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Things I Should Never Buy

There are a couple of items that I should never buy unless there is an exceptional reason because 1) I already have so many of them and 2) more importantly, having more of them (in quantity or variety) will not make me any more happy.  (Unlike dresses or shoes, which buying more of often does make me happy.)

These items include:

1)  Pens

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As a big fan of office supplies and a former pretty gel-pen collector, I have a lot of pens.  A LOT.  Some of them I bought.  Some of them I got for free at an event of some sort.  Some of them I received as a gift.  And some of them just magically appeared.  The amount of pens I have could probably last me a decade.  Maybe even a lifetime considering I don’t hand-write very much these days.  So there is definitely no point in me buying another pen.  Ever.  My favorite pens tend to be the ones I get for free anyway.

2)  Nail Polish

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Most of the nail polish I own were bought or received as a gift during my undergrad days when I used to paint my nails almost every other week.  Now I only repaint my toes once a month at most and I haven’t painted my fingers in years!  I already have way more nail polish than I need (maybe over 20 bottles?) and I stick to the same colors over and over again (pink, lavender and red) so I don’t need a large variety.

3)  Eyeshadow

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I recently finished an eyeshadow palette that I received as a gift 8 years ago.  I know, I know…that thing probably expired 6 years ago.  The palette was the size of a half-dollar and it only had 2 colors.  Even though it was the only eyeshadow I used, it took me so long to finish it because, up until recently, I didn’t wear make-up very often.  Since I get sample-sized eyeshadow from Clinique once or twice a year when I buy my favorite face cream (Clinique has awesome gift with purchase sets!), I have more eyeshadow palettes than I can ever finish using.  In fact, I’ve collected so many samples-sized palettes over the last 10 years that I started giving them away freely to friends.

I’m sure there are plenty more things that I won’t ever need to buy any more of but these are definitely my top three!

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Things I’d Want to Start Spending Money On

Summer has been a productive season for me so far.  I’m almost done scanning all of the papers from my finance classes.  I’ve given away several miscellaneous items that were sitting around my apartment and my mom’s house collecting dust.  And this past weekend I went through all the linens that have been resting on the top shelf of my mom’s closet for years (we ended up donating 3 trash bags full!).

All this purging and simplifying has gotten me to think – with all the money I save from not buying excess clothes, shoes, accessories, lotions and potions, etc. is there anything that I’d want to start spending some money on?

Yes.

1)  Massages

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Back massages in particular to help with all the aches and pains I feel on my upper-back.

2)  Juicing

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Not necessarily as a cleanse but as something that will help me meet my daily veggie intake.  I’m sure the expensive green juice from Pressed Juicery is way healthier and more effective than Green Machine from Naked or Very Green from Trader Joe’s, which are the brands I drink now.

3)  Regular Trims

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The hair stylist that I’ve been going to since college charges $45 per trim, which isn’t bad considering how good of a job she does.  But at that rate, I’m a little reluctant get my hair trimmed more than twice a year even though my porous strands probably need to be trimmed at least once a quarter.  Once in a while I’ll get so annoyed with my dry/damaged/split ends that I’ll just go to the cheap Chinese salon down my street to get the job done for less than half the price.  I always regret it afterwards!  So it’d be nice to get my hair trimmed at my favorite salon more regularly.

4)  Groupon/Living Social Activities

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These sites always have so many fun activities to try for a good price!

I guess the big picture is in addition to wanting to own less, I also want to experience more.

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I Still Get Tempted

to buy cheap clothes I do not need even though I know better.

During my lunch break today, I walked over to the mall with no real purpose except to get some exercise and soak up some vitamin D.  As I approached the H&M store and saw the big red and white “SALE” signs splashed across the entrance, I thought to myself, “I could use some more work clothes.”

