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Hi, I’M MEG.

I live in West Hartford, CT with my husband Chris and our baby girl Nell. We love classic American style and bickering about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher. Glad you stopped by!

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meg@forthelonghall.com

#NOSHOP19: January Update

#NOSHOP19: January Update

#noShop19.JPG

One month down! January flew by. I knew that January would either be the toughest month (huge behavioral shift) or the easiest (crap leftover holiday inventory at most retailers, or early spring stuff you can’t wear anyway). I guess I won’t know for a 11 more months if it was the easiest or not but I know it won’t be the hardest, because I have absolutely loved not shopping. Everything about it. To the point that I desperately needed to order Nell a new pacifier (we’ve vowed to pull the Wubanub at 1 year for her teeth’s sake) and I actually feel guilty now that I’ve ordered it. A $12 pacifier! We’ve come a long way already, folks.

The easiest way to explain how I’ve felt this month is… relieved. If you’ve read up on minimalism/decluttering at all, you’ll find a lot of stories from people sharing reduced stress levels, more time with their family, less chores, etc. I definitely expected to experience some of these benefits but not for a while. Shockingly, I can tell you that I’ve already benefited from ALL of these, even in the first month! I had no idea that physical stuff was taking up so much of my life. I had no idea how stressed I was about the permanent pile of cardboard from all my packages, or how much I hated trying to stuff everything I own neatly back into my storage space on laundry day. There are still the same number of days in a week so I don’t really understand why, but somehow, when you own less clothes, you spend a heck of a lot less time washing and caring for them.

On that note, I am also surprised by how many things I got rid of this month! My pre-#noshop19 cleanout was extremely thorough. I felt pretty good about having enough to last me for the year but was definitely a little anxious noting that I reduced my wardrobe by probably 30% (and I am already a compulsive purger). This month, I’ve already purged:

  • A pair of PJ’s (literally got a hole in them on January 3, but they were from Target and over a year old. My Lake Pajamas are just as old however and they look brand new. You get what you pay for)

  • A nightshirt, because I realized that it’s way too short for me to ever wear comfortably and it’s stiff cotton

  • My rollneck sweater from J.Crew in pink. I realized that I simply only like neutral sweaters. Why force it? I have it in cream and I wear it all the time. I am learning over time one is enough! Many times I find something I love and then buy it in three colors. And yet I find myself only wearing one color anyway!

  • My burgundy fur vest. I’ve worn it twice since I bought it over a year ago. Once last Thanksgiving and once this holiday season to my friend’s baby’s first bday. I wear my other fur vest at least once a week. Out it went to a new home.

  • A pair of DL1961 jeans. I tried like hell to make them work but they were too big. One day this month C and I lost power for a bit so he went home after work to pack us all a bag so we could stay with his parent (it was REALLY cold). You’d think after Konmari’ing my entire house that I’d be able to say “grab any pair of jeans!” yet I found myself still telling him to grab a specific pair or two! It made me realize I still have some work to do here.

  • A totally beat up white tee. Marine Layer sent me a new white one to try out (I was blown away by the quality - and check out their new ReSpun program, where you get a $5 credit for every old t-shirt you send them (up to $25, but unlimited donations). Through their totally closed-loop production process, they will recycle your old tees into new ones!)

  • My Emerson Fry black pants. I wore these while I was pregnant which is kind of sad because I find the elastic waist to be SOOO tight postpartum haha. The quality is good but the fit isn’t, so out they went.

  • ONE of my Emerson Fry Mod Tops. I have three :) and again find myself wearing the other two a lot more. I might sell one more but that’s pushing it… I really love this shirt! I had two black ones so I sold the lighter crepe and kept my structured cotton.

  • My Louis Vuitton Neverfull! I know it sounds crazy, but I really used it to death and unlike my Speedy, it wasn’t in good enough condition to save for Nell. I never use it anymore, so I decided to let someone else enjoy it for the rest of it’s life. I wondered if I’d regret it, but so far I haven’t regretting letting ANYTHING go.

  • 70% of my skincare products. In early January I finally went to the dermatologist for what I thought was hormonal acne (it was BAD… the Dr. walked in and said “oh wow, you’re a mess” ha) and found out that I had a severe case of Perioral Dermatitis. It will take a few months on Doxycyclin to fix but she also told me to cut my entire routine down to a gentle cleanser and a simple moisturizer. I got home and looked at my cabinet stuffed to the brim with expensive “remedies” and concluded that not one of those things would probably ever make a big impact on my skin. I gave it ALL away aside from, you guessed it, a gentle cleanser, a simple moisturizer, my go-to Hyaloronic Acid ($18, and totally clean), this HA intensifier and this Vitamin C E serum that she said I can add back in in a month. I also always keep Thayer’s Witch Hazel on hand so I got a fresh bottle of that, too. What I eat and how I treat my body will always supersede even the finest skin care. Over it. I can actually feel my brain relax even talking about the extra stuff I got rid of.

