On Nov 3, Geoff and I entered phase 2 of our experiment. Until Aug 2014, we will not be paying for haircuts, restaurant meals, coffees from cafes, gasoline, public transit or alcohol. In other words, all we will be paying for is our rent, utilities, a few necessities and groceries. In other words, we will be hanging out at our house. A lot. For the next 9 months.
Since we first conceptualized our year-long consumer cleanse back in July, I have been incredibly mindful of when I would eat out, purchase coffees, cabs and public transit, pay for entertainment (movies, theatre and live music, people! Jeez…) and all the other services that make life comfortable, interesting and fun. And I appreciated them. A lot. I slowly scaled back so that the Nov 3 transition wouldn’t be so hard and I’m glad I did. At its core, Buy Nothing Year is a behavior modification exercise and the use of phases plus the acceptance and commitment therapeutic approach are working really well so far. Without both of these, I don’t think I would have been able to stick to the program so well; I haven’t broken down yet.
Over the past two weeks, two things surprised me. The first is how much I’ve still been able to do. I went to a potluck, had a friend visit from out of town, hosted a clothing swap, made a bunch of pancakes, went on a first date (!!! more on this later…), went to a dinner party, babysat, dressed as a clown for a 5 year old’s birthday, went on a second date, went to a training night for a PechaKucha talk that Geoff and I are going to do next week where we got to hang with artist Jeff de Boer (sooo cool!!), Cadence from Calgary Arts Development and Brad from Bottom Line Productions. Life goes on, and is still interesting, even without spending money.
The other is how much I miss coffee. I don’t think it’s coffee itself, as I’m still drinking it at my office and able to make it from beans at home, but I think it’s the experience of going to a coffee shop. It’s an escape, somewhere to go in the middle of a work day, an easy low-cost way to connect with others, enjoyable atmosphere, and it’s easier than saying, “Can we just meet in the Nexen atrium? With all the plants? There’s a pond there!” Plus, they make these amazing frothy milk caffeinated beverages that just don’t taste as good at home…
I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I think this part of the experiment is actually more extreme than I realized. In both my work and social life, I rely on a lot of brief encounters with random people (I do publicity and community engagement, people. Jeez…) and I typically use cafes for these interactions.Though I’m saving about $20/week in coffee purchases alone (that’s over $1000/year), surely not everyone will want to bring a bag lunch to the Nexen atrium… (even if there are turtles on the pond, so cute!)
I have great friends and business contacts, but I don’t want others to treat me for 9 months and I also don’t want to be weird (read: weirder than I am already…) and insist other people meet me in free, public places to connect.
So I’m experimenting! and maybe… will barter for cafe gift cards… 😉