Fifteen minutes later I was waiting for a dressing room with 5 items in hand.  The unmoving line and the fact that I only had 30 minutes left before my lunch break was over (I still hadn’t eaten) forced me to give buying more clothes a second thought.  Do I really need more clothes?  Of course I don’t.  So I put everything back on the sales rack and left.

Even though I rarely ever need more clothes, I do have a limited amount of work pieces, especially ones that look truly professional (not just a top + black pants + cardigan).  In order to continue dressing for “the the job I want” like I have been doing more of lately, I will eventually need to add some more blazers, suits, business skirts, etc. to my wardrobe.  So when would be a good time to add more clothes without feeling guilty?

I’ve decided to approach purchasing new clothes with the same method I use for purchasing a few other items on my wishlist – I will set a related organizing/decluttering goal and once that goal has been achieved, I will make my purchase guilt-free.

For instance, I really want to buy the Chanel Baume:

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But I already have a bunch of partly used lip balms and chapsticks (doesn’t every girl?!).  So to keep myself from adding another one to my collection, I’ve decided that before buying the Chanel Baume, I’m going to finish using all the ones I have first.

I also want to buy this folding bookcase for my loft:

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Since extra furniture could potentially add clutter, I decided I wouldn’t buy it until I’ve organized all the paperwork I have at the apartment.

I’ve also been eyeing this photo scanner for the past few years:

41r1cbT7mPLBut I decided I wouldn’t buy it until I’ve organized all my digital photos first.

So for clothes, I will try not to buy any more until I’ve gone through all the clothes I have and decided which items will be kept, donated or sold.

My exceptions will be a good pair of skinny jeans (one of mine ripped a few weeks ago) and any good item that I find at Ross, TJ Maxx or Marshalls.  The stuff I find there are usually wayyy too good of a deal to pass up.  Luckily I only have time to stop by those stores once or twice a month max!

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Contentment

The stick I made for measuring
I used most every day.
It helped me to compare myself
with others on my way.
I watched all those behind me,
or further down the road,
and I would readjust my pace
or lighten up my load.
The only real drawback
with how I ran my race
was watching everything around,
except my Savior’s face.

– Anne Peterson

(a good article on contentment written by the same author)

I wish contentment wasn’t so elusive.

I know I should be content, always.  It’s never a question of why, but a question of how.  How can I be content more often?

When I read this line from here:

“… and I realized how once again I have been focusing on MY perceived needs, MY feelings, MY desires to determine how my life ought to go.  When will I ever learn?”,

I realized that reading the Word and filling my head with truth is only half of the equation because my focus is still on myself.  I’m reading the Word hoping it will fill my needs.  I may be wrong but I think the other half of the equation is to focus on others and how I can meet their needs.  You know what they say, it’s better to give than to receive.  I’m sure it’s no coincidence that contentment is tied to focusing less on yourself and more on others.  Cause isn’t that exactly what our Savior did?  And wasn’t He was the most content of all?

So that’s what I want to try my best to do.  Follow His example and focus more on others.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

– Philippians 4:11-13

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Goodwill Industries vs. The Salvation Army

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Since I’ve been on a uncluttering binge these past few months, I’ve had to make several drop-offs to my neighborhood Goodwill.  A few times I’ve wondered what the difference was between each charity (most notably between Goodwill and The Salvation Army) and if one was better than the other.  But I never made the effort to seek out an answer…till today.

When my friends and I stopped by a Goodwill this past weekend, the subject of how these charities work came up in our conversation.  Do they really help those in need?  How much do the owners/higher-ups in these charities get paid? 

On a related note, yesterday I asked my pastor if his daughters needed anything because I have a lot of girly things that I plan on donating.  He said to just go ahead and “clutter them up.”  If there is anything they won’t use, they’ll pass it on to The Salvation Army.  I took the opportunity to ask him if there was a particular reason why they supported The Salvation Army and he told me that they are a Christian charity.  I had no idea!  He told me to look up the story of William Booth – the founder of The Salvation Army.  I looked him up today and was so inspired by his compassion for people and his enduring love for the Lord.

