Gone shopping?

Gone shopping?
Or has no new shoes changed our habits?

Thursday, 29 March 2007

On a more serious note...

In the year of the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, it already feels as if the term 'modern-day slavery' is being over used. But I think that in all this stuff about whether we should apologise for slavery, there is a danger that we forget what's staring us in the face.

West African child labour still feeds the world's insatiable hunger for chocolate

no new shoes has been a bit of fun really (although slightly painful at times), but these kinds of stories remind me that we have a responsibility as consumers. We can't pretend that the way we spend our money has no effect on other people - and I am more guilty of this than most people I know. This project has made me more aware of the issue of stewardship - not just giving money to charity etc, but actually being aware of the impact of the way we use the resources God has given us.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007


I have a very shiny nose. No, I have not had too much to drink. Nor have I been out too long in this glorious March sunshine. I have lost my powder compact. I was eking out the last little crumbly bits and was confident that I could make it last until Easter. But no, I had to go and lose the darn thing.

I know that I am being melodramatic and I am fully aware how silly this sounds. But it is something I use every day and in a sense I don't feel properly dressed without it. I could, if I wanted, replace said item before Lent as Jim has offered to buy it for me. But I am determined not to cheat and use his good intentions to bend the rules.

We went out for dinner last night with friends. Now I know it's not technically allowed, but it was to celebrate a close friend's birthday. I think it would have been completely rubbish of me to back out on account of no new shoes and be a party pooper. (Also, of course, I wanted to go). It was really lovely and although it breaks to rules, I don't really mind doing that for friends. When Levine did her year of not buying, she completely avoided all meals out (except for one or two) and I admire her resolve. But she found it very awkward when havign to turn down invitations. Inevitably people offered to pay, but there's a stage at which it can get rather embarrasing. I'm not very good with social awkwardness, so I took the wimp's way out and just agreed.

So far, so good - part 2

I've been a bit quiet, so I thought I'd offer a quick update.
For me, the two biggest things to give up were buying music and chocolate. Although I admit to having failed on the chocolate front on a couple of occasions, I have for the rest of the time been able to resist, and I do feel better for it. It has helped that Angela has been cooking a lot of yummy biscuits and cakes!

I thought giving up buying music would be harder, but in fact it has been easier. I simply haven't gone to any of the places where I normally browse and buy CDs, and I admit I haven't really missed it. Part of me worries about bargains I might have missed out on, but then again I'd have to be there every day to avoid that, so why worry about a few weeks.

The other challenge was my subscription to eMusic, which gives me 90 downloads a month. Although that is a very green way of buying music, it is still buying music. Not to download anything would be a waste, but just buying my tunes would sort of miss the point of No New Shoes. Eventually I had a brainwave: I bought 87 tracks of children's music for Elizabeth. There is a lot of great kids music that doesn't drive adults mad, and we now own a lot of it. Elizabeth likes it, I like it and I feel good that I used my monthly allowance for someone else.


Sunday, 25 March 2007

Essential Hospitality

My Mum has been staying with us this week - mostly because our childminder is not well and Grandma came to the rescue. This has been great but it is a lot harder 'not to shop' when you have a visitor staying because so much about entertaining and showing gratitude is tied up with spending.

We did take her to the theatre because Sandy was offered free tickets at work - 'great' you might say 'a free night out'. Well it was a fantastic and funny night (we saw JUMP) - but we bought a meal out before the show and the walk along the Strand involved some serious window shopping.

Then (yes there's more....) on Friday I took Mum to Camden Lock Market because she's never been before and I knew she would love it. She did and I was able to buy her Birthday pressie - that's okay, it's in the rules BUT...

Dare I confess? Handing over a credit card to pay for her bed throw must have loosened something in my resolve because I also bought 2 throws for myself - which I will use in worship displays but that's not really a justification, is it?

So I confess before you all that I have fallen. I am now getting back on the wagon and hope to get to the end of Lent without another transgression. Sandy's Mum and Harry arrive tomorrow for the next childcare shift - so temptation may loom large. HELP!

Saturday, 24 March 2007

champagne and buses

I'm afraid I cracked and went to the reception (just for a short time) but I did resist the urge to spend money on myself. All I bought was a birthday gift for my friend Cath, who we're seeing tonight (she's having a pirate party - Arr!!). It was a nice thing to do as well, even if to just get out of the house with Jim for a while - since no new shoes started, we haven't really had much time out together. It was fine when the sun was shining and we could go out for walks, but now the winter has returned with a vengeance! However, the helpful comments have reminded me that I need to make sure that I make more time for God in everything I do. Prayer is often something that I try to fit in on the journey in to work, or just before I close my eyes at night and this project has made me think much more about prioritising my time and resources for God.

