It’s New Year’s resolution time again. If you are anything like me, you make the same list every year:
- Lose 10 pounds
- Organize the house
- Pack organic, macrobiotic, waste-free lunches for the kids
And by February the gym class schedule “doesn’t work for me”, the house is a mess, and the kids are buying cookies for lunch in the cafeteria.
Goal setting in general is a good practice, but maybe these aren’t the right goals. Maybe these aren’t that important and therefore not very motivating… So I wondered, what do we, as a household, truly need to work on?
Last week my attention turned to a small gift that my daughter received for the holidays, a Moonjar. A Moonjar is an “allowance manager” or bank that has three compartments — one for spending, one for saving, and one for giving. It’s a great tool for budgeting and learning the value of a dollar.
Feeling a little light in the wallet after December, the Moonjar inspired me to embark on a financial reset. My new resolution would be to buy nothing for the month of January.
I know, crazy right? Well, not as crazy as it sounds. With the exception of essentials — groceries, medications, hygiene products, gas, utilities — I will beg, borrow, or swap whatever else I need. As a family, we’ll also need to figure out what we can make instead of buy (lunches, kombucha, coffee, etc.). Eliminating little luxury items can add up to big savings and cut down on mindless spending.
Besides saving money, there are environmental and social implications of buying less stuff. It can reduce household waste and lead to more conscious consumption once the challenge is over. Some questions I will be pondering are:
Do I really need this?
What is its lifecycle? What went into making it (time, labour, resources)?
What are the alternatives?
Where did it come from? How did it get here?
What is its environmental and social impact?
Who benefits from the purchase? What will it do for me?
What’s in it? Who made it?
To help my family through this journey I have joined a local Facebook group called Buy Nothing Reston where users post items they wish to give away or trade, as well as items they are in search of (ISO). This group has almost 400 members who live in Reston and bills itself as “an adult-only, hyper-local gift economy.” The group is part of a national initiative, The Buy Nothing Project, which aims to “set aside the model of our cash economy in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us.” Anyone may join this group as long as they live within the approved boundaries.
I am not sure where we will end up at the end of the month, but this resolution is definitely worth the effort. Does anyone have experience with a Buy Nothing Month? Please share your tips in the comments section and wish me luck!