Sunday, April 01, 2007

Declaring a No-Buy Month

The Doctor and I live on a budget. During my childhood, expendable income was almost unheard of and my parents lived on a tight budget. Thankfully, I have learned from their experience and the Doctor and I have put a lot of their methods into practice in our lives as we struggle through these lean years.

But this month, we are declaring a "No-Buy Month." This means that aside from a budget grocery amount and, of course, bills, we are not buying anything. No dinners out, no pairs of shoes, no coffees, no sodas from vending machines, no books, no REI trips, no Target, no anything extra.

Why? Did I hear you ask that?

Perhaps because it bears repeating to ourselves that there is a distinct difference between want and need. Perhaps because I want our family motto to be "Live simply so that others may simply live." Perhaps because we live in such a consumer society that too often uses debt to get what we want instead of what we need. Perhaps because so often, we are greedy in our lives, always wanting more but truly needing little. The reality is, I would rather buy new than fix old. Our couch is in a visual state of disrepair, but structurally is fine. I want a new couch, but I don't need one--a slipcover would be just as effective in hiding the dog damage.

Perhaps because this will force us to be more creative in the time we spend together. If we can no longer default to eating out, we will remember parks and hiking and bike rides. Perhaps because we want our family values to lie in experiences and adventure and not in merely accumulating stuff.

Perhaps because we will walk away from this month thankful that we do not have to live like this always and say a prayer for those families in this world who do.

Will we meet the challenge? I don't know. Even though we're already fairly frugal in our day to day lives, we forget how often we do purchase those little things. And I'm certainly not against material comforts--I'm not ascetic; I like nice things as much as the next person. But the Doctor and I too often fall into the traps of our consumer society. In a fairly short time, we will actually have quite a bit of money at our disposal and we want to start incorporating these values now before we see dollar signs behind our eyelids. I don't want my children growing up feeling entitled, getting whatever they want all the time. We want our family to have an appreciation for what we have, monetary or otherwise. We want to focus on those values of giving back to our community, working for equality and social justice, valuing adventure over a new car or a house that is too big for three people. We want to declutter and embrace the fullness life has to offer.

So, thank you, Bebe, for your suggestion--it is a good challenge and I am looking forward to this month.


Megan said...

I'm impressed. I have thought about doing this too, but somehow I just can't imagine it right now - partially because unlike you, I'm not married so I think I would end up spending a lot of time alone. Good Luck!

Elisabeth said...

LOL---let's remember he spends nights at the hospital!

It's all about creativity! Water with lime at the bar, anyone? LOL.