Thursday, August 26, 2010


So I don't know if I mentioned this, but I'm moving. My boyfriend and I are moving out of the current place we share with a roommate to a place of our own.

We're very excited ... the new places is super cute, and two bedrooms which means we get an office/guest bedroom. It has a nice large kitchen and also a little outdoor space.

But it's also a little nerve-wracking. No, not because I'm worried about living by myself with my boyfriend or anything. But because, well ....

The other day I was talking to my friend about the move, and she said to me, "So you do know that you are going to have to BUY things, right?!!"


Yes, yes, I know I have to buy things. I know, I know.

And I know that I'll likely even have to buy NEW things. We'll still probably buy some used furniture, but since we are planning to stay in the Bay Area for a very long time (read: possibly forever) we also want to buy stuff with a sense of permanence.

So, you know, we need a bath mat. Hand towels. A doo-dad to hold soap so that the sink doesn't get gritty and soap-scummy. And since we're putting our old bed in the guest bedroom, we need a new mattress, sheets, and pillows.

These are things that we have to buy new. Because, frankly, used bath mats are kinda gross, and what with all the bed bug pandemics, I'm not taking my chances with a used mattress.

Plus, there are the kitchen appliances and accoutrements we will now have to buy. And some of these we can buy used, but some of them will prove difficult.

So my point is, I have to shop.

And guys? I am *not* good at that.

Like, the other day, I spent several hours researching a new electric kettle. I want one with as little plastic as possible, that has no plastic coming in contact with the water. After hours of reading and reviewing and debating, I finally just gave up. And made a cup of tea in my old, completely plastic-and-likely-leaking-toxic-chemicals, kettle.

Luckily my mother came to the rescue with a stainless steel electric kettle that is sitting around in her garage. I haven't looked at the reviews, but I don't care. After all it's used.

And that's the problem. Used stuff is so easy for me to buy. If it breaks after six months, I care a lot less. After all it was used. I probably spent $10. And while I'm obviously concerned about toxic chemicals leaching, I don't care as much about manufacturing impact when I'm buying used. After all, I'm not contributing to the manufacturer's profit, I'm delaying a product's trip to the dump.

With new, I feel like I need to do the research and MAKE IT PERFECT. You know, perfectly environmental, perfectly healthy, perfectly manufactured with fair wages paid to laborers, etc, etc, etc. But it's hard. There's a lot of information to dig through and while that's easy enough when you're buying one thing, it's a whole lot harder when you have to buy a dozen new kitchen things.

And that's the other thing. I am unsure of all the things I NEED and what I can at least put off buying. You don't know how much agonizing I had to do to convince myself that yes, a bath mat is NECESSARY. Because I don't want to live in a FRAT HOUSE.

What do I buy new and what do I buy used? Do I bite the bullet and buy a new trash can? (Those things are surprisingly expensive.) Or do I scour Craigslist and hold out for a used one? What about canisters for sugar, flour, and rice? What about wooden hangers and picture frames?

And, and, (I understand that this is turning into a long, babbling post, this is what the prospect of shopping does to me) WHERE do I buy all these things? I'm not shopping at Target (see previous post) and I am kind of philosophically opposed to Ikea, which I believe makes crappy, cheap furniture enabling too many college students to adopt a "buy new and dump it next year" approach to furniture when they could be buying stuff off Craigslist.

So what does that leave me? Is Bed, Bath, and Beyond okay? Do I want to know if it's not? Can I buy a bath mat at an independent store? Will it cost me $50?

The point is people, that THIS IS WHY I DON'T SHOP. Because it makes me a nut case. So if you see me at the store staring vacantly at the trash cans for an hour, do me a favor and give me a hug. And then tell me which trash can to buy.


Kelly S. said...

You will probably at least have to buy something at bed bath and start collecting the 20% off coupons from friends and family Advice for this in general...take someone with you. Do a little at a time. Have a great list and take measurements before you go...even if you think you don't need them. Also, do not be afraid to say you don't like it when you get it home...I've taken a bunch of things back in our adventure to furnish our home...

L said...

I've been where you've been and I've had to live that life. When I do shop, I look for good quality, I can spend over a year researching one particular item before I ever end up making the purchase, just to make sure I need it.

I agree with you on the bathmat. I'd say dive in and make the purchase or even check out garage sales or better yet, since you're moving an estate sale. You can usually get everything you need right then and there.

