Friday, 7 January 2011

Buying nothing new for a year

Image credit
Could you do it? Go 365 days without spending money on new things? Buying second hand clothes and shoes. Bartering. Recycling. Freecycling. Borrowing. Swapping. And *gasp* making things by hand.

Kebeni did. She's about to start again.

Angela did. She is still doing it.

Could it be the perfect way to marry my desire to spend less and save more with my wish to live more simply?

Could it be the motivation I need to finally start my veggie patch?

The rules are pretty simple (directly from Compact the group that seems to be the originator of the idea):

1. Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)

2. Borrow or buy used.

There are a few exceptions (thankfully because it is sounding pretty hard so far!)- using the "fair and reasonable person" standard -- i.e., you'll know in your heart when you're rationalizing a violation:

  • Food, drink, and necessary medicine (no elective treatments such as Viagra or Botox)
  • Necessary cleaning products, but not equipment (don't go out and buy the Dyson Animal, for example).
  • Socks and underwear (utilitarian--non-couture or ornamental) - My big undies shouldn't be an issue then?
  • Pajamas for the children
  • Utilitarian services (plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, veterinarians, dog/house-sitters, fire/paramedics, dry cleaners, house cleaners, etc.) but you should support local and encourage used parts (rebuilt transmission, salvaged headlight unit, etc.)
  • Recreational services (massage, etc.) & local artisanal items - Good sources for gifts, but should not be over-indulged in for personal gratification (what a shame! I reckon you would need a few massages after a year of this.)
  • Charitable contributions - a great source for gifts
  • Plants and cut flowers - Whenever possible, cultivate from free cuttings or seeds. But if you have to, purchase from local businesses (i.e., not Bunnings)--and again, within reason
  • Art supplies - First line of attack: SCRAP. When absolutely necessary (for the professionals and talented amateurs in the group), from local businesses (shouldn't be an issue in this craft-less household!)
  • Magazines, newspapers, Netflix - renewals only, no new subscriptions. Even better to consume online.
  • DVD rentals and downloadable music files (non-material) -- freely shared and legal, please
It is certainly an interesting concept. I am considering it. We sort of did it out of necessity when I was on extended maternity leave after the twins. I have noticed that since going back to work we spend everything we earn and all our plans for saving half of the 'extra' money has not eventuated.

Maybe a year of no new-spending is the way to go?

Do you think you could tread the path to non-consumerism?

PS: Thinking of you Lori, over at the purple house. xx
PPS: Playing along with FYBF, gratiously hosted by Kirsten this week x


Cate said...

I have done 'buy nothing day' once a year for the past two years...but a whole year - absolutely not!! I really just couldn't. And I don't feel guilty about it (well...) - I'm sure I send a lot of really nice children of owners-of-gym-clothes-shops to very nice schools!! Just doing my bit for society really :-)

Lucy said...

It's an interesting concept. A close friend of mine - her husband retrained and as a family of five they coped on Austudy for 4 years, whilst adopting this strategy. And they are blissfully content. And even now he has qualified, they continue with it - she tells me it makes her feel lighter....

Quadmama said...

A year? I doubt I could do it, but there are lots of things to do for free. We've stopped relying on renting movies and instead get them from the library. Free. For a week. I've noticed our local library gets movies SOONER than Netflix!

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

Love-love-love that image! I don't know about you guys, but we seriously get 4 to 6 phone books a year! I do use them sometimes...but I only need ONE.

I think what you outlined is an interesting concept, and good on many levels. I would not want to do that with clothes, though. I don't buy much for myself, but there's something about a new shirt that perks me up every few months. And for the kiddos? They don't have a ton of outfits...I do a lot of laundry...but I have so much fun shopping for them, too. :) I sound pretty selfish in the context of this post. Just being honest, and hoping me guiding the girls to be environmental engineers will make up for a multitude of my sins...HA!

Maxabella said...

I could do it for a month or a season, but I would find it very, very difficult to do it for a whole year. I think I would go a bit mental, actually. It's a little bit too hardcore for me. I am still struggling with the pad thing... x

DancingInTheRain said...

I like this idea of this but agree with other in that a year might be a bit daunting! Maybe I could try it out for a month? Might have to make one last trip to the shops first!?!

Sophie {Red Dust Love} said...

Wow, I am not sure that I could manage a whole year! Actually I know I couldn't!!! I might consider tryng this over 1 month though? I reckon I could manage that. It is a little easier for me though as I live 100km from any shop!!!

Posie Patchwork said...

Um, no, i run a Shop, have a large family, we grow & make as much as we can but it's a resounding NO for me. Ask me again in 2 years when we have a proper farm, still pretty sure the children will like school supplies. Love Posie

Naomi said...

I have posted about this today too! I am not attempting to buy nothing though, just be much more mindful of what I do buy and source as much as I can from second hand or ethical production.

