I began to work toward a new goal yesterday. It’s a loose goal, one I’ll set before me as an aspiration for my life rather than the hard and fast sort of goals that make me feel guilty when I miss the mark and it won’t be anywhere near a central goal in life.
It’ll be aside gig, a sort of experiment.
The Second Hand Year
For the next year, I’ll try to live without buying anything new. This excludes food of course, and unless we stay at a slew of hotels in the coming months, toiletries as well. We’ll see. And it’s my little gig, not my wife or my kids.
I am an impulse buyer. Not bad, but it’s in me. I see something I like and want (not need) and I feel the impulse to buy it. Too often I do.
Buying things isn’t bad of course. There is much we need to live here in our corner of the globe – where ever that may be. But I guess I want to live with more discipline, more intentionality in this area.
And there are other things that I want too, things that cost money. I want to return to Turkey – four tickets cost a lot of money, money that can be saved if I’m not buying loads of other stuff.
I want to develop a business. Robert Lewis Stevenson famously advised: “Earn a little and spend a little less.” I’ll be earning a little for a while. It’s growing but it’s not their yet and so I’ll need to spend a little less.
And so I want to try to buy everything second-hand, to recycle what others have discarded and use it well. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure and in today’s world, most junk is pretty well treasure all around.
My wife is wearing a pair of $80.00 Chaco sandals that our sister-in-law found at the thrift store for $10.00. Her last pair of Chacos are into their thirteenth year and still going. Chacos aren’t junk.
Yesterday, we bought a 2002 Pontiac Montana minivan. We have our reasons for buying a minivan, reasons we feel good about. It’s a good van, clean, well taken care of and we were able to pay cash for it. No debt is right where I want to remain.
Reason 1: It forces me to live more intentionally, to think through what I really need and grow in patience. It’s a character thing.
Reason 2: It allows me to depend on God and others more, to live in community, to share and to be the recipient of God’s generosity and the sharing of friends. (Though not the town mooch)
Reason 3: It forces me to spend less money on me so I can spend more money on the important things in life.
Reason 4: It will allow me to complete some of my dreams – like build a straw bale home office and return to Turkey with my family.
Reason 5: It will dramatically reduce my ecological footprint. I am a Christian environmentalist I guess. I think the earth as on of God’s creations should be taken care of and tended, not exploited for our own pleasures.
I suppose there are other reasons. Maybe it just gives me something to work toward within the framework of my efforts to cobble together an income back in the states. Maybe I just like to be different. Regardless, I’ll give it a go, do the best I can, live graciously and honestly with myself and others and have fun with it.
We’ll see how it goes.
I am in no way the first to do this. I saw a sign recently that said, “What we call organic, our grandparent’s called food.” It highlights the fact that there is much that has changed in the last 100 years. Many in the “good ole days” rarely bought anything new. And Jess over at Nothing New, Nothing Wasted spent an entire year as a family working to buy nothing new.
And with resources like Freecycle, it may be easier than I think.