Toying with an idea

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

Day: 21

Product: Yesterday I gave a small-potatoes suggestion for limiting money wasted on entertainment. Today, here’s a big one. We are really good at spending lots and lots of money on toys.

But, you say, you don’t have kids? Well I’m not thinking about the kids’ toys.

Boats, snowmobiles, extra cars, fancy lawnmowers, big TVs, fancy grills, fancy grills (er, teeth)—all this stuff is an easy way to blow lots of money.

 

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The snake is crafty. 

People who like to have these things usually have the same argument for buying them, “you only live once.” Well that’s true. You only live once. So why would you waste your limited resources on things that are so empty? One fancy TV in your twenties can equal 24 TVs in your retirement if you were to invest the money instead.

I am not advocating for no extra money spent on products used just for fun. Just don’t crazy with it. Buy used, buy infrequently, and by all means share what you have.

If you get the big TV, invite others to your house for the game; if you have a pickup, lend it to friends when they need to move furniture; if you have the fancy grill, invite others over for BBQ—so they can see and appreciate your shiny teeth, ha ha.

You have to use your resources to enjoy them for what they are truly worth. Money is not meant to be hoarded. We shouldn’t translate it into empty stuff and surround ourselves with empty reminders of what we have. We shouldn’t even stash it all away in a bank and keep it forever just so we can look at the numbers and feel successful.

If we use our money wisely we can limit the time we have to work. We can put in less overtime and put in less time overall (if we want, although no matter how much you enjoy your job, not many people want to work into their 70’s.)

We can’t be wise if we collect more and more toys.

Reason to buy less: A smaller house holds less stuff. A smaller house is cheaper in mortgage/rent payments and in property taxes (which continue on even if your house is paid off,) and in utilities.

Suggestion: Experiences—it’s where it’s at. The only place you have to store experiences is in your memory and your memory is a rockstar at storing experiences. It’s been studied time and again that kids remember what their parents did with them, not what they bought them.

The same goes for you. You will remember that time your Uncle Lenny did a belly-flop when all the family decided to meet at the neighborhood pool on that hottest day of the year. You will remember when that physics professor actually launched a catapult in the classroom. You will remember when you stopped and climbed over the cool looking rocks with your kids.

Now, sometimes memories do get attached to items, and that’s fine. However, if you do that too often you become a hoarder. Do you want to find worth in the 1,000’s of knickknacks you’ve collected over the years or in your ability to belly-laugh while pulling your spouse out of the snow hill he/she got himself/herself stuck in?

I’m not saying you have to go and get rid of everything you find close to you (although getting rid of a few would make that drawer not get stuck.) Just don’t buy more with the intention of using it to make you happy.

Experiences are very often totally free and if you find it worth it to spend money on an experience your dollar will go much further than on another gadget or pair of shoes.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/39415470@N02/8264213903″>Jewelry</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

It’s time to face the music

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

Day: 20

Product: Another form of entertainment we don’t need to spend money on is music. There are lots of ways to buy music but there’s also lots of ways to get free music.

The only reason you need to buy music is if you need instant gratification. And you don’t. Unless you’re somehow involved in the music industry, you don’t need to be able to listen to a particular song just because you decide to.

You can however, listen to great music very easily anytime in the genre you like. Over the air radio is free. You don’t need to pay for a satellite radio subscription.

There are also several free sites online that stream great music. The library also has lots of CDs (yes, they still make those) so you can listen to specific songs you enjoy.

Before you spend another $1.99 for a song you can hear for free, try buying a gift for a friend or donating to pay for several meals in a third world country or put it in your savings account and have it for something important later.

Reason to buy less: You want to be spontaneous. Whether it’s a friend dropping by unannounced or an unexpected day off that you can drop everything and head out camping, you don’t want the messiness of your stuff to hold you back. Either grab the gear and go or grab the tea and stay; but you want it easy to grab.

Suggestion: It’s easier to spend less when you learn to find joy in creativity. The more products you have, the fewer times you are faced with reasons to be creative.

Remember when you got your first dorm room/apartment/ home? Remember trying to figure out how you could make a pizza with just a hot plate? It’s amazing what you can accomplish with very little. Just because you slice bananas for you cereal every morning, doesn’t mean you need to have a banana slicer. You can use one or two brain cells to figure out how to slice your banana some other way.

