Let me tell you all about the buying goals I have been working on since Lent. I was going through some spiritual havoc over the season of Lent, and did a lot of soul searching (Lutherans, unlike Catholics, do not really give something up during Lent – although sometimes I do – its more a time of deep spiritual reflection and devotion) and this is what I came up with. Actually, come Easter time (the end of Lent, for those of you who don’t know) I had more of a skeleton of a plan. I’ve been fleshing it out through trial and error since then, and there’s probably still a lot more fleshing to do.
Anyway, the goal is to buy less. How much less? As much less as I can. My life is crammed with stuff (I’ve mentioned before here that I have a compulsive hoarding problem I’m trying to work on) and its not really doing anything for me except making my life more cluttered and stressed. So in addition to getting rid of the useless stuff responsibly, I’m really focusing on halting the in flow.
This has greater implications than just helping me get a handle on my hoarding problem. Our culture of consumerism is terrible for the environment and the main cause of global warming. All of this stuff we buy and use takes energy to produce, ship, use, and ship to the dump once its thrown away. Not to mention all the other chemicals, toxins, waste, byproducts and other unpleasantries associated with the production, use and disposal of consumer goods. Its in the best interest of our planet and our own health to buy and consume only what we need.
Also, the best way to save money is to not spend it in the first place. Duh, right?
So here are my rules, as they stand. Or should I say my goals.
#1 Buy only things that are consumable – food, personal hygiene products, diapers for Elijah (although I try to use cloth as much as I can), etc, and buy only consumables that you need (healthy, balanced food, only the basics for hygiene). Buy them as cheap and responsibly as you can.
#2 If I need something I don’t have and isn’t a consumable, make it or obtain it for free off of Freecycle or from a friend or family member
#3 When I must buy a non consumable item (for example, new clothes for Elijah, who is growing so fast I can hardly keep him clothed), buy used.
#4 If I must buy new, get it organic and local if possible (or as sustainable as possible). Avoid packaging and excess shipping.
So far I haven’t physically saved a lot of money, instead I’ve paid bills, but that’s equally as important. I can see the savings coming though. Other things I’m doing with money that isn’t being spent include
I started a retirement account. I can get one through my work, if you can, you truly should do the same. If your work doesn’t offer something like that for you, then see about getting involved in a financial institute or something. Hey, I don’t claim to be an expert. Maybe there’s something on Get Rich Slowly. This is why I read that blog.
I started a College Invest account for Elijah. I’d like for him to not have to join the military to go to college, like I did. I’m going to do the best I can to teach him discipline (which was really my biggest problem that prevented me from going to college, and the military fixed it for me), and I will put aside as much money for him as I can afford. Right now its only 25 bucks a month, but as I get more bills paid down, that amount will grow.
I also plan to start giving a set monthly amount to my church, probably something very small, like 20 bucks a month or something. I also let myself join the Sierra Club again. I hope that eventually I will be able to afford to tithe to other charitable organizations as well. I’d love to give some money for the crisis in Myanmar, but they aren’t letting aid through, so I will send them all my prayers instead.
Finally, I want to invest in some green companies. The Sierra Club offers ways to do that, and I’m going to look into it further and let you know what I find.
Now, these rules aren’t set in stone. I take vacations from them sometimes (this weekend, for example, I’m going to Chocolate Fest, and I might spend a bit there on some very un necessary consumables), but having them solid in my memory makes the vacations fewer and smaller. I also have a list of things I want to buy in the future, and I think about them before I buy anything else. For example, I want to put bamboo floors in my new house when I get it, and I want to paint Elijah’s room blue with low or no VOC paint, and then I want a new bed set made of organic cotton and some wool pillows. Next year, I would like to go on my church’s annual trip to India. Those are medium term goals and they help me to keep my eyes on the prize.
The other Lenten plan I made had to do with responsible eating, but I’ll blog on that later.