scrooging the new year?

Sadly, I have no holiday for today. Any suggestions? It doesn’t matter. No matter what you come up with, the real holidays out there will be stranger.

So today, I’ll introduce our family’s experiment for 2010. We’re not spending money. OK, it’s a little more complicated than that. No, we’re nor adopting the barter system. Though it has its good points. We have taken a pledge between the five of us to purchase nothing new in 2010. At least the first half of it, for now. Food does not count. Nor does toilet paper. I may be a recycling fanatic, but I do have my limits.

This is not my original idea. Last fall, I read about another family who had taken a similar pledge, and it’s been brewing ever since. Between the economic reality, medical costs, and two college kids, it’s no surprise we could use some positive cash flow. The biggest draw for me, however, was the same one that attracted the author of the piece I read. I spend so much of my life shopping. I am not a woman who particularly likes shopping. A betrayal to my sex, perhaps, but there it is, If God had meant for me to spend hours at a mall, Al Gore would not have invented the internet.

Every hour I spend shopping is an hour away from my family or something else I really do enjoy. Of course, one or more of said family is usually with me, but trust me, having mom trail around behind you grumbling about how she could have sewn a quilt the size of Texas during the time you took in the fitting room is not quality time.

So, what might happen if we threw down the size-one purple sequined suede gauntlet and just said no to consumerism and living in the minivan? We’re going to find out.

Surprisingly, all three kids were easily on board. This has underlying motivations, since they have hatched a dream to tour Europe this summer, and they know a dream is all it is unless some green fairy shows up and showers down green money dust. However, it was the kids who came up with some excellent reasons for the experiment, not me. They showed some amazing insight into why this was a good idea, without my prompting. I guess you can never know until you ask. Here (so you can hold us accountable) is the 2010 Pledge.

“The Richardson family pledges to support one another in the pact to buy nothing new in 2010, with exceptions which follow. “New” is defined as anything we buy that is not consumable or depleteable. It is not defined as entertainment, education, or experiences, though we will be more budget conscious about these things as well. If it doesn’t not get entirely used up, it is not consumable or depleteable. Exceptions may be: toilet paper (duh), light bulbs, batteries, etc.

We agree to try this experiment for six months, beginning on January 4, 2010. If there is a consensus, we will continue until the end of the year.

The goals of this project are:

· To save money, perhaps for a special trip, and to pay off debt

· To rethink how materialistic we really might be and see the hidden places we spend and accumulate things we don’t need

· To realize how much our money is really worth and how much things are really worth

· To spend more time together rather than shopping

· To go through what we already have and organize it into ways we can really use it

· To keep good records of what we spend and on what

· to save enough money to book passage on the ships the government is secretly building for the elite of the world in 2012.

(This last was middle child’s unique addition. Never hurts to think creatively.)

Exceptions to the rules may be:

· gifts for special occasions like graduations or birthdays

· needed supplies for school and work

· health, safety, or legality requirements

· vacations

· necessary vacation supplies

· necessary home improvements

Even in making exceptions, the rule will first be:

· Try to find things at home that will do

· Make things rather than buy

· Find secondhand

· Use up what we already have, whether it is our first choice or not

As I said, once I opened the floor for the kids to offer reasons, they came up with all of these except my “spending time together.” Even on that one they ran with endless ideas for using that time.

So far, we haven’t met real hardship. We may have cheated by buying packing tape. Couldn’t decide if it was depletable or not. Probably not. I do know this gives us the chance to use up the dozens of notebooks in my closet not ‘cool’ enough for school previously. And as for needing anything, I figure I have enough material in my craft room alone to recreate everything in the house, and possibly the house itself, out of saved wooden jam crates, free offer CDs, broken plates, yarn, fabric paint, and, of course, duct tape. In four colors.

We’ll keep you posted. If you would like to see the original article:

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