Before you buy a new product, figure out how many brain cells it would take to figure out a way to do without it. Then go home and give those cells some exercise.

It’s fun to be creative. It gives you a sense of capability and triumph.

Try living without that thing for awhile before rushing out to buy it.

Score a little more money in your wallet

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

Day: 19

Product: I put this product on a special day because it is so near and dear to me… or for how far and worthless it is to me. There is a product, or group of products that sucks anywhere from $700-$1500+ yearly from people, just for the sake of entertainment. I dare say that this hobby demands more time/attention/money than any other.

As Brian Regan would put it, “Go, my favorite sports team! Go! Score a goal, unit, basket… go squadron do good, defeat the opponents soundly in the skirmish.”

Yes, that kind of dedication requires lots and lots of money.

Let’s see. You have to buy a jersey to wear on game day or you’re not a true fan. A foam finger (or a cheesehead) gives you even more credibility as a dedicated supporter. You need snacks to eat, a large TV and a special cable package. Then, at least once a year, you have to buy tickets to a game. You travel to the game where you eat a $5 hot dog. This is one expensive hobby.

And for what?

Every year it’s the same plan. Players who rarely live in the city they play for are paid exorbitant amounts (which many do not know how to handle) and do their best to out-sport the other teams.

There are injuries and dramas to suck people in (I didn’t know so much time could be spent talking about PSI in a ball or how often one gets on a knee.) Every newscast devotes a chunk of every broadcast just to tell us about the current sport dramas.

The watchers are encouraged to engorge themselves on as much dedication to “their” team (based on where you used to live or go to college)while tearing down supporters of opposing teams; who support a team simply because they used to live or go to college near where “their” team is located.

Add alcohol to the mix and you can get riots. Riots! Just because some people they don’t know personally played a game better than other people they don’t know personally.

You know what I suggested instead? Go out and play with your family and friends. Put together a league or just kick around a ball with your 7-year-old. You’ll get a full entertainment experience including some good exercise.

Plus, we could all do with a little less professional drama.

Reason: You want to be responsible for everything under you control. The more stuff you have the more you have to be responsible for. Let’s go back to the feeling of when we were kids and we just had one room of ‘treasures’ and not 15.

Suggestion:  Today is my birthday… thank you, thank you. Today I got to do my part to help people live with less. The “people” is me and my family and what I was able to do was say, “no gifts please.”

Though of course I didn’t say that. I don’t need to at this point, my position had been given once or twice before.

It is great not to have to worry about giving hints or being excited over a mediocre gift. It’s also great to not feel guilted into keeping something that isn’t of use to you.

So why not try to start the shift? Release those you love from the pressure of giving you a gift. Tell them, “I love you and I would prefer you don’t buy me a gift.”

I can’t say it wasn’t odd at first. You can’t shift to non-gift giving without someone having to go first and feel like their being a cheapskate. It was easy after that.

If you can agree to a balance of no gifts either direction it’s easy all the way around.

Now, the silver lining is that when you happen to stumble on that perfect gift that reminds you of your friend/family member, you can buy it and give it to them for no reason. It’s so much more special.

Junk is in the title

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

Day: 18

Product: Here’s another product we don’t want anyway. Junk mail. We don’t want junk mail.

Sure, it’s easy enough to throw away, but every step along that piece of mail’s life is a waste. If we can convince advertisers to stop sending it in the first place, everyone would be better off.

I did some quick internet searches and found some scary statistics on junk mail. It’s killing trees and wasting water and filling landfills and it’s really just horrible.

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If you take the average US tank… and divide the total weight of paper from junk mail by that number, you find that junk mail produced each year weighs the same as over 15,000 tanks.”

This time of year marketers are in overdrive, there’s no better time to assess and change our ways.

I found lots of sign ups out there for limiting junk mail but I’m not going to suggest any because I’m not familiar with any personally. You’ll have to search yourself and try out what you think is best and let me know.

Or you can just do it the old fashioned way. When a catalog or request for a donation or a credit card offer arrives, just call the 800 number and ask to be removed from the mailing list. At first this will be a daunting task, but it will pay off big in the long run.

