Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Some thoughts on spending

So this is more of a meta-post ABOUT crafting, rather than a showing-off of the crafts themselves - sorry there aren't any pictures.

I've sort of had a confluence of things come to my attention lately that have made me think. First of all, we've been studying a book at church that's convicted me to think more carefully about how I spend money, and what my priorities are for spending.

Secondly, I came across a discussion on a stamping site about spending - it was initially about NOT spending, but evolved very quickly into people talking about the reasons they couldn't stop spending money, or the (ridiculously over-the-top in many cases) ways they'd gotten into the habit of spending way too much. We're talking, on a smaller scale, "I see a card I like, then go out and buy everything I need to replicate it exactly," or, on a much larger scale, "I buy everything that X, Y, and Z companies release every month" or "I've bought 7 die-cutting machines and I've never actually used any of them, they're just sitting in my closet." Now, setting aside the fact that buying everything you need to replicate someone else's card kind of negates the whole "creative" aspect of stamping for me, that's just an insane amount of money. It was truly a completely new idea for some of these women that they could get creative with what they ALREADY HAD and that it might even be more fun and more fulfilling.

The last thing was that I came across a very cool scrapbooking blog that was running a "Use your stuff" week, with all kinds of tips on getting the most out of your existing stash and challenges to use it in different ways.

So, the odd thing about all this is... I really haven't bought much lately (except, obviously, for this weekend). So why did all of this jump out at me so much? I think partly it's that it just all made me think more consciously about how I spend money - it's so easy to let $5 here and $5 there add up to a pretty big spending problem - that's what I saw a lot on the spending discussion online, people saying that they "only" spent $10 every time they went to the craft store, or they got into trouble because they always had those nice 40% or 50% off one item coupons and "had" to use them, whether they really needed anything or not.

I've totally been caught in that trap before. I know exactly how it is. To be honest, the reason I stopped doing all that a year or so ago wasn't because I wanted to be more careful about spending money... it was first because I moved to a place that didn't have a convenient Michaels or Joann, and then because I moved to an apartment with a much smaller crafting space and had to put a bunch of my stuff in storage. When we made that move, I had to be much more selective about what I brought home, and it was actually a great learning experience for being more mindful of what I actually USE, vs. what I thought looked cool but ended up accumulating because it wasn't really my style.

That's something that the Write. Click. Scrapbook. blog talks about a lot - being very deliberate about going through your stuff and organizing it into "stuff I use" and "stuff I never touch," and also about looking at those piles and determining your style so that you can be more mindful about what you buy. Which is something I really had in mind when I went shopping this weekend - I hadn't really bought any stamping stuff in several months, so I had saved up for this trip to be a real treat, and when I went into the store, I ended up taking down and putting back several things that looked cool, but I remembered that I either already had them and didn't use them, or that just wouldn't fit my preferred style. In the past, I might have tried to really branch out and get little elements from all different sections of the store... this time, I found one or two collections that I loved, and got multiple elements from those collections. I know, now that I've looked at my crafting more mindfully, that that's how I work best.

Anyway, I'm not sure what the point of all this is, except that I think it's a concept that can carry over to a lot of areas of life besides crafting. Next time you're walking to the checkout (or clicking "My Cart") with some new little luxury, take another look at it and think: Do you already have something at home that would serve the same purpose? Have you already bought something similar that you didn't end up using because it just wasn't your "style"? Is this something you could do without? It's worth thinking about, whether it's a new pad of paper or a new pair of shoes.


Lindy Thomas said...

I don't know if you heard the story of all the fabrics that the Childresses brought for those quilts last weekend. I used to work in fabric stores and we always has customers who seriously collected fabrics for their "stash." The Childresses bought someone's large and aged "stash" from an estate sale. The good news is that we made quilts for orphans with it. The sad news is that the person who collected it all didn't even use it. I think they said that they didn't even have to pay for it because the person holding the sale had no idea what to do with it all. Anyway, not a new temptation for creative people. Good words!

Bonnie said...

Oh, that's really cool - I didn't know that's how they got it. I'm glad that stash ended up doing something good.

One of the funny things about "stashes" is that trends come and go so quickly - people collect and collect, and don't use what they have, then look back through what they haven't used and don't want to use it any more because it's not trendy any more. So why did they have to have it in the first place? That's really what I've been concentrating on lately - only buying things I know I'll use, and things that I can continue to use in other ways once the trend is over.