Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Compacting with higher gas prices

This past weekend in Michigan we hit $4.19 a gallon for gas. Ouch! The higher prices have really been a challenge to my compacting ways. Before, I wouldn't hesitate to run to Saginaw (about 30 miles) or Mt. Pleasant (about 25 miles) to pick up something we needed from Freecycle or Craigslist. Now, not so much. Hitting up yard sales a few towns over is a thing of the past, too. In many cases the cost of gas would be more than buying the item new. Sad, when you think about it.

Have the gas prices put a crimp in your compacting/thrifty ways?

(Picture from flickr)

Monday, May 19, 2008

time's up...well, almost.

the end of my compacting challenge is almost here and it seems like i have just begun. i have officially decided that i will continue the challenge as more of a way of life. i am sure the rules of the compact will be changing to meet the changes of our family. but i am excited to see how much this has changed me.

for example:

  • hosting the kids' birthday parties became a lot simpler by accepting the fact that i won't be using paper products anymore. we have plenty of party plates, cloth napkins and tablecloths. saves me money, saves the environment and people enjoy eating on real plates.
  • before i even leave the house, i evaluate what i am really going to buy, where i am going to get it and if i really need it. it has totally cut down on impulsive buys and makes for less clutter & junk in the house.
  • i am happier without so much stuff. i didn't know that having so much stuff made me a slave to that stuff.
  • my life goals & dreams are changing. no longer do i need to live in the city, no longer is our family mantra 'bigger, bigger, better, better'. but rather, 'less is more...oh wait. less is actually less and that is a good thing'.
  • buying less stuff & getting rid of the stuff we don't use has created a richer & deeper life for our family. (getting rid of our swing set was the best thing for our kids' imagination!--more on that later!)

for now, i will try to continue to adhere to the rules i set up just two short months ago. this has been 'my gig' all along. in a couple weeks, my husband and i are going away for a quick weekend sans kids--cue the angels & the hallelujah chorus--where i hope to start a great discussion about how compact living fits into the fabric of our family. i will post my new compact when we are finished with it.

i hope these two months have at the very least provided entertainment to those of you that read this blog...if not some hope and inspiration that living with less is not such a bad thing! i'd love to hear how my journey has spurred you on to making changes in your shopping habits...even your life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

organically inclined...

Hi! I'm Michelle Kennedy Hogan and I've been compacting for a number of years now. However, I decided to make it official and take the pledge (mine is here).

I'm about as frugal as they come, except in one area - our local convenience store. Because it's so darned convenient! I'll go in there for a gallon of milk and come out with a bottle of soda, a "treat" for the kids and, I don't know, some "thing" I forgot I "needed." We do live about 40 miles from any large town so buying our milk and gas there isn't unreasonable. But even with my very frugal habits in every other area of my life - I added it up last month and we spent well over $500 at this one freaking store! I was appalled. Granted, some of it was legit - gas for my truck and milk for the kids - but the rest - Oh My Freaking Word!

So - in addition to the rest of my pledge, I am taking on a "nothing but the milk and gas" clause. I do not need a 1/2 gallon of ice cream for the kids that costs $6.50. And I don't "need" the soda, just because I'm tired of iced tea and water. This will be the true test for me, because much of my overt spending comes out of kid-guilt. We'll see how I do...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

another one...seriously, what is my problem! (updated)

what! another one...i know, i know. i went to kohl's. i shouldn't have...i just shouldn't have.

i walked away about $100 poorer with some really cute clothes for the kiddos. well, they are still in the bag and i was trying to decide what to do. see, bo is in desperate need of some new clothes...not NEW, but clothes that actually fit his ever growing body. those little noodle arms & legs keep growing longer & longer!

kohl's was having great clearance (what did I tell you about clearance? my WEAKNESS!). but, i think i can turn this oops boat around! there is a huge TAKE 2 sale at the fairgrounds this weekend, starting today at 10am. the reason this is my saving grace is because i am having my garage sale starting tomorrow, so i don't think i'd have a chance to go down there otherwise.

my plan is to get down there today and get some stuff for bo, so i can take back all the new kohl's stuff & get back on track!

i am finding that it is the compulsion to buy new stuff that is luring me, calling out to me. it still has a hold on me...consumerism. that witchy, witchy woman. also, i am seeing my cycle of buying stuff and then either taking it back & buying used or just taking it back. baby steps, baby steps!