Reason to buy less: Time is limited. Time spent on multiple collections (most people have collections of EVERYTHING. Right now, tell me, how many office binders do you have? More than one? It’s a collection.) is wearying and wasted. Time to go do something apart from the stuff.

Suggestion: When you are contemplating a purchase, take the time to stop and think of where you will store it if you were to buy it.

“I don’t know, I’ll find a place when I get it home” is not a good choice.

Will that new blender have to go on the kitchen counter? Is your closet already overflowing?

Sometimes our current self is tickled pick about a product but our future self is not too keen on keeping an item.

Consult your future self and realize that future self will be spending much more time with your purchase than current self will. Weigh the response accordingly.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/25977280@N00/226236926″>PRODUCT placement by Burtonwood and Holmes</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Subscribe to savings

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

 Day: 17

Product: An easy way to hemorrhage money is to willingly let a company hit up your account every month in the name of entertainment. Magazines, product of the month clubs, even budgeting programs can all suck money long after the initial dazzle that drew you in has worn off.

Don’t let them lie to you about that dazzle. If their product is really that great they won’t need to rely on an automated payment plan to get your money every month.

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It’s just so very easy to say “no” to subscriptions. Cancel any you have out there and then just don’t allow any more to creep in. Subscription entertainment is at the bottom of the entertainment barrel.

Reason to buy less: Several products always require you to buy MORE products in order to use them. Not only are they clutter, they’re a drain on your wallet.

Suggestion: I know I’ve been pushing hard against advertisers. I know I sound paranoid and distrustful.

Billions of dollars (as much as 10 billion) is spent every year by advertisers to get into your wallet.

Be wise. If you are familiar with their tricks you can make a fully informed and not manipulated choices.

Beware of lighting, signage, anything. It’s all very carefully designed to make you want to buy. If you are aware you are much less likely to fall for it.

Do a bit of research today and do a bit of less buying later.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/63315403@N00/605359114″>Magazines</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Don’t pay for brain rot

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

Day: 16

Product: This is our second day on limiting money spent on entertainment.

Look around and you will find one of the most common entertainment choices is the television. We love our TV. Here are some statistics for you:

  • 99% of Americans own a TV.
  • The average American spends over 5 hours a day or 9 years of their lives watching TV.
  • A kid will spend 900 hours a year in school but 1200 hours that same year watching TV.
  • Half of us say we watch too much TV.

We’re very serious about it too. Last year we added “binge watch” to the dictionary because more than ever we have access to hours of uninterrupted, mind-numbing entertainment.

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When I was 18 I moved into an apartment and had a tiny TV with only 2 channels and 3 jobs. I decided to see how long I could go without TV and was surprised when 6 months passed pretty quickly. Since it wasn’t a very serious ban and I only accomplished the task because I was rarely home, I turned it back on with an interest in what I had been missing.

What I discovered was shocking.

TV is dumb. Like, really dumb. The ads play to shallow greed and laziness, the dramas are obviously playing on fads and shock value, even the news was empty and void of any lasting value. After being without TV at all for a period of time, I was intensely aware of how empty it all was and how I missed not a single valuable thing in 6 months.

Deep down we all know all this to be true even as we keep watching several hours of TV daily. We’re not gaining anything of value, yet day after day we turn on the tube for more.

Worse yet, many (most) of us are paying for this mind-feebling entertainment to be delivered to us, or at least available to us, on a constant basis. If we miss it during regular air time we can pay a small fee is order to access it anytime online. We buy bigger TVs for our homes and will also happily access it on our phones when we’re away.

Most personal finance bloggers will yell loudly from the rooftops that we should not be paying for cable. However most will also quickly point out how much cheaper an option like Netflix or Roku is.

I say that we should expect more of ourselves. We don’t need to pay even a minimal amount for this crap.

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Interesting enough, I do watch TV. We actually have lots and lots of TV access. We have two sets with over 40 channels. We also watch TV online and even order series to watch.

And we pay not a dime for any of it.

Since we live in a city we have those 40+ channels just floating around our heads; all you have to do is grab them. Any newer TV will do it itself, although our big tube style TV requires a digital converter—found at yard sales and thrift stores. I think we paid $1 for ours.

