2009: Twelve Months of Living Better with Less

by Tess

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cc 2009: Twelve Months of Living Better with Less photo credit: ken +

I’ve taken a week off from the world of blogging. I’ve been in Michigan visiting my mom (age 88), dad (age 89), new grandson (Henri) and the rest of my large family. Smart business move? No. Smart relationship move? Definitely! Happy New Year! -Tess

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent.  It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction. ” ~E.F. Schumacker   

It all happened four months ago while getting ready to meet friends for a night out. In my bedroom, frustrated and mad at myself I began tossing things out of my closet and drawers in a frantic search for my favorite pair of jeans. In one moment of sanity I swore off buying any new clothing for one year. I ended up wearing something else and gave the area a quick glance over my shoulder before walking out. Again, I swore to myself no more new clothes for one year. Then I’ll re-evaluate.  

I remember when I was first married and the only clothes I owned fit neatly in three dresser drawers. I owned one pair of Levi jeans.  I remember life before $10 movies and $5 coffee. It seemed to me all was simpler then. 

Today I not only feel empowered by my decision but I’m determined to eliminate more unnecessary spending. Every month in 2009, I am choosing to eliminate one unnecessary purchase from my life, cold turkey.

In January,  I’m eliminating designer coffee. It’s a bad habit and it’s costly. I’m going to purchase a good coffee maker and brew my own coffee daily.

In February, I will let go of purchasing any more magazines. The magazine subscription I buy from my nephew, a boy scout will be sent to as a gift to a friend.

In March, I’m eliminating new shoes. I don’t want to even admit how many pair I own. I have two daughters that sell shoes. I wear the sample size and get all I want free of charge. Why would I need to purchase anymore?!? I had one pair of shoes growing up, one pair! I will reevaluate the shoe thing in 2010.

In April, I will no longer be purchasing any hard cover books.I will allow myself one paperback or E-book per month. I will rediscover the radical notion of the library. Imagine thousands of books, CDs and DVDs for free!

In May, I will no longer purchase greeting cards. I will create my own or send free E-cards.

In June, I will eliminate buying food in airports. (We travel a lot.) I will pack snacks in my carry on bag.

The next six months…to be continued after more reflection.
The United States at one time had the happiest citizens in the developed world, now it is number 23, according to research from the University of Leicester. Depression, alcoholism, drug addiction and suicide rates have soared. Fewer than one in three Americans claim to be “very happy.”

Personally, I believe it has something to do with our retail addicted society searching for happiness outside of themselves vs. within. It makes sense to believe if we all decided to live better on less we could increase our happiness, get out of debt and protect our environment at the same time. Please let me know your plan for living happier on less in our tough economic times?

“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society. When the visitors came in larger and unexpected numbers there was but the third chair for them all, but they generally economized the room by standing up. It is surprising how many great men and women a small house will contain. I have had twenty-five or thirty souls, with their bodies, at once under my roof, and yet we often parted without being aware that we had come very near to one another.” Visitors, pg. 135 -Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond475ABD1B3FA44CD4EC623D9B512EE2D6 2009: Twelve Months of Living Better with Less

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    { 8 comments… read them below or add one }

    Neil January 3, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Great post Tess! I re-discovered the library a few months ago and since then I’ve read about 15 books. Had I bought these I’d be down over $150, instead I only had to pay a $0.20 late fee. The real joy was all the books I read were new and current from authors I was interested in.

    The designer coffee is another great way to save. While I’m a coffee free person, I know the drain it puts on my friends wallets and I just don’t get it.

    Thanks for sharing your goals, I look forward to reading about the results and enjoy the time with family.

    Neil’s last blog post..Boring Is Beautiful


    Tess January 3, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Two words on the coffee thing: Bad Habit! Maybe a little laziness as well. Insane I know!

    Tess’s last blog post..2009: Twelve Months of Living Better with Less


    Stacey / Create a Balance January 3, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    I’m thankful I do not have a shopping addiction. Shopping is more of a bother and less of a high for me. I am cutting back on processed foods and scary diet foods containing strange sounding chemicals.

    I plan to live happier in 2009 on less food, but the food I choice will be natural, fresh, and good for my body.

    Stacey / Create a Balance’s last blog post..Celebrate Your Life Friday! 01.02.09


    Tess January 4, 2009 at 7:48 am


    My addiction was certainly new clothes the rest of the things I’m eliminating are methods to be more frugal. I’ve been reading Zen Habits for over a year now and Leo has inspired simplicity in me!

    As for healthy food, I grew up on a produce farm and eliminated red meat from my diet when I began running at 27. I don’t keep any junk food in my home. It drove my kids crazy while growing up.

    It’s not that I never eat it. When I do I purchase it in a single serving and am done with it.


    Jannie January 4, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Well, wow you have some super-great goals!

    $5.00 coffee, ouch. I was feeling bad over my $1.75 splurges in that area. Altho I did buy a bag of ground stuff that lasted for about 15 cups or so, dripping it in my one-cupper here at home.

    Magazines – that’s a great one to eliminate, I haven’t had any subscriptions in years.

    You are too bold to be stopped.

    Jannie’s last blog post..And now that meme!


    Jannie January 4, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Whoops, forgot to answer the question you asked. Me?

    I don’t buy clothes or shoes anyway. Guess I could chop a ton of firewood and sit by the fireplace with the house heat turned to 68?

    Jannie’s last blog post..And now that meme!


    Jannie January 4, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Whoops, forgot to answer the question you asked. Me?

    I don’t buy clothes or shoes anyway. Guess I could chop a ton of firewood and sit by the fireplace with the house heat turned to 68?


    Betsy January 6, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    I love it. I have fallen into the same trap…..great deals but still way too much jewelry etc.

    My 12 items I am giving up as far as buying any more until the end of 2009 are:

    clothes for me
    fast food
    hair coloring/highlighting, will do myself
    hard cover books
    Christmas stuff
    frames (will reuse the ones I have)
    electronics (have too many right now!)
    make-up, until I am ALL out of something
    stationery, will make own

    I know this sounds pretty aggressive, but I can try. I am so grateful that you gave me the idea and incentive to do this!! Happy New Year.


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