Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 6 of No Spend Week

I'm reporting live from my sister's place where I dropped by to pick up the knitting I forgot here on the weekend.  And to treat her fridge and cupboards like a store I can shop in without money.  I got a couple of things I've been craving and am sipping on one of her beers.  I think going without spending is a great way to boost your social connections - by enjoying their hospitality.  I'll need to reciprocate in times of spending so people don't start to avoid my calls.

A bit of a lowlight this week came when we got our tax results from the accountant.  Instead of the $2000+ return I was expecting, it turns out I owe about $750.  I can't lie.  I was seriously bummed.  But I think it's growth that I was able to laugh at myself instead of flying into a frenzy of rage or self pity, so that's something.  And since I've got that big expense coming due, I'm extra glad I decided not to spend this week.  I am sure I saved myself one to two hundred by not going out to restaurants, going away lunches, or for extra groceries. 

So we are still oh so slowly weaving our way towards financial freedom.  The definition of which for me is: 'working because I feel like it, not because I have to'.  It's a ways off yet.  Short term version of financial freedom is surviving with one job by September 17, 2011. 

xo Tara

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Kindness of Friends (and Strangers)

I have oft mentioned my No Spend Week lately (a shout out to Consumption Rebellion for the idea).  So, as I am in pyjamas at the end of Day 5, I feel like I can safely say, "I made it through another day without spending".  I've had to bow out of a farewell lunch for a student, which is a drag, but on the upside, a sweet newish coworker heard me say, 'Man, I could really go for a fizzy water', and trotted out and bought me one!  I don't really know her all that well, and I was so touched by this kindness.  No Spend Week is teaching me to accept little gifts graciously and VERY gratefully.

Another area I am grateful for is the link love (& followers) I have received from people including some I don't even know.  I am delighted that my thoughts and humble efforts at changing the way I operate are a tiny part of something outside myself.  I appreciate every bit of feedback I get in all the various ways.  One of my favourites is when my Mom calls me up to tell me the blog made her laugh.  

Finally, I have decided to use my 'No New is Good News' year philosophy and extend it to my birthday.  I'm going in the Weekend to End Women's Cancers 60 km walk and need to raise $2000 in donations to participate.  I'm asking for my birthday this year that people make a small contribution to that amount, rather than get me gifts.  Do you think I should get double the brownie points for doing this during a no new stuff year?  I could be using my birthday as a sneaky way to get my hands on all the stuff I wish I was buying.  And in some ways that would feel very nice.  But, this feels nicer, and will help me stay a healthy distance from some kinds of consumption.  If you're curious about the  end cancer walk check it out here.  

Not only do I need to start drumming up donations, but I also need to start training for that lengthy walk.  My first training event?  2 weeks from now and sponsored by a brewery.  Invigorating walk followed by beer tasting.  All free.  Right on.  Some causes are worth the hard work.  Too bad it's not during No Spend Week.

xo Tara

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Kind of Funny Article in the Globe

Note: Day 4 of No Spend Week, and I'm going strong.

My sister just pointed out this article to me in the Globe and Mail called 'Virtual Goods = Jackpot' by Ivor Tossell. 

He writes about how people are spending real money to buy virtual goods in online games (such as a $12.50 golden harp for your pretend kitten).  Apparently this kind of economy is around a billion dollars in America.  The levels of ridiculous tongue tie me a bit.  Especially when I think that as far as my goal of not buying new 'stuff', I could actually spend money on virtual things and stay within my ground rules.  (Except during No Spend Week, of course).

But he also makes the point that there's not much different between the virtual goods buyers and those of us who fed quarters into arcade machines back in the day.  It's just a different gaming experience. 

I guess the other part of my No New is Good News goals, like getting better with money, spending more wisely and ethically, would probably not be so well served (although my household clutter situation would be) by jumping into the virtual market. 

No fears.  I have zero units of interest in online gaming.  Back in the day I was always more into pinball than PacMan. 

xo Tara

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Domestic Felicity Threatened by No Spend Week

Last night my wife and I had some tense moments when I told her I couldn't make an exception to pick up milk on the way home.  I tried to explain where I was coming from:  'I'm not buying anything for a full week.  If I make an exception, then I haven't succeeded'.  Also, I had texted her to pick up milk, which I thought was sufficient.  She tried to explain where she was coming from:  'This is all news to me.'

