“In a culture of excess, even overabundance is deficient.”
In trying to bring up Lil’ Z in true Raggamuslim fashion, we carefully consider what we buy for her. Generally, we approach the purchase of ANYTHING that we don’t consume in the following manner:
1. Is it necessary? How often do people buy something for the sake of its newness or some psychological or emotional satisfaction or value that they’ve attributed to the purchase? Why does buying something new make you feel better? This is a question we should ask ourselves. Examine your feelings. Do you feel better because you procured an item that is useful, necessary, or makes your life easier? Or is there something addictive about the chemically-induced “new” smell or unwrapping packaging, tearing off tags, and being the first owner of this new item?
2. Can it be acquired via FREECYCLING or bartering? First, let us define freecycling. Freecycling is a way to pass ownership of an unused item without any cost. Isn’t this like “hand-me-downs”? Yes, but with a greater consciousness. Freecycling is built on the idea that most of us are drowning in excess. If we look around our homes, we may find unused items that can find new purpose in another person’s care. While “hand-me-downs” rely on a close-knit network of family/friends, freecycling ideally will expand your network to include those in your region that you don’t necessarily know personally. Most people want to give their “lightly-used, still really good quality” items to someone they know but give the “thoroughly-used, tattered, on life support” items to a thrift shop or charity organization. For those truly useful items that you don’t know someone who can personally benefit from them, freecycling will help you give that item to appreciative hands that will put it to good use in the absence of thrift stores and relevant charitable groups. That’s how we snagged Lil’ Z’s “new” carseat! To contact your nearest freecyling network, check their website.
Bartering is a rare treat these days. It’s a great way to exchange value, not swap value for green paper. It’s a creative way to get what you want and give what you can!
3. Can we buy it pre-owned/used? You can lengthen the life cycle of a product by giving it new ownership. Cars are a prime example! Check your notes from Intro to Microeconomics! A new car dramatically depreciates once it’s no longer “new”. A pre-owned/used item that is in good, working condition is a bargain, even if it needs a new coat of paint or has a few scratches. We recently purchased a used car from one of Urbndervish’s colleagues. He was leaving with fairly short notice and approached us with a sweet deal. Not only is the ride appropriately-sized for our family, it’s fuel efficient! Woohoo!
4. If it must be bought new, what’s the best value for our money? If you’re going to spend, spend wisely! Frugality doesn’t mean buying the cheapest item on the shelf! You don’t want to repeat the same purchase over and over again, so invest in quality (which is not always evident by the brand name!).
5. Are we satisfied with our purchase? Again, if you’re going to spend, then make it worthwhile! Is the product beautiful? There is room for beauty on the path of simple abundance! Does your purchase align with your ethics? If you can afford and find a product produced by a conscientious company, made from a natural elements or renewable materials, or recycled/upcycled item, then go for it!