Day 17: Wanting it all

As this 30 Days creeps along, I find myself consumed by wants. There are few things we need–apparently I did way too good a job stocking up ahead. Maybe a dishwasher– but I’m sick of buying dishwashers. If it weren’t for the sad faces of my designated dishwashers after meals, I’d boycott the dishwasher altogether.

But the wants. They’re creeping into my daydreams in an unusually tenacious way. A cook top. New pots and pans. A kitchen floor. A dining room bump-out. I was even daydreaming about a whole kitchen remodel earlier today.

I have a theory: maybe my normal shopping habits quench my shopping urges enough that the urges don’t get too big. Now I’m feeling stifled so the longings are bigger.

But I’m not quite willing to just concede that I ‘need’ a certain amount of shopping to keeping my urges under control. I wonder what would happen during a longer stretch of not-spending? Would I crave shopping even more? Or would the longings eventually taper off, kind of like when you’re trying to cut sugar from your diet?

I don’t know, and I don’t think we’ll be doing this long enough to find out. But it has gotten me thinking.

Meals Today
Breakfast: Oatmeal and OJ
Lunch: A wonderful veggie soup (recipe coming soon) plus bread and apples.
Dinner: Tomato melts, cucumbers, and cookies

Cooking was a little light today because most of my ‘extra’ time went towards canning the last 24 quarts of applesauce. I am really glad to be done with apples, and was a bit dismayed that the kids came in from tomato-picking with a laundry basket full of tomatoes. Seriously, I MUST get done with all this canning!

To all of you who are doing the 30 Days along with me, have you found yourself wanting more and more as the month has gone on?

(For a list of others who are doing the 30 Day challenge along with me, see this post.)


  1. Yes and No. We ended up spending 3 months worth of grocery money this month because we got so close to the wire there for 2 weeks (see blog). It was scary and hard to figure out what to put together, especially since we didn’t have basics. One thing I learned though is that my body got used to certain foods and now that I’ve been eating more fruits and vegetables again (always the first to go, aren’t they?) my body is having a very hard time dealing with it. That’s why I’m posting this at 2AM, I woke up with the worst belly ache I’ve had since I was a child and I’ve narrowed it down to the green peppers I ate (stuffed with good things) for dinner. Ugh. Don’t even make me say ‘green peppers’ again or I may seriously yarf. Lesson learned. Take it easy!

  2. Mary,
    I have to ask: When the apples are all in jars and no longer on the trees or in the fridge, how many jars of apples will line your shelves?

  3. Mary, I notice that all your recent “wants” are related to your kitchen. You have to admit that with all the recent canning you’ve been doing, you’ve been spending a LOT of extra time in your kitchen – maybe that’s why you’re more aware of all the things you’d like to have there. Maybe if you did a 30-Days in the winter where you were just preparing meals and cleaning up, you wouldn’t notice it so much. Or maybe you’d find yourself wishing for other types of things. And then, that’s where your theory kicks in – you might eventually let it go if you were doing the no-spending thing long term. Or maybe you’d move on to another part of the house or your life, one that is figuring more prominently in your life at that moment…

  4. It’s kind of like a food diet and we all know that diets DON’T work. You restrict and restrict until ALL you can think about is the biggest, most decadent meals and desserts and eventually you binge. So I think there is something to ‘curbing you hopping appetite’ with the small things. I know when we are working toward a larger goal (like a repairing the overhang on our house) I have to keep my eyes on the prize – so to speak – and try to cut out the “snacking” – you know the spending a little here and there. It’s difficult, but if I don’t the overhang is going to fall right off the house – oops!

  5. You say that “cooking was light today.” I seriously think you need to reconsider that statement given the fact that you included making 24 qts of applesauce in the same sentence! That does not sound like a light day of cooking to me. And the tomatoes are next. It’s no wonder you’ve been daydreaming about an entire kitchen remodel. I would be too if I spent that much time in my kitchen. But while you’re dreaming let’s consider a restaurant style kitchen with a large Viking gas stone top and multiple ovens. Hey, you may as well make the dreams big, right?