So, I guess my advice would be - when planning a 'No Spend Week' - be clearer during the preparatory phase about the specifics with the person with whom you share a milk supply.  It will make both your lives easier. 

Not to worry, she and I are back on the same page after a long chat.  Also I traded a lemon and three Cookies & Cream flavoured drinking straws for a cup of milk from a friend in our building, and later bartered one of my stash of tallboys for a liter of milk from my sister. 

We do still have 4 days of No Spend Week left, so if you have milk you want to trade for something I've got in my kitchen, please make me an offer.

xo Tara

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour

Hey Everyone,
It's Earth Hour at 8:30pm tonight and we are all supposed to turn off all our electronics for an hour and give the earth a little rest. I've had a nice day two of my no spend week.  My sister bought me some chocolate and I got in a great walk, visit and chat with an old high school friend, Julie. Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, I missed visiting my pal Sabrina, who was here from New York at the exact same time.  But my wife and her got in a good visit.  I'll be knitting by candlelight come 8:30.  I know many of you will be jealous to hear about this A-lister social life I've got going here.

Night Night

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over, Just Not With Stuff

Day one of No Spend Week is well in hand.  I'm laying low tonight, and well stocked for it. 

I've been reading the book my friend Christine gave me, 'Not Buying It', by Judith Levine (I follow her site-see side panel).  I finally finished '1984', which was very tough going at the end.  I can't wait to discuss it at my bookclub.  I'm quite enjoying Not Buying It, and am just about half way through.  Judith and her partner did a much more rigorous challenge than me in 2003.  They decided not to buy anything but absolute necessities, and for them this included not going out unless it was free.  My ground rules allow me to enjoy going out (aka experiences), which is a whole different game. 

Judith has written using humour and smarts and she has done her homework.  Some interesting themes have come up in her book - she writes it as part research of the phenomenons of shopping, economy, and consumerism etc., part diary of doing without.  One is that without being able to spend, in some ways she feels less power and as such is like a child, "and all children are beggars".  i.e.: when she finds herself girding her loins to ask for something she can't purchase (she forgot her ski wax at home and had to beg from the store clerk for a smear of it). 

She discussed the experience of boredom (also found in children) when it crept up on her.  I love one of the quotes she uses by Adam Phillips about boredom being "the mood of diffuse restlessness which contains that most absurd and paradoxical wish, the wish for a desire."  She likens the boredom she feels - unable to go out to movies and restaurants and cultural events with a price tag - to the boredom of a child waiting for something to come along to do, and looking for something.  It can be very uncomfortable. 

She talks about how adults can skip boredom by going shopping.  Except she can't.  And that shopping can circumvent boredom not just by distraction, but also because it carries the promise of more happiness, more status, beauty, etc.  albeit temporarily.  Without shopping or going out to her usual social events she is riding out this "excruciating restlessness...waiting to know what to want."

I can relate to that feeling.  Sometimes not being able to spend makes me feel an urge or want, like giving up smoking did at first.  Not sure what I actually want, and unable to fill the void with a glut of mindless shopping.  Sometimes with a chunk of time on my hands I spin my wheels for what to do with it.  I am trying to be able to chill out more and not need to constantly be doing something or ticking off my to-do list.  As always, it and me are works in progress. 

Talk to you soon, and anticipate me coping with/fending the advance of boredom that we are trained to consume into oblivion, during this week of not using money.  Hey, maybe I can try the barter system if I get bored.

xo Tara

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Twas the Night Before No Spend Week...

Today was full of work, and hustling to get prepared for tomorrow and the week that follows.  I bought groceries on my breaks, I squeaked in just before closing and picked up 10 tallboys at the beerstore, and I mailed off that wedding shower card.  I agonized over what to do re: transit and was trying to decide if I'd buy a weekly pass (only good Mon-Sun) or just use tokens, and ta da!!  Like a ray of sunshine from heaven, there before me, I found a glittering March metropass with not a soul to claim it.  The universe yet again proving it doesn't totally hate me.  6 days of free riding pleasure - just when I most needed not to have to kiss $3 goodbye every time I have to go somewhere. 

Ye Haw.  Let the games begin.  I think my biggest trouble will be feeling an urge to eat out just because I can't. 

xo Tara

Gift Giving Within the Rules

Hi there,
My 'No Spend Week' begins tomorrow, so I'm busily prepping for the events and regular day to day things.  I've been scratching my head how to give my cousin-in-law-to-be a shower gift without a) buying something new, and b) spending anything from Friday to Friday.  (The shower is on Saturday).  I want to just give money so as not to be buying stuff.  I've decided to mail her a card with money today so I've 'spent' it today, and not between March 26th and April 2nd.  I'll just explain the weirdness when I see her. 

