A Year of Secondhand Living

Over the past few years, I have been making career decisions based on interest and passions, rather than money. In terms of my happiness, it has been a great host of decisions. In terms of finances, though…well, I took a pay cut to move into child care. And then I took a pay cut to nanny. So now I am making less than half of what I was making two years ago. And suddenly, that means that some changes need to be made in the way that we live life.

I’m okay with that. I mean, I have always valued contentment and direction and purpose over having a lot of money. But, of course, our world runs on money, and having none of it isn’t really an option at this juncture. I’ve been making a conscious effort to reduce expenses: I contacted my cellphone company to see what they could do about reducing my bill (it went down $12 a month right now, and will go down another $20 at the end of my contract in 2 months), I have reverted to the envelope system for all non-necessary purchases, and I have drastically cut back on how much I eat out.

But as I was going over my own personal expenses from the past few months, I realized that there was something else that I could do. I noticed that I had made quite a few clothing purchases, which surprised me, because generally, I don’t spend much money on that. But several hundred dollars had gone towards revamping my wardrobe. And while I do not regret that in the slightest (I love my wardrobe now, and rarely have any problem picking out what I am going to wear, finding that nearly everything goes together and I am comfortable in all of it), I could have reduced those expenses quite a bit by doing one thing: buying it secondhand.

Which gave me an idea. I had read an article on Coffee + Crumbs a few months ago about how Anna Quinlan had gone a whole year without buying anything new. What if I did the same thing?

And so, a challenge was born (y’all know how much I enjoy a challenge, right?).

The terms of the challenge are simple: for one year, starting on November 1, everything I purchase will be secondhand. There are two exceptions to this rule: 1) things that cannot be purchased secondhand for whatever reason (ex. hygiene) and 2) gifts. Otherwise, everything brought into our home will have been previously owned. I believe that this will force us to re-evaluate what we actually need, as well as push us to be creative in how we obtain those objects.

I’m a little cowed by the prospect, I don’t mind telling you, especially because I will be embarking upon it right before the holiday season, and we are also hoping to get pregnant again within the next year. I thought about delaying it, but then I realized that, at any time, I could probably come up with ten reasons why it would be easier to do it some other time. So I shut those excuses in a box in the back of my head and decided to just do it.

Have you ever done anything like this? Do you have any tips or tricks for me? I would absolutely love to hear them!

A Year of Secondhand Living