New Year's Resolution 2012: Buy Less to Have More

My new year's resolution for this year is to spend less money on materialistic items and use that money saved for creating interesting life experiences instead. Definition of interesting life experiences includes but not restricted to: Tango lessons for me and the hubby, kung fu lessons for Tato, music lessons for Allie and eventually more family trips. This will mean spending less on Clothing, shoes, toys, gadgets, and other nick knacks that are good to have but I don't need. This is going to be more difficult than I thought when my favorite online shops (Shopbop, Revolveclothing, Endless) offer free worldwide shipping. I know this "living on less" or "Less is more" topic have been heavily discussed in magazines, on the internet and on blogs but adapting my life to it is harder than you think. But I'm going to try my best to stick to it. I will!

Why I'm doing this
Ever since I started traveling frequently, I noticed how light I've packed no matter where in the world I went. I never pack more than 3 outfits whether I'm going on a weekend trip or 3 month long trip. Not once during these trips did I need something that I didn't pack. That's when an idea hit me: I can live with A LOT less!

With a goal of living less in mind, I started doing some research online. This is what I found....

  • Materialistic people are usually less happy 
  • Experiences make people happy not things 
  • Experiences keeps people happy for longer
  • Clutter in the house stress people out ( true at least for me)
As I'm always looking for ways to make myself and my family happier, I've decided that life experiences are so much more worthwhile than owning designer handbags or 40 pairs of jeans.

Another reason for this resolution is...I'm actually ashamed to say it...I saw the mess and clutter in my house. When my husband and I moved into our current house, we moved in with a total of 10 boxes. But now I hardly doubt we can move out of here without a 40 feet container. And as I cleaned out the stuff we no longer needed, I realized how wasteful we've been living. All the money we spent on this stuff that I'm throwing away could have paid for a round the world trip for a year! And unlike materialistic items where I would have to organize constantly or throw out when it's no longer needed, traveling creates experiences for the family to remember for the rest of our lives. So I've made up my mind. A lifestyle transformation is in order.

How I'm doing this
Believe me, the idea of buying less clothes still makes me cringe a little but I know the results will be rewarding. In order for my plan to stick, I'm not going to be too drastic in my efforts to reform our lifestyle. I'm not going to put myself in a position where I deprive myself and end up over indulging in the end. Here is my approach:
  •  Allow only 2 items per season: by allowing myself only 2 items per season, I will become a more rational buyer. By 2 items I mean anything from clothes, shoes, to beauty products and gadgets. Now I really have to choose wisely.
  • Buy toys for the kids only on Christmases and Birthdays: this is actually an easy one because kids are not born materialists. I know my kids would rather go to the park or the beach than to stay home and play with toys all day long.
  • Don't buy it just because it's on sale or it's cheap: A lot of us are guilty of this but do ask "do I really need it?" or "How often will I use/wear it?"
  • Limit on guilty pleasures: We all have guilty pleasures. For some it might be designer bags or new high tech gadgets but for me...books. I'm a book worm who is not only anal about not bending corners of pages and covers but I like all the books I've read or would like to read sitting prettily on my book shelf. I now visit the library and book stores to read instead of adding to my collection with book purchases. I only allow myself to buy a book only if I know I will be reading it over and over.  
  • Less trips to the mall: I'll still allow myself some online shopping once in a while. I know every online store these days offer free shipping but I'll be less inclined to buy if I've never seen, felt or tried on the item in person.  
I am now 3 months in on my New Year's resolution and so far so good. Even after a trip to Hong Kong and Macao, I have stuck to my plan and walked away with only 1 t-shirt purchase. I am proud to say that I have also successfully won a battle against temptations at the duty free stores (both HK and TPE airport have really good ones). Hopefully by this time next year I'll be more free of my materialistic impulses and have collected enough funds for another great family vacation.   


  1. Oh how did I miss this post!
    I agree with you! but boy is it hard with online shopping so easily at our fingertips! I never buy anything at the mall now, because it's so much easier online...quick search will give you your size you want, type of item, designer, sale, etc.etc..
    Oh...and buying toys for my son...that is hard too, especially when you find a good sale. I do like to buy him toys that have more longevity. Ones that he could play for many years, and made of sustainable materials. I do love wooden toys. Also second hand toys are great, I can find great deals on craigslist. I felt good a few weeks ago selling over $350 worth of my son's outgrown clothes and toys at a kids swap meet and on craigslist.
    Having in my mind to buy less, but to act on it is so much harder! But after reading this, it makes it so much more achievable knowing someone out there is trying to be less materialistic and use those funds on more important memorable things. Thanks again PTNomad...LOL.. I should read your entire blog, seems like we have many resolutions in common! I think it'll help if I actually write mine down!
    Hmm...going to Seattle this week for spring break vacation...I should start my limits now...

  2. Olivia, I know what you mean. Who knew that buying toys would be so much fun even as adults. I also visit moving sales hosted by expats moving back to their home country and they practically give away boxes of toys. Anyway, baby steps. Do try to enjoy your vacation in Seattle.