I moved 3 times in the span of less than 2 years and realized that I took a lot of stuff with me (and bought a lot of NEW stuff too) that I didn't need. When I made my final move (hopefully for the next few years). I didn't buy anything new and even left a lot of stuff with my roommate. If I ever needed it again, I could go back and get it (I never did) or see if I could really live without it.

You just don't really know what you need until you move. I must say that I don't hate shopping, but I hate the act of actually spending my hard earned cash...oh and the length to which I will research any NEW product for purchase (again, can take well over a year).

Just start with the basics, you'd be surprised by how little you'll end up needing. And I agree with Kelly, start collecting those 20% off coupons and check out the sales racks of the places you end up visiting for those new items.

Lee said...

Re: the kettle - have you looked into places like The Warehouse?

I bought our kettle there really cheaply, and it is stainless and cordless.

The only plastic it has is the heater mat and cord, which connects up to the kettle but isn't in actual contact with the water you drink, and a filter attached to the spout, which we pulled off.

Other alternatives are kettles that sit on the hob of your stove and aren't electric at all, although from what I've seen, they're a lot more expensive.

I chose our electric one, even though it does have the plastic heater mat, because it cost about $30, but the ones that sit on a heater element on the stove cost about $200. That was too much for our family budget.

Take time over furnishing, and also take the time to ask friends for their leftovers. A lot of the time people have doubles of stuff and extra bits that they don't need that they'll happily give away- they're clutter to them, but useful to you.

If you think before you buy (which of course you will!), you'll be fine.

Crunchy Chicken said...

You need a bathmat? I haven't had one in 5 years. For when I shower, I just use whatever shirt is going in the laundry. Call me white trash, but...

In any case, don't feel like you have to get everything at once. Only buy stuff you feel like you really need. As in, "I really wish we had an XX" right now. Otherwise, you might end up getting crap you'll never use.

ruchi said...

Yes, you're all right. I think the key is to go slowly and buy a little at a time instead of feeling like I need to get everything done in a couple weeks.

Ivy said...

Go slowly.

Start with things you know you use a lot. Add in the others--odds are there are a of things that you can sub in, and determine what you really need.

In my case, absolute essentials include a tea kettle and a really good hand mixer. Your mileage may vary. But don't let anyone else's list dictate what you need. Let your habits do that.

Rosa said...

If you go slow, you'll find that a lot of stuff just finds its way to you.

Because probably most of the people in your life have the problem of too much stuff. Like your mom with the kettle in the garage. Just kind of put the word out that you're shopping for whatever, and most of it will turn out to already be there somewhere in your friends network.

Also maybe you should read The Paradox of Choice and work on being a satisficer instead of a maximiser?

mary h said...

Okay, first take a deep breath. Relax and laugh a little. I feel pretty much the same way you do about shopping. So take it slow, try to have fun with it. Buy only when and what you really need to, buy used when possible, make creative use of simple things(we use a large shell from the beach for a soap dish, a bath towel on the way to the laundry for a bath mat - I like Crunchy Chicken's use of a shirt the same way :))

Katy said...

I have so been there. I have no advise to offer though. I moved into my first apartment at the same time my sister was getting married and merging her stuff with her new husband's so I pretty much just took whatever they were getting ride of.

I agre with others though. Just get basics for now. Things you know you activly use everyday. Like pots and pans and drinking glasses. Everything else can wait, and you just might find out that you don't need that bath mate after all.

Color Me Green said...

towels also work well for bathmats and saucepans for tea kettles. so yes, it's good to slowly evaluate what you really need. reading your posts about shopping are like reading a page from my own brain. i was supposed to move into a new place with my now-ex-boyfriend and he wanted to buy brand new tv, new bed, etc and it made me freaked out! in the past, when faced with getting stuff for a new place, i have looked on craigslist for furniture-y things and just admitted defeat and gone to target for others (like trash cans, etc). etsy is also a good resource for finding cool stuff for your home - i got a bathmat made from recycled tshirts on there.

Aydan said...

I recently moved into a new apartment, and I really understand this feeling. You just do the best you can do, and move on!

Marino said...

re; bathmat.
Maybe just use one of you're regular towels as a bath/shower mat. I usually just put the smaller towels or the older ones to use for this. You can usually get towels second hand too.

Apparently if you soak old towels in a white vinegar solution it makes them fluffy again.