I have mentioned "Words That Can Only Be Your Own" before. It is niece Janet's (who lives in the UK) blog which I really enjoy. One of her posts last week she writes about the book "How to be Free" by Tom Hodgkinson. Janet is undertaking an interesting exercise and is only spending money on essentials. This is her list:-
My 'Not Buying It' rules will be:
1. Food and drink are essentials and as such are allowed.
2. The Guardian counts as an essential but magazines do not (and anyway, most magazines only exist to point out how rubbish your life/house/wardrobe is and make you want to buy new things).
3. Replacing something that has run out (e.g. deodorant, face powder or tin foil) is allowed, stocking up on random things just because they're on special offer is not.
4. Buying birthday presents is allowed. Not Christmas presents though (I know it's only August, but I start my Christmas shopping in January and carry on throughout the year so it's not as weird as it sounds)
Since I read her post earlier in the week I have been thinking about it, a lot. I had discussed with Gill, only about two weeks or so ago, the difficulty of going out at lunchtime for a walk around the shops and just how difficult it is not to spend any money. The weather was not great last week, so it is often easier to just stay in office but sometimes you need to get out and clear the head. I seldom take my handbag but always take my purse and phone. My route usually entails saying hello to Viola, the plant lady in the lane between Cavendish and the Link (that is her name, promise). I then walk around the stalls, if the weather is good, enter Cavendish and usually end up downstairs at Woolies, where there is always something that I "need" (even if it is a bag of apples or a packet of lettuce). However, with the item that I "need" there always comes a few extras and often a change of plan of what I intended to cook for supper that night.
The walk back to the office usually involves a "stop in to see" what Boardman's have on their "50% off the sale price" sale. Whenever (not often) I find something there (usually something I do not need), I vow never to return because they must have the worst sales staff of any store in Cape Town (don't let me go there right now) but at the same time, I hate to think that I am missing out on something, so I have to check up on their bargain floor once or twice a week.
So after reading Janet's blog, I had a peek at the book "Not buying it - My year without shopping" by Judith Levine and it is something I would like to investigate more.
Besides saving yourself a whole lot of money, do you realize how much time you would save without shopping in your life? This really appeals to me - no traffic, no looking for parking (or paying parking guards), fighting the aisles, queuing to pay - it is sounding very attractive. If you weren't allowed to buy anything new you would not spend time popping in and out of shops looking for that elusive black or white perfect fit T-shirt (you would just make do with one of the 46 you have in your cupboard). You are still going to have to do the supermarket shopping but with a list and you would probably find that you would support the small, more local supermarkets.
There are anti-consumer groups that have formed around the world. Some of them are pretty staunch - a group who call themselves "Freegans":-
Freeganism is an anti-consumerist lifestyle whereby people employ alternative living strategies based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources.
Freegans "embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed."
The word "freegan" is a portmanteau of "free" and "vegan"; not all freegans are vegan, but the ideology of ethical veganism is similar to that of freeganism. Freeganism started in the mid 1990s, out of the antiglobalization and environmentalist movements.
When we were visiting family in Canada I went down to their local "swap shop". It was a small building with a fairly large container next to it. Here you could take your unwanted goods and "swap" them for something you needed. No money changes hands. This was where their small community exchanged unused goods, kids looked for new books and puzzles. It was perfect for baby goods, they had bicycles, skateboards, toys, books, clothes, furniture. The children played together, picked out new games or a bigger bicycles. It was quite hard explaining to a 10 year old boy that the rule was that he had to leave something behind. It works well for them.
Basically the rules (from the book) of what you can and can't buy are (in condensed form):-
Food (but like Janet says only to replace something that needs replacing)
Alcohol - amazingly this is allowed (probably why it captured my attention). By doing less shopping perhaps I can become more of a wine fundi and spend more time reading labels and trying different wines.
Anything second hand from charity shops, junk shops or eBay (liking this more and more after a visit to Kalk Bay on Saturday - those shops definitely need some quality time spent on them)
Shoes (okay to buy your children new shoes)
Perfume and bath stuff
Electronics (unless an emergency like a kettle)
What about trying a year of giving thoughtful birthday presents? Make a deal with your friends that gifts cannot be bought. I think it would be great to spend that hour that you would have spent shopping for a gift (and never being sure if it was the right gift) and the money you would have spent on that gift just spending some quality time together sharing a meal, bottle of wine, jar of jam (whatever).
So what about trying it? I am tempted because I am trying to tempt Michael into a holiday to the UK next July (tempting him with the Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes (very close to where his sister lives), his cricket side are touring and playing my cricket side (and the 2nd 5 day test is very close to where Jennifer and Andrea live) and I have a "sort-of" contact for tickets for Lords (and a flat in Putney at my disposal). How much more tempting does a girl have to do!! In all this tempting though, I forgot about the very small minor fact that the Olympics is also happening and flights are probably going to be very expensive. This temptress can only but try.
So making an effort to save for the trip would be a good place for me to start. Michael is so good with finances. He would never splash out on a holiday he could not afford. He would never think about "flying now, playing later". We will have been married for two years in three weeks time. Do you think his centsability is rubbing off on me? I was thinking so but then on thinking a bit deeper, maybe not quite yet. Me, having my own hard-earned saved money (impossible - ask Cheryl my accountant who fired me) in my grubby little paws, spending the saved "no shopping money" on new stuff in new shops on a different continent!!!
Makes cents Jennifer. Think I am going to have to try something else.