Monday, January 18, 2016

Consumerism: The Year without purchasing STUFF

I've decided if we've made it 18 days; we can make it a whole year through this thing, so why not let you into the thing that is messing up our world. Remember I said I would make a big announcement, here is the big thing WRECKING our life, in the best way possible! 

Americans spend more than they make.
The average student comes out with 37K in debt. 
The average American has seven credit cards with a balance over $2500.

We have the most stuff, and yet, we suffer from the highest anxiety rates, comparison rates and unhappiness globally. We have the highest divorce rates; we suffer from "entitlement", from "want", "more" and "I can't live without it." I'm no exception from the above. I'm a selfish American, who has had the "entitlement" mentality who suffers from "more", "want", "greed" and "ooh, I need that." And yet, something deep inside me hurts every time I hit the store to buy something. Purchasing an item is trying to fulfill a void that it simply cannot do. It leaves a bigger hole, and the space in my heart continues to grow while emotionally there is a void.

And if we think it's about money. It's not. Don't get me wrong: money is important. Money is what makes our economy stable. It allows us to survive on necessities like food, water, heat, and shelter, but it bigger than that. There is this craving and addiction that has spread like a disease among our culture. 

Why do we need more stuff? 
More money? 
How come we spend less time with our families and more time at work? 
Is it okay that our National debt is the highest it's ever been?
 Have you completed a stress test lately? Americans are stressed out!  
Why do couples fight about money?
It seems unethical and should be illegal for students to walk out of college with the type of student loan debt Drew, and I face and yet, our culture tells you MORE, FASTER  and NOT ENOUGH! 

Maybe you're tired of the crap.
Are you sick of the stuffitis (inflammation of stuff)?
Maybe you've grown fed up and if you've hadn't that's okay because I invite you to join us for the next year as our life flips UPSIDE down. Join us on a life or social experiment as we look for a new standard. We are sick of the "stuff" the "entitlement" mentality, the "want", "more" and "greed" mindset. We have decided to trade it for something we think will add more meaning to our life, and I hope you'll stick around to see how this thing shakes out.  We are embarking on what we are calling the "The Year without Purchasing Stuff."

The Rules:
In 2015, we had some loose ends that we didn't completely tie up, so we intend to keep those things in place. 
1) Flying Pigs Half Marathon if PT stamps approval on it. 
2) WAM Tour + Bike if PT will allow it.
3) Any gift cards that we have in place can be used to buy goods outside of the rules. 
4) I was asked to be in a wedding for 2016, so naturally I need to purchase a bridesmaid dress.
5) Should we get pregnant, baby items? 
6) School.

{These are things outside of the year without a purchase because they have already been set into motion, purchased, etc. } 

Acceptable Purchases:
Stuff that can be used in a year: Groceries, gas, cleaning products, paper goods, hygiene products, postage, etc.

We will fix stuff that breaks unless the cost to repair is greater. This will go with anything in our home, cars, etc.

We will not purchase any "stuff" such as clothing, DVDs, books, electronics, etc. 

We will not eat out at restaurants unless it's a special occasion celebrating a special event such as Birthday, Anniversary, Holiday, with friends, traveling or a once in a lifetime. We will not go out to eat as often anymore.Eating out will need to have a particular purpose in mind because it has become excessive in our household. 

We are trading stuff for experiences. We will be exploring the world at large. 

Anything pertaining to our personal health fits into anther set of guidelines. For example, all medications, vitamins, and medical expenses are a given to stay alive. However, running clothes do not fit the guidelines of a purchase, but running shoes could be a contender for discussion if the health of our legs and feet were in jeopardy as a result of wear. It simply will not be a purchase if it is based on color, cuteness, style, etc. We wear our current shoes until they break down, fall apart and need to be re-glued. We are pretty committed to this thing. 

As this experiment unfolds, I am sure hiccups will happen, and stories will be interesting. I can tell you one thing; this is harder already on me than it is my husband. Every time we go to the grocery store; it is a constant reminder that I can't buy anything other than groceries. Don't even bother looking at cute clothes;you can't purchase them! However, trips to the store are fewer; I am getting more stuff done, and I'm a heck of a lot happier. I haven't visited the mall and don't intent too. Everything I need will be a hand me down. This is going to be fun! 

"I have come that they may have life, and they have to to the full."John 10:10

Would you be willing to try this social experiment? Any rules you would add? Any you would take away?  Whatcha y'all think? Could you do this for a whole year? 



Two Runners Travel said...

