A year without shopping?

April 27, 2007

I am anxiously awaiting a book from my local library titled Not Buying It by Judith Levine.  She & her husband, tired of rampant consumerism, took a year off from buying anything they didn’t need.  I will give a thorough review after reading.  In the spirit of the book, I am waiting in line at my local library for a reading opportunity.

 My husband and I did this for a month. It was an interesting experiment and I was amazed at how often I found what I needed without making a purchase.  It was the month I needed a pitch fork (and found one on Freecycle).  I needed garden spades, my neighbor graciously loaned me hers,  I needed pond plants and found some on Plantcycle – a free plant exchange. 

Check it out…. Not Buying It by Judith Levine.

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The question I have been pondering lately is “Are big box warehouse stores worth the cost and trouble?”  I have long known that unless you buy a large amount of stuff, your cost of membership offsets any savings you may find.  However, we did join Costco a few months back and have found a few significant savings….we bought a new bed for $400 less than it would have cost us anywhere else.  That is a savings.  But generally, are we saving money and more importantly, are we simplifying our lives?

In general, adding Costco to the list, I now visit the farmer’s market for all produce, honey and so forth.  I won’t give up the farmer’s market, it encompasses all of my values of buying local, saving the environment and eating healthy organic food.  And it is pretty fun and very kitchy considering my city – a very unique and weird (proudly so) city.   Then I visit the regular grocery store for bread and essentials that I cannot get at the farmer’s market.  Finally I visit Costco to pick up those things that I get cheaper.  This isn’t simple.   This is insane.  My grocery days that include Costco have increased by 3 hours.    I want more time, not less.  And with gas prices what they are, I am certain there aren’t many savings to be had by driving to three different locations.

I think I will let my Costco membership lapse.  I may ultimately spend a bit more in groceries but overall, I will regain my time and that is most important.  

Purging feels good.

April 23, 2007

This weekend I purged all of our old stuff.  Our son’s outgrown toys, clothes, an old computer monitor that had been replaced, etc. etc.  It was a good weekend.  My house feels lighter, my life feels lighter and my attic is now empty.  

I was fortunate to find a good home for all of my old items.  A friend of a friend is going to Peru this summer to work with street children through an organization called United Planet.  The organization looks intriguing.  This volunteer is raising money in part by holding an enormous garage sale to offset the cost of his host family in Peru.   He was humbled by the amount of stuff we sent his way.  I hope he raises plenty of cash and I hope he does good work in that forsaken part of the world. 

Earth Day

April 22, 2007

Today is Earth Day.   Do something to protect this beautiful rock we call home.

 visit http://www.earthday.net/ 

A quick list of the things you can do to help: 

1. Change all incandescent bulbs to florescent bulbs.  Reduce emissions from coal generated power plants by reducing the amount of electricity you use.

2. Park your car and walk, carpool, or bike.

3. Plant a garden for the wildlife that has been displaced by development.

4. Reduce the flow in your toilet by adding a gallon jug of water to the tank.

5. Go solar.

6. Buy hybrid – reduce vehicle emissions.

7. Telecommute and drive less.

8. Reduce your footprint.

9.  Buy recycled products – recycling doesn’t help if you don’t purchase the end product.

10. Use organic lawn products to protect your health and the earth by reducing the amount of toxins released into the underground water systems.

11. Reduce your lawn and replace with native plants, saves water, eliminates the need for pesticides and fertilizers and saves time.

Tragedy in Virginia

April 17, 2007

By now, all of you dear readers have heard about the horrific tragedy that unfolded at Virginia Tech University yesterday morning. 

My thoughts right now are constantly with VA Tech University and the families of the dead and the injured. 

It is during times like these that I renew my faith in living a deliberate, connected life.  Life and death are senseless.  We don’t know why we are here, we often don’t know why we are taken and we never know when.  These children were in the beginning of what should have been long, productive lives and it was snatched from them with no warning. 

I need not remind you to hug your families, call your parents, visit your neighbors….connect your life. 

I like to live simply which already saves me a ton of money that I am able to put toward other pursuits such as our son’s education and travel.  I am also fairly cheap and frugal but not to the extent that it clutters up my simple life.  For example, I wouldn’t buy something that I don’t need just because it is 75% off in the event I might use it in the future.  It would simply be clutter taking up space. I wait until I need something, then I start looking.

Today, patience and looking paid off. 

My cats love their kitty condo but it is in sad shape and, after years of being a jungle gym to my Bradley Cat, is structurally unsound.  We have re-covered too many times to count.  But it is a cat favorite in this house.  It serves as a bed, a window viewing area, a place to bathe and a safe place from dogs or kids as well as being a scratching post and a jungle gym for one of my very active cats.  I was beginning to lament we would have spend several hundred dollars to replace this kitty condo soon before one or both of the cats were hurt. 

Fortune smiled on us.  Today, my husband and I spotted  in a neighbor’s yard a free, very good condition kitty condo.  We snatched it up.  I have thoroughly vacuumed it and it is now being test driven by one cat and sniffed by the dog (wondering who the new cats might be that she smells on the carpet).

I won’t go out of my way to find a bargain but I will take one when it falls in my lap!   And this goes to show that if you are patient and keep your eyes open, you can usually find what you need without spending a lot of money or using resources.

Simple living tip

April 12, 2007

Let things go.  That is right, let things go. 

A friend just called frantic on how to get her children to clean their rooms.  My friend has sunk into the pit of despair because her 4 children now expect her to pick up after them constantly.  For years she would ask them to clean their rooms, put away toys, etc. etc…. when it wasn’t being done fast enough or good enough, she would step in and take over.  Until she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown because she realized she was doing everything, including the kids projects.  You know the drill.   I can’t find my shoes, mom I can’t do this project will you help me do it (which inevitably leads to her doing it without them), mom, mom, mom.   This would go along until she was at her limit and then she would impose arbitrary punishment.  The kids have her down pat.  They do what they want and mom does all the work.  Occassionally  mom yells or grounds or spanks but it doesn’t last long until they are back to doing what they want. 

I am a huge fan of natural consequences.  My advice was….don’t.  Eventually, they will not be able to find something necessary for school, a play-date or something else.  Don’t offer to help them find it.  Leave them to their suffering, even if it means they have to go to school without shoes (it might help to call the school ahead of time and let them know what you are doing).    Look at them helplessly, commiserate at their situation and say “I am so sorry honey, but you are responsible for this and if you don’t have it, x is what happens.”  and walk away.

There is only so much you can do in life.  Simplify your life by letting go and letting the kids or the husband do their share of the work in the house.