September was an acquisitions heavy month, but very little of it was purchased by me or my husband. Here are the non-consumables we bought:
- gorilla glue — to fix a broken blind
- batteries — I am not sure if these should be classified as consumables or not… but we bought some to have on hand when it seemed like we might get hit by Florence (we weren’t).
- reusable silicone food bags — I ran out of the ziplocks I’d been washing and reusing for a year and decided to replace them with a reusable option.
- car seat — our baby is coming pretty soon! Car seats are one of the few things you should not get used for safety reasons, so we bought a car seat at Target. We were able to turn in an old booster seat we had picked up for free at their trade-in event for a 20% off coupon, and stack that on top of a 20% of sale. We used the coupons to buy an already-on-sale seat and wound up paying $73. We also are getting an extra base free since we have two cars and the manufacturer was running a promotion.
Now for the stuff other people bought us… we had a coed “baby’s coming” party for with our families last weekend. We did not make a traditional registry, but I have been keeping track of the baby items I’m hoping to get on Encore, a second-hand registry site. We didn’t distribute registry information to invited guests but a few people asked for our registry so I shared it. There were some comments about it… particularly that it was rather sparse, but we’ve already gotten so many hand-me-downs and used items that there isn’t much left that we need! We still ended up with what seemed like a ton of stuff, but I expect it is way less than most people get at traditional baby showers. A lot of people got us used things, which is what I wanted and I was happy with that. I definitely appreciate everyone’s contributions. We were lucky to get a bunch of cloth diapers to try out, some disposables for when we get desperate, and lots of other useful stuff. I think we are mostly set on baby stuff at this point.
August was a less purchase-intensive month than June, and about the same as July. I bought a few baby items:
- a couple of outfits at a thrift store for my new niece
- a few things for our baby at a garage sale (two onesies and a portable changing pad)
- fleece fabric to make reusable baby wipes
- some elastic to make some old sheets into bassinet sheets
- babybjorn bouncer — I splurged on this one. This thing is very well reviewed and after seeing how much my niece enjoys her Rock n’ Play I decided we should get something similar for our baby too. Snagged it off of Craigslist.
I also got some baby things for free:
- adapter for our stroller so we can use it with a car seat (someone happened to be giving it away on Nextdoor)
- a bunch of newborn onesies
- three swaddles
And we did get rid of some items as well:
- gifted a bag of girly summer clothing to my brother and SIL for their new baby
- sold some stools that we used in our old apartment, but don’t need anymore
My big confession: I went crazy and bought 10 pairs of shoes. I know that sounds insane, but hear me out. I have a hard time buying shoes. Two months ago, I bought five pairs online and returned all of them because not a single pair fit correctly. I could buy shoes in a store, but the deals are much better online, and there is a much greater variety available. I needed to get a pair of flats and could use some new sandals. I found a great deal on eBay — it’s this company that resells customer returns. These items can’t be sold as new since they have been tried out, but have very little wear. I bought a couple of pairs of boots that I already own since mine are almost worn out and I love them. I also bought three pairs of sandals, two pairs of flats, and a couple pairs of professional shoes. I spent about $130 for all the shoes. I’ve decided to keep only 3 pairs, but am undecided with what to do with the rest. Here is the breakdown:
- Clarks boots — the same exact pair I already own — keep
- Dr. Scholl’s black flats — keep
- Clarks pewter flats — keep
- Clarks boots — the same pair I own in a different color — arrived in the wrong size, so I was refunded, but do not need to return — sell
- Dansko clogs — arrived in a bigger size than expected — already sold
- Dankso oxfords — arrived in a bigger size than expected — sell
- Trotters sandals — too small — sell or return
- Hokus Pokus sandals — too big — sell or return
- Franco Sarto loafers — too small — sell or return
- Teva sandals — too small — sell or return
You can see the last four items are all ‘sell or return.’ I could return them and get my money back, but the return shipping costs for that many shoe boxes would likely be steep. I may try to sell them on Poshmark. I’m going to box them up and see how much it would cost to return them, then make the call. I already sold the Dansko clogs on Poshmark for a (small) profit and am confident I can do the same with the other Dansko shoes. The less well known/desirable brands may be harder to sell though.
To make room for the three pairs I’m keeping, I am getting rid of two pairs of sandals (even though I am not keeping new sandals). The boots will go into storage as my backup pair when my current pair wears out.
