The new year and the beginning of our Dollar Diet are almost here. I’m getting more than a little bit excited about it! Yes folks, I actually said that. I am excited about scrimping and saving!
As we decided a few weeks ago to wait for the New Year to begin our spending fast, I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate the challenges it might throw at me. Witness the fact that D and I took advantage of the Boxing Day sales to get some things that we just ‘had to have’ before the fast begins (like a new breadmaker, some boots for me because all my Winter shoes gave up the ghost this year and I didn’t want to be stuck wearing sneakers to church, plus a roll of newsprint paper for crafts with the tots).
It got me wondering just how much we in the Western world are stuck in scarcity thinking. Seriously, it’s at epidemic proportions. In New Zealand alone, Christmas spending broke a new record. We are buying more stuff than ever before. You can’t blame us. We are BOMBARDED with advertising every single day. The average person going about his or her daily life is exposed to approximately 600 ads a day. 600 a day. Woah. If you think you are immune to it, you are deluding yourself. I spent a chunk of my Psych degree studying the effects of advertising and mass media, and trust me, it is so effective you don’t even know how you are being manipulated every day.
Most of these ads play on our insecurities because that’s what sells. You are not good-looking enough – here, buy our product, which will instantly transform you into a ravishing supermodel/make you look 10 pounds slimmer/make the ladies flock to you/make you wildly popular. Your home is not enough – here, our product will turn your house into a show home that Martha Stewart would be proud of. Your cooking is not enough – no, spaghetti bolognaise no longer satisfies the modern palate. You need to learn what to do with star anise, and how to make ganache with artisan Belgian chocolate.
YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH. YOU ARE NOT OKAY JUST AS YOU ARE. YOU NEED THIS PRODUCT. BUY. BUY. BUY.
Just so you know, these messages are total crap. A pack of lies. Give the ad men the finger, because you know what? You ARE enough, and you HAVE enough.
I have a roof over my head (and it’s a roof that I own), food in my belly and in my fridge, enough food to feed my children, clean drinking water, a wardrobe full of clothes, a husband who provides for me and my children, and enough money for a doctor should I need one. I am rich beyond words to a huge number of my brothers and sisters around the world who live in poverty. Being a better steward of my resources is just one way that I can get off the First World scarcity wagon.
Our last pre-Dollar Diet = unbearable-feelings-of-scarcity-purchases aside, I have already noticed some changes in my behaviour when it comes to what I have, what I consume, and what I throw out.
- I’m saving things like wrapping paper, bows, and those stupid ribbons they sew into women’s clothes to hang them up with (I hate those things!), because they will come in handy when giving special gifts next year (see this post for some of the special events coming up for me in 2015).
- I’m eyeing up the things in our recycling bin like never before. Those tin cans could be repurposed into skittles, and egg cartons into this.
- I’m thinking about all the clothes I regularly wear, and putting them into different combinations.
- I’m thinking of all the things I’m going to sell online. And let me tell you, I have a LOT of stuff to sell.
- Every time we’ve gone to our favourite bakery for a chicken roll at lunch time, I think ‘This really wouldn’t take me long to make if I had all the ingredients in the house‘.
- I’ve gratefully accepted things like left-over icing(!) to make Sausage’s birthday cake with. Peppa Pig, here you come.
- Before buying something I’ve been thinking ‘Do I really need this?’ And you know what, several times I decided I didn’t. Like I was tempted to buy some 60% off Christmas cards, but then I thought ‘This is silly, you can get Sausage to make cards next year. Put that tot to work.’
And bear in mind that we haven’t even begun yet! Imagine what a year of the Dollar Diet will do to my habits?
Dollar Diet, I’m glad you’re almost here.