A new beginning

I’ve planned that for two or three months now and now we’re finally here. Another start. Similar to the last one. Not sure how often I will blog, but I will give it a go. I think it was October when I stumbeled over a site in the net “andthanwesaved”. A young lady reported how she saved over 20 thousand dollar in only 15 month. I was pretty annoyed that we are overdrawn forever, but never seem to be in the black. So I talked with a good friend and with my hubby and we decided to make a fresh start together with our friends. More accountability and stuff… Will see.
The first few days are over and I think we are doing great so far.
We’ve made a list beforehand about what is allowed and what isn’t. For example allowed is all of what we run out and what needs to be refilled – as long as we really need / use it. Forbidden is eating out unless it is in conection with a birthday or an anniversary or a holiday. But no icecream, coffee break in town, pizza around the corner. This is going to be a tough call. Even tougher for me will be: no more scrapbooking stuff. But lets be honest: With the stuff I call my own I probably can scrapbook for the next five years… Well….
Thing is: the thinking changes as well as the way you look at your flat. I find myself scanning the flat and ask: do I really need this, do I want this, is it nice/usefull, when did I last use it… I think you’ll get the hang of it.
Also I find myself making excuses: Well I could say it is essential because… and then I find myself trying to cheet. No can do!
I did order a micro SD card today, but this is to prevent me from buying a CD player and I think this is quite a good save at the end. Will see.
Welcome to our new journey. I guess I will tell more about what is allowed, what isn’t and how we are getting on.

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One step forward, two steps back…

Not quite, but I haven’t been as consequent as I wanted to be. I bought books I don’t need but simply want. I took one of the craft courses which I mentioned earlier and since the course took place in a local store and you could shop afterwards – I couldn’t resist. I bought four really pretty posh glasses and I guess we don’t need any more glasses. I am pleased that my better half likes them as much as I do, but I still felt a little guilty once I took them home. And some other similar stories… I still haven’t bought cloths so far, which I think is pretty cool.

I also notice that I rethink plenty of choices: DVDs I watch, CDs I keep in the shelf, books I am going to read (or not) and also how I spend my time. We really wanted to see one particular film in the cinema, but decided that that is way too expensive for something we weren’t quite sure about. We try to make more healthy choices food wise – we try to buy organic food and meat and the more we look, the more we found good places to go and buy. I also noticed that I rarely visit the local mall and that I find supermarkets more annoying than before. I still like shopping, but I also see the “danger” of it – you buy things you don’t need, you buy bulk because you think it is cheaper or something the pretty face in the TV told you to buy J Right… I guess you’ll get the hang of it. Feel free to tell me what you don’t shop – because you simply don’t need it.

There is a live style called minimalism, which I find quite interesting and it makes me think that many, many people on this lovely planet have to live that live style because they don’t have another option. They cannot choose which mall to go to or what to buy, because they simply can’t. They have to survive on a bowl of rice or less. That makes me very sad too, because I strongly believe God made enough food (or the possibilites to grow it) for all of us and it is man (again) who messed it up. And those with the smallest voice loose out – again. That makes my blog seems pretty useless and senseless, but maybe it helps us to re-think and to re-act. We have given the power to make our little world a bit better every day: just where we are now… So I better get going…

Choices…

I notice that my choices slowly change. Pretty often I find myself saying: I don’t really need that. And it is not necessarily the point of “can I afford it or not”. I just find that I don’t need it. It doesn’t make me happy, I don’t need it for food or shelter or enjoyment. I simply don’t need it. I am not craving shopping tours or the so called retail therapy. It is just not there. There is still enough money to spend on the necessities of life, but I am not going for the additional things I usually would go for. I still have a weak spot for books and I wasn’t completely consequent, but I also notice that I am more choosey than before.

Up, up and away…

We’ve been away for a weekend recently. Usually I am very tempted to buy some stuff from the locals or some little souvenirs or knick knack in the stores. This time it felt different. Since this weekend was a treat for both of us, I didn’t want to cut things too short. We found an affordable place via Airbnb near the river Rhine, bought some whine (from the locals 🙂 – although it was pretty difficult to find a winter who actually wanted to sell the wine… Lot to learn about marketing those lovely winters along the river…) We went out for dinner and drove around the beautiful scenery and had a dander through some of the small villages along the Rhine. We saw plenty of shops, but this time I didn’t feel the urge to buy anything. We bought one little souvenir for my mom and a little booklet for our next tour. And this was it. A bed, nice food, some whine and a beautiful scenery was enough. We didn’t need a “top up” via additional buys. I am finding it interesting to see how my perspective changes bit by bit.

