Buy Nothing January Update
Well January is over, and my buy nothing experiment is approximately 1 month old. You may remember this started as a buy no clothes for 2018 experiment, but after reflecting upon it I thought it was just too easy. After taking inventory I realized I had enough clothes to last me years, so I expanded the experiment to more categories. I didn’t decide to start exactly January 1, but in reality I didn’t really buy much of anything those first few days of 2018 before I published the article.
As promised, here is my monthly update so you can follow along with us. Although Mrs. Happy Philosopher is not doing the experiment, she graciously agreed to document all her “stuff” purchases for completeness. Before I published the buy nothing article I purchased a couple of gifts for my daughter to give to a friend for her birthday. Aside from that we collectively bought nothing.
Remember, not everything counts as “stuff”. I outlined my guidelines in the original article. I’m listing everything that is either a gray area or things that are not clearly food or “grocery store” type purchases (soap, razors, toilet paper, medications, etc.)
Here are our purchases for January:
Mrs. Happy Philosopher and family:
- Shower curtain ($11) – This replaced an old shower curtain that was turning a disturbingly bright shade of pink. It lived a good life, but it was time to let it go.
- Club soccer practice shirt ($8) – Mandatory for soccer practice and the old practice shirt was too small.
- Picture frames ($37) – These were to frame two posters my daughter received for Christmas to hang on the wall.
- Art canvas ($8) for my daughter.
- Cook book (free) – This was a gift from a friend who had duplicate copies.
- Faucet gasket ($2) – My kitchen faucet started leaking. I thought replacing the gasket around the sprayer would work. I was wrong. This lead to my next purchase…
- New kitchen faucet ($140) – After replacing the gasket, sprayer (which I returned) and attempting to take a hose off (which I would have had to destroy the original faucet to remove) I gave up and called a plumber. He struggled getting everything disassembled, but now we have a new faucet. I put this firmly in the necessary home repair category. Why anyone would design a faucet and sink that is this difficult to remove is beyond me.
- Pack of circular scrubber brushes ($5) – see below.
- 1 bolt, hex nut and a few washers ($1) – see below.
- TurboTax ($40) – I’m not smart enough to do this by hand.
- Garage door battery ($6) – Needed.
- Sunglasses ($0) – I found a pair of glasses I thought I lost! How is that for winning? I was very sad about “losing” these and although they are not a purchase, it feels like I got a new pair.
- Grout ($10) – see below.
Overall I would call this month a success. We purchased very little stuff. Even Mrs. Happy Philosopher, who is not constrained by my ridiculousness, didn’t purchase much. The scrubber brushes, grout and hardware need an explanation though, as they are on the edge. When the faucet was replaced I couldn’t help but notice that the grout in our kitchen (we have ceramic tile counters – which is a bad idea I might add) was becoming unacceptable. No matter how well the grout is sealed and cleaned, it just starts to look terrible after a while as the grease and grime from everyday use discolors and stains it. I decided it was about time to clean it and reseal. After scouring the interwebs for how to best do this, I decided I needed to construct this ridiculously awesome device which you attach to a high speed drill.
Now technically this is probably “stuff”, but it is not like a shirt or a television. It’s not really something I can borrow like an edger or extension cord. I looked all over my house and couldn’t find an acceptable brush. I didn’t think Mrs. Happy Philosopher would be too happy if I used the vegetable scrubber on the grout. I actually found an old toothbrush, but there was just too much grout for that, and I was a little suspicious of that green and blue stuff that seems to be on all toothbrush bristles. I actually used both in concert and it was a pretty manageable job.
Grout VS. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
The problem is I went down the rabbit hole of “better is the enemy of good”. Once I started cleaning the grout, I noticed that a few areas were lightly damaged, and other areas were just permanently stained. The cleaner I got the grout, the worse the marginal areas looked. It was as if my kitchen counter was mocking me. Every time I put something on the counter, the bad grout would look up at me and laugh, reminding me of my failure. Maybe this was some sort of deep seated psychological flaw incepted upon me in childhood, but I just couldn’t let it go. I blame my parents.
I looked through the cabinets and found some old powdered grout, which I assumed was left by the contractors that built this place. The instructions were a bit murky and involved gallons of water and a bucket. I certainly didn’t need that much grout so I just started mixing a little with water until it looked about right…as if I knew what grout was supposed to look like. I scraped out some of the stained nasty grout with a screwdriver and applied the new mixture. It wasn’t a total color match but it looked better. I let it dry, sealed it up and congratulated myself on my awesomeness…
It turns out either:
- Grout expires or…
- I messed things up or…
- Mrs. Happy Philosopher sabotaged the grout somehow
…because the first time I went to clean the new grout I noticed it was turning to sand and rubbing off. This was not good. At this rate I would need to re-grout daily. I made a trip to the store and got some already mixed grout (see above). It was much better and actually worked. Our grout now looks amazing. I still have a few areas to do, but overall I’m just happy this leaky faucet didn’t turn into a $30,000 kitchen remodel.
January was a low consumption month for us. The main point of this experiment is not perfection, or to save money, or to be minimalist for the sake of it. It is to just become more aware and conscious of consumption. It is designed to change the way I think about buying stuff. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years it is that we are simply a collection of our habits, and when we can make the good ones easy and automatic, we can focus our energy on other more important things. On to February!