The Year Without New ‘Stuff.’

After I discovered minimalism at the end of 2010, I spent the last year focusing on decluttering. I spent many hours cleaning through my things, drastically reduced my wardrobe, sold most of my books and DVDs, and donated random household items (basically, what is not needed in a tiny house). I will continue to do this until I’m down to just the essentials. I’ve also stopped making silly purchases. Or so I thought. I still find myself at the store buying something like a candle and later regretting the purchase. I have bought and then returned quite a few things this past year. Tsk tsk.

I want to work on de-owning, not just decluttering. So, in addition to decluttering and donating, I won’t be buying anything new in 2012. (This is very similar to Joshua Milburn’s goal of not buying new stuff last year.) I won’t even spend money on going out and doing something. This is a personal goal, but I’m hoping it will rub off on my husband too since our finances now affect each other and he really wants to finish his car this year.

There are several reasons for this:

  • To prove to myself and others that I already have everything I need.
  • To stop impulse purchases. I already significantly cut back on purchases, but I still slip now and then and buy something small that I didn’t need.
  • To appreciate life more. The best things in life really are free.
  • To save money! Saving up for tiny house is a major goal for us right now. We need to cut corners as much as possible.

What does this mean?

  • No impulse purchases anywhere.
  • No purchases of any online music or iPhone/iPad applications (with the exception of the remaining $6 left in my iTunes account, which was a gift).
  • No dining out unless we receive a gift card (or if with paying parents). If my friends want to meet up, I will suggest we cook a meal together or meet them somewhere and only order water. And yes, dining out is something I consider unessential because we have food at home.
  • Limiting how much I drive. Not only is gas expensive, but Illinois tollways doubled this month. Most of my friends live at least a half-hour away, so we will have to cut back on activities or be more strategic.
  • Hanging out with friends at a home rather than a restaurant or bar.
  • Gifts? Hand-make or forego them.
  • Money spent on a couple experiences is OK, but needs to be limited. We have a few trips to take this year (one international).
  • I will purchase personal hygiene products and consumables as needed (like the toilet paper that we ran out of last night).
  • If something breaks, I will replace it. Or perhaps I will consider the possibility of not needing a replacement.

So, Where Does My Money Tend To Go?

This is what I pay each month.

  • Monthly deposit into savings ($50/month).
  • Groceries for two ($50 biweekly – mine are more expensive than his).
  • Pet food ($40/month).
  • Gas ($40 a week).
  • Bills (this is just my half).
    • Rent – $550/month.
    • Car insurance – $100/month.
    • Phone – $50/month.
    • Electric – $75/month.
    • Internet – $20/month.

After all of the above has been paid, I usually have $200 left over each month. This is an OK chunk of money, but it disappears quickly. In the past few months, this little bit has gone towards car repairs, holiday gifts, dining out, toiletries, pet equipment, and other little things. In fact, that happens nearly every month. It’s incredibly frustrating and very hard to create a cushion in case of emergency expenses. I have some big bills for me coming up within the first few months of the year that I need to save for, as well: hearing aid insurance ($300 a year), car registration stickers ($100/year), taxes (probably $1,000 — I’ve paid that much the past couple years).

Then, above all, we want to focus on saving and building the tiny house. The sooner the house is built, the sooner we can eliminate nearly all the bills related to our apartment, which would save us a lot.

Fortunately, we are not in debt. No credit card bills, no student loans, no wedding-related expenses left, nothing. I am very thankful for this.

I’ll do a monthly update to share what I’ve been able to cut back on, how much I saved, and if any other bills have popped up. All I want is to be able to live without worrying how we will pay the bills next month.

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11 thoughts on “The Year Without New ‘Stuff.’

  1. I can’t wait to see how your budget changes each month based on what your priorities become throughout the course of said year. I know for us we often lay out a plan but while executing it have some great revelations and end up changing gears.

    • I’m a bit nervous that I won’t be saving as much because of some big bills coming up this month. At the same time, I’m excited to see how much I may save and how my mindset will shift as I refuse to make many purchases. Perhaps my game plan may change as well, but this is the first time I’ve gone ahead with this mindset. :)

  2. Cool! Good luck with the plan and Happy New Year! We’re hoping it has lots of good things in store for you :)

    • You have a different name every time you drop by! Haha! Thank you for the well wishes! Happy New Year to you, as well. :)

  3. Tollways sucks. Totally agree about purchases.. the less, the better. Looking forward to read your next post!

    • Illinois has ridiculous tollways partly because many companies haven’t paid their taxes. So frustrating for people like us.

    • I’m excited, too! So far (halfway through January), I’ve done well at turning down temptations and have a little extra in my checking account than usual. And I have’t felt like I’ve missed out on anything. We’ll reconnect!

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