We only have two months left in “Our Year of Living Minimally,” aka the Buy (Almost) Nothing Year, and it has been both harder and easier than I expected. I’m sorry to have dropped the blogging ball as I just realized it’s been seven months since the last update … so much for my goal of monthly posts! We’ll put that one in the harder than I expected category.
As we are fast approaching the end of this little experiment, I thought it might be a good time to come clean on how we’ve “cheated.” If anything, this project has exposed and emphasized both the rebel and rule follower in me. There are ways that we enforced the “letter of the law” but obviously broke the spirit, and there have been times we really felt in keeping with the spirit of our law while blatantly breaking the letter. We haven’t followed our self-imposed guidelines perfectly, but I’m really proud of how well we’ve done on the whole, and our slip-ups have provided opportunity for reflection and growth.
So here’s where I share some (actually, all that I can remember) of those slip ups.
Clementine: This is very much so a spirit and not letter breaking. I initially wrote out an exception to our shopping ban for clothes and toys for our daughter, which I would do again. However, because I left a bit of latitude in that guideline, I honestly bought her more than she needed, especially with regard to clothes. It’s really the first time that I’ve had to shop for her clothes as much of her wardrobe her first year consisted of hand-me-downs, so I’m still learning what all accouterments a two year old actually needs. I was able shop economically, though, and found several cute dresses (more than she needed, I am learning) at a second hand shop while visiting friends in Austin. Honestly, shopping for Clementine has often been guided by want instead of need, and this is an area in which I desire to exercise more discernment.
Pens & Notebooks: I bought some pens this summer. Some pretty, pretty pens. And a couple of notebooks. Blatant rule breaking, but I don’t care. These things keep my life together, and I’m 10x more likely to keep my life together when I’m using pens and notebooks I love. Plus, I had some birthday money to spend …
Glass Food Storage Containers: I didn’t write out an exception for replacing broken items, but I should have. This would count as a spirit keeping if not letter. I dropped one of our lunch bags last spring and shattered the rectangle container I pack my lunch in every day. We went ahead and sprung for a complete set with locking lids because eating at home practically every meal increases your food storage needs.
Shorts (for me & David): My only pair of khaki shorts developed a hole in them, and I found another pair for $14 at Sam’s. I did get some new athletic socks and sports bras, but I knew that was a need and exempted that purchase from our ban ahead of time. I should have investigated David’s wardrobe a bit more before making our exemptions, however, because he was in need of more athletic shorts. I found a couple pair at TJ Maxx for around $10 each, and it was a good thing because he lost another pair to the wind while airing them out on our balcony a few weeks ago …
Digital Bible Resources: Each month Logos offers a free ebook and often a few super cheap ($1-$3 range) options as well. David makes these purchases unabashedly because 1) they don’t take up physical space in our home and 2) they will serve him well in the future.
A Basket: Last spring I found the. cutest. basket at a children’s shop near our school. I wanted it for our living room to help corral Clementine’s toys, but I didn’t get it because I felt like it was veering too far from our established guidelines. Over the summer, however, I talked myself into the purchase. It was for Clementine! I’ve already hashed out how purchases relating to my daughter are a weakness for me, so there’s that. When we returned home to Jakarta in July, I was devastated to find the basket no longer for sale. I really wished I had just made the purchase back in May. For months I kept my eye out for that basket and finally found one very similar (although not as big, unfortunately) and sprang for the purchase.
A Wallet and Purse: After the basket debacle, I determined I would not become victim to a similar fate again. Things change on the daily in Jakarta, so when I found the perfect leather purse that I’ve been dreaming of for years at a temporary pop-up shop in the mall, I bought it. My current purse is developing holes, and while my crafty mother-in-law helped salvage it this summer, the purse is looking pretty pitiful. No, I don’t actually need a new purse right now, but I will soon, and I knew that the shop wouldn’t be there in January. So while I did break our rules to make the purchase, I am at least hiding it in the top of my closet where it will wait for me until January 1st. 🙂 I also bought a wallet from the same shop for David because we were in danger of losing debit and insurance cards due to its developing holes.
Delivery Pizza: As I have written before, breaking our eating out habit was by far the hardest change initially. It soon became the new normal, however, and we both found ourselves enjoying eating at home at lot more than we expected. We did eat out over the summer, but again, that was pre-planned. Outside of book dates, our birthdays, friend/group gatherings uninitiated by us, and our trip home over the summer, we have eaten out/ordered in exactly twice. Once was a 3:00 AM McDonald’s run the night we got in from the States (still on Central Standard Time …), and the other was a Domino’s delivery order after the gas ran out on our stove as I was getting ready to make dinner. We weren’t able to order more gas until the next morning, so we opted for pizza over eating the leftover beans we’d had for lunch that day.
Hmm, I just remembered two more … I did get new tennis shoes this summer after using my (three year) old ones on a family whitewater rafting trip, and we did eat out on our actual anniversary in addition to our pre-planned summer celebration. I may even remember a few more before I finish typing this post, but the point for me is not how much or little we have strayed from our initial guidelines. The point is how far we’ve come. I appreciate things like eating out so much more now that it’s the exception and not the rule. I’m truly grateful for everything we have and am more and more cognizant of all the things we don’t really need. I don’t expect next year to look a whole lot different from this one, surprisingly, and that feels amazing. I thought this year would be this huge sacrifice, but it’s just become our life. A very joyful one at that.