The Lent Experiment is officially over, and the budget is back to "normal" which can vary from week to week. We almost never needed our whole $2.00/day (except the youngest), and we all managed to get lots of good (organic) veggies, fruits, meats and grains during this experiment. The top of the blog says that the experiment changed our lives, so if you care to find out how, here it is:
Because most of the world lives completely on or less than $2.00/day and we couldn't possibly manage that little with our mortgage, bills, etc. we not only cut our food bill to $2.00/day per person, but we also stopped buying things. Sound easy? It's really not. Well, not at first.
We initially committed to not buying anything outside of food during Lent, and again did not allow ourselves the reprieve on Sundays (you can do a lot of shopping damage in one day!) Now, for someone who is addicted to SALE signs and to whom CLEARANCE tags make her mouth water - February and March are rotten times to not buy anything. I would tell myself, this is just for a short time, I can spend myself into oblivion when Lent is over.
It only took a few weeks of not spending money to realize how much I liked it. Our van needed WAY less gas each week, our family had lots of time to spend together (wrangling kids at a mall does NOT count as family time), and there was never any Wal-Mart blues (you buy too much crap and you feel elated for all of 15 minutes and it fades). What I really liked about not buying STUFF to make me happy was that I had to look to relationships for happiness instead. I began to feel like the consumerism circle had been a nasty trap that I didn't know I was caught in.
During this time, we also looked into how things are made. Everything from cotton for our clothing to plastic for the kids toys. Besides the slavery involved in so many of our products, the chemicals and waste involved are enough to turn anyone's stomach. This not buying stuff seemed to be a pretty good way to live.... I knew there would be no spending spree at the end of Lent.
Concessions. Do we make them? Sometimes, regrettably. Part of our new life included using our yard to grow food and teach the kids about where REAL food comes from. I refuse to water my grass, but sometimes your veggies need a sprinkle - and we didn't have a hose. We looked for a used hose, but ended up having to purchase one that was new. We decided to buy an expensive hose we hopefully wouldn't have to replace and add to the waste cycle - but it was still something new. This was our first post-Lent purchase and I still remember how hard it was for us.
The bottom line is, we are a privileged society. Even our poorest are better off than most in other parts of the world. We complain about the cost of gas, cell phone bills, entertainment costs, etc. not realizing that everything outside of food and shelter is a luxury (and EVEN those are luxurious for us). We are humans, not consumers. If someone is hurting we need to help. One person giving up cable to move those funds to a third world country may not seem like much, but last year alone North America spent 150 BILLION on entertainment. That's an average of $100.00/month per family. For some families, $100.00/month might seem like a fortune and to some it may be pocket change you spend at a sale and hardly notice. The point is to give until you notice it! Your generosity should match your prosperity. You may hate Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie as much as you hate Satan himself, but they give an entire third of their income to charity. You may think that you could do that too if you only made millions upon millions each year., but when is enough enough? To a starving family, we ARE millionaires. If we all wake up to the reality outside of what we're told is important, we might take bigger steps to escape our roles as consumers and to move into our responsibilities as humans.
This may seem preachy, or rant-like, but the more I consider others the happier I am. The more my family considers other, the better they are. I see a world trapped in debt, the consumer cycle, and self-absorbed insanity - and I'm happily digging my way out of that world into a world that makes sense. Do I think you should dig with me? Heck yes.