A different kind of update – my Low Buy March

chair with book shelves

One of the best places to spend time when at home (all the time): my reading nook. 

Well, that escalated quickly … Who would’ve thought on March 1 that we end the month cooped up in our homes because of a global pandemic?
Shops closed on March 16, with only grocery stores, drugstores, pharmacies, and certain other shops and suppliers of vital importance remaining open. Until then I actually spent more than enough money, but for a good reason – our anniversary. I also panic-bought books – my Jessica Fletcher Murder, She wrote shame fics, to be more precise. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

A reason to celebrate – our anniversary

Wonderguy and I celebrated our 5th anniversary in early March. Reason enough to spend some money on my favorite man. We usually agree on only getting a small gift for each other – a book and a little surprise – on our special day. This year we started out with a limit of 20 Euros, with Wonderguy gradually raising it to 50 Euros over several days. You know this feeling when you agree with someone on a certain monetary limit concerning gifts and they start raising it so you feel pressured to exceed this sum otherwise you are a letdown? Anyways, I did my best to find some nice but also useful things as well as a good book. And finding the right book for Wonderguy is a challenge of its own because he is a refined reader and we don’t necessarily share the same literary interests. But thanks to sheer luck and a bit of patience I found a beautiful Japanese novel. To my relief, he’s already read it and found it quite interesting and good.

Apart from my anniversary spending, some washi tape, and a book stand for reading and editing papers and books, I fared pretty well. Until lockdown hit home.

Panic buying for beginners

When the situation started building up, I was sick at home and Wonderguy did most of our shopping. While I wondered why he suddenly started buying several packages of rice and noodles, I didn’t fully realize in which direction we’re heading until he told me that whole aisles at the supermarket were literally empty and toilet paper had become a rare commodity. With lockdown around the corner, it became clear to us that we had to adjust our shopping habits a bit since we usually go to the supermarket two (me) to five (Wonderguy) times in a week. Since this would not be feasible when ordered to stay at home to protect ourselves and others, we had to level up our organizational skills.

Shopping for groceries and toiletries once a week is, of course, doable – but also more expensive, at least at first glance. What we usually spend at the supermarket over a week now became obvious with just one trip to the shops. Believe me when I tell you, I was taken aback with how much money two people with no culinary demands whatsoever, no kids, and no expensive allergies could spend just on food. It took me some time to finally realize that this was probably less than what we usually spend on groceries when out shopping two to five times a week. Therefore, I decided this could be a good time to observe WHAT we actually need in a week and get a better feeling for what we spend our money on in the food department. In the end, there might be some potential so save a Euro or two when using a well-organized shopping list instead of intuition and (a lack of) memory. Moreover, this is not only a matter of money but also sustainability. Shop responsible – all/most of the time, even at the supermarket.

Except for anniversary gifts – and Murder, She Wrote books of course …

All my Jessicas …

Being sick the week before lockdown, I didn’t initially understand what was really going on until Wonderguy started buying cat food and groceries in bulk. Realizing that the world as we know it might come to a halt for at least a time, I suddenly felt the strong urge to surround myself with all the familiar coziness I can get, including books. This meant I had to get those Murder, She Wrote books I hadn’t ordered until now. When searching for it on Amazon I realized that a) my book budget for March would only allow me a certain number of Jessicas, and b) that her ‘co-author’ Donald Bain had died and she had a new ‘collaborator.’ Reading some reviews on Amazon and Goodreads I’m already dreading the moment I have to switch from Bain’s to Land’s Murder, She Wrote books. I can only hope I like it because frankly, what would I do without Jessica? Wonderguy suggested I should start rereading my old Jessicas, but … but, well yes, but that’s not the same when knowing (fearing?!) that your favorite cozy mystery series, your very own chicken soup for the soul, is butchered by someone who doesn’t respect the utmost absurdity of Cabot Cove being the most murderous place to live on this planet and Jessica being the only one who can save us all …

Long story short, I spent my book budget on cozy mysteries, I spent a decent amount of money on my most favorite person on the planet, and I (we) spend way too much money on groceries. Otherwise, it was a slow and quiet month, apart from all the outside noise. Since I assume April will be another lockdown month I’ll hopefully save some money – provided that I learn to handle my groceries a bit better. And I actually should do both because my company introduced short time due to the Corona crisis which means that I won’t get my full pay for several months. So a bit more on the side would be great.

Hope you’re all safe and healthy! Take care of yourself and others, stay inside and keep going (though not literally unless your profession or special circumstance demand it) 🙂

P. S.: I’m sorry – it took me five days to finish this post because I feel a bit downish right now … Hope this will get better soon and I’ll be back to writing more regularly.

Low Buy Year 2020 – my February update

Midori Traveler's notebook unboxed

Spoiler Alert: I did buy something new this month …

Another month has passed and I’m still going strong, most of the time. I have to admit that it’s not that easy all the time. Not because I feel dread and despair because I’m not allowed to shop. Rather, I have to become more aware of what I’m buying or not. Some purchases are obviously necessary – groceries, replacements, medication, gifts. And then there is the twilight zone – washi tape of a certain design and make that I don’t already own? Scrapbooking supplies that may be similar to what I already own but not the same? A new essential oil even though I own several others?

