Monday, April 17, 2006

Book Review: Not Buying It

A while ago I was sent a reviewers copy of Not Buying It by Judith Levine. It took me forever to read, not because it was boring or tedious, but rather because the book covered so many interesting topics that I would read a page and be distracted by wanting to look up more information about that topic or look up a book that she mentioned. This book-induced ADD is a good indicator that whatever I am reading is thought provoking and inspiring.

I was almost turned off by the book because the beginning pages are filled with Bush bashing and liberal political rhetoric. While I am myself a liberal, I get turned off by overly zealous ideologues weaving in their political rhetoric at inappropriate times. I decided to keep reading (after all the book was free) and was glad that I did. The book not only chronicles her experience of a year without shopping but goes deeper into the anthropological, sociological and political forces behind shopping. "Not Buying It" explores the most banal questions, for example, "How essential are q-tips anyways?" to the more profound, "What environmental impact do my shopping habits have on the planet?"

Going a year without shopping is an interesting endeavor, however, it would have been much more interesting if she hadn't admitted to stocking up and binge shopping before January 1st and conveniently not counting the stuff that she buys for her home renovation or the generosity of her friends offering to buy her this or that or picking up the tab when they went out to dinner and the movies. At the point when my friend is paying for me whenever I go out with them, even though I have the money, I would have either stopped going out with them or chipped in my portion of the bill. I still give her kudos because she went much longer at not buying anything than I ever could.

Which makes me wonder, how long could I go without buying anything? I've contemplated doing my own experiment to see what it would be like to not buy anything and see how long I could last and how much money I could save. Then I realize that in essence, this is what I have been doing for the past two years while getting out of debt. I don't need any more severe deprivation to know what it will feel like, especially when I am so close to being out of debt now.

Do you think you could do it? How long do you think you could last?

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mapgirl said...

Some people celebrating their No Buying Days. They will pack all their lunches for a week and cook at home every night. Then they spend nothing for days on end. I have to admit, it's kind of hard, but it's gratifying. I almost had a No Spend Day today when I forgot my wallet at home. But I decided after walking to the library to stop and get nummy take out for 6 bucks.

Anonymous said...

I am thinking I would last about a day. Ok, maybe not quite that long.

I looked at that book, but it seemed like a political rant and I decided against it. Maybe I will read it afterall. I go buying again. Maybe I will wait. :-)

Amdollar said...

Its hard to say how long we could go but we have the syndrome where we bulk up on everything. However when we are on short supply, we shop from our budget. We hardly shop for anything that doesn't have a coupon or great internet sale.

Debt Hater said...

I don't know and I'm not sure I'd bother to try. I keep it pretty tight as it is and rarely spend money. Unfortunately that gets hard to do (it's like flexing a muscle and holding it like that until it hurts or spasms). The purge is always followed by a binge that erases all the purging -- so I just keep it even keel. Never too much, but often too little. And congrats on the job!!

Anonymous said...

It's not so hard when u get into the habit of not spending.
Last week all I spent money on was bills, rent food etc.
I've been doing this for so long I
now have a guilt complex about spending money on myself.

Frugal Mama said...

Gee, I had the same feelings when I read Mary Carlomagno's Give It Up! In this book, she gives up stuff for a month - alcohol, shopping, taxis, restuarants, etc. For her, it was a big deal even though, for example, she simply planned her drinking dates for the first of the next month. (I call that cheating, personally.) To already frugal folks like me, I have to wonder what the big deal is with their missions. Are they trying to prove that they can live frugally for one year or are they hoping to make a buck by jumping on the frugal living bandwagon? What I'd most like to know is: after their years were up, did they remain frugal or did they go back to their normal spending habits?

contrary1 said...

I have done a monthly no spending plan for years.........choosing to not spend in January. I started it with a friend who was going on a mission trip, told her whatever I normally would have spent, I would add to her travel fund. It felt so good, I continued it the next year......and so on.
After all the consumerism from the holiday season, not buying anything in January feels like a huge sigh of relief.
I'd have to think on it pretty hard before I did a year.......cause, I don't "cheat" during my no spend month.