Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Starting A Slow Year

Slow year: a year without buying retail items, de-cluttering a life, home and self. Learning to live within your means, on what you make, what you can reuse, recycle and reduce.

My slow year "officially" started today to a set back. Yes, a road block stopped me cold seven and half hours into my first slow year day. College Diva called, two of her bras broke. One might be able to be fixed the other is a total loss. She needs at least two replacement bras. Buying retail is not an option if I want to stay true to my outline of slow year. I think I will change the rule just a bit to include underwear and necessary items such as bras!

I first heard of The Compact about four years ago, thinking it was a great idea, but never once taking it on fully. I have always been frugal, for the most part, always trying to buy clearance items, mark down, thrifted, yard saled, etc... I read Not Buying It, by Judith Levine and wanting to make a difference I did manage to not purchase for TWO WEEKS!

Then I stumbled upon Riana at These Days in French Life, captivated by her story of meeting and marrying her French husband and her decision to live a slow life. I can't go to the extremes that she did as I live in a desert area so growing a majority of my food, foraging or dumpster diving are pretty much out of the question. (Not unless I want to end up in the pokey!) She has inspired me to eat more natural, cook more, bake often and give up the preservatives. I use to coupon like a maniac, now that I use mostly fresh fruits and vegetables for cooking I find I need very few items that are on sale or "steals" with a coupon.

Through blogging I have come to know Aubrey who also is living a slow year/life. She is a fantastic inspiration to me and the other women out there making the decision to get back to our roots. I realize this is not for everyone. Neither of my sisters is willing to make the "jump" although Sensibly Frugal has curtailed her retail spending by 60% and her husband is cooking a majority of the meals from scratch.

I am not saying I frown on others for buying retail, I just know it's not for me, as I spend more than I need to and save less than I should. I also enjoy that fact that I get new or nearly new items from yard sales and thrift stores for pennies on the dollar of the original cost.

My slow year entails the following guidelines:

No buying retail except food, hygene products, undergarments, shoes for the husband or son. (hard to fit) Any medicines or eye glasses. I may tweek or add to this in the next few weeks.

Only purchase what is necessary and only at non-retail outlets. Yard sales, thrift stores, consignment, Craigslist, Freecycle,bartering, etc.

No dinners/movies out unless we have gift card and the only out of pocket cost can be for the tip. (we sometimes get these as incentives or job well done from work)

Stop using chemical cleaners, laundry soaps and fabric softeners. I am making all of these from scratch and have been thrilled with how well they work. Saves tons of $$$.

Find alternate sources to purchase food, such as Co-ops, farmers markets, and locally grown produce and meat.

Reduce out meat consumption by 50%. I have begun to add more meatless meals and stretching the pound of hamburger or chicken into two meals.

Brown bag breakfast and lunches.

Honor no spend days. These are days I have designated that no matter what I do not spend. If I need something, (with the exception of medicine or feminine products)I do without or find a work around solution.

Add one more NO Drive day to my week. So far I have two no drive days, Mondays and Thursdays. These are days that I work remote from home, so the car either stays in the garage or my husband drives my car and leaves his truck at home.

Reduce trips out. When I drive to work, I will combine a trip to the store on my lunch hour or on my way home to keep from driving all over the place. The rule is, once I am in, I AM IN... Easy to follow during the summer when it's a scorcher out there!

Cut down retail shopping to once a month with the exception of milk and eggs. Hoping to find local supplier for those instead of shopping at grocery store.

Always use the reusable grocery bags. Stop the plastic bag insanity!

Reduce use of electrical appliances, such as hanging shirts on hangers on the porch, using the dryer less, wearing jeans two or three times before washing (if they are not dirty, of course) and not using the oven during the summer heat.

Reusing Gray water from dishes to water the outside plants. I have paid for it to come out of the faucet why let it go to waste?

Make due with what I have, reuse what I can, reduce the excess (oh man, this is a biggy for me!) and recycle, recycle, recycle.

I have been gearing up for this for a few months however I decided no time like the present after seeing the massive amounts of "stuff" I have accumulated over the last few years. My little bitty home can't take much more. Just because I got it for free or a great price, doesn't mean it's a good deal for me if it adds to my work load.

I am hoping to take this time to turn my health around, gain perspective on spending and regain my sanity when dealing with my home and family.

I am happy to answer any questions you might have, I am sure I will continue to blog about my choices, set backs and (fingers crossed) triumphs.

PS Stay posted for my very first give away!

Ta Ta For Now....



Aubrey said...

YAY! I'm so happy for you! Nice to have a pal to chat with during the slow year;) I look forward to reading about your experiences...this weekend my kids and I are building a solar oven...I will be posting about this very soon:) My best wishes for a wonderful, successful slow year!

Audra said...

I have been reading about solar ovens. It would do great here in the Southwest.