Monday, September 29, 2008

Explaining My Month of Nothing

We are about to embark on our Month of Nothing. I thought it would be good to explain how it is going to work, and why we decided to do it.

Why we are doing this:

In order to explain why we are doing this, I have to explain the opposite! We are not doing this because we "need" to save money (although couldn't we all stand to save some money - especially now in this economy?). We are doing just fine, thank you. We are not doing this to prove we are better than you are. I am only blogging about this to keep myself honest (and hopefully entertain all of you).

We are doing this to force ourselves to look at how we use money. We want to decide what is necessary and what we just really want. Could we do with less and still be happy?

We also want to have our children (and ourselves) gain an greater appreciation for what we do have. We have so much! We aren't rich by any means, and sometimes we feel downright poor. But the reality is, we are so blessed. When I look around me, and when I look around the world, I realize that we have so much. Too much, sometimes. The United States accounts for 4% of the world's population but we consume 25% of the world's fossil fuel supply. Americans throw out 200,000 tons of edible food daily. The average American generates 52 tons of garbage by age 75. The average individual daily consumption of water is 159 gallons, while more than half the world's population lives on 25 gallons. In a really, really sad statistic, there are more shopping malls than high schools in the US. We have become a consumer oriented society - and our family is just as guilty. We are hoping that a month of no spending will break us of the habit.

The Rules:

We are trying to spend only what is absolutely necessary.

I will have $50 a week for groceries. I have a very well stocked pantry so the $50 will be for milk, fresh fruit and veggies, some cheese, and anything else that we run out of that we really need. I'm not going to let my family starve, so if we are out of food and we need to spend $60 one week, I will. But I might make my family eat rice and beans for dinner or oatmeal for breakfast instead of going out and buying cereal or chicken.

Hubby and I are going to fill up the gas tanks at the end of this month (tomorrow - yikes!) and our goal is to not fill up again until November. This sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but we think it is doable. I walk to work every day. Hubby will drive to the lightrail stop and use public transportation to work. We can walk to church every Sunday. I will need to drive to the grocery store once a week and we have some family birthday parties to attend here in town. It will be a big stretch for Hubby, but I should be just fine.

We will not be going out to eat, or out to movies (except for the Saturday matinee movies that we already bought the tickets to), no movie rentals, no trips to Target for "stuff," no new clothes, nothing that we don't really, really, REALLY need.

As the month goes on, I'm sure I will be faced with choices. Remember those family birthday parties I told you about? How will we do presents? Make something? Buy something on sale? Write heartfelt notes? Well, we'll see. And what if something breaks during the month? Do we go buy new or do we try to do without? I'll just have to wait and see what comes up - and I'll be sure to post and tell you what I'm going through.

I mentioned yesterday that I'm going to be going to Costco tomorrow to buy a few things (a $75 budget). I'm not trying to stock up, I just don't want to start the month with a deficit either. We are out of a few things (or almost out of) and I don't want to start the month already behind.

Wish me luck.

Oh! On a really positive note (and a totally consumer note) we got our new camera today. That means that I'll be able to post pictures of this adventure. Lots of pictures of sad teenagers and disappointed seven year olds. Should be fun.



Nancy said...

I'll be following you through your month of nothing. I followed Owlhaven and really enjoyed her daily posts. We didn't do a month of nothing per se but definitely made ourselves aware of where/how we spent our dollars.

Nancy M. said...

It's a great idea. I can't wait to see how everything goes for you.

My husband would never be able to make it to work on just 1 tank of gas a month. He could probably make it on 2, though.

I am already trying to live on less, and with less stuff. Maybe I can learn something that will help me.

Bobbi Jo said...

I am not sure I would be able to do this. I am doing close but sometimes it is so hard. I will pray for both of us to be strong and overcome any temptations to spend and that we may be creative in our days. Hugs, Bobbi Jo-AZ

Betsy said...

I was without a car for a few months one fall and walked/biked to work (school--I was a teacher) and walked to church. It is a gorgeous time of year to be outside! I think you'll find you get much more creative, too, when you can't run out to the store for something.