Friday, June 23, 2006

baby steps

I realize that everything that I have done thus far may seem extreme to some people. It may also seem to be very minor to others. I have to think of myself as starting out as a typical American citizen. Debt, purchases, etc. The changes that I have made were extreme at first simply to reduce and then remove hte massive amounts of debt (this was four years ago).The method was not my method and the extreme frugality was not by my choice. I was fortunate to have a husband to whom I have given the nickname "Jonathan Greenspan." My method would have been a little slower (if it worked at all). However, due to my spouse, in about a year we were without debt. Now we are still completely debt free (with the exception of the mortgage).

When we moved and were both employed (a year ago), I went through a stage where I felt justified in spending. "I have the money, soI might as well spend it" was the frame of thought. Now I love not spending. I am doing it not out of necessity (which did cause some turmoil in the relationship and some resentment). Now I am enjoying it and it is a challenge. I have the money and can spend, however I am choosing not to.

So, how to do this? I think it helps to have a game plan.

  • Why? Is it to save money? The environment? to reduce clutter? I think having a reason that works for YOU and that you believe in is the first step. My husband and I have an end goal, but different methods of getting there (he is frugal and I want to reduce my footprint).
  • What will you do with money you save? We want to pay off the house, save for college and retirement. An end goal!
  • What little steps can you start with? For me, I joined hte compact and made the vow (to myself) that I would not purchase new. Start with one step.
  • Make a list. I found that when I go to the store (of any type) a list keeps me in check.
  • What is the next step? I started with the compact and then chose to shop primarily at stores I could walk to. I keep adding to my list of "rules".
  • Keep it going. It can be easy to cave. If you do, pick yourself up and start again. I think it is like dieting. I don't believe in it. If I want a piece a chocolate, I will eat a small piece and be happy. I am less likely to splurge if I am not feeling deprived.
  • Save for purchases. I really want to get a pressure canner. I will look on freecycle, but I am also saving for it by taking any leftover grocery money and putting it aside each week. If I know I will only purchase it with this cash, then I will carefully research and not make a rash purchase.
  • Prepare for reprecussions. I think some people think I am a little weird. Or perhaps un-American for not spending. I am very happy with my decisions. I think debt and bankruptcy is more "un-American" than not spending (or spending wisely).
I don't think every rule works for every person. I htink we need to make our own "rules" and go from there.

  • no new unwise purchases (items that help with food storage and prep are not unwise)
  • Organic foods
  • Local foods
  • Walk to almost every store
  • make a list
  • have a weekly menu
  • check out freecycle
  • no household cleansers (vinegar, baking soda, tea, lemons, and salt work well for many things)
And then I build from there! I am starting to can foods and garden foods. So, once I am better skilled at those, they may join my list. This is an evolution - not set in stone.

Remember BABY STEPS.

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