Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Year of (Hopefully) Wise Spending

Sometime last year, I read the book "Not Buying It: My Year Without Spending", by Judith Levine.

The lingering effects of the author's message have stayed with me over the past months. Could I do it? What does it really mean to live according to need? What in my life (a long list, for sure) would I have to give up? What would my husband do? Would he join me? Would I manipulate others into giving me gifts of the things I'm not buying for myself?

Realizing that I am ultimately in control of my own spending, I've decided to make some drastic changes in 2008. Of course, this motivation is coupled with the fact that I quit my full-time job in August and am now working part-time, making (ah-hem) 63% less in salary.

But, you see, my life is *much* richer in other ways. I am happier, healthier, more upbeat. I am back in touch with my fully-present, true self. I have gained a valuable perspective that allows me to see, ultimately, what exchanging my time and talents for money really means. This is a lesson it has taken many years to comprehend. But there is no going back.

And so, starting today, I set out on my quest to live a life of voluntary simplicity. I will attempt to live at a need-based level, buying only what I deem necessary for a simple, yet fulfilling life.

Contrary to what Judith did, I will not eschew all pleasures that aren't considered needs (no way am I giving up expensive coffee/tea and visits to Starbucks). However, my goal is to totally overhaul the way I earn money and, subsequently, how I part with it. I am willing to alter my lifestyle a great deal. Indeed, this has already started over the past few months as I've been out of work.

My preliminary list of things I won't buy in 2008 includes:

~household decorations/trinkets
~candles (I will burn every last one that is already packed into my dining room cabinet first!)

Things I may buy, but will *totally* consider differently and save for (paying cash only) will be:

~health supplements
~good-quality skin care

I hope you'll read along with interest and curiosity, as well as some insight into your own style of consumerism. This will be a tremendous challenge. And yet I know it is a necessary step I must take in the quest to realize my authentic, evolved self.

Care to join me?

With optimism and determination,



Jena Strong said...

Lisa -

I read about that book, but haven't actually read it. I have this feeling the author's local (for me, that is). I will be visiting your new blog and at least beginning to THINK about spending less... gotta start somewhere, right?

GailNHB said...

Love this, love this, love this. Do these days in Spain and Italy count??? I definitely want to join you in this, Lisa. And upon my return to the States on Monday will seriously ponder what this will look like for me. But I like your list of things to NOT buy in 2008. I sooooo want to talk to you on the phone, SOOOOO much. Let's talk this week. Can I buy that book - they don't have it at my library???? Is it worth the purchase or should I just take the plunge from right here and now??? I suppose those are the kinds of questions I have to answer for myself. So much to ponder and plan and bear in mind, my dear Lisa.

Amy said...

Your priorities are a lot like mine, Lisa. I refuse to skimp on skin care and health supplements. I do try to get as many books as possible from the public library, and good health supplements can be purchased at great discounts through such outlets as Vitamin Shoppe. I'm goign to read Levine's book. It sounds great!

Judith Levine said...

good luck, Lisa, and have fun. I read in the paper that there's no diff between ordinary cheap skin care products and the expensive stuff.

all best,
Judith Levine

turtlewoman said...

Lisa, I am with you. I also understand your continuing need to not give up everything you find comfort in. Even Ghandi cautioned against such extremes. I might suggest that you take your own mug with you when you go to Starbucks. I do this and they never even bat an eyelash about it. It is a tiny thing but cuts down just a bit on their use of paper mugs and sends a message every time you do it.
Chocolate - dark chocolate - is a given. I do buy it but limit myself to one small piece a day. I do not feel the least bit deprived.

In our household my husband is better than I am about not spending. I need my books. I use the library as often as possible but some books I really want/need to have on my shelves for future reference. We do use a credit card but always - and I do mean ALWAYS -pay it off every month. I like that I get a statement showing exactly where we spent $ and how much we spent. It makes it easier to realize what was an absolute necessity and what could have been avoided. We owe absolutely nothing else. When we had to buy another car we paid cash. We paid off our mortgage ASAP and own our small house free and clear. Although we have almost the smallest house in the area we also have the lowest utility bills and the least maintenance. It all adds up.

Our rebate check? That will get saved. I absolutely refuse to buy (pun intended) into the government's scam.

As for Judith's book - I have heard of it but have not read it. It has been added to my "must read" list. I am currently reading "Blessed Unrest" by Paul Hawkin.

Namaste, Lindy


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