Possum Living: Laying the Ground Rules

So back at the beginning of the year (is 2018 over yet, because it feels like it has hung around long enough!), I shared some of my goals. One of them was the most ambitious thing I have ever tried. Inspired by the book Possum Living (cool video here), I plan to go all of 2018 without buying anything I don’t NEED. Sometimes there is a giant grey area between needs and wants. Take books, for example. I need books like I need air. But do I NEED to BUY them? Unless it is a text for my job, probably not. This outline is rather fluid, and time may force some changes, but I will share any changes as a means of holding myself accountable.


  • Gasoline
  • Food
  • College tuition
  • Clothing (but NO T-SHIRTS)
  • Utilities and mortgage
  • Β Cellphone – I have a Tracfone, so I have to get service cards periodically. Texts are $5 for 1000, and it’s the primary way we communicate at work
  • Books specifically relevant to work – must be read within a month of purchase
  • Car (I signed my car’s death warrant when I put my favorite sticker on it)
  • Potting soil and bare bones supplies for growing plants to sell at Farmer’s Market
  • Photo books – I do these twice a year as a gift for my mom, but I also get one for me. My photos are essential. But no superfluous photo gifts. I use Snapfish, and they usually provide me with good coupons.


  • Books (Goodbye, BookBub! Until next year?) – Not even the illustrated Goblet of Fire due out in October
  • Harry Potter memorabilia (this kills me!)
  • Music (unless I already have gift card credit on the music site)
  • Toys for the pets. It’s too bad, really, because Lumen is quite destructive, but she LOVES HER TOYS SO MUCH! I stocked up on the one toy she hasn’t managed to completely murder and dismantle, so she won’t have nothing. Don’t look at me like that!
  • Additional pets – (no more snakes? WHAT? But… but…)
  • He wants a friend…

  • Additional pet housing, beyond basic supplies (food, UVB bulbs, etc
  • Toys in general
  • Impulse buys for the kids
  • Clearance holiday stuff *whimper* unless it’s for prizes for my students
  • Squishables
  • Coffee or meals out – unless I am traveling or it is pre-arranged date-night
  • Postage for packages to friends
  • Gifts – beyond family birthdays and gift-giving holidays
  • An addendum to the above rule: no creating gift-giving holidays. In our house, Valentine’s Day is a children’s holiday. I cannot turn it into a “Hey, gimme this Funko Pop! figure” holiday.

So you’re here to hold me accountable.Β  Almost As much fun as a host of fleas nesting in your armpits.

I make a lot of impulse purchases when I’m feeling sad, lonely, depressed, excited, anxious. I admit that I shop (and eat) to deal with feelings and to fill a void. So what am I going to do when that shopper vibe starts bouncing in my brain? I’m going to be creative. Literally. Like, I’m going to create something. Here are some ways to channel my energy

  • Write – I’ve been successful with this one. I have been writing a LOT. I have written so many blog posts this year already, and that’s not even the tip of my brain’s iceberg. I think I could spend the next few weeks and write out blog posts for each day for the rest of the year. Don’t worry. I won’t. But I could. And I wrote a short story and entered a writing competition. So yay.
  • Take Lumen for a walk or a run- I ran with her a few days ago, and I totally freaked her out. “If Mommy’s running, someone must be chasing! LET’S MAKE TRACKS!”
  • Who’s the happiest dog-parking dog in the world? And maybe the most exhausted. Little Pittie mixes are fast and intense, old girl!

  • Read – I am on NetGalley, and I’m working on reading a book I’m super-excited about. And when I read the book, I can REVIEW it, so that brings me back to WRITING!
  • Knit – I have the basics down. Yay, me. But I suck at it. Practice makes perfect, so I shall practice.
  • Give stuff away – Stuff begets more stuff. If I clear out some of the clutter, I am less inclined to buy matching clutter. Also, moving stuff out helps me to realize how much I already HAVE.
  • Make little turtles out of Sculpey – I’m good at this, and I owe some people some critters. I gotta get on this as soon as my right arm begins functioning again.
  • Play Neko Atsume -What better way to practice becoming a crazy cat lady than to learn to attract stray cats?

    My yarn balls bring ALL the kitties to the yard. And I can’t get rid of them. Help!


