01/07/2014 05:56 pm ET Updated Mar 09, 2014

Is 2014 Your Year to Join "The Compact" and Stop Buying New?

We're already into our second week of 2014 and if you're anything like me, your New Year's resolutions are already starting to fade. Your vow to work out three times a week was interrupted by foul weather, your diet's been hijacked by your co-worker's daily tins of too-good-to-resist goodies and your resolution to de-clutter the home office got, well... boring.

But I have a mid-January New Year's resolution that's both easier than you think and will save you thousands of dollars.

Stop buying new. 

I did. Since 2007, and I'm here to tell you that this deceptively simple decision will change your life for the better. It's called "The Compact" and tens of thousands of people have already made one year commitments to choose used.

Let me back up, and share a bit of my back story with you. I am a 46-year-old mother to two teenage boys who works as a part-time labor and delivery nurse. My husband and I drive a mini-van, live in a normal urban neighborhood, (although it is in Portland, Oregon, so there is an unbearable amount of quirky Portlandia-like hipster weirdness) and I attend enough youth soccer games to earn the "Soccer Mom" label.

Nothing too out of the ordinary. Right?


I write the blog The Non-Consumer Advocate and I urge thousands of daily readers to "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" and I mean it. In a world where deplorable and dangerous foreign factory conditions make the news almost every month, I choose to vote with my dollars. When area thrift shops burst with perfectly usable (and already manufactured) goods, it's a no brainer to look to the second hand market for my family's needs. We mend and repair, borrow for infrequently used items and then make sure to lend out what we own to our friends and neighbors. We hold off from impulse purchases and we're happy.

At this point you may be saying to yourself:

"Sounds good in theory, but there is no freaking way I'm signing up for used underwear/shoes/dental floss/socks."

Don't let a case of the heebie-jeebies deter you from considering The Compact, as everyone who participates selects their own exceptions. For me, it's socks, underwear, consumables, home maintenance supplies and personal care items. My husband thinks that used shoes are the work of the devil, so he gets a pass on that one. Everyone's exceptions will differ, and that's okay.

I don't need to tell you that a self imposed restraining order from the mall will save you money, but I will anyway. You will save money when you join The Compact, but that's not the only benefit. You'll appreciate your belongings a bit more, which will make you want to keep them more organized. You'll become more deliberate about your home and go on a de-cluttering spree and be forced to be more creative about gift giving and end up giving more thoughtful gifts. You'll pretty much discover a creative mindset whose ripple effects permeate every aspect of your life.

So c'mon, give The Compact a try for a month, maybe even for the full year. And if you're anything like me, you might end up seven years in without a single regret.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.