Welcome to the Fluff! Here I blog my goals, especially my reading and studies, and my ongoing downscaling and using up of material stuff and working towards a more minimalist lifestyle.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Five Year Shopping Inventory

I've been a general low-buy of all stuff for the past few years.  We live on a PhD scholarship designed for one, single person living near to the uni, not a middle-aged man supporting a financially useless wife, running a car etc, so we've been keeping costs down just as much as we can.  It amazes both us and others that, not only can we live on the £16K, we've also managed to make savings too.  Here and there, Sir has been able to earn a few extra hundreds and me about £750 per year, which has also helped.  Perhaps our income is more like £17K, but even so, it's not a lot.  So, I've hardly bought anything I didn't actually need.

Or have I?

Inventories are a great way of making one face up to just how much one owns and how much one has been accumulating and, believe me, it doesn't seem like much when it's happening...  I was recently watching a YouTube video on which a young lady gave her number of cosmetic products, both from a year before and on the date she did the filming.  She was stunned to find that, although she'd given away/cleared out a lot of stuff during the year, she'd still bought so much that there was an overall increase of over 200 items!  She didn't realise it had been so much and it was quite sobering for her to realise how much it all added up.  Now I haven't been shopping on anything like the same scale (it looks like she bought enough products to equal one per working day of the year!!), but I was still a bit taken aback when I came up with the following numbers, all of almost entirely un-necessary items:

* Books - bought: 65, got free: 11.  Including book-style magazines, total acquisitions of over 80, contrasting with just 14 books sold.  The incoming books have been mostly languages (Chinese, French, German, Italian & Spanish, amongst others), language related things, art and embroidery.  That equals one new book (whether bought or free, i.e. things I've picked up at my old uni on give-away) every 3 to 4 weeks.  Can I honestly say I've used them all?  Nope!  Net gain of 65-70.  NOT good!  Stupid thing is, many of the language texts have been way above my level.  Why get them so far in advance??  I'm supposed to have a brain, but don't seem capable of using it to answer this question sensibly! =(  That stops.  NOW!

Outgoing volumes so far have been language related and stitchery things.  Another 9 of the same topics are currently listed for sale and another 12-15 are earmarked for certain friends and/or the local library donation thingy soon.  I'm planning a book inventory soon too, i.e. numbers of books on each topic, with a view to helping with the upcoming book cull.  For instance, I have five beginning Italian texts.  Surely one or two would suffice??  Some things I'm trying to work through - trying to transfer the information from the page to my brain, then shifting the book. Some I know I'll almost certainly never get to.  I've owned them a decade or more and still done nothing but occasionally flick through them thinking, 'One day'.  No, probably no day!

* Cosmetic Items - Around 50!  I actually cleared out about 65 products through using up, throwing away expired items, giving stuff away and selling on e-bay, so the overall amount is down, but FIFTY products!  I thought I wasn't really buying make-up anymore, but it seems that I was buying almost one product per month.  I've had two perfumery items come in, but I was given both of those and have used up quite a few over recent months and years.  The overall balance is down there too and continuing to decrease. =)

I'm now on a complete cosmetic no-buy until I run out of foundation, and then I'm only allowed to buy absolutely necessary things when they run out until most of the current stash is gone (not counting eye-shadows, as they take forever to use up).  Make-up inventory and use up post forth-coming....

* Art Materials - 40 artists' quality watercolour pans and tubes, including some gouache, plus two boxes of oil pastels.  I was also given another box of lower quality watercolours.  This would make sense if I ever really did any painting, but I simply don't.  The stupidity of continuing to buy things because I'd like to learn some day, is just stunning.  And yet it seems so good at the time and, doesn't this box of paints look luscious?

I'm just grateful that I haven't bought any more pencils.  Wait! I did!  The Derwent 72 Coloursoft tin was something I bought in August 2010 and so that counts in.  I've used some of the pencils a couple of times, but hardly enough to justify buying them.  Others would have done just as well really.

I also bought in 14 fabric colouring products.  Most of these I have used some of, so that's something at least.

* Embroidery Threads - Wait for it: 355! Yes, three hundred and fifty-five skeins, cops or balls of thread.  Maybe even more. How many have I actually used?  Possibly about 20.  I doubt it's much, if any more.  On the plus side of the thread equation are the 80 items that have gone out (I worked that out from the old auction photos I still have on my laptop!!), so the net gain is about 275.  I've also shifted about 60 kits and charts/lots of charts (i.e. booklets or collections of leaflets), and 15 pieces of fabric.  That's balanced by the 15 lots I've bought, not including the stacks of oriental fabrics I got in Taiwan, most of which are still completely untouched.  I'm almost daring myself to do an embroidery supplies inventory.....  Dare I??

So much for not really buying things!  To be fair, I didn't waste family finances on these things.  Most of the things came from my own 'pocket money'.  We have a certain amount each per month to waste on what we like and, although it's only been £10 for the past few years, I've supplemented it by selling my things on Amazon and e-bay and some gift money here and there.  I've also got a fair few books and even some threads from e-bay by using my Nectar points.  However, it's time to not only stop buying, but see if I can cut things down.  The books and cosmetics, yup, no problem, but the others I'm not so sure about.  There are a few more threads I can sell and maybe some fabrics that I'm unlikely to use, but I'm not sure how much difference it will make.  We'll see.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015


Rachel said...

Good luck with that!
We have been through a similar period, so I sympathise.

Kathy said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Gosh, I haven't thought to inventory stuff...I think I'll wait until I've used up things first! Isn't it funny we both got this urge at the same time? Can't wait to read more about your progress!

Jules Woolford said...

I think this is a jolly good idea. And don't those silk cops look lovely, sigh...