I got a sweet email from a lovely friend of mine over the weekend asking me (among other things) if I could write a bit more about the financial side of the Nothing New Project. It’s something that I’ve been asked a few times by a few different people, which is funny because it’s not something I think about often at all…
I’d love to read something about the financials of nothing new. do you feel like you’re saving? Does the idea of spending more money now thrill you? Or disgust you? Do you feel like it has made you more or less attached to the things you already own… – Jen.
The Nothing New Project was never about saving money, it was never really on my radar. As a single mum, a masters student and a freelance writer money has always been a bit hard to come by. I’ve always been a cautious spender but this project has always been about something so much greater than that. It’s been about changing the way I see the world, and changing the way I see myself too. But as you may have guessed, one pretty fabulous side effect of the project has been a pretty awesome reduction in my spending. I’ve had a few huge expenses in the past six weeks (I had to buy an old second hand car and pay for a divorce) and still I don’t feel too stressed about money. Our incoming is greater than our outgoing these days and I really don’t check my bank account very often at all any more. Besides household bills and fuel the only expenses we have are food (a lot of which I swap for services/skills), medicine and fun things like ice-creams and road trips. I don’t worry about buying a coffee from a local cafe any more. I enjoy being able to spend a bit of cash on yummy treats (always locally made of course) and not stressing about whether or not I’m going to totally blow out my budget. Bo and I used to only go to a cafe once a month… now it’s more like once a week.
Some people use the word sacrifice. I used to use it myself. I would ‘sacrifice’ one want so that I had the money for something else. But I don’t see it that way with this project. It doesn’t seem like a sacrifice to me any more. I don’t feel like I’m giving up things I love or being a martyr to a cause. It’s liberating never stepping foot inside department stores, it’s freeing to no longer give a shit about whether or not I have that ‘thing’ that everyone else has… All of a sudden I’m free from the intense oppression that consumerism blankets us all with. Sure, some days I wish I could go out and buy something that I want (I really want to upgrade my camera for instance, but I’m sucking it up until the end of the year) but then I remind myself how much I have, and how lucky I am and I find a bit of perspective and I embrace my ugly shoes and my tired jeans and I get on with my day – because there are so many things that are so much more important (to me).
It is literally transformative. I have become more confident. More clear. More kind. I have an amazing group of beautiful special people who have come into my life in the past three months and have changed me, welcomed me, loved me… and made me a better person for it. Would I have found these people without this project? Maybe. But maybe not.
As for the idea of spending lots of money? It certainly doesn’t thrill me, it doesn’t disgust me either – money serves a purpose and that purpose is different for each of us, I get that. It gives us lots of freedom to do awesome things but it is not the answer to happiness and the crazy habit that we have of using it to desperately try to keep up with the Joneses is crazy.
The Joneses are broke.
The Jonses are stressed. The Joneses are living on credit. You do not want to be the Joneses.
The owner of my rental is selling up and I’m going to have to move in a couple of months (or sooner). I’ve been considering my options carefully. A large part of me would like to land a caravan in the middle of a field somewhere and just live in it until we figure out what happens next for us. I’d happily give away 75% of my stuff… In fact, I have a little project in the works where I will be doing just that (though on a slightly smaller scale) – downsizing further, simplifying more and walking away from attachments to things in a bid to remind myself which attachments are really the most important (it’s people).
Do you have any questions about the Nothing New Project? I’d love to hear them!