Step 1: Stop Shopping

Gaylord Palms Resort
So, yes.  Jared and I are talking about traveling for an extended period of time as a family.

Although talking is probably not the right word.  We’ve exchanged a few emails that contained mostly sentence fragments. (Which, by the way, is not always the best idea.  Apparently “want to leave for year. travel.” is not automatically interpreted as “with you and the kids” and may accidentally cause heart attacks.)

We had conversations before the kids came home.  A few after we got back from New York.  We’ve asked questions and made clarifying statements as one of us is falling asleep or on the way to somewhere.

But that’s what counts as talking for parents who work full time, isn’t it?

My point is, there are, as Jared says, “still a lot of decisions to be made.”

What I know right now is this:

I now have a really good reason to stop shopping.

I’ve been more and more concerned about waste in the last several months, especially after the oil spill reminded me of the consequences that can pretty easily be tied to my own rampant consumerism.  I’m almost always frugal and fairly environmentally conscious, but I’ve gotten more committed to both of these ideas recently.  I just don’t want to piss away the valuable resources and gifts that are given to me, you know?  I want to mindfully use what I’ve got.

So as we were packing for New York City, I mentioned to Jared that I would be taking a break from shopping just as soon as we were back from New York.  After all, why set myself up for immediate failure?  New York City is probably not the best place to start a self imposed shopping ban.

“What does that mean?” Jared asked.

I wasn’t exactly sure, but I threw out the ideas I’d strung together at that point.  A month to start out.  A year after that?  Buying stuff the kids needed was OK.  Food, obviously, was still going to be purchased.  I wasn’t going on a spending hiatus so much as a purchasing hibernation.  I wanted to stop accumulating new stuff.

“Cool.  I think I’ll do that, too,” he said.

And we headed off to New York for our last shopping hurrah.  Ironically, the only thing I actually purchased in New York City was a bracelet.  I paid $16 for it at a street fair in Hell’s Kitchen.  I kept looking for things to buy, mind you.  I tried on shoes and shirts and dresses.  I wandered in and out of shops and department stores and Bergdorf Goodman, for Pete’s sake!  But I kept looking at the item in my hand and thinking “really?  Is this worth it?”  And time after time I decided it was not.

I guess that means I’m ready to stop buying stuff for a while.

Especially if I’m going to try to travel the world with a family of four at some point in the foreseeable future.

Of course, swearing off shopping is a little odd when you have a shopping blog.  (In fact, if I remember my coding correctly, ever instance of the S word on this blog automatically links to that blog.)  I wasn’t sure if that meant I’d be closing Buy-Her down or what, but then I realized that I have lists and lists of things that I’ve been meaning to review that I haven’t gotten around to.  I also have stacks and stacks of brand spanking new things that haven’t even been used yet.  I could update a review blog every day for a year without having to make a new purchase.

And if that isn’t a sign that you maybe need to take a break from buying stuff, I don’t know what is.

I’m kind of excited to see how much money I can save.  Yes, excited, because those are the kinds of games that sound like fun to people who grew up poor.  The LET’S SEE HOW MUCH WE CAN ACCUMULATE IN THE SAVINGS ACCOUNT!! game has always given me a thrill – except, of course, when I was losing.  I hate losing.  I hate losing that game especially.

I’m also fascinated to note the changes in my thinking already.  It’s been just over a week and I can already see that my thinking about stuff is shifting.  I’m amazed how quickly my mind goes from “crap, I want that,” to “hmm… what are my alternatives here?”  I find myself paying closer attention to the samples and freebies that have been piling up in the bottoms of drawers for years.  I find myself re-evaluating my definition of needs and wants and frivolous.  And so far, I’m excited!

Of course, it’s only been a week.

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