Most of the time I decide on a case-to-case basis, trying my best to stick to my intentions and don’t make myself feel like a cheater. But when I saw an absolute ‘want want want’ pair of sneakers – a style and model I don’t already own – the struggle got real, at least for a moment. It usually starts with me imagining wearing them, how they would look, which outfits I would create, all that. I guess a lot of you know exactly what I mean. And woah, my imagination went wild – I could practically see myself wearing ONLY this special pair of sneakers until the end of (my) time. Like it always is when you reallyREALLY want something. Still, I didn’t do it. I did not buy those magical new sneakers that would bring eternal happiness into my life. Instead, I put them on my “Buy in 2021” list – my first item so far.

But I bought something else. Which is still within certain rules but borders on a huge twilight zone.

Journaling and me

As I’ve written in my post about the bullet journal, journaling and writing things down is extremely important for me. Thanks to my ADHD (as far as I know – maybe I’m just an asshole) I usually forget a lot of stuff people tell me, so I have to write it down. I forget a lot of stuff in general and have a hard time staying on top of things, so having someplace to note my thoughts, ideas, to-dos, and general information is essential to function in this life. Some friends and colleagues actually think I’m very well organized. They have no idea I’m in a constant struggle with my fuzzy brain because they only see the results. And thanks to the Bullet Journal Method, the results are often really good. Thus, I’m always open to new ideas on how to improve my journaling game. And there seems to be an abundance of new ideas out there.

In my post regarding the rules of this Low Buy year, I stated that I only will buy replacements when it comes to stationery items. Well …

Wonderguy bought a Traveler’s Journal a few months ago and while I liked the idea of having different notebooks for different needs, I didn’t like the format. His is a normal A5 size from Paper Republic (the Grand Voyager XL), which I find too big. Granted, my Dingbats bullet journal is A5 too – yes, too large – but it’s my favorite notebook regarding paper quality and overall design. As for the size or format, my perfect notebook would be a classic Moleskine, but the ghosting in Moleskine notebooks is just too much. Therefore, I decided to use Dingbats notebooks which come with the perfect paper and they also care about the environment. Until I found the Midori Traveler’s Notebook.

Unlike Wonderguy’s Grand Voyager, the Midori Traveler’s Notebook (now produced/sold by Traveler’s Company Japan) has the perfect format and size for me. I’ve loved the idea, and now I found a notebook as well. So I started pondering. Would it be cheating if I decided to switch from my Dingbats Bullet Journal to a Traveler’s Notebook? Would it be worth it? Was I ready to wait nearly a year until I could try it out? I took my time and waited for several days. During this time I discussed the issue with Wonderguy, I read blogs and watched videos about the notebook, and did some research on its components and what I would buy IF I bought one. After finding a little shop in town that sold the Traveler’s Notebook and its various inserts, I finally gave in. Convincing myself that I didn’t have to order anything online but could support a small shop with my purchase, I went there and got myself a brand-new Traveler’s Notebook.
And I’m really happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I still feel a bit like a cheater and intend to make very good use of it. I will write about the Notebook in a separate post, so I won’t go into detail on how I use it just yet, but I’m absolutely delighted with the format and the feel of it. The system of inserting separate notebooks for different topics allows me to bring all my notes together which makes it easier for me. At the same time, I didn’t ditch my Dingbats Bullet Journal completely. Apart from ongoing collections and lists, one important part of my bujo is my diary which I will keep in my Dingbats. But more about that in a different post.

What else?

I didn’t indulge in my book budget for the obvious reason of already buying a pricey new notebook system. It’s not that I want to justify this purchase by treating it as a ‘book’ and hey, everything’s fine. It’s rather that I want to acknowledge the fact that things are special this year on the shopping front. So to keep it down I decided to read what I have instead of treating myself with new books. I’ve been sick this month and went through four books in five days which felt great (apart from being sick, of course). I absolutely love discovering my shelves, even when realizing that I don’t love everything I own.

Inspired by some YouTube videos I delved into scrapbooking to give my journaling new impulses. Since I don’t always feel inspired to draw or doodle but still love some color and design, scrapbooking seems like a good idea to design my spreads and pages. Doing so adds some life to my notebook and helps me stay focused. I am a visual learner, meaning that color coding, images, and designs stimulate my perception and help me filtering information. Integrating this in my daily journaling and jotting important things down helps my fuzzy brain keeping a better overview. So while I bought some scrapbooking papers and stickers, I didn’t invest a lot of time and money into it since I won’t need that much. Furthermore, I can simply print pictures I find on Pinterest and use those, so that’s that.

I haven’t done my budget yet but I assume I’ll meet my saving goal (or at least almost), adding some more money to my savings account. However, I have to get better in keeping track of my day to day expenses. I know there are a lot of apps for doing exactly that and I already tried some of them. It’s just that I’m not much of an app user. I work better with pen and paper, and forgetting to jot down an expense happens regularly, no matter if digital or analog. So I will try to improve this.