Otherwise, I'm stocking up on provisions and plan to do a lot of nesting, cooking, and knitting over the week to come.  Wish me luck and if you want to join in the fun of a 'No Spend Week' click on Consumption Rebellion to see where I got the idea.

xo Tara

Publish Post

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No Spend Week

I was reading Consumption Rebellion and got inspired to do a 'No Spend Week' which is exactly like it sounds.  She put out the challenge and I think it will help me exercise some of the muscles I haven't had to as much.  My main expenses are social, food, drink, and toiletries etc.  (I'm talking about non-monthly-bill type expenses).  So the only exceptions from Friday the 27th until I can spend again on Friday the 2nd of April are: Medical expenses that arise, and regular bill payments i.e.: that are deducted from my account.

I will have my work cut out for me, as I've got to think about how I'll commute when I do need transit, I have a wedding shower and a reunion with an old friend, plus the beginning of  a long weekend.  I think it will help me get reconnected to needs and wants.  Also, sometimes I get a strange satisfaction from using up the supplies in the cupboard to make delicious 'nail soup' rather than going to the store.  I will be shopping on Thursday the 26th to try and capture the necessities beforehand.

Another challenge I feel kind of moved by is not only posting nice, neat things that make everyone happy, but maybe digging deeper.  This is trickier because a lot of people I know are readers of the blog.  And of course because of the bred in the bone desire to please we all have.  I will try to think about not just staying in the 'safe' zone all the time.  This idea came from reading Heather Conroy's Blog which talked about us rising from mediocrity by getting criticism from the right people.  That we should encourage a bit of that, not just the positive, good stuff.  Easy to say, but probably a lot harder to 'eat it and say yummy' as my wife would say. 

Speaking of my wife, she was sleeping when I decided that 'No Spend Week' was a fabulous idea, so I guess this morning Ima have some explaining to do.

xo Tara

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Likeminded Family

A member of my family, my brother in law, just sent me some info about a family in Alberta doing the same challenge that I am of not buying anything new for a year.  But they have 3 small kids.  I'm sure navigating around Disney and the other power players in toyland is no mean feat, so my hats are off to them for their efforts.  You can read the article in the Star here 
They also have a blog you can check out called Nothing New. Nothing Wasted.

It's a good, fairly new site with some 'helpful sites' links.

p.s. I rewatched The Story of Stuff today and it's so good.  20 minutes well spent.  We're going to show it at my work for Earth Day. 

xo Tara

An Evening Out

I didn't post last night because I was out late enjoying my wife's class show.  She teaches stand up, and she is teaching some all girl classes and two of them had their shows last night and it was seriously great.  Funny, good, girl energy.  The Class is at Comedy Bar in Toronto, if you have a secret urge to be a 'comedy girl'.

Good news: 1. Nurse Jackie is back on the air (this show is the main reason I allow our cable bill to be so high) and 2. my friend Christine brought me a copy of 'Not Buying it' by Judith Levine to read last night.  I've been eager to get my hands on it, and will pass on my thoughts as soon as I finish reading '1984' for book club.  Apparently I'm the only one in my work book group enjoying 1984.

xo Tara

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gift Giving

We had our nephew's 13th and my mother in law's 60th birthdays this weekend.  It was a struggle to know how to do this gift giving thing without buying anything new.

I feel like we did a pretty good job, but not perfect.  My wife made the cards.  She has a knack for doing this with just-right National Geographic photos.  For our nephew, we burned him some funny videos, and my wife is wokring on making him a video of clips from all the video footage taken of him from birth until now.  A long, long, labour of love.  We also threw a few bucks in his card.

For my wife's mother, it was harder.  I couldn't buy her cute things, the flowers looked crappy where I went, so I got her a gift certificate.  I felt weird about just giving her cash.  So I didn't buy things, but she likely will buy things with it.  hmmm.  What do you guys think?