All told, the purchases above netted $155. That’s the second highest spending month on non-consumables (and non-travel) so far, after June. I think I can get this number down to under $100 after selling and/or returning a few more pairs of shoes.
During September, I’m going to focus on making more space for the baby. I’m reading The Joy of Less and am planning on going through our whole apartment to declutter (again… it feels like I am always doing this). We’ve been gathering lots of baby items, but we haven’t been clearing out space for them. So far we have had enough room under the bed and in closets, but things are getting a little tight.
I said I would try to be better about purchases during July. I believe I was, even though the list of purchases below is quite long. However, almost all of it was purchased used, for a good deal, and is pregnancy/baby related. I have been carefully watching Craigslist, Nextdoor, local listservs, and Freecycle for pregnancy/baby items and have found some great things.
Things purchased used:
- ergobaby carrier — this was a good find since they retail for over $100. It’s a bit faded, but looks nice and clean after a run through the wash. $8 at a garage sale
- ergobaby infant insert — this allows the carrier to be used with infants as small as 7 lbs. $4 at Goodwill
- baby bath — I debated not getting one of these, but it was so cheap and it does seem easier than holding the baby in the bath. If it doesn’t work for us, it was only $2 at a garage sale
- 2 books — to read at the beach. Normally I’d get library books, but these were $1 paperbacks at a garage sale and I can pass them on when I’m finished.
- 1 shirt — a bright, open colored shirt to wear during pregnancy bought for $1 at a garage sale
- maternity clothing — someone was destashing their maternity wardrobe. They were selling everything for $200, but it was way more clothing than I needed — she had 14 dresses alone! It also wasn’t all my size (assuming I don’t gain 50 more pounds this pregnancy). I think I nabbed a pretty good bargain on things that will keep me comfortable and feeling more stylish than usual during pregnancy. All told, I got 6 dresses, 4 pairs of leggings, 1 pair of jeans, and 3 tops for $60. I probably could have bargained this down further, but I got a good deal. I have been kicking myself for not getting a few items that were available like a brand new sweater and some workout bottoms, which I probably could have gotten with the same lot without increasing the price, but I was trying to keep the purchase small. I think this puts me at under $200 for all maternity clothes so far, and I am hoping I will not want or need anything else. The only possible things I may get are shorts since I haven’t managed to find a pair yet and possibly a coat. It’s already August and at 23 weeks I can still wear my pre-pregnancy shorts for now, so I think I can make it through the summer with the hair elastic trick. And since I am due December 7, I am hoping I can avoid getting a maternity coat. Hopefully I can just wear the one I have open the last few weeks. It usually stays relatively warm in DC throughout the fall.
Things I got for free:
- Uppababy bassinet and stand — I was thinking we’d get a minicrib and buy a new mattress for it given our small space, but I got an email on a listserv about someone giving away their bassinet and decided to go for it. I should be able to wash all of the soft parts and plan to get a new pad for the bottom. I’m hoping this will work for us for the first 3-4 months and it’ll be nice to have the baby next to the bed at the same level as me, and to be able to rock him/her (the stand rocks). I also got two free sheets with the bassinet.
- Amazon registry welcome box
- Babylist welcome box ($4.95 shipping)
- a stroller — someone gave away their Baby Jogger City Mini GT stroller for free. It was covered in mold, but a few runs through the washing machine on the sanitizing cycle with bleach and then oxyclean has it looking much better. The canopy is a bit faded, but it otherwise looks fine. We can buy an adapter for less than $20 so we can use it with a Graco car seat for when the baby is too young to sit in the stroller. This stroller retails for over $300, so I’m pretty pleased to have rescued and restored one rather than bought it new.
It may be a bit early to be collecting all of these baby things since we hopefully will need to store them for 17 or so weeks before the baby arrives. However, garage sales only really happen in the summer and early fall, and some of the free deals are too good to pass up.
I did resist making any purchases on Amazon prime day. I seriously considered buying an Instant Pot, mostly to make dried beans, but I held off. I have not bought anything new all month that was not consumable.
This blog is about buying nothing, but one of the aims of the project is to save money and reduce waste. One of the ways I do this normally is by buying used and donating items I no longer want. Since I am bending the rules of my buy nothing year due to pregnancy, I have been cleaning out my closet and updating my wardrobe with maternity items, plus gathering baby/kids clothing. ThredUp is a site that allows you to buy and sell used women’s and children’s clothing that I’ve used a few times so I thought I’d write a review to share my thoughts.
