I have kinda wondered about this. I think of you sometimes when I buy things. It will cross my mind that I could probably do without the thing I'm buying and I think "Arduous wouldn't buy it". Sometimes that thought makes me put the thing back on the shelf. :) In a way, I'm glad to know it's still a little hard for you because somehow it makes me feel less bad abut myself for being a consuming loser. I'm not sure how that logic works...Are you going to start shopping again when the year is up? If yes, do you think it will be fun or make you feel guilty? Are you going to write a book about it?
First of all, I think it's important that I'm honest with all of you. Yeah, a lot of times, I'm a reasonably happy non-consumer, but there are days when I'm not. I have also been known to over-compensate by buying more food than I really *need* just because I desperately want to buy something. I also buy more experiences these days, like concert tickets and theatre tickets, partly because not buying stuff means I can afford more concert tickets, but also because buying concert tickets gives me that momentary "thrill" of buying something.
So my point is, yeah, sometimes not buying stuff is hard. It's not always hard. And Beany's experience which she also commented on has been similar to mine. The less you shop, the less you desire to shop. And I've found that for about 90% of the things I covet, I forget about them a week later. Even the Wii, which I really want, I know I wouldn't play that often. I know I'm better off just playing it occasionally when I go to a friend's house. As for the baking dishes and mats, I obviously don't REALLY want them or I'd find them used. And that's what not buying new does to you. It makes it harder to find stuff, because you have to go to Craigslist or Ebay or garage sales. It's still not that difficult. But it's more difficult than going to the mall or Amazon or what not. Which means that when I buy stuff, when I go through the hassle of searching for something used, I know it's something I really want, as opposed to just a whim.
Which leads to the question, what am I going to do when my year is up? And the answer is, I don't know. I've had moments where I thought I'd go on a shopping spree, and others where I thought I'd keep up the non-consumerism. Obviously I can't keep it up to the rigidity that I'm maintaining now. I'm not buying any clothes until August at all. Eventually, I'm going to have to buy some clothes. They might be used, but I'd still be buying. And as I'm never going to buy used socks or underwear, I'm eventually going to have to buy new clothes sometimes too.
I think in some ways I could do okay as a more or less permanent non-consumer. I was never a huge shopper to begin with. The things I really like to buy are things like books and CDs that are widely and easily available used. But I feel a little guilty about buying all my books used. I've enjoyed many a book since August, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Not Buying It, Garbage Land, etc, and not one of those authors has seen any money from me. That seems ... wrong somehow. Music is a little easier. I can buy music off of iTunes and the artists receive their royalties. But, it's not the same thing as buying a CD from a member of the group after their show at Spaceland. Buying off of iTunes is necessarily impersonal. That doesn't mean it isn't worth the savings of plastic cases and plastic CDs. It probably is. But I think it illustrates that the politics of not buying are more gray than black and white.
I think, regardless of what I decide come August, that what is important is to be a mindful consumer. A lot of the tips you read about on financial/debt blogs are relevant to everyone. If you want to buy something, sit on your impulse for at least a week. If you still want it after a week, buy it. If you're like me, after a week, you'll have completely forgotten about whatever it is you wanted to buy.
I want to always think about my purchases, and ask myself if I really *need* them. This is tricky because I know I'd probably win a gold medal for rationalizing at the Olympics. But I have to be honest with myself. Will I use this every day? No? Once a week? Once a month? If the answer is fewer that 2-3 times a month, then I probably don't *need* it.
And ultimately I have to keep in mind, that you can't take it with you. Ultimately it doesn't matter if my pans are Calphalon or not. What matters is the time I spent with my friends and family. What matters is experiencing the art that makes the world a more beautiful place. What matters is living life, not accumulating stuff.
So no matter what I decide in August, I won't choose to be the same consumer I was a year ago. Because even if I buy, even if I buy new, I will be buying with my eyes wide open. And I think that's the important thing.
Oh, and no plans for a book. But if someone wants to offer me a publishing deal, I won't turn them down. Just sayin'.