Wow, this is an impressive goal, but I would be kind to yourself and not make it feel like a punishment. I hope you will be needing to purchase things because of one of the reasons on the list which would be an addition to your family. :)

Sarah said...

That would be great to add to our family!! We would be thrilled! It's been hard, but this year we'd like to give more and add less stuff to our lives. My husband has already said- you're being too legalistic, so we've opened up the parameters way more than what they were.. Eek. Just trying to find more balance and less stuff!

Nancy said...

When Dave was on unemployment for 18 months we had to do this. It gets easier. And it's kind of a fun challenge to be more creative with your resources. Staying out of stores (except to buy what's on your grocery list) is a HUGE help. All those things you didn't know you needed until you laid eyes on them! You can do it!!

Susan P said...

Nancy has it right when she says staying out of stores is huge. I hate to shop. I only go to my local grocery store or Target (which, we can all admit is hard enough not to buy extras here, LOL). We do have the "kids just outgrew their boots" need to run into Tractor Supply Co. store to get new boots, but that was after we checked various second hand shops first.
Nancy also is right when she says it gets easier!!! It will seem so hard at first. As would any life style change or such. As time goes on you realize you will survive and you won't desire "stuff" so badly.
It is horribly hard to not fall for the society telling us we "need" anything to make our life easier. Any gadget, do dad, nicknack that might help. Think of the old days where they didn't have any of it!! LOL. Aright, so we don't have to be that strict. ;) But you get my point. I KNOW you two can do this. Start small - don't overwhelm yourselves the first time trying this. Gradually, as you see you can do it, keep going for more! It WILL happen!!

Sarah said...

Thanks, Nancy! It will definitely be a challenge, but it will be fun too! I'm curious to see where the adventure takes us :)

Barefoot Hippie Girl said...

I just clicked over here because I loved your tag line. If you are a runner, though, I wouldn't put off buying new shoes until they are falling apart and need glued. That will cause you problems that you might literally be paying for over the next many years. Good running shoes are a necessity, not an option. Which is also not to say that you have to buy the trendiest either. Just good shoes that support your feet.

Sarah said...

I like the idea of going at it in small chunks, great idea! Sue, great perspective about way back when- they had nothing and they were just fine.. Now to stay out of the stores :)

Sarah said...

True that! We will support our feet for running purposes, not out of my love for cute colors. I like bright colors, but I also know the importance of a good pair of shoes. I have PF, so shoes are extremely important to these feet right now. I do have a slight addiction to running shoes in cute colors, so those ones will have to be glued together ;)
Thanks for stopping by!!

Anonymous said...

We have done a version of this last year. But I will tell you what, it is REALLY HARD when you have younger kids that don't really grasp the concept :)
Although, it is much easier for me to say "no, we don't have the money" than my husband!! They got used to me saying it so much last year, now my oldest always says to the younger siblings "we don't have the money for that, we need to buy food & gas for the vehicles."
We also taught them how to save money, (that they don't need to use money they earn just because they have it) this one is still a challenge for our youngest.
We have chose to live as simply as possible.

Sarah said...

That's a great concept to teach your children! I'm sure it is a challenge with kids, but what a good lesson to instill and that they can be savers for when they are older.

Two Runners Travel said...

This idea intrigues me so much!! One of my coworkers did this for a few months and she said it wasn't that hard once you got in the groove. After I quit my job, I've been focusing on being a lot more frugal and it's actually not that bad. Now that I have a little extra time, I've been working on cutting some of our basic household expenses like groceries, random house things, etc. We've also cut back on eating out...when I was working there was at least one weeknight when we would both say "don't feel like cooking" so we would end up going out. We never did anything fancy but the cost (and calories!!) add up! Good luck and can't wait to hear more about this project. -C

Sarah said...

Christine, the calories and cost does add up fast when eating out. I've learned to make so many of my own things and cut things out of our budget that aren't needs. It's actually kinda fun. I'm pretty sure our great grandparents knew a thing or two about being grateful and making everything stretch. However, this isn't just about money, although it is, but we're also just trying to find this place of being content. When does enough become enough and I don't think it's the idea of having "stuff", or maybe it is, but the thrill of going to get it, eat out, etc. It's addictive and it's in our American culture.. When do we all stop becoming addicts? As time goes on, it certainly gets easier. I can't wait to see how I feel in a few months because today, I certainly want to register for runDisney in California :)

Karen Seal said...

I think this really is a neat idea! I'm interested to hear your progress as the year continues! Im with you - I would rather experience life and travel than have a house full of things! :)

Sarah said...

We feel the same way. We'd like to pay off our student loans for good!