Still on it…

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Sorry for the long silence. I wasn’t sure what to write if the shopping diet is going well. There is an unnecessary e-book for less than 1 Euro here and there – and I already feel bad about it. I guess we spend a little more on food, since we started checking even more where it comes from. And I guess we are changing. Don’t want to say that too early, but I think we are becoming more grateful for the things we already have. I really don’t need all the things I have. I appreciate them, but I don’t need them. Yes, food, drink, shelter – a home, warmth, a bed, loved ones, work that is ever so precious. And I sometimes forgot about it. I am not a thankfulness guru now, but I want to get back to the point where I can manage with less and still be happy, maybe happier than before. Many Christians started giving up something because of lent. They don’t eat meat, don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat sweets, don’t go on the internet, don’t watch TV and so on. I skipped that this year, since I guess I chosen my “project” for this year. The funny thing is: I don’t really miss shopping. A colleague lately asked me: “what do you do if you have one of those retail-therapy-fits”. Guess what: I don’t have them. I liked shopping and I still like food shopping and researching things I need on the net. But I spend less time with it. I write extensive grocery shopping lists and then we work through that list, once we’ve got everything we think we need.

What I do notice is that I am reviewing certain parts of those lists. For example: where does the meat come from? If I don’t know it or think it wasn’t “happy” meat I am not going to buy it. (So we are hardly eating any right now). I know the perspective on that varies. Or: I am happy we found a source for “happy eggs” and can support a local farmer a little. We buy our flour at the nearest mill. These are only small steps to what I would like my life to become, but I think they are steps in the right direction. Once I am finished with one area and made a decision about it, I want to move on to the next one and decide that one. They will not always be as ecologic or organic or resourceful as I would like them to be, but I very much hope they will make a difference in my little world.

BTW: The thing with the meat leads to finding some really cool new vegetarian recipes and nice spices. For example, we just tried Macaroni & Cheese with cauliflower. Yum! With lovely cheddar cheese from a store here (no “happy” cheese though, but very tasty).

Temptations

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I am sometimes torn between buying something and finding an excuse for it – which in a way would be betraying myself and I probably would say “Gotcha” at the end anyway or say: okay, I don’t really need it, but it is worth the money and I can use it or put it to a good cause.

A few examples: I was sorting through my countless recipes. I love cooking, backing, conserving things (in need of homemade marmalade anyone?). I found a copy of a cook book I once had and I wondered why in my right mind I would have given that one away (this seems to be the price for sorting out too much, too often :)) Luckily the word biggest online store still has is and I bought it for the second time. Looking very much forward using it. And it is one of those healthy ones, not one of junk food ones.

Food is another example. I am still making some mistakes here, but it seems I am learning from it. Altogether I notice that our lifestyle starts changing for the better and I am really happy and grateful about it. On top of everything I got back in to reading my bible and I am currently stuck with the Sermon on the Mount (Matt., 5) and I rediscovered it and I rediscovered a longing to live more like that. Maybe I will write about that another time.

I also thought about the privacy of that blog here and I think I would like to open it for a wider public. Who knows: someone might benefit from my thoughts and experiences. So feel free to pass it on if you like.

Getting back to the shopping temptations: I used to live in England for two years and ever since then I love England, the Union Jack and the British way of life. Not all of it, but a lot. Including some unhealthy choices too :). We try to reduce plastic – still way to go, but we’re trying. So I also like to reduce the tissue packages in our household and we are using more tissue boxes on the table. There is a company over here that does really nice tissue box holders with a Union Jack as a motive. And guess what I couldn’t resist? I surely didn’t need those, but I love them and they probably will last “forever”. I didn’t even try to find an excuse.

But I have to say: I didn’t buy any cloths ever since I started and no shoes, no decorations as far as I remember. I spent a bit on knick-knacks at those markets, but I am trying to make them as useful as possible.

