I am on a simplifying kick right now. About a month ago, I took 4 or 5 boxes of clothes, home goods, and books to Arc Thrift Store. Then I went through all of my old magazines, recycled all the ones I’ve read (after ripping out articles I wanted to keep) and making a stack of ones I want to read, which I am slowly but surely making my way through. Once I done with a magazine, I either flag the recipes I want to try and add them to my kitchen stash or I throw it in the recycling bin. I have also started buying groceries for only one week at a time and choosing recipes that include ingredients I already have in my cupboard (some of which have been sitting in there for quite a while).
The way I used to operate was “Buy more.” If I wanted a certain kind of tea but didn’t have it, instead of drinking what I did have, I’d go out and buy more. If we ran out of bread but had buns left, instead of using the buns, I’d go buy more bread. If I saw a nail polish at the store I liked, instead of trying to think if I already had a similar color at home (which I most likely did), I’d just buy more. The result was food going bad, closets packed to the gills, and a bunch of stuff sitting unused. (And I am not a hoarder!)
But now, I am on a quest to eliminate all the excess by systematically using up everything I currently own before buying more (if I need to). I have already gotten rid of everything I didn’t need: mugs we never used, duplicates of kitchen gadgets, a plethora of water bottles, clothes that are just a bit too tight or short left from my pre-Christian days. Now I am getting rid of all the things that I will use, just not all at once. For example, tea bags. I really want to go buy a delicious flavor of Tazo tea but I’ve made a deal with myself that I have to drink up all the tea I currently have (because if I go buy more tea, I’ll never drink the stuff I have right now).
The point I want to get to is that I have nothing cluttering up my home that I don’t actually use on a daily, weekly, or at least monthly basis. If I haven’t used something in years, I have to either use it now or throw it out. It’s amazing how mentally freeing this concept is! Clutter in my house actually adds clutter to my mind. When I don’t have a ton of stuff to worry about, organize, or keep track of, I have time to focus on what really matters.
The other day, I was in Target and happened to spy a very cute purse. I was tempted to buy it because I did still have some Blow Money (cash I can spend on anything I want) left for the month. But I reminded myself, “Simplify,” so I walked away. And I didn’t feel deprived! I already own more purses than I want to but I can’t quite bring myself to get rid of them yet. The question in the back of my mind is always, “What if I regret getting rid of this?” (which isn’t completely crazy because it has happened in the past). So I’m taking things in stages. The first stage is to just not buy more.
My current experiment with this is groceries. Travis and I have decided on a monthly grocery budget of $300. That’s $75 a week. I can buy fruits and vegetables for a week, plan 2-3 good meals (banking on the leftovers for lunch), and still have money for snacks like crackers and cheese, yogurt, cereal, etc. But this month, we hosted a barbeque for friends, which totally threw all of our numbers off. The result has been that we ran out of grocery money on Wednesday, with 10 days to go in April. Whoops.
The old me would beg Travis for more grocery money. We can’t possibly subsist for the next week on what we have in our fridge and cupboards!, I would say. But the new me told Travis about our dilemma and said, “I want to do an experiment to see if we can really make this work. Do I have your permission to not buy any more groceries in April?” (Historically, when we have run low on food, Travis has whined, “We don’t have any food around here!” If he agreed to my experiment, no whining would be allowed.) “You’re asking to not spend any more money? Heck yeah, I agree!” Travis replied.
So the experiment is on. It shall be interesting. I’ll post again in a few days to let you know what we’re eating…or not eating.