So why a half-year, then? It seems like a gimmick, true, but I have some reasoning in there. I like, nay crave, logical beginnings and ends, and July through December is exactly 6 months. Further, beginning in January, our life of the last 10 years will begin the drastic transformation of listing and selling the house. I will need to make adjustments to our Compact, but I want the experience of living it for six months first so it can help guide me through what is sure to be a challenging time. Finally, I believe we can do anything for a short time, and psychologically it can be easier to create a habit in small increments. In this case, the habit is not buying it.
The Compact differs from the No Buy challenge in that the Compact is not specifically a no buy, but a not buying new lifestyle. What both have are exception lists. Here is my current exception list, combined to meet the differing aims of these two challenges:
- Bills, of course. Although, I will assess monthly to look for ways to save costs.
- Items that bring down fixed costs permanently. For example, we will be buying new phones to save money in the long run. As much as possible, though, these will be second hand purchases (in the above example, we're planning on refurb phones).
- Necessary clothing -- used with the exception of underwear/socks. No random clothing buying though, purchasing only occurs after a closet purge proves the item is actually needed.
- Pet care, medical needs, toiletries -- obviously!
- School supplies and books -- second hand or digital as much as possible.
- Limited entertainment -- generally, the Compact doesn't limit experiences. Yet, to me some experiences are a true consumerist activity as well as a financial drain. So my stance for my challenge is to limit experiences that cost money. This means coffee out becomes a rare treat instead of the norm. I'll buy passes to hike or camp in fee areas, but we won't drive into town for a restaurant meal. Nights out for a movie or a drink will be rare treats and done as inexpensively as possible. Beyond my $5 student Hulu/Spotify subscription, we won't pay for movies/TV/music at home.