Valentine’s Day

Remember that I really, really, really wanted that particular DVD (Sherlock III) and guess what my good hubby gave to my at Valentine’s day? Yep. You’re right. And I love it. He fell asleep, so I guess I have to watch it again with him soon. What a sacrifice 🙂

 

Am I in need?

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I am not sure if I try hard enough, but I have my struggles with the definition of “need”. Do I only need a thing if I can’t live without it? Or is a need also something which helps me to keep another thing in shape? For example a seat cover for a car. We don’t need it, but it will surely keep us warmer and the car seat cleaner and a cleaner car probably sells better. So I decided that seat covers are okay. Very much looking forward putting them in the car.

Another example: A Jeans needs repair – I do have enough trousers, not the point here – but I would not throw them if they look okay, fit, but only need a little repair. At the end of the day it almost cost more to fix those trousers (12 € to be precise), than to buy cheap ones at a discounter. But then again: Are they environmentally safe? Most likely not. But this would make a complete blog on its own.

There are other things where I find myself making up excuses why this or that is allowed. I still have a lot to learn here. And I will. The year is not over yet and you only learn by trial and error. So I will start over again and keep addressing those “need” attacks. I guess sometimes I will figure I am needy and other times I will I have more than enough. Feel free to share your thoughts if you’re trying something similar.

Markets

I love markets. You know the kind of flea markets, where people put there used items on display and hope that some poor person may have pity and buy the old odd thingy. This kind of market. We even have topped it over here: there is this monastery I mentioned earlier and they are selling all sorts of things for a good cause. Even better! I love good causes too! They have a room full of kid’s games, glasses, dishes, cloth, curiosities and so on. Each theme has a room. So if you look for something special you should be able to find it pretty quick. And the people helping sell – all volunteers – are pretty good in knowing what is where.

I do have a list when I go there with items I found I need again and I don’t want to borrow. Like a ceramic coffee filter or a watering-can. It doesn’t have to be new for my purposes, it just has to blend in with the things I already call my own. I sometimes find an item from my list, but sometimes I discover a need while browsing through the shelves. And I discovered I am not alone: I have a little cheat within me calling: “That is allowed! It is okay if you go for this. It is only a few bucks…“ Last time I went there my little cheat won. I didn’t spend a lot and that is not the point. But I had to re-think my love to markets. What to do?

I decided I will give a small budget to markets once a month. And I will carefully pick one market I go to and spend it on what I think I need or want – depending on how load that little cheat within yells at me… I can’t leave him behind, but I can give him boundries. And I will.

Wool…

You know, I love knitting. I love wool and I do have a “small” supply of it which will surely get me to most of this year. And yet I find it challenging to browse through that arts & crafts brochure this online craft shop sends – because I ordered once or twice before. In a way I love marketing and how they target your interests, but in some way I hate it, because they surely know how to get to you. So me, myself and I thought again and decided, that this would fall under the “law of my shopping diet” and that more wool is really not necessary! So! Besides I am just knitting a blanket and I haven’t even finished a quarter of it – so I guess this winter project will last until late spring or so – I might report about it… And I guess even if I run out of wool, there might be some on offer somewhere….

So wool is not allowed. But I allowed myself a new Bible: A poverty & justice Bible (available in German and English), I got the German version. I find poverty & justice very inspiring – although I wish there would be no poor and no need on this planet and justice all over. Be we are not there yet. But we all can do our share.

I will create a few guidelines for myself on the journey through this years. Things like:
Write a shopping list. I’ll do that anyway, but I am a bit more serious with it.
Buy only what you need and be aware of your definition of need. It is so easy to cheat on this one.
Use what you have and be creative with it.
Another question is: How much does a woman need – in her wardrobe, in the bathroom cabinet, in the kitchen storage, in the cellar… Interesting questions, but I found already one answer: 16 nail polish is too much! Have to admit, I didn’t buy them all myself, I got some given, but I don’t really need so many!

Talking about need – I don’t need, but I really, really want this DVD I was talking about. Sure we can afford it – this is not the point, but I will not buy it. If hubby sees the need for a Valentines pressie, that is fine, but I will not buy it. So this shopping diet is a costly thing – costly not money wise – rather the opposite….

I had to re-write this blog because I lost some of todays writing to the world wide web. I will try to remember it for another time. So for now you’ll have to put up with this here…