I will go console myself by checking my free lottary ticket number...

xo Tara

Saturday, March 20, 2010

'Used Yarn' and some Crafty Lessons

Had a great night full of belly laughs at my crafty friend Sarah's.  She made us dinner, set up papier mache stations, and shared her new second hand book on 'transforming' old tee shirts into cool stuff.  FYI: The Toronto Reference Library (Yonge just North of Bloor) is having a sale during March on books they are clearing out.  I got a great recipe for turning two old tee's into a cute pillow without even needing to sew.  I'll show you the evidence when I get around to making it.

Also, for those of you who've read my ground rules, you'll know that I'm allowed to buy supplies for do-it-yourself stuff, but need to try and get yarn/fabric etc. second hand first.  Sarah opened up her tickle trunk and I came away with two garbage bags full of the good stuff.  Yarn.  Lots of it chunky, and much of it wool.  This should keep me in business much longer than my year of not buying anything new.  And I can share the wealth at my sister's regular stitch and bitch - and with the knitting group I started at my part time gig doing community development for supportive housing.  I'll need to.  We don't have room in our place for two garbage bags of anything.

I didn't partake of the papier mache, but I did offer plenty of backseat advice and double sided compliments to my friends as they worked on their masterpieces.  Maybe I can talk Sarah into a sending me a picture of the final project?  A bonus: as I was leaving she cheerfully lent me 3 seasons of 30 Rock, and Strangers with Candy which I am really excited to tuck into. 

But the topper to my evening was her sister buying me a lotto 6/49 ticket.  She called to see if we wanted them (the jackpot is particularly high).  I hemmed and hawed.  Is gambling 'buying something new'?  Her sister said, 'Not to worry', and just bought me one.  Ah, the kindness of strangers.  Or more accurately, acquaintances.  It warms the heart.  I gave her two tall boys in gratitude.

xo Tara

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Junction Triangle

My neighbourhood just came up with a name for itself.  It was a lovely, organic community building kind of thing.  A group called 'Fuzzy Boundaries' had the idea that we should name ourselves before some developer came along and declared us to be such and such district or village.

We are a small, triangular area bordered by railroad tracks and edging on several other hoods, like the Junction, Ronscevalles, Bloordale, High Park etc.  The whole thing was a really positive experience.  Fuzzy Boundaries did an initial vote to drum up ideas which people could submit on line or in person.  They narrowed this down to a top 10 list.  A lot of the ideas incorporated the history and geography of the area.

We had a two week period of open voting in the hood at a couple of local restaurants and I'm delighted that my favourite choice was picked.  Junction Triangle.  It's familiar and it just makes sense.  I also love that some corporation didn't pick our name for us.

Have a happy Thursday.  I get to go bowling with my part time job tonight.

xo Tara

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fun Things Coming Up

Today was another day when i walked everywhere instead of using TTC.  It was great.  17 degrees celsius and I got in 2 hours and 45 minutes of walking. 

Friday I'm doing another crafty girl's night, and this one is hosted by my friend Sarah, who wants to do 'papier mache' (pronounced 'pap-yay mash-eh'), as the Brits, (and I guess the French) call paper mache.  I may stick to my knitting and sewing; I'm up in the air.  The weekend will also involve fun visits with my inlaws, my youngest siblings, and a nice walk in High Park with a friend of ours we don't see enough.

I'm soon going to be investigating the hours of a couple of local vintage shops my friend Cindy and I are going to visit in April.  I'm hoping they do Sundays.  And, finally, I've decided tonight that I'm going to join up with - committing for one year only - the Weekend to End Breast Cancer.  A friend who is heavily involved (and part of the International Woman's Day event I volunteer with) asked me to join her team.  I've decided that it will be a good opportunity for me to do something 'good' outside my field (mental health), and get more exercise.  The hard part is I need to raise $2000 to do it.  But I like the challenge of having a financial focus beyond my own situation to help me maintain some perspective. 

That's all the news,

xo Tara

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Man Vs. Debt

I've just heard about this website, that sounds amazing.  A quick peek revealed their motto:  'Sell your crap.  Pay off your debt.  Do what you love.'

Sounds catchy.  I'm definitely looking into it some more.  See the link below.

Man Vs. Debt

xo Tara

Monday, March 15, 2010

No News is Good News

Guys, I'm pooped.  It's 11:11pm on Monday the 15th, and I have nothing to report, except that I am still staying true to the plan and haven't bought anything new for 2.5 months now. 

I'm so tired I can't stop eating, so I am putting myself to bed. 

Sorry to be so boring.

xo Tara

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mall Walking

I had to go through the mall today on the way to the grocery store.  A few subtle pangs as I walked by a store advertising a magic pair of pants that would make my life perfect.  I realize that I can't have a perfect pant life this year.  Ah well.

