We’ve spent the last 5 months committed to buying nothing new for the entire year of 2013 and now our family of four is taking it one step further. What can we say, we love crazy.
For the remainder of 2013, we will not spend money on services we can easily do ourselves.
Not buying new things has shown us just how frivolous we first world’ers are with money. We’ve started to see how society pushes this message that you “need” something when in reality, we don’t need it at all — we just want it. So we will take it to the next level and address all those “needs” that are really just sheer convenience. Laziness, even.
For example, it’s not uncommon to spend $50 on a Sunday afternoon lunch when with a little preparation, we could have packed something from home. Or the fact that I quite happily pay $100 for someone else to clean my home even though I’m now healed up and capable of doing it myself.
And there are plenty of other areas where convenience trumps financial wisdom:
- I can pay someone $20 to wash my car or I can do an even better job in my driveway for a few cents
- I can pay someone $25 for a manicure or I can paint my nails at home
- I can buy wholesome organic yogurt for $5 a quart or I can easily make an even better version myself
- I can pay someone $100 a month to care for our landscape or I can use my free time during the week to do it myself
- I can buy a $2 Americano or I can use my awesome Nespresso machine for fifty cents
- I can pay someone $25 to hem my jeans or I can
send them to my motherpull out my own sewing machine
- I can pay my hair stylist $10 to trim my bangs or I can…no scrap that, I promised I would never trim my own bangs again.
Yes, it’s nice to pay someone else to do these things. And yes, it means we might have to prioritize our lives a bit differently to find the time to do them ourselves. But if the last five months have taught me anything, I think we may actually save time by not running around getting all these things done elsewhere when we could have just slowed our lives down and done them ourselves. In other words, I believe the outcome will be contrary to popular opinion that you save time by outsourcing your chores. I just don’t buy it.
Case in point: People wait 30 minutes to have their car washed while they twiddle around on their iPhones when they could be getting the exercise and mental reward of doing the job themselves while also saving the twenty bucks! Throw in some life lessons for our kids as they work alongside us and it’s a no-brainer. Too busy to wash your own car? Then guess what, your life is over-scheduled.
As with our Nothing New resolution, where we agreed on certain exceptions (e.g. health & safety), there are a few caveats within this new resolve. This is not about holding ourselves to some ridiculous accountability at the expense of our family’s sanity. Just like with Nothing New, we anticipate times where we try our best but give in to convenience in the end.
Our goal is not perfection but rather, to make conscious decisions in only spending money on services we can not do ourselves. To make time for things we would have otherwise paid to have others do by making room in our family schedule and prioritizing our activities.
So there draws our line in the sand: we’re still okay with going to a restaurant but only if they serve something we couldn’t make easily at home (i.e. fine dining). We’re okay with paying for a fancy latte but only if we’re making a point to enjoy the experience (i.e. a leisurely Saturday morning at a sunny cafe rather than just grabbing a java while hurrying off to somewhere else).
In closing, let me point out that I fully understand what a spoiled life we lead. To be in the position of choosing to not spend money on expenditures like having my car washed or my house cleaned is a luxury that most people in this world will never even dream of having. In fact, it’s a choice that even most Americans do not get to make.
All the more reason to add this new resolve to our Nothing New resolution. To save money, yes, but more importantly, to guard our hearts from that ever-increasing temptation of entitlement.