Thursday, September 11, 2008

Changing your outlook

One of the biggest tools for living a thrifty and green life is in my opinion to change your outlook on the whole buying experience and on what you feel you need. Many of us Americans have gotten caught in the trap of constantly needing new things and then ending up with a very cluttered home. That trap is not good for our pocketbook and also the constant buying of new things is harder on our environment as well (With all the production, transportation, packaging which ends up in land fills, etc.). Though I was blessed to be raised by parents who are very thrifty and careful to use what they have I have still been working on some outlook changes in my life. Here are some of the things I am working on:
  • Shop at home first! There are many times I am faced with a need ~ A birthday gift, an item of clothing for a child or myself, something to make our home look better, Something for a craft or science project, craft materials for classes at church, the list could go on and on! I have really been working on looking around to see if I already have something that would work, if there is something I can make from items I have on hand (like for a birthday present) , if I can use recycled items instead of buying something (for crafts for instance) and if I can remake something to make it work better.
  • Do I really need it? Do I really need 10 pairs of shoes? Do I really need a new winter coat? Do we really need a different vehicle? Do the kids really need any new toys (even for birthdays!)? Always be asking yourself "Is this something we really need or is it just going to cost us money and clutter up our house which will then add stress to my life?" The clutter part is really what has gotten to me lately and I am striving hard to avoid it. By the way this doesn't just apply to buying new at the store but also to garage sales and thrift shops.
  • Can I make it myself? (Especially from Recycled items and stuff you already have in your home!) This is something I have always enjoyed doing but this year we have stepped it up a notch. I apply this to food as much as possible as well. Homemade tortillas work fine and they don't have packaging to throw away and are better for you, the same is true of pretty much any food from scratch. My attitude on homemade stuff has given Ken and I some laughs however as it has majorly rubbed off on the kids. Almost always now if they see something somebody has and they would like one too they ask: Can we make it mom? Or they just start in on figuring out how to make it themselves. They played Monopoly elsewhere and they came home and made one of their own without ever thinking of asking us to buy them one. Sometimes making it yourself doesn't work (for instance my idea of making plastic diaper covers for Megan out or plastic bags that had been ironed together which was not successful) but more often it does work out. It takes some time but often it can be fun time spent with your family!

Sometimes lately Ken (who is not so much into the "make it yourself" or "don't buy" mode) has teased me about being ascetic, but I'm not really. I like the idea of buying less now on little things I don't need so that I can splurge in the way I want to. For instance Giving to those who really need it, traveling to far off (and not so far) places, going on a mission trip, adding on to my kitchen (with greenhouse and root cellar!) or getting a beautiful new piano. I also like the fact that I can make it so living on one income is comfortable and not a trial for us, that I am slowly cutting down on the clutter in our house and we are living a greener lifestyle! Also living that way brings out creativity in everybody and that can be very fun!

For more Thrifty and green tips visit Green Baby Guide.


Rebecca said...

It's so great hearing how your frugality and resourcefulness has rubbed off on the kids in a positive way. You always hear worries about how a frugal lifestyle will deprive the kids, but you show how they're learning to be more creative and less materialistic. They made their own Monopoly game--wow!

I also like hearing about your failed experiments, such as making a diaper cover out of plastic bags. Your kids will love hearing these stories when they're older.

Thanks for that tortilla recipe, too. I have made tortillas before, but I think the recipe I had called for shortening, so I'm glad to see one that uses oil instead.

And last but not least, thanks for joining us for Thrifty Green Thursday!

Cathy said...

Good for you! I totally agree that becoming more environmentally friendly means changing your attitude before anything else. I'm trying to change my attitude too.

Fern Greene said...

I love your point about shopping at home first. I remember my grandmother doing this, and coming out of her closets with virtually anything we ever needed - a sun hat, the right size container for gathering rocks, paper for coloring.

Somehow we've gone astray and when we notice our child doesn't have a perfectly fitted, age-appropriate and color-coordinated sun hat, we go to the store and buy one.

So often we have what we need. And those things tend to become prized possessions. I still have the wooden manger my grandfather made out of an orange crate when my mother was a child - it cost nothing, but has value beyond words.

Not buying stuff is greener, more frugal and so many times, far more meaningful, too! Thanks for the reminder.

Abbi said...

Thanks to all of you for the great comments!

Joy said...

Thank you so much for this post! It really shows that with a little ingenuity, we can manage with a lot less instead of trying to solve everything with stuff.

We have a small house and realize that everything we buy has to fit somewhere. If we purchase an item, we have to eliminate something else.

Your point about saving on the little stuff to splurge on meaningful stuff (travel, piano, etc.) was especially important. It's all about delayed gratification--which is a great lesson for kids to learn as well!

Thanks for joining us this Thrifty Green Thursday!

Bridgett said...

This is so true, we think we "need" so many things that we could do without. I have been cleaning out my attic and am amazed at how much junk I have up there. I have never liked clutter and try to be organized but it adds up fast. Well I have sold or given away most of it and we are splurging on something that we have wanted for a long time. I also want to try to do more of my cooking from scratch.

Sarah said...

I agree to all of it! Great post. =)

Ang said...

good thoughts Abbi. I wish that I was like that on more things. I think that starting today I will be will power. will power. oh alright going to buy those shoes that I have wanted. Just kidding.

The Eckerts said...

Hey Abbi. I was wondering why you don't have your different categories on your side bar anymore? It was so helpful to look back into your archives under certain topics. If you're willing, I'd love to see it come back :)

Abbi said...

Thanks for all the comments.
Amy, I am sorry I didn't have the categories. When I have been messing around with my template they erased and I just didn't get them put back on but I will!!

The Eckerts said...

Yay, thanks so much!!!


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