Hopping On The Ban Wagon
I read an article in the New York Times this week about a couple in Oregon who sold almost all of their worldly possessions in an effort to live a more minimalistic lifestyle. They went from a two bedroom apartment to a 400 square foot studio and from two cars to bikes. There was no religious or financial motivation behind the couple’s actions, merely a desire to focus more on life experiences and relationships with others rather than the endless distractions that come along with material possessions and the desire to acquire more of them.
As a result of their efforts, the couple was actually able to save money while Logan (the husband) was working on his PHD and Tammy (the wife) was working as a freelance writer making around $30,000 a year. They were able to pay off major debt and give their nephews and nieces money for college. They were (and are) also able to travel more and work the hours that they want to work.
The author of the article asserts that if there’s one thing that the recession has shown us, it’s that relationships and life experiences are what make people “happy”–not material possessions. In fact, one study showed that “wealth interfered with people’s ability to savor positive emotions and experiences, because having an embarrassment of riches reduced the ability to reap enjoyment from life’s smaller everyday pleasures, like eating a chocolate bar.”
In Matthew 19:20, Jesus says “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” I wholeheartedly believe that statement. In fact, Hubs and I have been noticing lately, just how much the comforts of living a relatively “affluent” lifestyle (compared to people in other countries) has prevented us from serving the Lord and doing a whole bunch of other things we ought to be doing.
Instead of preparing for our bi-monthly Bible study, we watch TV. Rather than enjoying God’s creation and going on a hike on Saturday, I shop. Rather than working on that book I’ve been meaning to write or that web app Hubs has been meaning to develop, we mindlessly surf the internet for hours.
So, in an effort to use our time wisely, Hubs and I put a partial ban on television watching for the foreseeable future. In the past two weeks, we’ve watched only one TV program and one movie–and we’ve gotten so much done! While I still haven’t been blogging as often as I’d like to, I’ve gotten prepared for the Small Group Communication classes I’m going to be teaching at a local community college this fall (more on that later), finished putting together a website for my mother-in-law and spent time planning a baby shower and a bridal shower I’m co-hosting this weekend.
Inspired by the NY Times article and the amount of time and productivity I’ve gained by giving up television, I’ve started to look at other areas of my life where I could stand to “give something up.” And I keep coming back to one thing: SHOPPING. (I can hear the gasps and whispers from here.)
Not only is the amount of money I spend on clothing a bit absurd–especially when I see people walking to the homeless shelter by my office for dinner each evening– but the amount of time that I spend planning my next purchase prevents me from doing other, more useful, things with my time. So, I’ve decided to institute a (partial) ban on clothes shopping from now until December 1 (being sure to remove the ban six days before my birthday, of course).
I often tell myself that clothes are really a form of creativity and self-expression for me; and this (partial) ban on buying new items will give me the chance to mix and match my existing wardrobe in new ways. Besides, I need to prove to myself that I can put down the plastic and save money!
What about you? What areas of your life can you trim some fat from? Any of my fashion friends out there care to join me in this challenge? Let me know your thoughts and wish me luck!