Better news is that I'm pretty sure I'll be doing the vintage shopping spree over Easter Weekend, so that is coming up soon.   And also, another pal to the rescue - I'm going to sift through my crafy friend Sarah's stash of extra yarn on Friday next week, so I can get some do-it-yourself supplies without shopping.

I've spent a very low key weekend, mainly walking, shopping for food, and cooking and eating.  I did go and check out our local rep cinema, The Revue, and I LOVED giving my money to a non big box cinema.  It was a kind of funny crowd, very mixed and independent and the perfect place to go see a movie on your own.   

Hope your Sunday is filled with joy, ease and light.

xo Tara

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Check out this Poem on Shopping posted on Brooks Palmer's Blog

Brooks has posted a sweet poem by a woman named Faith Shearin on his blog.  I've pasted an excerpt from his blog below.  I'm going to follow his advice and attack my closet sometime this weekend.


Here's a beautiful poem that sums it up:

by Faith Shearin

My husband and I stood together in the new mall
which was clean and white and full of possibility.
We were poor so we liked to walk through the stores
since this was like walking through our dreams.
In one we admired coffee makers, blue pottery
bowls, toaster ovens as big as televisions. In another,

we eased into a leather couch and imagined
cocktails in a room overlooking the sea. When we
sniffed scented candles we saw our future faces,
softly lit, over a dinner of pasta and wine. When
we touched thick bathrobes we saw midnight

swims and bathtubs so vast they might be
mistaken for lakes. My husband's glasses hurt
his face and his shoes were full of holes.
There was a space in our living room where
a couch should have been. We longed for

fancy shower curtains, flannel sheets,
shiny silverware, expensive winter coats.
Sometimes, at night, we sat up and made lists.
We pressed our heads together and wrote
our wants all over torn notebook pages.
Nearly everyone we loved was alive and we

were in love but we liked wanting. Nothing
was ever as nice when we brought it home.
The objects in stores looked best in stores.
The stores were possible futures and, young
and poor, we went shopping. It was nice
then: we didn't know we already had everything.

"Shopping" by Faith Shearin, from The Owl Question. © Utah State
University Press, 2002. Reprinted with permission.


Julia Mossbridge said...
This one made me cry! You're really speaking a radical truth here. Through the door of stuff...perfect for this world!
Phil said...
"we liked wanting. Nothing was ever as nice when we brought it home." Once again, super powerful.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Unbooked Weekend

I'm really excited about this weekend because it is full of unplanned time and I am excited to do nothing or alternatively do whatever I feel like. I'm have a low key evening - my wife went to bed early and I'm getting my blog on then I'm going to hog the remote and watch some decadent tv.

I got this tip re: buying handmade gifts from my friend Cindy It seems like a nice way to go if you are buying things. Weezi

Also, my sister tipped me off that the woman who created the Story of Stuff is coming to Toronto to the Manulife Indigo to do a reading at 7pm on Tues. April 20th, and also that April 15th is 'give your stuff away' day.  I'm going to look into more details about that one.  But I have already got that night off to go and see her.  If you haven't checked out the Story of Stuff, do it!

Happy Weekending

P.S. thanks to the three lovlies who emailed me today with positive feedback.  I surely do appreciate it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March Break

I gave myself a one day March Break by taking a vacation day today. The weather was a dream, somewhere above 10 degrees with the sun shining. I was going to go at my closet with an unsentimental vengeance, but got talked into going to the Y for a gravity class. I hemmed and hawed and then gave in and decided to walk there. The class was good, but grueling, and then I decided to walk to the credit union, and then to my second job (March Break ended at 5pm), and so on, and so on. I ended up walking for 3 hours in total! This is kind of funny, because I've been struggling to walk even 20 minutes a day. The sad truth is, I think I'm a turning into a bit of a stingebag because I gave my wife my metropass and it burns me to buy tokens or pay cash to use the transit. It is so late in the month it feels wasteful to buy a pass now, and yet, I use transit most days 5-8 times.

I'm going to try and channel this unattractive quality into me getting more exercise and this will also help me with the Laing Family weight loss challenge - part 3. In case I haven't mentioned this, several members of our clan and friends are on round three of a biggest loser challenge and this seven week session has a prize pot of $750 dollars. Just think of all the thrift store loot I could get with that much money.

