Today marks the 365th day of buying nothing new in our household. We did it; we managed to maintain a relatively normal and full life without weekly trips to the big box stores and late night online shopping sprees.
Well, for the most part we succeeded. There were a couple of small hiccups like the time I FORGOT and told the moderately unpleasant flight attendant I DID want to buy those $2 headphones, so I could watch some stupid movie about a foul mouthed talking teddy bear. So that purchase was worth it. I also bought the kids the $5 school mandated calendar that they have written in about twice this year and paid the bill for the “free” puzzle book my youngest sent away for. Then there was the pink tutu incident.
But, I’ve already mentioned all that.
So instead, let’s focus on the positive, and consider the thousands of items I didn’t buy.
The things that were most notably absent this year were the little things, like the “Nu Car” scented air freshener at the car wash, or the magazines in the grocery checkout lane, holiday sale merchandise marked down 80%, post-it notes, printer ink, play dough and scores of other tiny impulse items that had barely made a blip on my radar in previous years.
Those were the items that months after I started the project, I would still find myself absentmindedly reaching for in the retailer.
In any case, I struggled about what to write today since I feel like I am saying good-bye (but not forever) to so many friends.
I thought I might answer a few questions, (imagine me interviewing myself).
Me: Are you going back to your old consumer ways?
Other Me: Hell no.
Me: Do you care to expand upon that?
Other Me: First, I’d like to point out you are a terrible interviewer; you are not supposed to ask yes or no questions.
Me: Just answer the question.
Other Me: I think the benefits to reducing our consumption have outweighed all of the inconveniences. We have saved money, reduced our footprint a bit, learned to live with less and it really hasn’t been that big of a deal. I think there are some things that we will buy new, but for the most part we are going to continue with less purchasing. I’m going to make a concentrated effort to THINK before I BUY.
Me: Do you have any first purchases you are going to make?
Other Me: I’m going to buy grass seed and sunglasses. The grass seed is because the dog and the children haven’t been kind to the lawn in our rental home. Right now, we’d only need a homeless person on the porch and some boards over our windows to complete our abandoned house look.
I started the year with six or seven pair of sunglasses, I’m down to two wobbly scratched and less than fashionable pair. One is a giant dark pair with pointy sides and leopard print on the arms that give me a zombie Audrey Hepburn look. And, I have yet to find a decent pair of pre-owned sunglasses. They may be out there, but they have been eluding me.
My husband is going to buy tires for his car, because apparently the thought of skidding out of control in a rainstorm is distasteful to him.
Me: What did you learn?
Other Me: I learned that my kids are fine. They started off with their heels dug into the ground, but they quickly came around. I was worried I was “not being fair” to them. But, their life has not been diminished really and they don’t seem to be holding any grudges.
I also learned that habits can be changed. The act of not stopping by the mall or some big box store helped, but really after a few months, it became second nature to either do without or find things pre-owned.
I also discovered that often the things we think we really need aren’t that important after a bit of time.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE
If you are new here and would like to start from the beginning, here is my first post. You can work your way forward with those little blue arrows and the name of the next post on the top or bottom of the page.
Don’t unsubscribe, or unfriend me, this isn’t the last post on this site. (Or if you haven’t yet subscribed—What are you waiting for?) I plan on returning to blogging at some point as well as writing a book and will keep you updated here.
Also, as I have mentioned countless times, I am seeking a blogger to take over this blog for a year. Well, I am STILL LOOKING. This is a case where my busy schedule has collided with my tendency to procrastinate (plus, I’m looking for the PERFECT fit). If the HandOff page is still up on this site, that means I am still accepting submissions. In the meantime, there will be some guest posts.
Also, I would love to hear from you either below or from email. Since, so many bloggers ask leading “comment questions” at the end of their posts, I am assuming there is some sort of super secret blogger prize, like a set of ginzu knives, for the most comments.
I wouldn’t mind a set of knives…
So long—for now and thank-you for the support and making this year fun. It has been an honor.
–Kerry and family
Congrats, Kerry! I really am sorry that I found your blog so late in your journey, but I look forward to catching up on your “back issues”!
As for bloggers asking leading questions, for me at least, it’s so I don’t feel like I’m just talking to myself. Getting feedback in the comments section is the pay-off for the hard work (since it’s by and large NOT a paid gig!).
Wishing you all the best!
Thanks Joy for helping me not talk to myself as well 🙂
Kerry – I really enjoyed reading your blog all year. You are still one of the most creative people I have ever known. Your endeavor has made me stop and think, more than once, about whether or not I really need to buy something. I am looking forward to your future posts and book. For now, congratulations for completing what you set out to do.
Thanks Amy for the kind words and for reading. Hope all is well there and you are happy.
Congats!!!! What a huge undertaking and I’m in AWE of your perseverance!!!!!
Thanks for the words! It seems like a much smaller task now that it is done 🙂
Congratulations! Your journey is a true inspiration!
