Buy nothing, week 1

Sharon August 7th, 2006

Well, it has been a week now. I’m not missing the shopping at all - the goal is to shop 1x per month at our local coop and the asian grocery store, and then no more than 3xs per week at our local farmstand for things like milk (not currently able to barter for milk, although we have at times), fruit outside what we grow, and other things we don’t produce.

So far the big dilemma is whether to replace the 50 chicks that gotten eaten by something unknown (very mysterious). We lost our layers for next year (our current batch are 2+ years old and starting to slow a bit), as well as 25 bantam chicks that I’d planned to give away to various people I know who want to try keeping chickens in their suburban backyards. I figured cochin bantams would be excellent - they are attractive, quiet, decent layers and good setters, as well as small and good foragers.

I think I’ve decided that I will replace the layers, since they are a business expense - we sell eggs and make a decent profit off of them. But I’m less sure about the banties - a pity, since it was a good cause.

I’m also looking for a free kitten - we lost two cats last week. One of our indoor cats (Tycho, our cat’s cat) slipped out and met with a neighbor’s German Shepherd. His spine was broken, and he had to be put down. And we lost Yorick (Alas Poor Yorick, actually) to the neurological condition that he’s had for years. That leaves us with three cats, all fairly elderly, none of them a spectacular mouser (Yorick was by far our best, although Angus is good at catching bats and birds that slip into the house). I think we need a kitten. But, of course, nobody *needs* a kitten, right? Hence, we look for a freebie.

But I admit, otherwise, I feel a pleasant sense of satisfaction at not having to go near a mall, particularly as my friends complain about the joys of back to school shopping. My children, dressed in a combination of gifts, yard sale clothes, cousin cast offs and things I’ve made for them may look like hopeless ragamuffins, but they are cute ragamuffins, and at least I don’t have to go to the mall.

We had guests all this week, including my Mother-in-law, who despite the fact that we’ve explicitly asked her not to compensate for our not-buying things (after all, we’re choosing this, not living in a cardboard box in the train station) arrived with a big bag of toys for the kids (just little things, of course, she said ;-)), brought cookies and a meal of take out malay food, and insisted on buying us some ice cream before she left. She’s very, very worried her son and grandsons might die of starvation or deprivation, I suspect. But she’s also very, very sweet. My sister kindly asked me, “Can you go out to dinner if I buy?” I find it kind of funny (although also very wonderful) that people are so willing to try and save us from ourselves. And who knows, after a year without restaurants, I might be. But so far (and fortified by the take-out Malay MIL brought) I’m able to handle the first week sans restaurants (given that where we live there are only two options - pizza and diner, neither very good, I often go months without eating out - we’re better cooks than any food we can buy very locally) without *too* much strain ;-).

Someone asked what we are saving money for. Partly to increase our charitable donations. Partly to add to our preparations - we want to reinsulate, add more food storage, rip up the carpet, fence the yard. But mostly, I’m only generally curious about how much money we’ll save (although, of course, we can always use the money). What I most want to accomplish is transforming my relationship to scarcity - I want my instinctive reaction to losing something, breaking something, running out to be “how can I manage without it/repair it myself/find something else/make it do” not “I need to get…”


One Response to “Buy nothing, week 1”

  1. Kimberlyon 08 Aug 2006 at 2:12 pm

    Sharon, I think this is a worthy experiment. I wish you luck and patience! As we just bought our first home, I find myself asking almost daily if we REALLY need something in an attempt to save money. Which is hard because after living with my MIL, we find we have nothing of our own to speak of. I am now a fan of dollar stores and yard sales. I’m even scouting out a location in the back yard for a garden. Wish me luck!

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