I told him that the way I’m trying to live right now makes me think of how he and my mom must have had to live while raising two kids on one income. He told me that before I was born he used to work for Household Finance – I think he was actually in their repo division and hated the job – but he said he and my mom had followed the advice offered by that bank to people who were in dire financial situations about getting out of debt and staying out debt, and it had worked for them. My parents pay their credit cards off in full every month, they own their home, and have been in a financial position to pay for braces, college, and help me out with a down payment on a house. They clearly understand how to make their money work for them better than I do, so I’m excited to hear what he has to teach me about it. Once this audio book is done, I’ll be paying him a visit, and I’ll share what I learn.
While I was talking to him yesterday, he cheerfully said something to the effect of how he always has a wallet full of money these days is because he doesn’t really go anywhere or do anything and doesn’t really want anything. Right now we’re in synch on the not going anywhere or doing anything point, but I guess time will tell if I get past the not wanting anything phase. Perhaps age does bring some benefits.
Because he doesn’t really want anything, I always end up sending him money for his birthday, to be spent when the fancy strikes him. I know some people scoff at the money/gift certificate thing, but I personally love it. It doesn’t feel impersonal to me – I would rather have money to spend or save on something I really want, love, or need, rather than stuff I don’t want that I just end up getting rid of. April kind of snuck up on me this year so I was a little stressed about how I was going to come up with any money to send him, but then inspiration hit.
I had some jewelry from Tiffany’s that was very nice, but I just never wore it. I think I bought a couple pieces myself, and some was from Ron as gifts. It had just been sitting in my jewelry box getting tarnished, and I knew I’d never miss it. So I sold a couple of my barely worn pieces on eBay, and voila! Birthday money for my dear dad. A gift courtesy of the store for “someone who has everything,” for “someone who wants nothing.”
Happy Birthday Dad, I love you!
I’ve decided to try a daily blogging project, which I will lamely call the “Giveaway/Throwaway Project.” As the totally uncreative title suggests, every day for a week I will find one useable item in my possession to give away to someone who might find it useful, and I will also find an item that I think is beyond repurposing and toss it.
- The “Throwaway” item can’t be obvious trash – for instance, gum wrappers in the bottom of my purse don’t count as my daily throwaway item. It has to be something I am no longer using, but for whatever reason I wouldn’t feel right passing it on to someone else
- If I don’t personally know someone I can pass the “Giveaway” item to, I can donate it to the Goodwill.
- If the giveaway item is valuable, I can also sell it on Ebay or at a resale store instead of giving it away. If it doesn’t sell, it either gets passed to a new owner or donated to the Goodwill, no exceptions.
- Returning a borrowed item to its rightful owner can also count as a “Giveaway” item
I’ll post pictures of each item, along with why I’m getting rid of it. If you’re intrigued, feel free to play along at home, and post in the comments what your items for the day are. It’ll be nice to have the company.
Shall we start?
Today’s Giveaway item:
This bottle of Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser. Previously, I wrote about not buying any more cosmetics until I’d used up what I already had. I used up all of my trusty, drugstore, Cetaphil cleanser, and so I moved on to this fancier, much more expensive Kiehl’s facial wash that I had in my cupboard. I used to wash my face with it all the time, and it worked great. That is not the case anymore. For a facial wash that is meant to STOP my skin from breaking out, it now seems to CAUSE me to break out. Wonderful. I passed it on to my friend Lori to try – everyone’s skin is so different, maybe it will work better for her.
Today’s Throwaway item:
This bathmat. I came across this one in our linen closet while my friend Kelley was here – I was washing the towels from the guest bathroom and went to put out a new bathmat, and noticed this one had a weird stain on it:
Anyone wanna play “Name That Stain”? Because I have no idea what it is. Since it’s yellow, I would guess urine, but that would be extremely odd – it’s definitely not from me or Ron, we don’t have kids, and Stella is too short to climb up on the edge of the tub, not to mention, she hates baths and avoids the bathtub for fear we’ll give her one if she gets near it. I suppose it’s possible that Stella might have made her mark on a pile of towels waiting to be laundered down in the basement, but it’s exceptionally rare that she does that kind of thing. In any case, there is no way I will put this bathmat out for guests and have them wondering, “Is that…pee?” I’m guessing most people would feel the same way, so it seems uncool to donate it to the Goodwill. In the trash it goes.