Saving my money, but “spending” my time

080402 shopping cart cupholders
Photo by Dan4th

Have I ever mentioned that I am addicted to shopping? Not just casual shopping, either, but walk-up-and-down-every-aisle shopping? Yeah. I am… and I really need to kick the habit.

We spent months before our trip getting rid of stuff so Greg could move in. We made multiple trips to Goodwill, had a garage sale, gave things away, and returned stuff to its rightful owners. However, we still have way too much. There are piles of stuff in my bedroom and office. My closet and dresser are filled. There are scrapbooking supplies in boxes all over the craft room floor. (The photos and memorabilia are stacked in boxes which have been stash-and-dashed into Quinland’s bathroom.)

Obviously, there is nothing in the world that I actually need.

But, you must remember, this is an addiction, and ever since I got home, I have been craving a trip to Goodwill. (The only thing that gives me a greater-than-normal shopping rush is getting a good deal while I am at it – and if I am also reusing something, all the better for the world.) I told myself that I didn’t need anything, but my addicted self told me right back that I was just going to look, not buy.

I held out for exactly four days.

Last night, I took Quinland on a little shopping expedition to Goodwill and Value Village. I did more than look. (My addicted self is a liar.) At Goodwill, I bought three books – one for myself, one for Q, and one for a gift – and a yoga mat. At Value Village, I bought Q some stuff for her Halloween costume and bought myself a picture frame. Not too bad, and I could rationalize the need for most of it – but still, not necessary.

Worse yet, it unleashed a shopping monster within me. Today, I went to T.J. Maxx (where I didn’t buy anything) and K-Mart (where I got Q the thumb drive she needs for school). Yes, I am proud of myself for not bringing unneeded stuff into the house. But even though I didn’t buy anything, I’m still frustrated with myself, because I wasted an incredible amount of time for nothing. Yes, I enjoyed myself. I love the act of shopping as much as I do the act of purchasing stuff. But I have much better things to do with my time.

Much Better Things I Could Do With My Time:

  • Hang out with my family
  • Find my keys
  • Sort through paperwork
  • Work on the travel blog
  • Do some scrapbooking
  • Visit with friends

See what I mean? Any of these – and I could go on and on with the list – would be more useful and/or enjoyable than shopping for nothing!

How about you? Do any things recently you later regretted? Have a list of ways you would rather be spending your time? Feel free to chime in and let me know that I am not alone!

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful for the gorgeous sunshine we have been having this week. It’s by far the best weather we have had all summer!

How to lighten your load (with a little help from Ryanair)

On Thursday morning, we left Portugal, flying from Porto to Barcelona.

For weeks ahead of time, we had been stressing out about the flight. You see, Ryanair only lets you have one item of carry-on luggage, and that single piece has to contain within it every single other thing you might have with you, be it a purse, camera, or laptop computer. In addition, that piece can weigh no more than 10 kilos and be no larger than 55 x 40 x 20 centimeters. If they discover you have violated any of these sacred covenants, you must pay a fee of 50 euros to check your bag at the gate.

To make matters worse, Ryanair’s checked baggage is limited to 20 kilos per piece. If you exceed this, you are charged 20 euros per kilo. We paid to check two bags (at an ungodly price that was more than our own tickets), so there was no way we were prepared to pay any overage charges.

The problem? We had departed for Europe with:

  • a) one checked bag weighing 23 kilos (black suitcase);
  • b) one checked bag weighing 20 kilos (blue backpack circa 1988);
  •  c) one checked bag weighing 17 kilos (green backpack circa 1992);
  • d) three carry-on bags weighing an unknown amount, but two of which exceeded Ryanair’s carry-on size limit (black duffel bag and Quinland’s IKEA backpack; the other, my green album tote, was short enough and narrow enough and exactly deep enough); and
  • e) one personal item each (two purses and one camera bag).

This became our own personal story problem. If three people have way too much stuff, and they have to stuff the stuff into a space much smaller than humanly possible, how much stuff will they have to get rid of? Answer: a whole bunch.

First, we had to get another suitcase. This sounds counter-intuitive, but those dang backpacks we checked were small and – much worse – did not roll. We now live in the age of wheels, and you know what? Wheels rock. Backpacks are for the young and foolish, my friends. Rolling is vastly preferable.