One thing I've been doing differently during Lent is that I've been catching the bus to the train station in the morning (rather than driving) so that I don't buy petrol I don't really need to use. I've found it really refreshing because it's reminded me that I'm part of a community. Everyone's going somewhere, but we all travel at least some of the way together and that really changed the way I think about where I live. It's so easy to go about your day almost completely isolated from your neighbours.

Anyway, I'm off - yo ho ho...

Thursday, 22 March 2007

things to buy after Lent...

I was talking to Jim last night and he mentioned that the main downside to the Lent abstinence thing (he's not buying music, games or DVDs) is that he's formulating a list in his mind of all the things he would like to buy after Lent is over. I had to admit that I'm doing exactly the same and makeup & skincare stuff (hardly essential) are at the top of the list.

Does this completely defeat the purpose? The longing for these items hasn't disappeared, and I will certainly buy at least some of the things on the list soon after Easter Sunday. On the other hand, I am thinking a lot more about what I spend my money on and whether something is worth it. I'm also more aware of impact of the way I spend my money - the importance of fairtrade & well-produced items.

Monday, 19 March 2007

ah, sweet temptation...

On Saturday night I returned home from a long day to discover that a cheerful little card had come through my door. It was an invitation. To a champagne reception. For the reopening of my favourite shop. 15% discount on all items purchased on Friday night.

oh dear...

Friday, 16 March 2007


Ok, so I take a break from my desk to get appropriate mothers day gifts, walk down the highstreet for the first time in ages and (somehow) end up in Monsoon. There I spot THE perfect pressie for someone (I'm not naming them in case I crack and buy it) - as soon as I spot it, I think of them and have to contain the impulse to immediately buy it. They don't have a birthday or special occasion any time soon, so I'm not sure the 'rules' allow it.

Now sitting back at my desk thinking I'll probably buy it anyway...advice?

Perhaps it's just the shopping deprevation that's urging me on.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Free Things

I had a lovely day off on Monday - visiting the Tate Modern with friends. I have a year's travelcard for the Underground so getting there and back was free (well already paid for). We began at the crypt at St Paul's Cathedral. We were not paying to get into the main part of the Cathedral - but I had to visit the shop to get a book I need for an essay. This did involve an exchange of currency but as I have to come up with 5,000 words I really do need some resources that you just can't get at the local lending library. Sorry - are you bored yet?! Anyhow, we had a lovely coffee at Cafe 101 in the Salvation Army International HQ - great fairly traded and delicious coffee at a reasonable price (and my friend paid!).

Then the walk to the Tate- but oh dear - the footbridge was shut, so we hiked round via Blackfriars Bridge and finally went into the amazing building that is the Tate. 4 hours later we emerged having done full justice to the free exhibitions.

The best things about the day were: great company, beautiful sunshine, weird and wonderful (and weird again) modern art - none of these things involved retail therapy and I felt more fully human and alive by the end of the day.

So maybe, just maybe, the best things in life are free!


The first payday of no new shoes and I have to say, it feels a bit miserable. On the bright side, it's the first time in ages I haven't been skint before payday, and that's a really nice feeling.

Usually it's my favourite day of the month. But now, the money's sitting in the bank and I can't go shopping. I'm ok most of the time, but I guess I'm so used to being able to buy myself the odd treat or get something to reward myself for surviving a stressful day. I don't think I realised just how overindulged I was before this project.

On a more serious note, I'm beginning to run out of face powder. It sounds silly, but I use it every day and could be traumatic if I can't make it last. It must be a confidence thing.

It's strange, but I don't think I've looked in my wallet since Sunday, and I've got no idea if there's any money in it. Tonight I need to get a mother's day present for my lovely mum, so hopefully that will provide a small amount of retain therapy...

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

So far, so good

Well, we're a couple of weeks in, and so far it is proving easier than I expected. This is partly because I have a rather boring lifestyle that didn't involve lots of drinking and shopping anyway and hardly went out (this is called being a parent). I am missing buying books and CDs, but I am so far able to resist temptation by the stunning strategy of not going to shops that sell them.

What I can't claim yet is to feel any great spiritual benefit. In the past I've always been pretty poor at giving anything up for Lent, so in that sense I'm doing better than ever before, but it doesn't feel like self-denial. The hardest thing has been giving up chocolate on the way home from work, but I am compensating by eating more when I get home, so I don't think that there is any great health benefit.

