Apr 6 2011

to buy or not to buy, that is the question [day 314]

I found myself at a thrift store about a week ago, one that I haven’t visited in a long time.  I really didn’t need anything, but since I was on that side of town, I decided to check it out.  In the past, any good must be purchased, but now I apply my new shopping skills before buying anything.  Here’s a little bit of what that looks like.

  • Browse first, pick up later. I shop without picking up anything.  I look for things I like, then once I’m done, I go back and get the things I remember.  If it didn’t stick in my head, it’s not worth buying.
  • Do I need this? This question doesn’t mean I can’t have it if I don’t need it.  What it does mean is looking at the big picture.  Why do I want it?  How long will I use it?  Will I even use it more than once of twice?  What item will I get rid of to get this with my one for one model?
  • Can I repurpose something I have, borrow or trade for this? Basically I’m asking, “Is there a better way?”  Let’s take a tool for example.  Do I have something that will do the same job?  Could I borrow or rent this item?  I look at all other options.

I did something a little different on this shopping trip.  I took photos of everything I would have put in the cart or considered buying right away.  Here’s the photos.

Things I didn’t buy.

This extremely well build patio coffee table would have come home with me.  I don’t need, I would barely have space for it, but it was a screaming deal at $29.99.  I still want it just looking at the photo of it.  I love the modern style, and the way this was built, it could serve as a storm shelter.

Awesome cap, too tight for my head.  Continue reading


May 31 2010

mexico [day 3 & 4]

I’m leaving Mexico right now and what an incredible weekend.  Going to Casa Hogar Elim (and surrounding areas this time) is always incredible and I never want to leave.  Being there sheds a whole new light, well, maybe not new, but a recent light on the challenge.

I really don’t struggle with any desire to shop while in Mexico unless it’s something for the orphanage or food from the Sorriana.  I didn’t do any shopping, nor did I have a desire to.  I decided to help the ‘guys’ with the construction projects, as that’s more up my alley than cooking or shopping anyway.

Now I have as many power tools, if not more than the average guy, but I have to admit, I had some power tool envy going on.  I happened to mention that to a few of the guys, and counting the days until I could buy tools.  Finally, one of them asked, “If you’re counting down the days until you can buy stuff, why are you doing this challenge?”  I pondered that for a bit and after a period of time, I now have even more reasons for doing this and an added perspective on it.

Here’s an example of the positive change the challenge provides.  Without the challenge, I would have probably bought a grinder.  Could I use a grinder?  Yes, I actually have many uses for it.  Do I want a grinder?  Yes, I do and I have for a while.  Do I need a grinder?  No.  This challenge will not only save me money (which is not at all my intended purpose), but it will make me really think about want versus need and I will accomplish not collecting more stuff.

The second thing I thought about is the ‘new way of living in community’.  I already do this some, but now I want to be more intentional about it.  If I need to use a grinder for anything, I can borrow one.  If someone needs something I have, I can share as well.  What would it look like if we all did that?  And did it all of the time, before we ever considered going shopping and making a purchase of any kind?  I have all the tiling tools available to mankind and I frequently lend them to people so they can do work themselves and they don’t have to buy tools that would sit in the garage for years between uses, provided the tools ever get used a second time.  Bartering and sharing should be a way of life for everyone.  It would eliminate waste in most cases, saving money for things we really need and in the process, building community and building friendships.

 

Going back ‘home’ to my fancy 1780 square foot castle with indoor plumbing, electricity and beautiful furnishings, tightly nestled in among other castles with towering fences to protect our privacy… well you get the picture.  This is not easy.  I feel more comfortable in Mexico in areas where there’s no plumbing or electricity.  A place where it is dangerous to go at night, where gangs steal things and sexually assault women and kids.  A place where a home is made from leftover plywood scraps and maybe some old mattress springs.  A place where pure beauty exists.  A place where you are family even if you don’t speak the language. A place where you are welcomed and accepted.  A place where you could stay if you had no other place to go.

So you might be asking the question, “What’s so beautiful about a dangerous place with no modern conveniences, built out of junk with a few nice inhabitants?”  Simple.  It’s the people.  The people are beautiful, and a village built out of what we (in America) might consider trash, to me, is a very attractive representation of God’s love and my family through Christ.

How could you leave a place like that and want to go home, much less go shopping?