Back a zillion years ago on Game Night, I had spied a shop selling bargain luggage. I tried to interest David in it at the time, but he was too interested in various boards and bits to want to shop. Now, however, time was running short. A big rolling suitcase had become a dire necessity. We headed back to the soccer stadium-slash-mall and found a huge red rolling bag, purchased it, and loaded it with groceries. (You can’t put those wheels to waste.)

Next we had to get a device to measure the weight of the bags. We are now the proud possessors of a handheld scale that can also weigh fish and has a measuring tape so we can figure out who caught the biggest one. I devised a way to use it to weigh the big bags without severing our fingers by hanging the scale from my green backpack’s shoulder strap. I am going to patent this idea and make millions.

Round 1 of “Dump! That! Stuff!” soon commenced. We decided that the purses and the camera bag would have to go into the checked baggage, as would the zip-off backpack from Q’s IKEA bag. My carry-on would remain the same, but we’d have to take care not to overstuff it since it was skirting the edge of doom; Q’s IKEA bag would be her carry-on, but could only be filled halfway; and David would carry on the green backpack, turned inside out. He had cleverly realized that with its outer pockets turned inside, it would meet criteria.

The first things dumped, then, would be our other two bags. The black duffle bag was a freebie from Office Depot, so that was no big deal. We’ll need to have a moment of silence, however, for the blue backpack, which had been purchased for my trip to Ireland in college. Its loss was made a bit easier by the knowledge that there was no way in heck that I was going to willingly carry that sucker on my back ever again. We gifted it to the guy who owned the tasca downstairs, which made it much easier. I think we also accidentally gifted him with CDs of a bunch of personal photos, including some flattering “Before” pictures of myself in my skivvies. I didn’t figure this out for a couple of days. David sees no big deal in this, but he doesn’t have his belly hanging out in front of perfect strangers. Anymore.

By the time Round 1 was finished, we had gotten close to our goal. We’d ripped useful papers out of spiral notebooks and tossed the rest, gotten rid of any and all duplicates (CD/DVD case), and figured out what could be replaced later (bottles of conditioner). We still weren’t there, though, so it was time for the real sacrifices. I gave up my black skirt; David gave up one of his four pairs of pants; and Quinland, in a true act of self-sacrifice, gave up her dress shoes. (The one time she wore them, on Easter Sunday, they hurt her feet and she walked home barefoot.)

According to the fish scale, we’d finally done it! We were at exactly 20 kilos per checked bag and 10 kilos per carry-on. We’d lost sleep and sightseeing time and stuff, but our mission was accomplished.

Of course, Ryanair neither weighed nor measured any of our luggage when we checked in… but that’s a different story.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! that I have developed my abilities to release my stuff (though it is often done under duress!).
  • I’m lighter! by what feels like a ton of stuff. I am sure we could get by with even less, easily, but we held on to some comfort objects and some of potential use.

Garage sale exhaustion

Whew! I am getting tired of this garage sale, and it hasn’t even happened yet! For those who are not up-to-date, here’s the scoop. It’s January (cold). It’s Portland (wet). We need to have a garage sale. We decided to have it indoors.

Let me give you a little glimpse into our home right now:

Living room. Can’t really live here right now.

Do you see the tables and the piles of stuff? Virtually everything you see is for sale. Of course, you can’t tell what it is, yet, because we don’t have it Beautifully Merchandised.

Looking into the dining room. Can’t dine here, either.

The stuff behind the glass doors is staying, and so are the tables and chairs, lamps and artwork. Everything else goes.

The other side of the dining room.

Did I mention we have a ton of excess stuff? I have been ruthlessly purging and this is the end result. We are moving everything we want to keep up to the top floor, so that everything visible on the main floor is for sale. (We are going to cover all the bookshelves with sheets since those are the books we are keeping.)

Here’s the family room! Can’t really hang out in here right now.

The books we are selling are on two other bookcases in the family room. In the photo above, the baskets are sitting on one, and here is the other:

Looking toward the garage door from the family room.

I left the books in boxes in case someone buys the shelves out from under the books.

We took a pull-up bar and put it between two walls to hang clothing on, but I couldn’t get to the laundry room or the garage without seriously doing the limbo, so we are hanging the clothes here in the fake window for now.

Crazy, huh? We’ll finish setting up tomorrow, price on Friday and sell on Saturday. On Sunday, everything that is left on this floor will be boxed up and taken to Goodwill. I can’t wait.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! that it is almost over! (and that we leave in 40 days).
  • I’m lighter! I keep finding things to throw into the sale. Books, files, baskets, boxes… Having a deadline like this is really motivating.