I'm planning a vintage shopping spree for either Easter weekend or late April, depending on my vintage guru friend Cindy's availability. I have yet to get involved in any clothing swaps. I was hoping that the 'Swap Don't Shop' people would post something, but their blog has been inactive these past 3 months. Maybe I can try to arrange something with some likesized people. That's the key to a clothing swap. Mine will need to be with generously proportioned pals - it would be such a drag to only be able to try on the scarves and handbags. I guess if I get around to that closet purge I may get more motivated to work on it.

My Lenten Vows are hit and miss, for those of you who are wondering. I have occasionally eaten later than 7pm, and have occasionally not exercised my daily 20 minutes. Actually today probably caught me up for a few of those days. I also did some Hail Mary's to atone, but my Catholic wife told me I needed to do at least 20 at a time, and 'Silently, please', so it was less fun than I thought it might be. I am being somewhat gentle with myself on my failures re: Lenten vows and also my 'extra rules' for No New is Good News (the eating in restaurants alone part). Sometimes I do eat alone in a restaurant for a meal, so that I can eat earlier than 7pm. My various goals can be mutually exclusive at times and I am too old to go to bed without supper!

I am firmly not being flexible about the 'no new stuff part', and today marks 70 days of not buying new stuff. I'm wondering how the Compactor's Club is doing (their goal is 3 months without shopping).

I am still enjoying food shopping, and to make it more interesting and healthy, I've set a goal of working my way through a cookbook of healthy salads, and have done 4 in 4 days. It's actually good, because if you only freestyle your cooking, everything starts to taste the same.

Okay, Ima hit the sack with some light reading a well deserved tall boy.

xo Tara

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Reason Not to Cave

Guys, this is yet another sign that the universe is corresponding to the nature of my song.

I was about to cave and get myself a pedicure. Not 'new stuff' per say, but still against those stupid, damn ground rules I set for myself on Dec. 30th. My toe nails are so brutal right now it defies credulity. So, what happens tonight, but I meet a colleague and friend - a lovely woman who is involved in the big IWD event I help out with for women who use shelters etc. - and she says to me, 'Tara, I'm going to be taking an esthetics course, can I practice pedicures on you?' What? Yes!

She is plotting her retirement and wants to do a bit of esthetics after she retires. I promised to promoste her travelling (couples friendly) pedicure service and give her wine in exchange for her desperately needed pedicure services this year.

So, once again, thank you universe, (and Ellie).

xo Tara

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Money Stuff

My friend Sabrina asked me a while back to let her know how much money I was saving by doing this no new is good news thing.

It is hard to be precise, because while I have not bought new things, (and as yet have really only bought one blazer for my wife at Value Village), I have been stocking up on 'experiences'. (i.e.: trip to Newfoundland, the Olympics, etc.)

But, here are a couple of money claims I can make:
1. I haven't cashed in my Canada Savings Bonds yet in 2010. (I have money deducted by my work every pay, and usually cash it in regularly to use it for trips, gifts, or shortfalls. It is my short term savings.) My lofty goal is to not cash it in for the full year and create a stash of savings that is not part of my RRSPs. So that's $1800 I would not normally have, accumulated since January 1st.
2. I paid off my Giant Visa Bill in full ($15,000), and my wife got the limit lowered to $2000 to prevent that obnoxious balance from ever happening again.
3. I paid off our washer/dryer in full.
4. I put $10,100 on my RRSPs, thereby maximizing them, and am already starting on investing in 2010's so I can do it gradually.

I know this money stuff makes for some seriously sexy reading. But, the gist of it is that we are really taking care of business this year, and getting well in hand for me to go down to one job by Sept. 17th, 2011. My magic deadline. I'm not sure if I will enjoy actual retirement as much as I will enjoy going down to one job.

xo Tara

Monday, March 8, 2010

Almost Like Shopping

This is kind of funny. I had to go by my sister's because a friend of ours will be staying at her place for a few days and she is out of town. It was short notice, so I popped over to make up the bed, lay out towels, make it nice etc. My sister texts me, "Help yourself to anything and feel free to borrow anything."

Here's what I took:
1. Her spare pillow! I think it's only been slept on a handful of times and it is so deliciously springy.
2. 2 shirts from her closet that still have price tags on them (extremely close to shopping - without the guilt or the expense).
3. 2 magazines.
4. 2 books.
5. The salsa and chips from her cupboard.

