Thursday 30 October 2014

I haven't bought anything new in over six years. . .

And it has cut the stress in Katy's life hugely, writes Lisa Jewell

As we pay off our Christmas bills and adjust to the new Budget changes, everyone will be watching their spending this month.

But could you make your money go even further by radically changing the way you think about consumerism and buying things? What if you buy virtually nothing new and, instead, go the second-hand route when you need something?

That's what one woman has been doing for the past six years and says it has enriched her family life and reduced her stress levels.

Katy-Wolk Stanley, from Portland, Oregon, has talked about her thrifty ways on NBC's Today show and in American newspapers.

The 44-year-old mother-of-two lives by the motto 'Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without'. She first decided to change her consumer ways back in late 2006.

"There was a small group of friends in San Francisco who decided to stop buying anything new," she says. "I read about them in a piece in my local newspaper. It very much appealed to my nature as I thought that this shopping culture had really taken over.

"I had started to notice just how much stuff we bought as a family. I was always wondering how the house was so cluttered and it was because we were getting all this unnecessary stuff."

Katy decided to try it for an initial month in January 2007. Once that month was up, she was hooked on this new way of life and hasn't gone back.

"The people who originally decided to do this didn't do it for financial reasons. I'm fortunate that my husband and I both work so we do have enough money for the essential bills. But when it came to all of the extras, we had to work more hours to afford them.

"We didn't change our ways to primarily save money – it was more about sustainability – but it has helped us financially. Both of my kids study Japanese at school and they've each had a few school trips to Japan which we've paid for. I was chosen to be a chaperone too.

"In one year, we spent $8,000 (€6,050) on those trips to Japan. If we'd been spending like normal Americans, we wouldn't have been able to afford it."

Katy and her family don't buy new goods – with a few small exceptions including underwear, personal care items like deodourant and food.

"I'm not sure what used food is but I know I don't want it," she laughs.

Katy buys clothes from local thrift stores or consignment stores (where people sell off their clothes).

"I'd always enjoyed going to thrift stores for vintage items for the home but I hadn't bought clothes there before. I didn't really enjoy shopping for clothes in the mall. It's very nice to not have that be a part of my life."

One of the benefits of living a less consumerist lifestyle is that the family have more time together.

Irish Independent

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