What’s up … March?

March should be a quiet month. There’s no huge bill to pay apart from my usual fixed expenses and we are not expecting any visitors or otherwise big events apart from our anniversary. It will be a quiet month (hopefully) and if all goes well I might be able to save a bit more money. We’ll see …

If you are on your own low or no buy journey, I wish you all the best for the upcoming month – you can do it! We can do it! Let’s share ideas, inspiration, issues, and perspectives – everyone’s on a different path, and it’s always interesting to hear/read other’s stories 🙂

Oh the temptation! – A spontaneous Low Buy Update

Since the start of my Low Buy year on January 1st, I haven’t been to a lot of shops except when I know exactly what I need. My main reason is not so much avoiding any temptations but rather the fact that I don’t need anything so there’s no need to go to shops in the first place. Why waste my time in places I got nothing to do except standing around?
This week a dear friend of mine returned from her six-week trip to New Zealand and we celebrated our reunion, going out for lunch and strolling through the city. She was looking for a pair of pants and I needed to get another insert for my traveler’s notebook. Thus, I took her to a shop where we could get both – and more.

I went to get my notebook while my friend asked the sales assistant if she could show her some trousers. All the while I didn’t think about looking around because I knew I wouldn’t buy anything apart from the notebook. Yet this changed when my friend found some amazing pants that looked great on her and were exactly the sort of pants I’m always on the lookout for. Stylish yet comfortable, with a loose fit and of great quality – oh how I felt the temptation …
So much so that I tried on several different colors and styles myself until I had found a pair of pants I loved. However, as I was standing in front of the mirror, I realized that I already have at least two pairs of black pants that look exactly the same. Three months ago I would have said that one could never have too many black pants, 50 % off was a great bargain and so forth. In the end though, this was about WANTING and not NEEDING something. It would have been classic impulsive shopping – just the behavioral pattern I wanted to change.

drawer full of pants

Obviously I already got some pants …

Rules for fools?

I’ve set up some low buy rules to get me through this year and I was about to ignore them for the sake of satisfying a sudden urge that would probably vanish after a few hours (it did). While getting dressed again I gave this thought some time to sink in and I hated it. Every time I go somewhere to buy a gift for a loved one or something I need to replace, I’m always so happy that I stick to my plan. And all of a sudden in the heat of a fleeting moment I wanted to cheat myself out of feeling good about myself for no other reason than WANTING something?

Long story short of course I did not buy those pants. I got my notebook and waited for my friend to continue our afternoon stroll through the city. At the risk of sounding narcissistic and arrogant, I was proud of myself and I felt relieved I did not give in and buy those pants. I may be a fool but at least I stick to my rules (fingers crossed) …

Rules and Reality

“Any fool can make a rule” – I chose this title (which is actually part of a quote by Thoreau) for a good reason. Every time I start walking down some unfamiliar paths, I fear that I will make a fool of myself one way or another until I get some practice or expertise. Inspired by my YouTube playlist full of great advice on low buy, no buy, and minimalism, I established my rules. Yet despite my optimism, I knew it could get tricky at some point. Hence the ironic title and a premonition that it may serve me and this plan of mine well someday in the future.
Well hello – this day has arrived and I did pretty well. By writing about it here, by putting it out there somewhere, it feels like I’m making a confession even though I did nothing wrong. I was on the brink of doing something stupid, but I didn’t do it. Though it may sound ridiculous I thought about how I could explain a new pair of pants to Wonderguy, who would have noticed at some point. Maybe not immediately – after all, he is not the warden of the wardrobe – but he would have recognized it. Knowing about my low buy challenge and being highly supportive of it, there is no way I could have justified buying yet the same black pants again. He might deny it but he has a sixth sense for my guilty conscience purchases – which makes him my perfect supporter.

Cats on bed

Cat content – always a good idea. Even more so when in dire need of some positive vibes.

Get inspired again and again

So if you ever set out to embark on your own low/no buy adventure, make sure to talk or write about it. Hold yourself accountable by making your intentions known to the people around you. In doing so you will feel like shit if you break your own rules. Be vocal about your plans and they will haunt you!
(Re)Watch inspiring videos to motivate you again, read about how others handle their low buy and no buy journey on blogs. Connect with fellow low buyers/no buyers and support each other through all the temptations and difficult moments that might arise. Be it a shitty day at work, anxiety, life or something else that usually triggers you into buying shit you don’t need – reach out to others who share your path. Reddit is a good place to look for kindred spirits, as is YouTube and Instagram (I’m not on Facebook anymore so I don’t know about that). Let’s support each other and be serious about this whole endeavor. Because in the end, it’s not just about each of us, it’s about how we interact with the world around us, learning to cope with what life throws at us without running away into the open arms of the next ATM or online shop.

I did it – for the first time and (very very) probably not the last time.
You can do it too 🙂