  • My Patagonia Retro-X Fleece. I LOVE the look of this but it’s big on me and I found that I never wore it! It was always either too cold and I needed my Down Sweater or it was too hot and I’d wear my Better Sweater! It was pristine as I got it when I was very pregnant and never wore it, so it went on Poshmark.

What I’ve replaced: Marine Layer sent me a pair of their famous Allison Pants (worth the hype) and a white tee, but I specifically asked for those items as I knew I needed to replace the ones I’d purged. Other than that, I’ve replaced nothing. I know that according to the “rules,” I can replace ALL of it, but the truth is I just… haven’t needed it! Any of it. I also wanted to truly not buy anything for at least the first month. I plan to keep going as long I can with not even replacing anything, until a category gets to the point where I feel like it’s no longer functional and I do need to replace something I’ve tossed or used up. I imagine my first replacement purchase will be jeans as I am realizing I only love one pair of white jeans and one pair of denim (why are jeans so hard?!). I don’t hate the others I kept and will keep weeding through them, but I wear jeans to work daily and need to have more than one tailored, work-appropriate pair. The good thing about this approach is that I know this purchase may be coming this year, so I’m slowly doing research on ethical denim brands to determine where I may want to invest vs. ordering 4 pairs on ShopBop over and over again once I realize I don’t love the new pair either! I am also running low on pajamas, especially since purging two this month, but I’m waiting until it’s warmer out and then will replace three pairs (the two I’ve purged +1 more) with a single pair from Lake Pajamas since I know I love them. That would leave me with three total pairs of pajama’s and two pairs of sweatpants… which I have learned this month is more than enough!

I asked you all on instagram if you had any questions for me, so I will try to answer a few that I didn’t get to above! Leave any additional in the comments and I will respond there :)

What has been the hardest part?

I am a very impatient person so I think not seeing a super immediate impact on our finances was a little annoying. The main reason for this is a few larger house-related expenses (we moved our washer dryer to the basement and just paid a few remaining parts of that, higher utilities due to New England winters, me double paying a few bills by accident because I’m a mess, and our snowblower broke) as well as catching up from the holidays. Rounding the bend on the first month however, I’m starting to see an impact! It’s amazing how much it’s already affecting our planning, etc. We agreed on specific purchases, trips etc. before I started this and now I’m looking forward to them much more then when we would book things ad-hoc and were always running around!

How has it changed your view on shopping? (i.e. do you feel less inclined to mindlessly browse?)

It has seriously impacted my view on shopping. I’m actually kind of disgusted with myself? I just think back even to last fall…how much I was BUYING and how much pressure I felt? I really felt like I NEEDED all of these things. Everyone’s journey is different but I’ve found this process to force quite a bit of soul-searching. Which led to a little bit of oversharing on the internet and a little bit mental exhaustion from some haters HA but here we are! I have come to terms with my old habits and because of that, I am feeling much more likely to be successful at this. I used to say that it’s not that old houses have small closets, it’s that we have too much stuff, but there I was, stuffing my own closets full. I don’t know what’s happening to us all as a culture that we feel like nothing is ever enough. In reflecting on this challenge, I’m realizing how badly I needed this break.

On the other hand, the idea of shopping mindfully to find something I need (i.e. a new pair of jeans as noted above) feels way more exciting than it did before! It’s so interesting to spend time researching, really specifying exactly what I am looking for. I’m in no hurry to buy and I love that feeling of appreciation for what I’m looking for and for the feeling of self control! At the end of the day, the consumer is in control, and it feels good to give myself that ownership.

What did you spend the most on outside of your basic needs?

Eating out :( We are both just so busy during the week that eating out on weekends has become our saving grace. I’m trying to correct that in February by grocery shopping on Saturday AM vs. late Sunday or Monday so that we have good fresh food in the house on the weekend. I would still say our eating out expenses have decreased vs. last year but they are higher than they should be. We are also spending WAY too much on groceries! I try to buy healthy, organic food but our weekly bill is just out of control. A lot of it is due to convenience (buying pre-made puree pouches for Nell, etc.) but I realistically can’t do it all so I’m giving myself some slack. I’m trying a few new grocery stores and will report back on if I’m able to cut back here.

Do you feel more or less tempted to spend on other things? Coffee, manicures, etc?

Surprisingly no, I actually feel MORE guilty. I really love tracking my daily spending and I get a lot of satisfaction out of $0 days. When I ruin those with a $12 manicure or a $5 coffee I get annoyed at myself ha. I will say that I am glad I wrote the rules the way I did re: how I can spend for Nell, our home, etc. I know in the back of my head that I can buy a new IKEA chair and curtain rods, so for some reason I just haven’t been in a hurry? With Nell, I have found myself mindlessly putting things into a cart for her (I can’t even tell you what it was because I don’t remember…obviously we didn’t need it!) before “waking up” and deleting everything I wasn’t there for.

What has surprised you the most?