**i redeemed myself this morning: returned the clothes to kohl's & went to the consignment sale. not only was i able to find just the right amount of clothes for bo, i was able to find sister's birthday present...a doll house w/ accessories. all for less than what my kohl's bill was! ahhh, the joys of being back on track.

cross posted at mint green mama

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Oops'd already

Not even three days in, and I goofed. :(

Wasn't thinking when I got gas today for the drive into Seattle, and I grabbed myself, of all things, a Hostess Cherry Pie. After I said I wasn't buying any junk food. :(

Otherwise, I'm doing pretty good on the compact, but my parents are torturing me, and going shopping and buying stuff for the kids. TOYS! Rawr!!

C'est la vie. Life goes on, and I will do better.


Does the compact apply to everyone in the house, or just me? I'm feeling insanely guilty, because my parents (who live with me) went shopping today. I thought they were gonna shop at the thrift shop in town, but they ended up going to Wal Mart. I didn't BUY anything, but they bought me and all three kids some croc-like shoes. I, honestly, feel awful! And, I gotta edit my exemptions... Forgot to add our weekly/bi-weekly Domino's. Not giving that one up, it tends to go along with our weekly family movie night.


And, on a side note, the husband is rather irked with me, because he said he'd "try" following the compact, and that didn't mean I had reason to join the group. Ugh. And I'm only two days into my two months.

Friday, May 2, 2008

garage sale friday!

today was not planned, but i remembered a friend was having a garage sale and boy am i glad i did! i spent the most at her garage sale, a wopping $24. i drove through urbandale & west des moines--both seem to be having lots neighborhood sales.

here is a picture of my loot! i am sooo happy with all the stuff i found. some clothes for me, a shirt for bo, two purses for me, a book & a toy for each kid, a new glass pitcher (just broke the handle off mine THIS morning!) and some house decor stuff (the tall thing is a bamboo rug for under our table or in sisters room).

i think i am most excited about the purses (of course!). i can't pick which one to love more, so i guess they will have to share my affections for now.

shopping at garage sales has never been so much fun & rewarding! also, i found the cutest toy for sister's birthday, it is a full hair salon station with all the dryer, curling iron, curlers. it was priced pretty high for an older toy, but in great shape. i got the lady's number & address, I am going to call tomorrow and see if it has sold. if not, i am totally going back for it (& probably offering her less!)

this post has been cross posted at mint green mama

April Progress Report

You may remember that we decided to put the compact on hold while we move, thinking that we would need all sorts of little things that you would never consider buying used (toilet brush, for example). So far, we haven't had to buy a thing, but we are officially moving in next week.

One thing we have decided to buy new is stuff for the back yard. Our backyard is big but there is no patio or deck, so our table would sink into the soft ground. I came up with a design that will allow us to build a deck that can be taken with us the next time we move. (We will build four separate 6x6 sections that will be carriage bolted to each other, for a full 12x12 deck.) We also plan to buy a gazebo ($200), possibly a new grill ($150 or so. Ours is 8 years old and falling apart) and wood and various soil components for four 4x4 square foot garden beds. We had planned to sell our current patio set and buy a new one, because the wrought iron is rusting (loaned it to my brother while we lived in an apartment in Ohio and he left it out all winter, uncovered) and there are only four chairs for five people. After thinking about it I decided that I like our current set, so we will just paint it and buy a chair that sort of matches so we don't have to keep dragging a kitchen chair out there. All together, we will be spending less than $500, and since we are doing the compact for financial reasons, and we budgeted for this, I am totally ok with it. Justification? Maybe.

Everything else that I purchased falls under the exemptions that I decided on when we started. (Bras, cross trainers, shoes for large footed children.)

We have also decided to take the kids to Germany next summer, so there will be various purchases throughout the upcoming year. (Passports mostly.)

Another thing that I decided is that it isn't fair of me to drag my family along on my crazy adventure. I am the one who decided to do the compact, and it isn't fair of me to force it on them. Of course, I wouldn't hand them money and ask them to buy me something (I think that would violate the spirit of the compact), but I am not going to try to stop them from purchasing new.

So basically, no new purchases for April, but probably plenty for May.

Cross posted at Life, in a Nutshell