Not Buying It
I just finished reading Judith Levine’s book, Not Buying It: My Year Without Spending. It is an autobiographical account of Levine’s year avoiding all unnecessary purchases; including Q-tips, movies (even rentals!), and wine. The book brought up many good points, and although the author and I have very different life experiences, I was quite able to relate.
She describes an incidence skiing with friends when she couldn’t quite keep up. She hypothesized how new bindings, boots, and pants would have made her a better skier, which would make her a happier person, which would make her a better person all together. How often do we attempt to solve our insecurities with purchases? When I’m feeling like a wallflower I imagine that the right pair of shoes, or a great pair of earrings, would give me the confidence needed to go out on the dance floor. I think of how better the night could be if only I had…
I love that she weaves statistics throughout the book to take it beyond just a journal. For example, $40 to $70 billion could effectively combat poverty worldwide, while the US spent $450 billion on the military that year. That being said, the election of 2004 plays a large role in the book as well.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I love my library. Levine learned to love hers, too. Throughout her year without spending, she estimates to have saved more than $2,000 on books alone. Although saving was not her goal in this endeavor, she paid off her $7,956.21 credit card balance and saved over $1,000 over the previous year on clothing purchases.
I have toyed with the idea of giving up new purchases. I am fond of the Compact, a group started in San Francisco that allows its members to purchase only used items and food. Most make concessions for items such as underwear and socks. My interest in this group has led me to my new favorite blog, The Non-Consumer Advocate. As a member of The Compact, Katy has been not spending for more than two years. She was originally interested in frugality, but found that her non-spending promoted a sustainable lifestyle as well.
Coming to these conclusions around Christmastime is no coincidence. Advent and Christmas are both important holidays to my faith, so I would like to enjoy them. Instead I feel overwhelmed both mentally and financially with all of the gifts I need to buy and parties I need to attend. Giving up purchases could be a welcome break.