My Family Gave Up Shopping for a Year

| by MomLogic
Guest blogger Elizabeth Liu: Guess what I did to celebrate my 30th birthday? Brace yourself: I gave up shopping and needless spending for an entire year!

shopping bag
I'm doing OK, although my husband might disagree, since I did consider divorcing him last week over an accordion file folder. I thought it was a necessity; he claims it fit under the "needless shopping" category. I still love him. Just a little less.

I embarked on this yearlong project because our family shops way too much. Every weekend, every holiday, every vacation, every lazy afternoon, I dragged my husband and my daughter to a mall, home-decorating store, discount store or craft store to scope out the merchandise and practice my big talent: bargain hunting. My daughter Cal is only 10, but she can rifle through a mountain of wool sweaters and scout out a beautiful find in just the right size in less than thirty seconds. I'm afraid Cal's early memories may consist of dressing rooms and checkout lines.

Before the project, as a reward for a good grade, we treated her to lunch and an expensive doll accessory from her favorite store, American Girl. After just a day, these toys would get stuffed into a box, never to be seen again. Shortly after I embarked upon my spending freeze, I suggested that we start a garden with herbs, fruits and flowers, and that every time she achieved a goal, she would get to pick out a new plant. Her eyes dimmed as soon as the words were out of my mouth. She had no enthusiasm for the idea, and she made it clear by shedding a few tears. What she really wanted was a sparkly new pair of shoes or a new ice-skating outfit for her doll -- not a mint plant.

Instead of buying gardening books at the bookstore, we checked out several guides from the library and spent a Saturday afternoon buying a planter, a bag of potting soil and a few herbs. As she patted each plant into its new space, she began to smile a little. A few weeks ago, when we cut our first bunch of parsley to add to our homemade spaghetti, her pride was palpable. She tends to her little garden with more attention than she's ever given any toy.

Less than three months after starting our no-shopping project, we've gained more from digging in the dirt than from any sample sale treasure ... or accordion file folder. To read more about the project (and its challenges), check out my blog, FlourishInProgress.