Hello Dear Reader,
Thanks to every one for your words of encouragement. Firstly, your comments on Judith Levine’s book. I read it when it came out and in 2006 took part in a social experiment to not buy anything ‘new’ for the year. I managed it but didn’t keep it up after the year. This time, my personal social experiment will try and go a whole lot deeper. I will often use free time to browse around car boot sales, jumble sales, charity shops and flea markets. I’m not going to do that this year. I justify my consuming by seeing my purchases as recycling. I want to get rid of the need to spend money on things I don’t need. No really! I don’t need another piece of Wood’s ware utility china from the 1950’s, even if it is only £1 from the charity shop! I don’t need any more books as I can borrow them for free from the library. Furthermore, if we don’t use the library, they will cut back funding on the basis that people don’t want it. Please, dear reader, if I can encourage you to do anything this year, please use your library and don’t buy any books. I’m also going to have a clear out and arrange a book swap at some time, which I see as a good excuse for a get together, a cuppa and some homemade cake.
In more recent times, since becoming debt free, I’ve slipped into coffee shops or bought a takeaway. This year, I am going to return to my old habit of making up a flask and taking some homemade cake with me when I go out. I’m going to replace second hand shopping with bracing cliff top or moorland walks. I’ll take my library book with me and just walk over to the park and sit and read in the shade of the oaks. I will make sure that I make a monthly donation to charity as I’ve always looked at my charity shop shopping as how we ‘give back’. I want to continue to ‘do my bit’ but without purchasing anything that can be physically brought into my own home. There really isn’t anything I need.
I am also going to have another year of not eating out, unlike Judith though, I will politely decline any invitations to do so at someone else’s generosity. I ate out twice last year and on both occasions it was because someone paid. None of that hypocrisy this year. Everything I will eat will be homemade or made in someone’s home as they’ve invited me to lunch. We will also not buy any takeaways and will again, take food with us when we go out. We always take our own coffee and sandwiches to work and will continue to do so.
We gave up newspapers in 2009 and will continue to read the papers that Dearly Beloved finds on his daily commute by train. He gets his train from Plymouth, which is often where people ‘change trains’ so they stop for longer and usually change staff or drivers. He has time to get on the ‘London train’ which is en route from Paddington to Penzance and he will often walk from one end of the train to the other and bring home a variety of the daily papers, plus magazines. We have plenty to read and papers to light the fire.
Now onto the issue of clothing. I have one chest of drawers, with five drawers and it contains most of my clothes. I tend to wear the same things over and over. I dress modestly and simply, I can’t say plainly as I enjoy colour but I dress to suit the job I’m doing and never ‘dress up’. I certainly don’t need anything else this year. I’m really careful with tights and mend them if they ladder and mostly I wear thick tights in the winter and go bare legged when it warms up. I won’t need to buy any clothes.
You must be thinking what I will do with any spare money I have. I’m going to aim to pay off another 10% of the balance of my mortgage capital. I still want to sell my big house and downsize but that will be decided by market values, the mortgage company and the open market and as I can’t predict that, I will have to wait until things ‘pick up. I’ll also look at earning extra money this year. Exam marking, working another job in the holidays, get another lodger and see if we can get some delivery work too. On top of paying off the mortgage capital, I’ll also need general household savings which we need for car maintenance, insurance and household repairs.
Finally, and certainly the easiest to not buy, we won’t be going on holiday this year. A holiday of any kind will cost a lot and will holiday at home. We’ll make the point of going out on our bikes, go to the beach, walk on moors and the cliff tops and spend a week doing things for free but as a daily outing from our home. We also won’t limit ourselves to having seven consecutive days of holidays at home but have promised ourselves seven days out next year. None of which will cost us any money. We will look for the free offers for days out if you collect tokens, which we do from the free newspapers we find on trains and by collecting points from Tesco. For example, we ate out twice at Cafe Rouge last year because we saved the loyalty points from Tesco and I shall do so again this year! I’ve noticed lots of people paying with Tesco vouchers and don’t feel at all embarrassed at claiming my free lunch.
There you are then, my plans for the year but in greater detail. I will of course buy food and toiletries but will do so mindfully and carefully. I don’t want to over spend there either. I’ll make sure I menu plan before I shop and aim to do my supermarket shop ‘online’ so I don’t buy anything I didn’t plan to buy.
I have no idea if this year will liberate or constrain me, together, as I do this and you read about it, we’ll just have to see how this works.