I have used ThredUp both to sell clothing and buy clothing. I still have about $50 of credit with them that I will likely use for baby/kids clothing, but after that credit is gone I do not plan to buy or sell anything through them again. Here’s why:
Selling: It’s hard to predict what ThredUp will accept. I’ve sent in two stuffed to the brim bags and I estimate they accepted about 1/3 of the items in them. The other 2/3 they claim to donate, although now they have this rejects section of the website where they appear to be selling lots of clothing they did not accept. Of the items they do accept, I find the payouts are typically pitiful. They then turn around and sell these items for 10+ times what they gave you for them. An example: I bought a dress new for $15 on sale. I sent that dress to ThredUp and they gave me about $1 for it. They are now selling it for $19. I know they have to recoup shipping (well, with one bag I had a $10 shipping fee deducted from my credit, but with another I just got less for each item) and that they have to pay people to inspect, photograph, and ship the clothing. It still seems like they give too little for what they charge. I’d rather just donate or give away clothing, or if it’s nicer try to sell it myself.
Buying: I have gotten some things that I like from Thred Up, but I could have gotten similar things at a thrift store for less money. Sometimes they do have good sales, but oftentimes items that are on sale are not returnable. That means you are committing to an item you have not seen or tried on.
Most of my clothing I buy used at thrift shops. I like trying things on before I buy them and I also enjoy the thrill of the hunt. I have also occasionally bought things online, usually used, when I am looking for a specific item. I wanted to replace my shorts that I loved and wore til they were falling apart with the same pair and found them on Poshmark, so I bought them. I wanted a wedding dress at a reasonable price and had no luck in person, but I found one I loved for $40 on eBay. I have also bought some new things on Amazon when the need arises, like workout clothing. There is a time and place for online shopping, but most of the time I’d chose other sites over ThredUp.
As expected, I did not succeed in buying nothing this month. I did redeem last month somewhat since I returned all the shoes I bought. Not a single pair fit properly (sadly). I also never got the sunglasses in the mail, so cross those off the purchases for last month. I’m going to divide my purchases into new and used to make myself feel better about the amount of stuff below. Costs are rounded estimates.
- maternity clothes — five sweaters, two pairs of jeans, one shirt, one dress (not technically maternity but stretchy) ($50)
- duvet on eBay — this was completely a non-necessary purchase. I was getting tired of the loudish pattern of our duvet and bought a plan white one. I can rotate them while one is in the wash now ($20)
- a clip on high chair — this was our first baby purchase. We got a good deal on Facebook marketplace ($20)
- pinking shears — I made wax wraps as part of a gift for a friend’s wedding and I bought pinking shears to finish the edges. I plan on making my own reusable wax wraps so I thought it would be good to have this tool on hand. ($10)
- reusable produce bags — I bought these to avoid using plastic at the grocery store ($10)
- a gift for my sister-in-laws bridal shower — I could have made a gift, but I decided to just get some things off their registry. I got her a couple of swaddles and some books. ($50)
- a pregnancy pillow — I really wish I had not bought one new since it seems like many people give them away or sell them cheaply. This was my gift to myself after a successful NT scan at our 12 week appointment. ($45)
- home supplies — brackets, screws, and washers to fix some broken dresser drawers and a slab of wood to turn our small tv table that we keep on the porch into a big enough table to eat on. ($15)
- a gift for my mom’s birthday — most of her gift was consumable, but I did get her a float to use down the shore and a book to read to her grandchild. ($15)
Estimated cost for everything: $235
That seems like a lot of stuff when I look at the lists. It didn’t feel like I was buying a crazy amount, so this is a reminder that this is what happens (for me) when I stop imposing strict rules. I do kind of need some new things since I’m 17 weeks pregnant, but most of this stuff is not directly related to my pregnancy. I’m going to consciously dial it back in July. Prime day is happening in July though so we might buy some baby gear if it is really on sale. We will be trying to get most of our baby items used, but a few items like car seats should be purchased new for safety reasons.
The biggest fail for me is not the amount of money spent or the number of items brought into our home, since it really doesn’t amount to too much. I spent way too much time looking for these things though. I have been working on a list of baby items we’ll want/need and have read way more than necessary about it. I’ve been trolling Craigslist and eBay for good deals on baby and maternity stuff. It’s just taking up too much brain space. I think part of this is driven by my anxiety about becoming a mother. Part of me thinks reading about what I’ll need and getting those things (at good prices of course) will make me feel more prepared and in control. In reality, we don’t need all that much and reading about strollers is not going to help me be a better mother. I also have very little control. I can eat well and take care of myself, but I can’t guarantee our baby will be healthy. This month I am going to work on focusing on remaining calm, accepting what comes, and avoiding panic shopping.