  6. Laughing at your “no comment” commentary there. (“No comments yet? That’s just wrong. Quick, say something!”)

    Well, I haven’t officially done 30 days of nothing, but we’ve had something similar forced on us with paycuts and increased expenses. 🙂 I had the same thing as you at first, with the wants, and I think where it goes depends on how you respond to it. When I continually answer the wants with the reasons we are cutting back, the alternatives (for me, going back to work) and all the things I have to be thankful for, they start to go away and I find I much prefer the simpler life. There’s also a heady sense of accomplishment, being able to get by on little. Many of the things I used to want or even spend my money on now seem really silly to me. Putting our lifestyle into perspective helps too–even at our tightest, our lifestyle is truly luxurious compared to most of the world. (Not that I have to tell you that–I just mention it for the sake of conversation.) Contentment and discontent are similar in that whichever you choose to feed will grow the most.

  7. Well, I have to say, I’ve a few blogs where people have been cutting things out for a certain period of time – a week, a month, a year….I’m always surprised about how much people do spend/shop. We’ve never shopped like a lot of people do, apparently, but I do understand the “head shopping”. I do it all the time. I’m not “dieting” from shopping, but I still find myself thinking about what I *would* buy if I could. Most of my wants are either school or house related.

  8. Kudos to you for all the canning & involving your kids in the work. It sounds like you’re doing a great job!

    With all the canning, how does the other stuff (laundry, cleaning,etc.) get done? Do the kids help with all that?

  9. Great noticing. You may try noticing the thought that you have just before the thought you have about wanting something.

  10. On a mission trip to Russia a few years ago, our leader asked us to not purchase anything for ourselves, or souvineers for the first week of our trip. He talked about how, as Americans, we often use “buying things” as a way to make ourselves feel better – – if we’re uncomfortable, nervous, sad, guilty, etc – -much like I do with chocolate!! It was an eye opener for me to realize the psychological aspect of spending, as well as the realization that many people in the world don’t even have the option of “self-medicating” in that way!

  11. Mary,
    I have been following your 30Days a lot. I want to tell you something that worked for me. We used to use credit cards, then pay the balance 100% each month. My husband liked it that way because we got cash back and could track the categories of our spending easier. Well, I would find that my wants got out of control and I wasn’t able to value the money in the right manner since it wasn’t actually passing through my hands(I would not overspend, just make sure that I spent my whole budget-I figured if it was mine for the month then I had better use it). I decided to start taking my monthly “allowance” out as cash instead. It has been probably 5 months now and I have a huge pile of cash saved in a very private place at home. 🙂 It is strange, but once I had the cash I became more scrupulous with it. Now I write a tiny “wishlist” in my planner for each month and usually spend around $100 at the beginning(three books this month, a cupcake carrier)then stash away the rest of the cash. It is amazing that I KNOW the cash is there and I have it either way, so I am not as focused on spending it. My husband doesn’t understand why I can’t put it in the bank, but personally for me I like to see it. Our toaster oven even caught on fire the other day and my husband is mad as heck that I said I didn’t think I needed to buy a new one just yet because I didn’t see the urgency in it. So basically if he wants one, he can use HIS “allowance”. 🙂 Bottom line: when I started doing this I was worried because I had this HUGE list of must haves, but after a few months I am completely at peace with it because I do allow myself that one monthly purchase of splurging items but the $ total is much, much smaller and it takes smaller items to please me. I hope I explained it OK. 🙂 I haven’t set my wishlist for next month yet, but I think it will be the toaster oven, a James Herriot book or 2, and some curriculum items for a daycare I am starting. (books are my weakness). I think you are doing GREAT though and I swear your desires would gradually decrease and you would have joy in small things…like a microplane zester maybe? 😉

  12. Chris– a microplane zester– now I want one of those too. (I am soooo weak!)

    And Nancy– A viking gas stove– don’t laugh at me, but I was actually on the Sears website the other day looking at similar things. Could NOT believe how much they cost. Would LOVE one, and as much as I cook, could almost justify it. But of course then I’d have to remodel the cabinets to fit, at which time I would certainly justify a new floor. And a vent hood. And we’;d have to plumb for gas, which we do not have….it would be an insane amount of money.

    Karen– I have 72 quarts of applesauce, plus probably 2 bushels of apples in fridges for eating and making pies with in the next month or so…

  13. I read somewhere (Mary Hunt’s books I think) about a way to have fun with the “wants” without spending. Grab some catalogs, and spend, spend, spend. Pick out everything you want, choose colors, sizes, etc. and fill out the order form. Then seal it for a month. If you can still remember everything at the end, you can buy it. I’ve done it a couple times by accident–I thought I was going to buy the stuff but then got sidetracked and found the order form weeks later and by then I didn’t want it anymore, or I realized how ridiculous the price was.