There are a few things that I know we need (leggings and onesies for Nell at school, some glass tupperware for lunches, my shampoo is running out for example, as well as many other things I’ve already forgotten) but because I’ve been so focused on not shopping I just haven’t bought them yet. I’ve been surprised that… I haven’t need any of it. Nell still gets dressed every day, my shampoo is still truckin’ along, lunch gets packed. I was just so conditioned to be a reactive shopper that I felt like I had to run out right way to buy things as we needed them. This is probably one of the key reasons you regain so much time when you stop shopping - it’s not just a physical trip to a store, it’s a lack of motivation buy anything that doesn’t repeatedly present itself as necessary!

Did you stock up on any new items before January that you anticipated needing?

Not much! Taking inventory (a final step I would argue could be added to the Konmari method) really helped me get a sense of what I have a lot of and what I don’t. Having a lot of something also isn’t a bad thing - I realized I have a lot of white shirts and sweaters, but I also realized that that’s all I really like to wear! I don’t wear bright colors. Anyway, after completed a full inventory of my closet I identified that I needed a new pair of leopard flats, a new pair of nude flats, and a tan tank top (because I spilled red wine on my old one and you could see the stain through the white shirts I wear it under :-D). The two pair of shoes were spendy but add one pair of sandals, a pair of sneakers, and a pair of booties and I could easily make it through a whole year. The tank top was $10 at Nordstrom rack and was identical to the one I replaced. I also impulse-bought a pair of sunglasses because I panicked in mid December that I would be cut off (sunglasses are my weakness) but I’ll probably end up selling them!

What was the hardest day you had with regards to #noshop19 in January?

Ugh the day we got whacked with an insane house bill and I was annoyed that even without shopping it would make us miss a goal I had set for us this month!! I had to reality check myself that not shopping unfortunately wouldn’t make it 100% easier to be a grownup ;)

Was there anything that you wanted to buy? Like REALLY wanted?

I plan to keep track of this but this month… nope. Nothing.

Are you paying off any debts/loans?

I hope so. I hit my limit last year with frustration over the “millennial burden” we all seem to have… debt. After crying to our financial planner (thanks Maggie!) she set me straight that those investments, while annoying to repay, have brought both of us careers we love and do not need to take up so much brain space. We will pay them off! So, our goal is to do that, faster than we “need” to. I don’t plan to share much more detail than that (learned the hard way the internet cannot handle personal finances) but yes, my hope for #noshop19 is that it allows us to make a huge impact on that big financial hurdle so that we can start saving a lot more for things we care about (like our emergency fund so that I can stop having heart attacks about the economy) and Nell’s education. :)

Are you using any finance apps to track your progress?

Yes! I’ve long been a huge fan of Qapital and we continue to use that for savings. I can set up separate “goals” and then set “rules” against them - i.e. rounding up purchases and putting that savings in to this account, saying a certain amount each week, etc. I like using this for things like car taxes (perks of CT living…) and wedding gifts so that I can save a little each month vs. paying that large expense all at once. Even though I always know these things are coming, I find it hard to lump everything into a general savings account. Clearly being able to save separately for each goal is really helpful for me. I also created our emergency fund using this app and their “round up rule” and saved several THOUSAND dollars the first year! I can’t recommend it enough. It’s also helpful for me that Qapital is a app and isn’t connected to my checking account. What goes in much more rarely comes out! Join here and we both get $5 toward a goal!

Just this month I also started using Every Dollar. I agree with a lot of Dave Ramsey’s philosophy but probably won’t stress about paying our mortgage off before upping our retirement savings. That said, the concept of budgeting to $0 has really resonated with me. I typically budget for all of our expenses and then spend/save “whatever is left” and I think pre-planning every dollar of your budget ahead of time would really help keep me on track. February will be my first month using that budget so stay tuned.

Are you going to buy gifts for others? And are you accepting gifts?

Yes! I forget which book it was (Maybe The Year of Less?) but they talk about not taking the joy out of your life and why you should still give + receive gifts! We will still give gifts, and I will still receive a gift. I was chatting with someone on instagram DM’s about this actually - we were both saying that gifts had start to be almost meaningless because if we wanted something, we’d just go buy it. I am genuinely excited for a year with probably less gifts, but definitely more meaningful gifts. For example, I would have typically just clicked through on Amazon and bought that fabric shaver, used it a few times and forgot about it, but since I received it as a thoughtful gift from my instagram friend, I always think to use it and smile when I take it out!

In terms of the blog, I will accept gifted items if they are aligned with my #noshop19 mission, and it still has to replace something (i.e. Marine Layer).

What is your confidence level currently that you’ll be able to do a whole year?

Great question!! Right now I feel 99% confident. The 1% is due to the reaaaallly cute spring/summer stuff I see popping up and here and there HAHA. Regardless, I’m feeling good right now so I’m going to ride that wave as long as I can. I’m sure there will be a few difficult months along the way, I’m going to enjoy enjoying it! I will provide an update on this monthly, thanks for asking.

And that’s month one! Only 11 more to go ;) If you have any other questions for me, leave them in the comments!

#NOSHOP19: February Update

#NOSHOP19: February Update

Homestretch Whole30

Homestretch Whole30