Saturday, June 13, 2009

Buy Nothing Summer

The summer is already flying by so fast that it feels like fall already around here. Well, okay, that's just because the weather felt like October with our highs not climbing out of the 50-degree zone last week. But somehow, life is going awfully fast lately which is one reason that the blog has suffered.

The beginning of June marked the beginning of another round of Buy Nothing Summer, though I didn't get a chance to formally announce it on June 1. We've been going strong since then though, enjoying the liberation that comes when you let yourself stop caring about "stuff" to the point of just not buying it.

For those of you who weren't with us for the first round of Buy Nothing Summer back in '07 (we skipped '08 due to having a new baby), it goes a little something like this:

1. set your own rules.
2. go.

Really, it's that simple. The point is to think outside of our own boxes and pay more attention to how we're spending our money (and therefore, our time). I was really impressed with the thoughtful "rules" that our fellow Buy Nothing Summer comrades came up with; you can read all about it at the blog:

The rules for my family for this summer are much the same as the rules from our first summer:


• Weekly groceries with a budget and a list
• Household supplies (toilet paper, laundry soap, etc.)
• Two tanks of gas per month (when the gas is gone, get on the bikes)
• Unexpected Jackson items (in case he grows 2" and needs clothes, etc.)
• Camping fees

Special allowances:

• One-time yarn purchase IF there is a yarn store in the Adirondacks while visiting in-laws, otherwise, the yarn stash can hold its own
• Weekly stipend of $10 cash per participating adult for coffees, etc., "just in case"
• One night dining out allowed per week, and we're not talking fancy restaurants here

Obviously, we're changing "unexpected Jackson items" to "unexpected kid items" so Amelia's covered too. And since we're not going to the Adirondacks this year, that's out, though I remain non-committal about visiting the yarn store in my in-laws' town since we will be visiting them at home this year. ("Travel yarn" is still allowed under the terms of my yarn diet this year, so this may trump the bylaws of Buy Nothing Summer outlined here.)

I think we're pretty much just sticking to this list of personal rules though. Amelia's first birthday is next month (!!!) so that will fall into the general "kid" category when we want to buy a gift or two for her. But thanks to Buy Nothing Summer, her birthday party can be delightfully paper-product free.

Another big change that we're so, so happy to return to is a cash-only lifestyle. Man, life is so much easier when you just spend with cash. Easier to track, easier for transactions, easier for the smaller merchants and farmer's market vendors who get hit with high credit card fees otherwise, and easier for feeling free. It's slightly harder at first at the grocery store, but we're getting used to paying more attention to how much things cost instead of just throwing things on the conveyor belt, using the credit card and being shocked by the total after we return home.

Both Dan and I are enjoying ourselves immensely already with Buy Nothing Summer (we love rules) and love being challenged to think outside the box. If I added up how much money we've saved from me not buying daily frozen coffee drinks alone, I think we'd be astounded.

Here's to a summer of liberation!

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