    We’re getting started with apples next week, finishing up tomatoes this weekend. Can’t wait 🙂

  14. Yesterday and today have been the hardest for me. Spending 30 minutes to do my weekly grocery shopping was almost depressing. And only getting “exactly” what was on the list. I did get one extra gallon of milk since they were on sale, but it’s hardly getting used since we’re down to homemade granola instead of cereal and the kids are sick of it. This morning I found myself drooling over adorable cloth diapers on-line, and feeling pitiful that I can’t buy them this month. Due in 5 weeks. Silly I know, but there must be something in the spending that releases some endorphins or something. You should do some scholarly research on this in your spare time…..hahaha.

  15. It does get easier. I’ve been on a spending freeze since Oct. 5, 2007 when my husband had his hours cut to part time. It was incredibly hard at first but I’ve gotten used to it. I don’t want to live like this forever, but for this season of life, it is ok. It also helps that I have some wonderful parents who help with the necessities of life such as clothing my child. I did really want to go on a spending spree last month but I managed to keep it to a few discount items and used money I received for my birthday.

  16. I am with you on the struggling. It is worse because we are at the tail end of a tomatis loop and I am starting to wander through stores to kill time. Yikes. So far so good. I did break down and buy a cake mix, sprinkles and frosting an hour ago though! It is in the oven and I can’t wait to eat it. Oh, I will share it with the kids and hubby. LOL!

  17. There is a really good article on the Get Rich Slowly website today about advertising and the effect it has on us (okay me).

    I really have to agree with the other posters Mary, you have spent SOOO much time in your kitchen lately. No wonder you are having thoughts of a kitchen makeover!

    Good luck on the remainder of your 30 days!

  18. I’m feeling really inspired to try this. I have a couple of questions though — are you including gas in this? We couldn’t get by for two weeks without filling up at least once, otherwise the Tongginator wouldn’t make it to preschool. Also, do you feel this would be practical to do if you DIDN’T have a veggie garden?

  19. YES!! I was dreaming about a master bathroom remodel last night.
    I also feel it harder to keep my sense of entitlement in check. I have worked hard and I deserve…well, something right. I’m not supposed to work this hard just for snuggles with my kids am I? Yup I think that’s ok because the guy who plows his field just so his family can eat is WAY more entitled to a night out than I am!


  20. So far I have surprised myself with success in my grocery goal of cutting my monthly budget in half. (I think limiting to one area has been a big part of success.) I’m not sure if I have been “wanting” more things, but have been “justifying” more things lately. For instance, I just picked up a bread maker at a garage sale for $5 and “had” to purchase some of the staples that I don’t normally have in my house (yeast, whole wheat flour, powdered milk, etc.). This week looked worse b/c of that and the fact that I used some of my “savings” for the month to purchase enough meat/buns to provide BBQ pork sandwiches for a neighborhood block party I’m hosting this weekend for up to 50 people. That was part of the original plan, though, so I’m okay with it.

    I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. I think making an instant, drastic change with everything is hard for anyone to handle. It may be more realistic to limit to working/experimenting with one or two areas at a time (i.e. groceries, clothing, gas, home improvement, etc.) I also agree that anyone who has spent as much time in her kitchen as you have in the past couple weeks can’t help but dream big dreams. ;o)

    Keep up the good work. I enjoy following your ups and downs every day. You are inspiring!

  21. I’ve been doing really well on my 30 days challenge, and then today I went into WalMart and saw all the wonderful fall things are out. It’s my personal weakness. I bought 4 placemats and a couple of other fallish things. It seemed necessary in the store, but when I got home I was feeling guilty about it. The funny thing is that I was embarrassed to tell my husband about my purchases, even though he hasn’t been doing 30 days with me and didn’t care at all. My mindset has really changed this month!

  22. I do find my wants increasing as the month goes on. Mostly I’m wanting coffee (a latte to be exact), flea treatment for my cat (so I can stop doing all the work that goes with the cheaper alternatives), and … coffee.

  23. I haven’t done it before, but I could totally see (knowing my personality) how it might make me even worse than I usually am about spending.

    Good luck to you!

  24. In all honesty, I find myself wanting less. For me, it’s like a fast. The first few days were hard, but then my appetite for spending shrank and disappeared, and now that appetite is comfortably and contentedly starving.
    Not my kids, though. Really, I’m still feeding them…