(Even if you don’t live in the city you will likely get at least two channels—see my example above from when I was younger and lived in a small town. Very rarely does anyone want to watch more than 48 hours of TV in a day that they get with two channels anyway.)

Watching TV online has really gone down recently for me, but I used to have a habit of finding a show I liked and then streaming it in the background while I got work done. I don’t do this much anymore but I have learned how to do it without paying.

The trick is to not buy into the notion that you need to watch the show as soon as it comes out. Most networks will insist on a subscription through some cable provider in order to show an episode less than a week old, but it’s free as long as it’s between a week and a month old. If you’re used to being a week behind, it’s really no big deal.

Recently we have been watching a series that is not free online because it’s too old for the network sites but not old enough to be free on YouTube. We introduced the kids to the series Quantum Leap. Remember that show? Guy jumps around in history “striving to put right what once went wrong.” We get to watch that for free (legally) simply by ordering it from the library.

So how about that? You can still easily rot your brain without purchasing anything at all, not even Netflix or Roku or whathaveyou.

Depending on what you’re spending now, that could be a real boon to your bank account over a year.

And the real benefit is that the slight increase in inconvenience may just encourage you to watch a little less than you currently do and that would make your brain happy.

Reason to buy less: Little (or big) allergic noses don’t like things that hold onto dander/dust/pollen/mold particles.

Suggestion: In keeping with the TV theme, a great suggestion for helping to limit the shopping urge would be to avoid TV—at least the ads. No one likes them anyway (unless they’re on during the Super Bowl.) So just avoid them whenever possible.

When my youngest sister lived with us she showed us the amazing effects of the mute button. Every time commercials came on she hit ‘mute.’ It was amazing. We had never thought to do that before, we just thought the commercials were a necessary evil but it turns out we don’t have to sit through them.

When you’re online just download Adblock. Please, do it now. I don’t make anything off this blog at this point so it’s no skin off my nose for you to block the ad that shows below. I don’t get anything from the link either. I’m just showing you because I want you to benefit from it, not because I benefit at all.

Adblock blocks the ads in the middle of streaming videos. Pandora doesn’t play any ads anymore. Even Facebook doesn’t have anything on the side. I even set it so it doesn’t give me those time sucking suggested articles anymore. Just do it. It doesn’t cost anything and it’s so freeing.

(The only problem I’ve run into is CBS. CBS detects the Adblock and refuses to play videos while it’s turned on. That’s an easy fix. I just don’t even try to watch CBS shows anymore.)

Unfortunately Adblock doesn’t work so cleanly on iProducts. I have one game on my phone, Solitaire, and I play it while I’m using the bathroom. (Yes, I am normal sometimes.) Since I want something mindless and quick to do I have to put up with the ads, or do I? Nope.

I mute the phone so sound doesn’t play then I cover the phone with my hand when an ad pops up, except for the top left corner. Once the allotted forced ad time is up an x appears in the corner and as soon as I see it, I  kill it. It’s almost like part of the game now. How quickly can I get the cards up to the discard piles in order and how quickly can I kill the ads?

I know I sound paranoid but I can feel what the ads are doing to my thoughts and I don’t appreciate it. I will not watch what I don’t want to watch. I will not be constantly reminded what someone else says I should buy.

No. I’m in charge of these eyes. These eyes are Philippians 4:8 eyes. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

What do you let into your thoughts through your eyes? You can, and should, control it. Otherwise it will control you.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7575306@N03/2306137286″>Irony</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/22285503@N00/3004665462″>Autumn Television</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Entertaining the idea of spending less

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

Day: 15

Product: If money is really tight the one category that you can almost totally cut out is entertainment. Entertainment is sure fun (that is the point after all) but we don’t need to spend money on it if we don’t have it. Even if you do have extra money it’s still a good idea to limit the amount you spend on entertainment.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have entertainment. I am all for fun/engaging recreation time to either bond you with family for friends or relax and rejuvenate (or both.)

The thing is, the best entertainment is totally free.

Example time.

