Monday, March 2, 2009

New Favorite Places to "Shop"

Today's episode of Oprah features families with too much stuff. One woman goes to the grocery store every day and continues filling up her pantry reserves. She had boxes and boxes (can't remember the number, 40?) of granola bars, multiple bags of chips, bags and bags of pudding packs . . . the list could go on and on. The other woman is a widow who admits she has been buying stuff--including a HUGE house and cars she cannot quite afford not mention the shoes and clothes and eating out--to try to prove to herself, her kids, and the world that she is okay after losing her husband. Both women and their families spent a week living with less: no spending money except for a minimal grocery budget, no internet or television, no eating out, very limited driving, etc.

I love this sort of episode because so many people can relate, on some level, to the irrational need to buy or otherwise surround one's self with more stuff than one needs. I know I can. Watching the episode, you can see how just one week of living differently made these moms feel stronger and more in control. I think their honesty could inspire others. It certainly makes me want to keep up with my 2009 Resolutions to buy less stuff and use or lose the stuff I already have.

I'm not going to use this post to try to figure out all the reasons why people shop and seek stuff. I'm no social psychologist. I do know, however, that I tend to buy things that I think will make my life somehow better (see previous post where I define the term "Targeting"). I'm going to list a couple of my new favorite places to "shop."

1. The Library
I know I'm like a broken record about the library lately, but I can't help it. I've always been a library user, but now that the Chicago Public Library allows me to request and hold books online, I find myself visiting the library website before, especially for books that I think I want to read but know I don't need to own. I also love checking the new releases section when I'm in the library. When I find a copy of a book that is on my to-read list, usually based on a review I've read, I feel like I've won the lottery.

2. itunes
One of my friends started a fitness and weight loss blog and on it I read about free yoga workouts, Yogamazing, available on itunes. I wish I could say, I started downloading the workouts and am now unbelievably lean and flexible. I'm not ready to explore yoga yet myself, but I did end up searching for free stuff on itunes while I was looking at Yogamazing and had no idea how much free stuff there is. I downloaded some Grammar Girl podcasts, which I really enjoyed and would be using in the classroom if I were still a high school teacher. I also downloaded some free walking workouts. Again, I haven't used them yet, but all I'm out is an itty, bitty amount of space on my ipod . . . no dough. So anyway, if you have itunes on your computer, see what fun and free stuff you could find there.

It's not the longest list in the world, but free thrills are even better than cheap ones. Plus, shopping at these stores doesn't bring any extra stuff into my house, NTB.

What about you? Do you have any places to "shop" for free (or cheap) thrills? Please share.

I did spend $1.00 at the library last week, but I think the CPL tote was worth it. Look at how compact it is when folded. It could practically double as an evening bag. (Note: do not judge my recent haircut by this photo.)

View of tote unfolded and a great example of a book that I am interested in but don't want to own (and, to be honest, may not be able to stand to read. We'll see.)


Anonymous said...

For the record, I think your haircut looks fabulous!!! Very chic.

I wanted to mention the podcast section on itunes. I LOVE downloading free podcasts...especially Splendid Table and This American Life.

Also, your blog has inspired me to get rid of some junk around here. Tomorrow the Lupis Foundation will be picking up a very random mix of stuff that has been taking up way too much space at the Sedler casa! Thanks! :)

Actchy said...

I followed up on my promise to get a library card while home on maternity, and my first borrowed item was an audio book: Lord of the Flies. How is it that I'm the only big reader on earth who has never read this?

Anonymous said...

My sister has always frightened me about the library...where those books have been. However, I recently decided I need to get rid of all my "stuff" including the books on my bookshelves that I've read and enjoyed but will not read again because I'm not the type of person who reads books over and over. I love the idea of free stuff; just can't ever seem to find any.

E... said...

All this talk of free stuff on the ipods is making me covet one even more. Why am I the only person on earth without one?
Love my library, not only for the books for me (which I check out and return unread as often as not), but for the free outing/playtime it provides. Oh, and the wide selection of "Little Foot" DVDs.
Speaking of free places to "shop" have you heard of freecycle? It's a network of Yahoo listservs where you list things you want to give away, or even post that you need things that others might have for free. I'm a member of the local one, and while I don't really participate, I find it fascinating the things that people offer up (and ask for, like a Harley Davidson, or a waterbed for their daughter)

CaraBee said...

I am also a library lover. My book addiction was one of the areas we decided we could save money when I decided to stay home with the babe. I love the on-line holding, too. Also, our library has a really amazing kids play area, so I can go get my read on AND give Sophie some quality FREE play time.

Other than that, it seems like I pay for everything. Sigh.

PS - I don't have an Ipod, either, E...

Melissa Walters said...

Am I the only person in the world who uses the library and it's not free? I manage to run up a late charge every time! I pay my charge, I have good intentions of returning books on time...but it doesn't happen. And they only let you renew books twice. Oh well. Everybody has things they need to work on! And its still cheaper than buying books.

Maggie said...

MEP - love the library here, the online reserving a huge bonus. I think you hair cut is cute and chic. Prior to glancing at your next photo, I did momentarily think you look a tad like Kate Gosselin, although I bet you don't spike your hair quite like she does in the back - I don't how that makes you feel, maybe I thought it because of your prior post regarding your fridge, but you look fab! Good luck with that book, I don't know if I'd make it through?

Anonymous said...

I loved this episode of Oprah too. I have been making an effort to use what is on my pantry shelves instead of buying new stuff. It has done me a world of good. I also try to give one thing away a day. It is slow somedays and other days it is many small items that my kids and I never miss. Thanks for sharing.BDavin

Steph said...

The hubby and I go to tons of free events at the local University. Like tonight - I'm hearing Maya Angelou for FREE! Gotta love those U programs.

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