If you've been reading this blog this year, you might remember that I wrote a 'Five Year Shopping Inventory' post detailing all the, frankly, unnecessary stuff I'd bought over the previous five years. It was a lot more than I'd expected it to be as is often the case when one stops and actually counts things. It's rare that we find less than expected - except cash, of course!! I decided that it had to stop right then and there. And it did! I'm pleased to say that, with the exception of one category, I've been very restrained in buying things and even lost the actual desire to most of the time, which is a great help.
Just a quick clarification that I haven't been reducing buying for strictly financial reasons, although it has been a bonus knowing that I wasn't spending much. We have no debts, credit cards, loans or anything like that, I'm happy to say. No, the reason for the shopping clamp-down is that I'm making definite moves towards a more minimalist, simple lifestyle. By 'minimalist' I don't mean the "I own 80 items and live out of a backpack" sort of lifestyle (although there's nothing wrong with that for those who are free to enjoy it, if they want to), I just mean one free of clutter, duplicated items, broken stuff, things I've finished with, books I've either read or am never going to as well as other unnecessary stuff and shopping. Having something in that would serve the purpose perfectly well, but always buying something else anyway. As some of you will know, I've done a lot of clearing out of things I no longer need or want already and am moving ahead on some longer term cutting down goals. These days, with few exceptions, I stick to a Buy When Needed policy.
On with the list, using the same headings as for the last one:
* Books I've been given three books, (one of which is already on my 'out' shelves) and got another three free, but I haven't bought one single, physical book this year! That must be a first for the last 30 years, as I've always been very keen on books and reading. I've bought two hefty cross stitch magazines, but no actual print books.
Why specify print or physical books? Well, as my goal is to cut down on the amount of stuff I own (and therefore have to pack, move and unpack when we move in the future), and isn't anything to do with money spent, Kindle books didn't count. I've bought a huge library of those as my hubby gave me a Kindle for this year's anniversary present and I've stocked it up well with those wonderful Delphi Complete Works downloads which are usually £2 or less each! I've been able to grow my library exponentially whilst cutting down enormously on physical books. This counts as a major victory and I'm just loving my Kindle!
On the flipside, I've given away, sold or recycled at least 300 books this year and there are 200-300 on the shelves to go as soon as possible. So far, I've culled from approx 1050 to 480, a 55% reduction.
* Cosmetic Items This year I bought only two items - two eyeshadow primers. One was so bad that I returned it to Superdrug for a refund, so really only one counts. (Don't buy the MUA one. It's cheap, yes, but contains parafin etc, which is a cheap and very effective moisturiser! As if more oil were needed on already oily eyelids to keep eye make-up in place. Duhhhh!) I got this only because the two I already owned were past it and so I got rid of them.
Other than that, I haven't bought any make-up, but I have got rid of a great deal this year. More on that in the forthcoming make-up inventory update.
* Art Materials I'd forgotten about them (which shows how much I needed them.....gr!), but I bought a set of Derwent Onyx black graphite drawing pencils in the middle of the year. That's it for this category though. Phew! A couple of pencils isn't too bad. It was a set of four, and I'm not sure if I didn't give the duplicate pair to someone. I'd have to check.
I gave away an enormous amount of stationery and art items, including coloured pens, pencils, some oil pastels and paints and even some paper, so it's not half bad on balance.
* Embroidery Supplies Now this is, unsurprisingly, where the deviation from the policy has come in. I have bought 61 threads - 37 skeins of DMC Coton a Broder in various gauges, 19 balls of Anchor Pearl Cotton #12, 1 skein of Anchor stranded cotton to replace one that I used up, 3 spools of Kreinik cord and some Smooth Purl goldwork 'thread'. All of this, except the goldwork purl, which is for a Craftsy goldwork course project and the replacement Anchor stranded, is just plain, wanton stash building. I've used only one or two of the threads so far, and none of the 23 packs of Mill Hill beads I bought.
I bought one piece of linen that I needed for a show entry project and which I did use, along with the fineweave linen I bought from a cheap bookshop. One piece I used for the cross stitch and the other for the backing. Neither piece was used up, but they were used, so that was good.
I was proud that I only got the goldwork Purl at the Harrogate Show in November as there was stuff galore available to buy. Having said that, the prices are very off-putting these days. Many things, esp. kits, seem to have doubled in price in recent years. Makes me think that maybe I should go more out for design and selling!!
Anyway, that wasn't such a good section and was rather in line with an average for the previous five years when I'd bought 355 lots of embroidery thread - i.e. 71 per year. Anyway, I'm now really trying to use my stash up and am even considering selling some of it if it turns out that I'm really not going to use that type of thread. Three sets are in the 'holding area' under threat of the chop. That would take my collection down from over 1600 to under 1300. I'm quite unsure that this will happen though, but just musn't get any more!
So that's it for 2015! I only got one item of clothing - a warm, yellow polo-neck jumper from a charity shop, and the toiletry items I got were to meet needs, not just to stock up. No CDs or DVDs or anything like that, although I have bought 3 flash drives (one was faulty and was returned) for my computer files to keep my stuff separate from my laptop and also to store the scans of photos and other stuff that I've been making in order to get rid of boxes and folders full of paperwork etc. So, necessary for Project Minimalism.
What about you? Did you splurge during this last year? Or have you managed to rein in the spending?
And what do I expect to shop for in 2016?
The main aim is to continue minimizing and buying only when needed. There'll be some make-up items running out soon (more on that tomorrow), and I really do need quite a number of new clothes and shoes as almost my entire wardrobe contents are so shabby! My plans are to get a reasonable number of key, core pieces and then clear out something like two items for each new one bought. I have a lot of stuff I just wear because I don't really have anything else at the moment.
I've also decided to get a decent external hard drive for file storage (one of the two functional flash drives is now corrupting photos and needs replacing with something reliable), and I plan to get a decent tablet computer to replace the cheap, unreliable one I've been fighting with all year. I plan to use that, partly, for Kindle items where colour is a bonus and to get magazine on Zinio instead of print ones when I decide I want them (rare).
I'm not likely to need any perfumery, books, art, craft and stitching items, so I'm hoping to continue the general 'no buy' and 'use up/clear out' policy. Let's see how we get on....
Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015