How do YOU deal with anxiety or depression? What’s the most effective thing for you? Tell me in the comments.



19 thoughts on “Possum Living: Laying the Ground Rules

  1. I’m a stress eater, which is definitely not a good thing. Also, as the daughter of two Depression-Era children, I tend to stockpile. I’m working on both, which is helping with some of the anxiety. The cleaner the house is, the better I feel. I’m working on going through the food in the freezer and cupboards before I buy more.

    Disclaimer: I totally stress ate last night because I’m getting a mom and 6 pittie pups this morning. Whelping was yesterday and there were some complications forcing a c-section/spay, so I can’t use my regular foster set up (the bathtub). It’s also been a long time since I fostered this big a litter of large dogs. I know I can do it, but the anxiety of ALL. THAT. POOP. that will come in a few weeks got to me. πŸ˜‰

    I have to remind myself that nothing’s happened yet and if I just focus on this moment, I can handle it. (I guess that’s my overall strategy.). πŸ™‚

  2. Not good, how I deal with stress: chocolate milkshakes (now made with almond coconut milk, to lessen the guilt a little.) Oh, and just eating dark chocolate straight up! (…usually can’t stop @ one piece if stress depressed.) 😜🍫😜🍫

  3. Dark chocolate is GOOD for you! So to avoid bingeing on it, break it up into individual SERVINGS (it tells you on the label what a SERVING is) and then FREEZE them. If you allow frozen chocolate (the darker, the better) to melt in your mouth, some of your stress melts along with it. It’s also hard to eat more than one serving of dark chocolate.

    Heather, I think some of the wants on your list are actually NEEDS, unfortunately. Specifically as they relate to the health and well-being of the animals in your life. You may want to revisit and re-categorize. Also, I’m not convinced that spending zero dollars on any wants is the best idea for YOUR mental health. Cutting back, certainly. But cold-turkey, no frivolity At All? That may induce rage-knitting! Watch out!

    I do love your responses list, though. I wish you all the luck in this endeavor, but it’s telling that you feel like 2018 should be over by now. We gotta get to the good stuff! Surely, there’s some Good Stuff, right? in 2018? please?

    • … and speaking of Good Stuff, for anyone who DOES indulge in testing of the frozen-dark-chocolate-as-stress-aid, Please, for the love of all that is holy to you or me or the next guy, PLEASE, spend a little more for GOOD chocolate. Do Not buy the national brands (Hershey’s or NestlΓ©, for example). Buy boutique. Buy Ghirardelli. Buy Trader Joe’s. 72% or higher cacao. Buy cocoa nibs. Allow the frozen Good Stuff to melt your stress away.

      Remember, you get what you pay for. πŸ™‚

      • My husband gets me Ghirardelli for Christmas every year – dark chocolate raspberry. I have been savoring one per night. I can’t keep them in the freezer, though. I have to hide treats in an empty tampon box so the wolves in my life won’t touch them.

      • this should be a reply to YOUR reply, but there wasn’t an appropriately-located button… ennyhoo… being perpetually wolf-less, I forget about other people’s wolves. Is there, by chance, a freezer at work? or is all the stress at home, where the wolves are? πŸ˜‰

        yeah, I know what the answer is. sorry. at least you have your tampons. πŸ˜€

    • If there is something an animal actually NEEDS, it becomes MY need, so don’t worry that they will be deprived. No one will need a bigger cage in the next year than I have (I am a herp keeper, so there are a gajillion empty cages in my house), and if Lumen destroys all of her toys, either I will buy her one, or my son can cough up cash to do it.

      I am actually really excited about this challenge. It has been good to me so far, but I do leave myself room to reevaluate as needed.

  4. Really interested in how your 2018 goals pan out, that video you shared was thought-provoking. I don’t think I could go that level, but it would be interesting to try to be more self-sufficient! Maybe I’ll try my hand at gardening again this year (i’ve such a black thumb).

    Stress relieving for me… daydreaming, various at home spa things like face masks, back massager thing I got off amazon that is just okay but better than nothing, cat naps (like literal naps with my cats, ha), sketching, and writing.

A penny for your thoughts! And by penny, I mean a warm-fuzzy in your heart.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s