Black Friday

This 30 Days of Nothing has evoked some deep emotions and rich conversations with others. I've read through my posts this month and reflected back on how I wasn't sure what to expect with the challenge. I knew it would be hard--not so much in denying myself of "things" but in having to say no, over and over and over again, to the thousands of opportunities we have to buy. 30 Days of Nothing smacks of privilege, in and of itself--as was pointed out to me by a reader. You need to have enough of an income from the start to be able to be a part of this challenge. If you're already living at or near the poverty level, you'd give your eye teeth to be in a position like us. To have enough, to have so much, we make a game out of having less.

So I'm humbled. Very much so.

When I began my challenge I didn't set out to save lots of money or pad our "what if the car breaks down" account or even make some kind of statement. I was just trying it out. Other bloggers that have tried this are people I admire and respect, and therefore it gave me the chance to think about what it would look like in my life.

Admittedly, what I've gone "without" this month is nothing earth shattering. Not buying pizza and making it at home is not going to change the world. Neither is patching jeans or recycling birthday party streamers. We've gone without in little ways this month.

So I go back to what I'm seeing every single day. That our culture--this crazy culture of abundance--allows us the chance to buy something every single second of every single minute of every single hour ... ad nauseum. Want the New Moon soundtrack? Two clicks with my mouse and I can buy it at iTunes. Want food? Don't even get out of your car... just do the drive-thru. Want organic locally grown lettuce? Do you want it bagged or loose? Red or green? Prewashed or gritty? See my point? Every time you turn around...

And while I do not resent technology or convenience or progressive thinking, spending too much time looking for items at a store or online is too much time spent away from normal living. Not buying extras this month has let me hit the pause button on life, re-evaluate what my priorities are, and become more conscious of consumerism. David and I have never been big spenders, but even so we have seen how making a determined effort to spend nothing in a month reveals that we live in a world where a large part of your life will be devoted to buying or thinking about buying. For example, being invited to birthday parties means buying a birthday gift. So I go to a store. At the store I try to remember if we need shampoo. Or tissue. Once I determine that, I remember that one of my kids lost their winter gloves and I should replace them. After putting gloves in the cart I think about vitamins. Do we have enough vitamins to last until the end of the month or should I buy more vitamins now? Before you know it you've spent a good chunk of your afternoon buying for today, tomorrow, and next week.

30 Days of Nothing had a different result for me than it will for you or for anyone else that tries it. It will affect each person in a different way, and if you decide to try this challenge I'm so curious to know what your thoughts are. 30 Days of Nothing is letting me live one day at a time. Each day we make do with what we have.

We're incredibly fortunate that we have enough. I want to keep that perspective forever.


Bekka-Reeeeeeee said...

Cathy -
I was leaving work last night with a fairly large bag of "stuff" that I was BERATING myself for spending money on because Lord knows, I don't need any more fabric and I was thinking of you and this challenge. I realized that everyone who enters this challenge will come out with differnt perspectives, but I've got to say that I truly have enjoyed getting your point of view on this. And it's been inspiring me to try it out myself. For me though, I think the point of the challenge would be to get me to the realization that just because something is pretty and it's on sale doesn't mean I need to buy it! I probably won't do this challenge until January, but I am curious & excited to see how it might differ for me than it has for you. Your journey has been an inspiration!

cathy said...

you're very right about that. in our house we try to "save" money by buying items on sale or clearance. but in doing so, we're still spending money. this month has certainly taught me that too.