I mentioned one of my major goals for 2013 was for my family to be involved in a 31 days of nothing project (though personally, I think it isn’t right to call it “nothing” because if you have food you have a lot more than nothing, so I’m re-defining it as a month of nothing except necessities). Basically, the premise is:
- For the month of January we will stick to a strict budget, only allowing for necessities
- There will be no extras like coffee/meals out, books, clothes etc purchased
- We will spend the month spending time discussing poverty, excess, contentment and the difference between needs and wants
- We will give most of the money we saved to an important project and the rest will be put towards our saving goal.
Why are we doing this? Well, I guess that is a complicated question. I’ve always wanted my children to be aware of the social injustices that occur in the world and to feel that they can choose to make a difference in big ways and small. I guess on some level too, while they don’t receive excess in our home, I think the ”world” out there is filled with excess. From children their age who have their own laptops, ipads and iphones, to what we are told is “normal”. And I want them to be able to look at that in the eye and remember none of those things buy happiness and that the real world is not filled with people with money to spend on the latest gadgets, big purchases or “thing that will make you happy”. In addition, both of my children struggle with abstract thinking (part of their learning disabilities and cognitive/developmental delays) and I think this will make it more real; they have NO concept of money, or saving or working for pay etc. And this, I hope, should help. In addition, I think, despite their backgrounds, they come from previous adoptive (& foster) families where they were given stuff to compensate for no love (they both came with box after box of cheap toys, my daughter had her own tv/dvd in her room by age 7, yet no one did their homework with them, or read to them, or in my daughter’s case, included her in their family vacations), while my daughter seems to have mostly left this behind, my son still struggles with being content with what he has. He can often be heard saying “I wish I had…” and while he is much improved, it creeps in when I least expect it. (FYI I’ve just re-read this post and you know, I think they are both doing well - this year my children received: a handmade outfit in a pattern with their favourite hobby on it, a game/activity, and a book from me (my daughter purchased my son a book from a used book shop for $1 and my son purchased his sister a travel bamboo tic-tac-toe game for $3) and they were over the moon, absolutely DELIGHTED! There aren’t too many children their age who would respond like that!). Finally, things are tight here. It can sometimes feel hard to give and while I’m committed to having less so that we can support people in need, being able to commit to something like this is going to help us give more.
On average I would say that we normally spend $280 a month on food/toiletries etc. and $180 a month on travel. In addition, we normally spend about $50 a month on extras. For the month of January we will be committing to $200 a month for food and $150 a month for petrol/travel and no extras. We will be walking more and really thinking about whether a journey is needed and if there is another way to get there. This means in the month of January, we should have $160 to give and save (we will give $100 and save $60).
I’m not sure how much of this journey people are interested in. I think it will affect everything we do – what we eat, what we make/give (aka we will make things we have on hand) and how we spend out time. I will say that for two days in January we have part of a Christmas gift experience (swimming and the art gallery) which we will keep in as it won’t cost us anything and was already booked by friends. I’m not certain how much people want to read about: what we eat, how we spend out time etc., but I’ll post a bit about it (thoughts, changes occurring, discussions we’ve had around the dinner table) and go from there.
I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t think it will be easy, but I know I will benefit tremendously, because while it is easy to think about how the children need this lesson, I think, truth be told, I need it more.
If anyone out there fancies joining in this project, you’d be most welcome!