It was a scary concept for me to even consider, but I am becoming ver conscious of the amount of clothes I have and the amount of money I spend on them!

Christie said...

This is a big commitment,good on you for considering it. We live this way most of the time, but my husband wrecks it when he buys his geeky techno gadgets. I just pulled off Christmas with only 3 purchased new gifts (family calendars I do every year for my parents and in-laws and box chocs for hard to buy for BIL), so I'm feeling pretty chuffed over that still!
Good luck with your decision on this one, look forward to hearing what you choose to do.

•´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• said...

Good intention indeed to tread lighter on the planet.
I am thinking to do it with similar 'reasoning' and exceptions too for maybe 6 months...not sure about a year.
We've been married almost 21yrs and lots of our appliances and gear is that old or near enough too.
We have been packing to move and packing up our buiness of 16 yrs and we have so much stuff.I shake my head and wonder where are we going to put it.

Penny said...

My husband has just finished 5 years of study and we've been living like this for most of the time apart from a few spending sprees when some money came our way. And we had 2 kids in the midst of it.

It was hard at first but we got used to it and were very content. My first child had nothing new except his cot and carseat which were both gifts anyway. Much more important things in life than having new 'stuff'.

And now that my hubbie is starting work in a couple of weeks, we may continue living this way. Saves so much money!! Great concept and totally do-able


Red Nomad OZ said...

Fabulous idea! I've been discovering my local op shops in 2010 - and LOOOOVE the idea of getting off the consumerist bandwagon! A whole year makes it a lifestyle commitment rather than a whim!

Have a great weekend!

Cottongirl7 said...

I would say we have been living this way about 85% of the time for the last year and a half. Since the twins were born, we have been living on one income. Losing half of the money coming into your home makes a person really evaluate where their money is going let me tell you. I did make a few photo books for christmas, but besides that I buy almost everything (besides the things on the exception list, I could never do used underwear yuck!)second hand. It has become so much easier with the internet and ebay. Craigslist helps me out with any big items and the local Goodwill takes care of the girls clothing needs. I keep telling myself I'm not buying new clothes until I lose all of the baby weight and my husband doesn't notice he needs new clothes until they actaully fall off of his body. Yes, we save money. However, I'm one of those strange people who gets such satisfaction out of finding a deal, that I'm willing to wait a year for something I really want so that I can get it used. I think it would be much harder for me if I was still working and we had more money. When you are forced to, its much easier live this way.

the rhythm method said...

I agree with the principles of this, but honestly, I think I could do this for a while, but the hardest part would be watching other families around us indulge their whims and have our kids miss out. I think this is the biggest dilemma for our generation - raising kids to know the value of things, when we all have SO much. So ANY effort in making this happen - by consuming less, living simply - should be applauded.
Thank you, you've raised some very interesting issues here. Food for thought.

x0xJ said...

What about gifts for the kids?
I honestly reckon i could do it, other than the gifts for the kids. I don't go overboard with them, at all, but i'd feel pretty awful about not getting them something special that's new for their birthdays (i feel the same way for my family too, i like to get them what they want or need and while i am huge on not wasting things or money and i do handmade gifts often, i do like to buy them something as well because they're so good to me).
The rest? Yeah, i could do that. It'd be hard, but i honestly think i could.

Hear Mum Roar said...

I love the idea, but I don't think I'd be able to do it this year. I don't feel we're established enough. I'd like at least a good fabric stash first! lol

Gina @ MoneywiseMoms said...

We have something in the US called Freecycle (not sure where else) that helps with this lifestyle. I've gotten many items that I would have spent money on, and it creates a sense of community locally. Where I live now it's hard to find thrift stores without ridiculous overhead/prices, so I've had to get creative on buying used.

Tat said...

I thought about this overnight and I don't think I can commit this year. Probably because I haven't been shopping for a long time anyway, and most of my stuff is pretty shabby looking. So if I get a chance to buy something new (by something I mean mainly a new washing machine), I'd go for it.

Joshua Johnson said...

Our family is trying this for 2011. My wife and I are blogging about it. I am a little more hardcore wanting to go a year. She is thinking more 3 months at a time. We will see. Follow our progress at our blog. Blessings!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

I've done a no spend month ONCE in my life - HELL but I did it. The things you were allowed to buy were essentials, so no nice things for me, and that time I was child-free.

I think I could do a modified version every couple of months - I think any version is better than full-out consumerism!

Naturally Carol said...

I am not a big spender and love to buy locally and wear out the clothes I do buy and don't buy unnecessarily most of the time anyway but I still like the choice of whether to buy or not. I also like to buy gifts and buy things off people I know could use the business so I wouldn't want the restrictions that commitment would make on my life. I thought Dottie Angel aka Tif Fussell made up this challenge! Maybe she got it from your people.

Kymmie said...

Look at me... doing my research for next year.

Spoke to hubby about this and he thinks we're already pretty good. But I'm thinking we could do better...

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