A few weeks ago we were driving home from somewhere and Mr. WW noticed a Bald Eagle flying majestically through the sky. He pointed it out and we craned our necks to view this amazing creature as he flew right over us

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—and then dropped the hugest-wettest-longest-spreadingest poo we had ever seen. This was like a firework, people. It was disgusting. But boy were we entertained.

Somewhere a Bald Eagle is pooing right now. If you’re out and about you might be able to see it. Doesn’t that thought make you want to put away your screen right now and get out in nature?

Okay, fine. Maybe eagle poo is not your thing, but there are so many other opportunities outside of our stuff. It’s good for us.

For the rest of the week my product to buy less of will focus on entertainment to go along with this theme. Don’t buy more things to keep your interest. Find interest in your world around you. You never know what might just fall in your lap when you go out discovering.

Reason for spending less: Stubbing your toe hurts. You want less chances of stubbing a toe.

Suggestion: Buy generic. Just do it. You don’t need a leprechaun making your cereal in order for it to provide you your morning nutrition (In fact, it’s best NOT to have a leprechaun be responsible for your morning nutrition.)

Do this: for the next month buy EVERYTHING generic. By the end of the month if you’ve found that you really are miserable without that special name, go back… to the store and pick another cheap brand.

So many generic products are actually even produced at the same plant as the name brand stuff and just packaged differently. If one off brand doesn’t fit the bill just try another. You may just be surprised to find that the desire to have the name is only in your head (put there by expert advertisers of course.)

I like doing my grocery shopping at Aldi. This chain only offers their brands so it’s all very inexpensive but I have not run into anything that seems sub-par. It’s nice to not have to worry about making a decision there. Need mayonnaise? Just go get it. There’s only one kind there.

Aldi also offers a lot of products in a clean and neat but pared down environment. Best of all, they think like me. Offering plastic bags and carry out service to their customers is expensive, so they just don’t do it. Bring your own bags and return your own cart to the store when you’re done (to get your quarter back.)

There are very few products I buy outside of Aldi. It’s a plan that is simple and easy yet good quality and good on the budget. Yay.

If you don’t have an Aldi close just do the second best thing and always bend over to get that off brand product instead of the flashy one pressuring you right in your face.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/84992687@N00/3301666984″>soaring on Sunday</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

You need this product to cover all your rocks

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

Day: 14

Product: What if you could cut down a specific product you buy by half. That’s a good rate. We’d all like our money to go twice as far, right? This one is simple and easy.

Print on both sides of your paper. Paper comes with two sides, each equally perfect for writing or drawing or taking notes on. If you use both sides of a piece of paper, we get double the use out of our paper.

This is easiest to do when we have a letter or report or something that is over a page long. Just print the first page then turn it over and print more on the other side.

It takes a little more conscious effort to use both sides of a paper when you use them for something that is only one page.

The trick is to have a spot with half-used paper and to draw from that spot when you print a one-paged thing or return papers to when you’re done using them and their only half used.

You should always use your paper wisely. You don't want to run out.

You should always use your paper wisely. You don’t want to run out.

I even use the other sides of papers that others have used. When I had to spend some time in the hospital they sent me home with a bunch of single-sided pages of instructions. I get flyers for events my kids are invited to –often in beautifully bright colors- I get mail with only side printed. I even got a full box full of one-side-printed paper from Freecycle to use.

The same goes for other types of paper as well. Do you make out a shopping ling on those long list papers? When you’re done with your shopping, take the list back home and spin the paper around and use the opposite side the next week. (It may be helpful to see what you purchased the week before anyway.)

Yes, I know using paper so thoroughly sounds cheap and petty. How expensive is paper anyway? And are we saving the environment that much? Paper is easily recyclable.

It’s just that simple living is a way of life. I kinda permeates into everything, even down to paper. This thing is not hard and it’s just good practice. We should be aware of our actions, no matter how small.

So pay attention to that beautiful blank white page ready for your use the next time to come across paper with only writing on one side. It’s value is there. Don’t overlook the little things.

Reason for spending less: You don’t want to dust any more stuff!

Suggestion: It’s a lot easier to spend more if you go shopping with friends. Friends are great at pointing out what looks good on s and what great taste we have. Encouraging friends are wonderful people to have in our lives. However, if their encouraging causes us to spend money we don’t need to spend, it’s better to have them over to play cards or something.

