Sunday, May 16, 2010

Can I Do It?

I've been reading a lot lately about individuals who have given up spending for a year. Yes that's right, a year. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm considering it.


There are several different reasons that people do it. There is a movement towards downshifting, in which, based on my understanding, people remove themselves from the overconsumerism of our society. Individuals involved in the movement look to lead a more balanced life and to reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainability. They positively embrace living with less. It increases time to connect to family and friends. Downshifting promotes individuals being conscious consumers. According to Wikipedia, the major lifestyle changes promoted by downshifting are:

  • Making a list of weekly purchases and eliminating non-essential items
  • Cutting up a credit card
  • Not buying impulsively for instant gratification
  • Hand-making items
  • Donating, recycling or reusing old items
  • Buying quality secondhand goods
These items demonstrate that there is also a financial benefit to spending less (obvious). By not spending money on impulse buys or other items, many individuals have used what they've saved each month to pay off credit cards and other debts. Living with less debt can certainly free one's mind from a lot of stress.

For me, this is the bigger reason that I am considering giving up spending. At 27 years-old, I know that the financial decisions that I make now will affect my future. It's so important to get on the right track, and I'll be honest...I'm not on it right now. A year from now, I would love to have all of my credit cards paid off and to hopefully make a bigger dent in my car payments. I look forward to the day that all I have left is student loan payments, at least for awhile. I also know that because I am considering taking more classes in the upcoming year, I'm going to have a smaller disposable income than I even do now. More than anything, I need to live within my means rather than accumulating more debt. I think one of the most important things about considering this is understanding that I'm not "learning to live poor." With this plan, I hope to have a richer life, focused on relationships and balance. It's not just about the money. 

If I go forward with this, I will start on June 1 and go until May 31, 2011. Yes, a year seems like a long time. And I am sure that there will be times where I will slip up. But committing to a year now can mean a lot more later. I'm hoping it will also provide some perspective on what does and doesn't matter.

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