Not Buying Anything For A Whole Year, Sort Of.

I have to give Doubleplusundead some credit because he found a silly piece in USA Today that could have been, I kid you not, published “as is” in the the Onion as a parody piece.

It’s called, “The Final Word: The key to saving money? Just don’t spend it” and it begins like so,

With the year more than half over, maybe now is a good time to revisit the pledge I made back in January: the pledge not to buy anything for a year.

I did this five years ago and found the experience cleansing. And not that difficult, oddly enough. Many of you even joined me in my crusade to simplify. Others wrote in to question my sanity.

Now, you might think that’s a bold fella. Not buying anything for a year? That must mean he’s living in a Unabomber style shack, growing vegetables in the yard, and probably chiseling out his USA Today column on a piece of tree bark and walking 8 miles into town to hand deliver it to a friend who can scan it and email it in for him.

After all, if you aren’t buying anything, you aren’t buying food, clothes, electricity, internet service, getting cable, or even paying rent. That’s what making a “pledge not to buy anything for a year” means, right?

Ehr…wrong.

The rules, which I cleverly made up myself, remained the same and give me an out every now and then.

I’m allowed to buy books and music because they are nurturing things. I can buy gifts for friends and spend for travel. Those are also good things. But just going out and buying things for myself, the answer remains the same.

…My partner, Jack, loves it when I go on these non-buying binges. He reminds me daily I don’t have enough money to retire, so he thinks keeping the credit card in the wallet is a very good thing.

…But enough about restraint. It’s confessional time. I have bought four things in six months. Two I did not need.

One was a prayer stick, which I probably do need, but an unnecessary purchase nonetheless. Priests in Ethiopia lean against them during prayer. I bought it in Addis Ababa. It was $90. I have no regrets. And best of all, it didn’t turn into a sombrero once I got it home.

The second item was a black-and-white photograph of the keyboard of an old typewriter. The letters are worn with use. It spoke to me.

…As for the necessities, I bought shorts from L.L. Bean. I can’t say I love them, but it’s summer and I needed shorts. Two pair: $54.

The last purchase was a belt, which I also needed. Maybe not this one, but I did need a belt. It’s needlepoint, sporting a row of multi-colored nautical flags.

So, if this guy is living out in the wilds of Montana, sleeping in a ramshackle, abandoned shack and carving his column on willow tree bark with one of the teeth that fell out of his mouth because he didn’t buy toothpaste, how does he get to the stores where the Ethiopian prayer sticks are? Methinks he might be fudging a bit more than he is letting on about his pledge not to buy anything unless he’s a kept man and his “partner Jack” is just buying everything for him.

On the other hand, if Ethiopian prayer sticks are the sort of impulse buys he goes for, I do understand the reason he came up with the idea about not spending money for a year in the first place: he may be buying a wee bit too much crap. So, the idea was probably good, but the execution? That seems to have fallen a wee bit short.

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