This suggestion does not apply if your friend is me, of course– or anyone like me. A friend who is conscious of overspending is going to encourage you not to spend.

Now, it may be that I’m a miserable person so shop with, but I don’t think so. I do like to shop because I have never had a problem picking up an item, admiring it’s beauty or function or comedic nature, then putting it back. Until you learn the fine art of appreciation without spendation, just don’t shop with friends as a fun time out.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/13589188@N00/3164059182″>How We Roll – 52 Stories – Pt 1</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Don’t drain your savings

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

Day: 13

Product: Another product you can buy less of is water. I’m not talking about bottled water, we already covered that. You can save on the water that’s coming out of your taps. Depending on your current usage you might not save all that much but every bit helps!

This is especially true when it’s changing a habit you do every day. Those days add up.

Say, brushing your teeth. Do you leave the water running while you are brushing your teeth? You should try visiting a country where you either have to brush your teeth with bottled water or where the water just drizzles out of the taps. That bit of water is precious, let me tell you.

Three drips of perfectly wonderful water.

Four drips of perfectly wonderful water.

You can also do showers instead of baths, only run the dishwasher when it’s full, limit watering your lawns—all things you can learn by paying attention to the news in California. Just pretend you’re in a drought all the time. Then, if you should every find yourself in an actual drought you won’t feel put out.

Poet. Know it.

Reason to buy less: When you finally make it big and become a Harlem Globe Trotter you will need to be able to travel light. Find out the bare minimum that you need so you’re ready to get up and go at a moment’s notice. You don’t want to miss your big chance!

Suggestion: I told you yesterday you can shoot for buying used but there’s another pocket friendly option. Buy refurbished.

This is the cool version of dumpster diving. It’s someone else’s garbage but you sweep in and save the day by offering to pay someone a small fee to fix it for you instead.

This is often the way to go when it comes to electronics. Electronics age so quickly sometimes it stinks to wait until someone is ready to sell their product second-hand because then it’s out of date for you.

There are options outside of buying things new. It may take a little more time to find exactly what you want but that is also a good way to make sure you aren’t buying things you don’t really need. Put in the little bit of extra effort. It’s good for you, I promise.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/30054343@N07/5487519580″>Drops</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

The cost of a roll of convenience

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

Day: 12

Product: We could use less paper towels (and paper plates, paper napkins, paper cups, etc.) Paper towels are almost always overkill. Regular towels are the way to go.

I'm sorry. I spilled your water.

I’m sorry. I spilled your water. There may have only been a few drops left but I got it. I got it.

Now, if you’re cleaning up something gross enough or stainy enough you may want to dip into the paper towel stash, but better yet pull out a rag.

I don’t know about you but we create a crazy amount of rags around here. We’ve got two boys and they are always staining, ripping, and outgrowing their clothes. If we have outgrown clothes, we make sure they get passed on to someone else who can use them, but stained and torn clothes make their way to the rag bag.

1 stained T-shirt + 1 pair of scissors = 4 cleaned up messes of paint, bodily fluids, or extra glue.

Or there’s something else that can double as paper towels. Every day mailmen (and mailwomen) deliver lots and lots of useless paper that retailers pay for to convince you to buy their stuff.

Papers work great for cleaning windows (though I just use a regular towel) or for putting down before polishing shoes or cleaning out your oven or lining the litter box or anything else your imagination comes up with.

(Just don’t use them for getting ideas about more stuff you “need.”)

Now you’ll only need paper towels when you have guests come over and they’re used to using them.

Reason to buy less: The woman who lost her job a month ago and is looking for ____ at the thrift store will be much happier with ____ than you ever will. Take it to her.

Suggestion: If you want to buy it, most likely someone has already had your same idea and bought it. It’s also likely that someone else is already done using it. Buy it from them and they recover some of their costs, you get what you want at a lower price, and you save the thing from a trip to the dead-end landfill. Win-win-win!

Try yard sales, thrift stores, Craigslist, E bay, Facebook, word of mouth. Figure out how to not need for manufacturers to make a new one just for you.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/43264265@N00/2417204393″>080415 kitten taxes</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;