Black Friday: You Save Even More When You Don’t Buy Anything At All…

Home sweet home, overlooking the Pacific

In honor of Black Friday, here’s my aconsumerism post Conquering IKEA. Enjoy! And remember, you save even more when you don’t buy anything at all!

My college apartment was amazing. Over the course of my three years there I furnished and decorated the whole place, floor to ceiling, with stuff from IKEA. I had couches, tables, chairs, curtains, bookshelves, framed art. The works. I have no idea how much money I spent at IKEA, but it must have been a lot. I remember giving myself a $100 budget every time I went to IKEA and I went often.

Then when I graduated, I gave it all away. I was hitting the road west, to Oregon, and every single thing I owned that wouldn’t fit in my 2-door VW had to go. I could have sold it. I could have stored it all in the big red barn at my parents’ house, but I didn’t. I gave it all to friends, friends of friends and total strangers. To this day, when I go back to Pennsylvania I’m forever asking people, much to my delight, “aren’t those my plates/ curtains/ chairs?”

This summer, hanging around the Bay Area, I paid my first visit to IKEA in many years. I didn’t set myself a $100 budget, but I did intend to buy something, something cute and useful to go in the Teardrop, for old time’s sake. I spent all afternoon walking around that store and didn’t find a single thing.

When you live in a 5X10 foot trailer, whole sections of consumer culture no longer apply. Furniture? Nah. My bed and table are built-in and I have a nice folding camp chair with two cup holders. Kitchen supplies? I have everything I need, except for a grapefruit spoon, which IKEA didn’t have. Lighting? LED lights are built into the Teardrop. Carpet? I already have a carpet, which velcros in and out for easy cleaning. No vacuum necessary. Bedding? I sleep in my sleeping bag. Framed art? I make my own art.

On and on. I walked around and around, looking at everything, in full nostaligia-mode, finding many things I used to own. But I didn’t find anything I needed. Moreover, I didn’t find anything I wanted. I have no place in my life for any of that stuff. I spent $3.50 on a hot dog and soda for my date and an ice cream cone for myself and walked out of IKEA empty handed. After nearly 10,000 miles on the open road in the Teardrop, I’ve never felt so free.

Camping with my brother and sister in Redwood Country, California

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at
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9 Responses to Black Friday: You Save Even More When You Don’t Buy Anything At All…

  1. Alice says:

    I shop like that a lot–I think it comes from the old days of glass storefronts and “window shopping.” Now I am so exhausted after finding a parking place at huge IKEA, walking through the giant parking lot, and wandering around the miles of aisles, I am too tired to buy anything. (Oh, I see a banjo in that last photo–love the banjo.)

    • Thanks, Alice. My brother Paul plays a mean banjo. He’s a professional musician but the people at the neighboring campsite didn’t appreciate the free concert. They came over and asked us to be quiet! Sigh.

  2. Such wonderful freedom ! I am indeed jealous.

  3. Max Reynolds says:

    It’s amazing what you don’t want when there isn’t an imagined need. Thanks for sharing. -Max-

  4. thoughtsaboutveganism says:

    wow – I kinda don’t not what to say – just: I am really impressed. You’re life seems wonderful and I completely get the feeling that you don’t need useless stuff anymore!

  5. Sandy Mayfield says:

    I didn’t buy anything at all! Trying to organize and get rid of the “stuff” I already have. I am not sure when my teardrop will be finished but I can’t wait to get on the road. Next project is a trailer hitch on my car.

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