Hungry Harvest is a relatively new company that sends you “rescued produce.” I think Hungry Harvest ties into my Buy Nothing goals in three ways: it reduces waste (which is not an explicit goal of the project, but is part of the motivation for owning less stuff), saves us time grocery shopping, and probably saves us money. The company’s two goals are to reduce hunger and food waste. The boxes are made up of items in that would have likely ended up in a dumpster, but are still perfectly edible. Some of the reasons produce is rescued are:
- it’s too big or small
- it’s too ugly or “unique”
- too many grown
Hungry Harvest also donates rescued produce to food banks and runs food markets in undeserved communities. They sell for about half the price of grocery stores and accept SNAP.
We’ve had about 5 deliveries of the mixed full harvest, which costs $25.00 and includes both fruits and vegetables. Here are all the items we got in one box:
- 1 pound brussels sprouts
- head cauliflower
- head cabbage
- honeydew melon
- 4 nectarines
- 1 lb tomatoes
- 4 yellow bell peppers
- 2 zucchini
- 4 sweet potatoes
- 4 empire apples
The $25.00 price means that each of these items was about $2.50, which I think is pretty good, but also not a super amazing deal. I usually tack on a dozen cage-free eggs, some lemons, and few avocados so we reach the free shipping price of $29.99. We tend to do a delivery every two weeks to give us time to finish everything. I am considering trying the organic box, which is a bit more expensive at $40.00. I’m curious to see how it compares.
So far, I’ve been satisfied with the quality and variety of the boxes. We’ve have had a few duds (overripe avocados, blood oranges that are past their prime), but usually the produce is in good shape. Sometimes we struggle to get through the whole box before items start to go bad, but the presence of so much produce in our fridge encourages us to eat healthier and be creative, especially when they send items I would not have picked out, like romanesco broccoli.
Right now they only deliver in certain areas. If you are interested in seeing if it’s available where you live and giving it a shot, you can use my referral link for $5.00 off your first delivery. I’ll get $5.00 off too if anyone uses the link.
The first four months of this challenge were more or less smooth sailing for me. I was not tempted to buy much at all and I think I accomplished my goals of 1) saving money 2) accumulating less stuff and 3) spending less time shopping. Things have gone south quickly during May though. However, it’s for a very good reason! My husband and I are expecting a baby. I’m still fitting into all my normal clothing right now, but since I will need new clothing at some point I didn’t see any reason not to start getting prepared. I bought three dresses, a skirt, and two tank tops. I don’t want to suddenly not be able to fit into anything and not have anything to wear. Since the challenge seemed to be going down the tubes already, I decided to update my shoes and get a new hat (to replace the one I recently lost) and some sunglasses (I also sadly lost those). I ordered three new pairs of sandals because the ones I own should be thrown away, but they will all be getting returned due to poor fit. I also ordered a pair of black flats (an essential in most women’s wardrobe) and tan flats. I have feet issues, so making sure I’m wearing solid shoes is important. It’s been a bit of a spending/buying spree the last week or so and I don’t feel great about it. Still, I’ve spent less than $150 on all of these items and I’ll be getting about $50 of that back once I return the sandals. I also sent a big bag of clothing to Thred Up, so I have some space in my closet for the new purchases.
We are holding out on baby purchases for the time being since we still have quite a while left before the baby arrives. I’m working on building a minimalist baby registry and am also excited to thrift lots of items — baby and maternity items seem like the perfect thrift material since they are used so little! I know there are some items I can’t buy used (a car seat and sleeping surface for example), but lots can be bought used. A friend of mine has already gathered a huge bag of baby clothing for free through her Buy Nothing group, so we don’t really need any clothing for the first six months! She gave me some new clothes too, satisfying my need for change without shopping (even though I’ll still need to shop for some maternity stuff).
So where to from here? I no longer think it is realistic to buy nothing for the rest of the year. I am planning to continue to update this blog monthly with purchases and will also add anything we receive as a gifts. I’d love to read about exactly what things a couple expecting their first child acquires, through gifts and on their own, and what they actually use. I’ll keep track of it here. I’ll be trying to keep things minimal — we will see how it goes!