To be honest, I didn’t find too many independent articles out there with a thorough comparison of the two charities.  From what I read on Wikipedia, it seems like both of them began with a Christian foundation but Goodwill eventually became secular.  I think the important thing to remember is that both charities have done and continue to do amazing things for our country (and others!) so there is probably no real need to bash on one and rave about the other.

I will probably continue to contribute to Goodwill directly (since its closer to my house).  But I’m glad some of the stuff that I give to my pastor’s family will trickle down to The Salvation Army.

If anything, the biggest takeaway from my research is to stop buying so much stuff (especially clothes) altogether!  I came across this article today and I’ve never been more motivated to stop buying cheap, unsustainable clothes.  I have the author’s book “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” currently on hold at my local library.  I’m so excited to be educated on this subject and to pass the knowledge along!

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The Power of Habit

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As I mentioned in my first post of 2013, most of my goals this year are habits I want to develop.  So my friend couldn’t have introduced me to this book at a better time!  I used to be very adverse to reading books in PDF but since I’m not an avid note-taker, being able to copy and paste key points I want to remember directly from the PDF turned out to be one useful perk!

Here are the main points I jot down:

If you use the same cue, and provide the same reward, you can shift the routine and change the habit. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same. (55)

For most people who overhaul their lives, there are no seminal moments or life-altering disasters. There are simply communities—sometimes of just one other person—who make change believable. (73)

O’Neill believed that some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization. Some habits, in other words, matter more than others in remaking businesses and lives. These are “keystone habits,” and they can influence how people work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate. Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything. (80)

Take, for instance, studies from the past decade examining the impacts of exercise on daily routines. When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. It’s not completely clear why. But for many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change. (85)

This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives. (109)

“When people are asked to do something that takes self-control, if they think they are doing it for personal reasons—if they feel like it’s a choice or something they enjoy because it helps someone else—it’s much less taxing. If they feel like they have no autonomy, if they’re just following orders, their willpower muscles get tired much faster.  (112)

If you dress a new something in old habits, it’s easier for the public to accept it. (151)

However, to modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it—and every chapter in this book is devoted to illustrating a different aspect of why that control is real. (190)

If you believe you can change—if you make it a habit—the change becomes real. This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be. Once that choice occurs—and becomes automatic—it’s not only real, it starts to seem inevitable, the thing, as James wrote, that bears “us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.” (191)

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2013

I haven’t been as eager to make my list of New Years Resolutions this year as previous years.  I think its because when I think of resolutions, I think of something that can be crossed off my to-do list once completed like remodeling a room or finishing a book.  My goals are mostly habits that I want to develop (just look at my 2012 goals), which requires repeated effort until the desired behavior becomes automatic.

So this year, instead of creating a list of resolutions and checking my progress at the end of the every month like I did last year, I came up with a handful of habits that I want to have by the end of 2013 (most were on last year’s list): eating breakfast, waking up early, reading the bible every day, going to the gym once a week, updating my digital photo album, drinking more water, bringing lunch 2-3 times a week, doing 8 minute abs every day and eating more fruits and veggies.  Each month I will focus on developing one of those habits.  I’m sure developing one habit will inevitably lead to the development of another (i.e. waking up early would give me more time to read the bible in the morning/eat breakfast/do 8 min abs).  But to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed, my energy and focus will be dedicated to one habit over all others in any given month.

I didn’t give this much thought before the new year started so I wasn’t sure which habit to focus on for the month of January.  But after listing out my desired habits, I realize that I’ve inadvertently been drinking a lot more water these past few days because I’m on the brink of a cold.  So I guess that’s what I’ll focus on this month – drinking half my weight in ounces of water per day.

If someone cornered me and really pressed for my “New Years Resolutions”, I’d probably say take the CFP exam and finish reading all of the New Testament.

Happy New Year :)!