Not Your Mom’s Mop-Top PLUS February Purchase Totals — Buy Nothing New for a Year!


February has seen colder temperatures, more snow, and fewer purchases for us. That being said, it’s presented some challenges for our keeping off the “new stuff” habit, with the yet-to-be-resolved loss of my smartphone, and more recently, our trusty shop mop. All the while, we’ve been engulfed in the renovation of our downstairs for our upcoming expansion (!!) not to mention busy in the planning stages of other neighborhood events in Portage Park. Amazingly, amongst all of this, we’ve found time to devote to the most important people in our lives, and this February rounds out month two of our New Year’s Resolution…going strong!

It never ceases to amaze me that at the exact moment I say to myself “this whole buying nothing new thing is almost too easy…” something happens.

Trick Question: Where do you go for a replacement when you break the plastic head of your commercial mop?

myPWBBOvQRb4qIstOIZi9vwAnswer: You don’t, because replacement parts don’t exist. Not in big box stores, not in small hardware stores, not online, not on Craigslist. Don’t let the fact that the part itself conveniently screws off the handle for ease of replacement fool you. If you break it, you need to buy a new mop, handle and all.

While a mop is both an exempt business expense (or in the case of a household mop, would be an exempt repair/maintenance expense) I still feel the need to fix this situation as economically and responsibly as possible. The thought of throwing out a perfectly good mop handle just does not fit in with this equation. Sure, I could use it for something else down the line, but what? And when? And why can’t I just use it for what it’s intended purpose is?

So what did we do…..? Well, like my smartphone that is on hold while I find the parts needed to repair it, a shoelace is currently holding our shop mop together until I find a suitable fix. It’s a long shoelace, and it’s doing the trick…for now. Personally, I have a huge problem with the “disposable economy” nature of the mop. What am I supposed to do with a spare mop handle if I purchased a complete new one? Why can you buy replacement mop handles, but not replacement head attachments? Do the handles break more regularly than the heads? Can’t be. It just does not make sense! To be continued…

Here are our itemized expenses since the last update:

February 17th: Nothing Purchased!

February 18th: Nothing Purchased!

February 19th: Gasoline at neighborhood station, Quick stop off at Trader Joe’s

  • $20, because I really hate gassing up anywhere other than the warehouse club. In the case where it’s not possible, we only fill up enough to get us to our next trip to the club.
  • HOLY COW! Is there really a Trader Joe’s within 10 minutes of our house? $19.96 for Almond milk for the kids and grape flavored parent beverage a la “3 Buck Chuck.”

February 20th: Nothing Purchased!

February 21st: US Post Office and neighborhood deli

  • $15.66 to mail a package full of baby shower goodies to friends of ours that are having their first baby! A nice assortment of our own boys gently used awesomeness, from a cloth-diaper starter kit to some super cute outfits, a pair of Doc Martin’s (that Mona will have to wait a bit before rocking) and the Dr. Sears baby book, which helped us in many a difficult moment in the first time around! Even though none of it is new, it’s all in super like-new condition, and we know our friends will appreciate the bounty of goodness we have gathered for them.
  • $38.06 for some odds and ends to get us through until our next “big shop.”

February 22nd: Nothing Purchased!

February 23rd: Nothing Purchased!

February 24th: Dinner for the family at a neighborhood pub

  • $43.67 + tip at our “when we don’t know where to go” go-to place in the hood, dinner for 4 and drinks for 2.

February 25th: Chain grocery store that we hate and so I’m not sure why we’re even still shopping here…!

  • $111.13…we finally did the “big shop.” This total was entirely food with the exception of $5.99 for toothpaste, which seems like a lot. I recently read somewhere that somebody made toothpaste out of Dr. Bronner’s, which BLOWS MY MIND! When we’re done with this new tube, I might need to take on this task…because we buy Castile Soap by the gallon for just about all of our other cleaning needs.

February 26th: Nothing Purchased!

February 27th: Gasoline at Warehouse Club

  • $92.48 Joe’s Truck, and this was at a 30 cent (normally 20 cent) “discount” from my neighborhood corner gas station. Oh, and I walk to work most days…now you know why!

February 28th: Tickets to a fundraising event for our son’s school and meat/dairy from our local deli.

  • $105, and we will count this as “entertainment” since it involves us getting dressed up to go out without our children, and pretend, however briefly, that we actually have a social life. But it’s also a charitable donation for a great cause, and that’s what I call two birds/one stone.
  • $15.72 for some Amish eggs, chicken and freshly smoked sausage. We really love this deli because it’s across the street from Thrift & Thrive, and you can get organic quality products without the price, because they’re produced (pesticide and hormone free) by Amish farmers in Wisconsin. If you can trace your food sources easily, you can save a TON of money vs. what you’d spend in a regular grocery store. Now just learn a little Polish and you’ll be all set to order at the counter!


February Month-End Totals:xlarge

Food/Grocery: $435.75

Household Supplies: $50

Entertainment: $217.54

Gas: $178

Other: $71.69


February Total Cash Spent (*not including mortgage, taxes, insurance or utilities): $982.98

*even including our mortgage and other bills, we are on pace to spend around $35K TOTAL in 2013 on a family of 5 living in the City of Chicago. Not necessarily an “earth shattering” amount, considering that many people in this world (and in this city) live below those means…however, for us, it is quite an accomplishment and positive change…and one I wish we would have had the foresight to make when we were still raking in the “big corporate bucks” these last few years!


What do you think?