So satisfying. I must remember to go 'almost-shopping' from her stuff again if I feel my resolve diminishing.

Nighty Night

Happy International Women's Day

Hi there,

I'm off sick today, and enjoying a little down time at home. In case anyone is counting, I've had 67 days of not buying anything new. Off the top of my head some things that have been tempting are: a new travel mug (I stupidly left mine in a grocery cart), a new pillow (mine is so lumpy and hateful), a pot (that is bigger than my tiny one and smaller than my giant cauldron), and a new Drowsy Chaperone mug (I broke my wife's).

It does feel a little strange that I can't buy a new book, or pen, or cup, or newspaper, or or or. But, I like that I'm doing it despite it occasionally being a pain in the butt.

I'm off to finish up my dinner. I'm working my way through a cookbook of healthy recipes to try and eat better. Today's is Nicoise Salad.

xo Tara

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday on the Road

Hi there,

I don't have a lot to report. We are off to Hamilton to visit my inlaws for the day, and then we'll head home and superficially check out the Oscars (while I give myself a free, substandard pedicure). But, in line with 'nothing new', I went to a film at the 'Revue' an adorable old theatre that was saved from demolition by it's neighbourhood (Roncesvalles) a little while back. It felt good to support a cool, older rep cinema versus going to the mega box ones. (That said, we will be going out to see Avatar at some point soon).

A new project for my 'no new is good news', is a vintage/preloved/thrift store shopping tour of Toronto. I've got a list from Now Magazine I've been looking forward to testing. So, Cindy, if you want to get started planning a trip to Toronto, I'm ready! Let's get on it.

P.S. If anyone has used store suggestions, please lemme know.

xo Tara

Friday, March 5, 2010

One Lantern Comes Home With Me


 I forgot to include a picture of my favourite souvenir.  I got it on Monday morning as I strolled through downtown Vancouver - they were taking down the decorations from all the Olympic hoopla.  It was sort of melancholy.  My sister describes it: 'Like the day after prom'.  I grabbed myself one of the lanterns that made up the Granville Street exhibit pictured below.  They were made by school kids and then printed on waterproof canvas of some kind.  The installation was lovely to see at night.  I think my lantern that says 'Recycle!  Change is in our hands.  Re-use Reduce Recycle!' complete with drawings of kids from around the world, was a perfect free souvenir for me and this year.  I only hope I can live up to it's sweet idealism.

xo Tara

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Just the Needs, Thanks

Today I'll be brief, as I'm swamped making my lists for an International Women's Day event I help organize for 200+ homeless women, women who use shelters, and supportive housing, etc.  It's on Friday, so as the volunteer coordinator, right about now is when I start tearing my hair out.  But, it always ends up being a very positive day, albeit exhausting.

An observation about needs...  I had to spend a couple of hours at the mall for my job yesterday, helping someone who is incredibly uncomfortable there.  I noticed that it is way easier to stick to only buying 'needs' (versus wants) if I don't spend two hours slowly strolling back and forth at the Eaton Centre, for example.  I didn't actually buy anything.  But I started to feel a craving and an unwholesome interest in the latest shoes and handbags, that's for sure.

Okay people, Ima keep out of the malls as much as possible these next 10 months. 

xo Tara

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Free VIP tickets from the kindness of a lifelong friend, Photos as Souvenirs, and Borrowed/Gifted or Won Swag.  This is how I survived Vancouver 2010 without buying anything new!

Monday, March 1, 2010

2 Months Under My Belt

Hey! It's March 1st and I have made it through 2 months without buying anything new.  I feel like celebrating.  Probably with food.  It's still been relatively pain free (although I do have 10 months to go), and I am happy.

I'm heading home to Toronto on the red eye flight from Vancouver tonight on what will be the busiest day in the history of the airport.  We have been told to get there 4 hours before domestic flights.  That's a long time to hang in the airport without shopping for unnecessary trinkets.

The Olympics are over, so the city is likely happy to see the glut of crazed, patriotic people move along home.  It was a cheerful mayhem here yesterday from about 9am till way after 2am.  I told my wife it was like Pride but with straight people and flags.  The sun came out for the only time during my trip as the Gold Medal game played, so even when the USA tied it up, I had some faith that the blue, sparkly sky was a good omen.  It was so sweet and warm we didn't even wear jackets.

Off to do a last walk about and get some Vancouver Sushi before my pre airport nap.

xo Tara