Friday, August 07, 2009


Don't interpret this post according to the image. It's just what came up on Google images when I searched for "simplicity," I've seen it before, and it makes me laugh. =)

During the month of August, our community is corporately practicing the discipline of simplicity. We've challenged ourselves to live on half our disposable income for the month. We're trying to spend half what we usually would for groceries, household supplies, entertainment...any expenses that aren't fixed (i.e. I'm not paying only half the rent just because it's simplicity month). At the end of the month, we plan to take the money saved and use it for several areas of need around us.

I went grocery shopping yesterday for the first time this month. I decided to go to the cheaper grocery store--the one I usually avoid. I don't regularly shop there because it's usually too busy, the produce isn't as good, and they don’t carry a lot of the brands/varieties that I prefer. But: cheaper.

While shopping, I realized how often I opt to buy something more expensive because "it's only a few rand more" and "I can afford this" and "I like it better." This month, I'm cutting all the corners I can, so I said no to the things I would usually buy a more expensive version of. It made me realize how often I rationalize a little higher grocery bill out of preference for unnecessary extras. What if I didn't have the option to buy the more expensive juice? I buy far too much LiquiFruit Cranberry Cooler!

I've always thought I'm fairly wise with my money. And honestly, that's pretty true. But I hadn't realized just how many times I spend money I don't need to spend, just for the sake of preference and desire. This month, I keep asking myself if I really need this thing. Usually, I don't. It's making me think. And that's good.

In addition to living on half my disposable income, I've also decided to limit my online time this month. Specifically, I'm not logging into Facebook for the month of August. I've found quite a few old friends on Facebook, people it's been really good to reconnect with. More than that, there are a lot of friends back home who I keep in better touch with on Facebook than I would over email. Even family: my brother & sister-in-law, my oldest niece, my's awesome to have a more consistent connection, even if it's just through minor things like status updates. But: when I check FB 3 or 4 times a day, to skim through mostly unimportant information about my 300+ friends and casual acquaintances...that's not exactly a wise use of my time. It's not really personally connecting at all. So, August: no Facebook. I've realized that checking Facebook every time I got online was far more automatic than I thought it was. Cutting it out has helped me be more conscientious about how I use my time online. This is also good.

One final observation: in the past week, far more people than usual have approached me asking for money (people I know, as well as random people I run into on the street). Maybe it just seems that way. I've been more conscious of responding to need, in any case. I keep being reminded of why I'm practicing simplicity...not just for the sake of the discipline itself, but so that I can share with others out of what is saved.

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