Thanks Melody, it has been a bit of a trip
you are amazing,
(I prematurely hit enter! sorry, kerry!)
and I’m inspired by what you guys have accomplished this year! thanks for sharing your story and sense of humor with us! love, ellie
🙂 Love you
Just in case the ginzu knives are a real possibility for you…I’m commenting. I have enjoyed the ride this past year with your blog and have gotten some tips I can use too. Can hardly wait for the book 🙂
I’ll let you borrow the knives…xoxo
Love the picture at the end! I am certain it’s from Big Bend, My husband and I camped there in our last pre-kid adventure! (I was pregnant at the time) I have pictures from the same spot, unless of course it’s not at big bend….anyway love your blog, you have helped me rethink my choices too. Congrats on making it through the year!
Also, noticed your husbands sweatshirt. My husband and I are Purdue grads. Go Boilers!
It IS from Big Bend, good eye. That was a good kids hike (in case you want to go back with kiddos some day). Thanks for the notes and, YES, my hubby is a Boilermaker also (1992). Thanks for the kind words, it has been a great year.
Yay you! I’ve enjoyed your blog very much and am glad you’re not entirely saying goodbye. Congrats on a huge accomplishment!
Thanks for all the support along the way Trisha.
Very very very many congratulations! Inspirational stuff 🙂 Good luck with all your future ventures and your Simple Life
congrats on your Simple Year!
Here is an idea for a blog continuation in the same spirit for someone reading here that may not be able to hack the Simple Year requirements…how about “www.TheKindYear.com”? Complain about nothing, and do one unsolicited good deed daily for one full trip around the sun. I’m sure there are many challenging, funny, colorful, impactful situations daily for an inspiring blogger to write about and make an impact in others as well. Smile and bite your tongue. Complain in your head if needed but not by tongue or quill. And do one thing each day in a challenging or surprising situation to impact another person. Imagine all the things we encounter that we complain about constantly and what could happen if you actually did not complain? Or surprising someone with a tiny deed of compassion or humor or compliment or help when it was totally not expected? Anyhow, just a random brainstorming thought for a sister-companion-continuation of your blog. Might generate some funny blog material.
Although it violates the Simple Year philosophy, this domain is still available for purchase for under $15 for a year at Go Daddy: http://www.godaddy.com/domains/searchresults.aspx?ci=54814
Well done Reifel family!
I love the idea….why not YOU for the project? Thanks for the words Steve, hope to see you guys soon.
I am totally sabotaging my chances at the ginzu knives and commenting on YOUR blog…Hmmm, things are getting complicated…
I would share them with you 🙂
Thank you, Kerry! You are a terrific, entetaining writer, and you are the best at promoting a way of life that give this planet a chance to survive. I hope to find more text from you soon. Here or somewhere else…
Thanks Helena for all the kind words and the support this year
Kerry, I’m so impressed you made it an entire year with only a few purchasing hiccups. But a pink tutu?! Seriously?! How hiliarious that was your slip-up because that’s soooo not you – with the exception of the unwavering team spirit, or course. 🙂 I enjoyed your writing and perserverance. Not only is the buying nothing new impressive, but also your posting consistency. I know firsthand that is not an easy feat to accomplish. Now, wanna hit the outlets with me next week? 😉
If we go shopping, I’ll wear my tutu
YOU did it! Hooray–now let us go shopping! You never cease to entertain me! I am sure some stuff in my house will (and should) end up with your girls!
I’ll trade you for some of my stuff….
Kerry, Congratulations to you and your family! I love what you said about your kids being OK…I’m sure they are more than ok! I will miss your posts but look forward to your book. Thank you for helping us all think twice before pulling out our credit cards this year!
Thanks Debbie for all of the support and comments. Keep Cooking!
I was late to the game but I’ve really enjoyed the trip. I’ve loved reconnecting with you and your family. It was nice to see the beautiful young lady that was a beautiful baby in our previous life. Good luck with the book. You’ve inspired a lot of people to too something even if it starts with baby steps.
Thanks Pam- It has been great to reconnect as well. xo
I have so enjoyed reading your blog, only found it yesterday, and have read from the beginning. Thank you for taking the time to document your year, so inspiring, and you have a great way with words. I hope you keep writing in some form, even if you pass the blog to another.
Thanks Julie= I am honored that you read from the beginning. Hopefully, I will have something else to say in the future.
I have laughed my head off more times than I can recount during your year long posts and having said that…nearly cried a few times. I was fascinated with your effort and often thought of the many “simple” days, weeks and months your Mom and I experienced providing for our children in our often less than adequate financial situations “back in the day.” Reading your stories, I never let myself forget that choosing a year of simple living is a luxury. In addition, I am certain that our planet will benefit when we all consider that less can be more and I truly appreciate your having allowed us to join your family on this journey. Write on, Child.
Thanks for the note Gret. You are right, it is a luxury. I know simple living is a necessity to many out there. I think I have mentioned before that in our society it seems if we HAVE the means to buy and consume, we do so and I hope that those of us in that middle class (and those folks in the upper class) can make some mindful decisions going forward. I see it already with the people that have been reading.
Kerry, I’ve really enjoyed following your Simple Year journey. I feel sad that it’s over. I’m glad that you will be checking in now and then, I look forward to it. Best of luck with your book.