But then again, Angela is going out for dinner this evening, but has promised to only barely enjoy it.


Sunday, 11 March 2007


Today, in an inspired bit of displacement activity (I should have been writing an essay) I decided to clear out my wardrobe. I'm only halfway through and the bedroom looks like the wardrobe exploded, but it feels good. I have filled to overflowing a bin liner full of skirts, trousers and tops I no longer want or need. And I haven't got round to shoes, bags, jewellery, dresses....man I have a lot of rubbish!

It also reminded me how much stuff I have that I actually like and had forgotten about. Though I really do need some new smart work trousers...


Also, an advance confession...

Some friends from Church are moving to Africa to live and work for the next few years. They're having a farewell party which will involve a takeaway and, to be honest, I didn't have to think twice about it. As well as a chance to pig out, it means I can wholeheartedly take part in their leaving do. I think this will count as a bit of the 'Sunday allowance', but I don't intend to use them frequently.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Life & Debt

Today's supplement in the Times (T2) has a couple of interesting pieces on consumerism:

Life and debt

Consumer resistance? I’m all for it

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

give and take

Only for me, it's mostly take at the moment.

I think the cracks must be starting to show - people keep giving me stuff (I am most definitely not complaining!).

Yesterday it was a big chocolate bar (yay!) from Claire who, frankly, deserves it much more than me. And today - free bag courtesy of Alice (who is gorgeous in many ways). This is a real blessing as the bag I'm currently using for work is literally falling apart. Oh, and the good people at the Daily Express (not a phrase I often use) have clearly heard of my plight as they are now giving away free books ;oD

The other person I'm grateful to (and here I beg forgiveness from those who've heard endlessly about this already) is George Herbert, who through poetry is really encouraging me in my faith - absolutely free.

The only thing is, I feel like I'm becoming a bit of a freeloader. Suggestions on ways to give back without spending cash, please?

Monday, 5 March 2007


I suspected as much... my crisis times are when having to kill time waiting for trains. It's not so bad on my little commuter line home each day, but if I have to kill time at a major station I'm in trouble. Waterloo - shame on you - not only do you tempt me with WH Smiths, numerous forms of coffee and chocolaty croissant shops, but you have a Monsoon, an Accessorise and other fab and definitely out of bounds emporia just trying to lure me in.

I've taken to texting friends for moral support at such moments but I think they are getting a bit bored of 'Help! give me a displacement activity to stop me shopping'. Then... I get on the train and a lovely person comes past pushing a trolley of delicious (well only cos I can't have them) comestibles. These people should be charged with dealing - but only after I've been done for possession of a coffee and a shortbread biccy.

I guess I could just stay home for a few weeks.

the urge to splurge

Until Friday I thought I was doing pretty well on this project. Not really missing all that rubbish I usually spend my money on - perhaps I wasn't as attached to the shopping habit as I thought...

But Friday was a long day at work, and all I wanted on the way home was a little comfort food - a sugar rush to lift my spirits. Then Saturday came and I awoke with an incredible urge to shop. I just wanted to treat myself - get something shiny or slinky or indulgent. We needed to get some fresh air so we took a stroll down to our local high street (I know, asking for trouble) and wandered through the shops. It was a painful experience for us both. Jim has given up buying music, DVDs, videos and video games - all of which can be found in abundance at bargain prices in Rochester's charity shops. I saw the perfect bargain sofabed for our living room and one of my favourite shops is stocking more Green & Black's chocolate than you can shake a stick at.

In the end, we returned with 6 carrots, a sweet potato, local honey and a bag of grapes. ho hum.

Trolleydolly - thanks for the tip about www.pandora.com - what a fab website! Let us know how you get on at Ikea...

Thursday, 1 March 2007


It's Toby's birthday tomorrow, so in keeping with the office tradition I went off to buy the cakes. But I think I may have gone a little overboard. The whole not shopping thing meant that I made up for it in delicious biccies, fruit and cake - and half the office appear to have given up cake for Lent! I think it was simply that I had the opportunity to splurge a bit, and it didn't really matter what I was buying, just that I was buying. It felt good.

After a (long, painful) seminar at university on Tuesday I was given a lovely gift by a friend in my class - a bracelet that she had been given and no longer wanted. She thought it might make me smile during no new shoes. I was really touched that she thought of me and it gave me a replacement bracelet for the gorgeous one I bought in NY but can't wear during Lent. Thanks Sarah - you're a lovely, thoughtful chick ;o)

No new shoes appears to be working in my favour!