Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Just because it needed to be shared

I've seen this bike since before I worked at the library, but every time I see it it makes me feel good to see that someone else on campus is as thrifty, resourceful, and anti-consumerist as I am. (Shane thinks the bike belongs to a professor.)

In case you can't read it, one of the bumper stickers says, "Use less stuff". That's the one that gives me the warm and fuzzies. Well, that and the fact that it's on a home-made bike mod. Who says you need to buy cute, fancy bike basket? Make your own! I think this also says a lot about the attitude in Fairbanks. There are a lot of people around here with the same can-do, make-do way of living and I so admire it.
On a related note, the blog "Non-Consumer Advocate" had a wonderful post a while ago about those of us who are "secretly frugal". I certainly don't go around talking about my frugal habits (or putting them on bumper stickers), mostly out of the fear of being seen as one of "those people". You know, preachy know-it-alls who think that their way of life is best and need to talk down to others. (I think my way of life is the best for me, and that people need to change their habits so that we don't destroy the earth make the planet uninhabitable, but go ahead and do it in your own way.) In fact, this blog is my only outlet for a lot of these ideas and lifestyle changes. In talking about this kind of stuff, you get a lot of weird reactions. I love her to death, but when I told my best friend that I've become a Value Village shopper there was a pause before she said, "Oh. My. God." in the most scandalized tones I've ever heard from her. I refrained from pointing out that she never has any money, whereas Shane and I have (thankfully) managed to save quite a bit for times like unemployment. (A gentle attempt to talk about her shopping and spending habits a while ago was rebuffed, so I haven't tried since then to bring it up.)
I wonder what most of the people in my life would think if I suddenly started talking about my (somewhat secret) environmentalism more often? Or exactly what steps Shane and I are taking to save money? Most people know we don't have much (and most of our friends are in similar situations) but it's still something that's awkward to talk about. People just don't talk about money. Perhaps if more of us did, we wouldn't feel the need to spend so much of it because we'd no longer feel the need to compete with each other for the latest and greatest Stuff. And no, I'm no more immune to it than anyone else is. I want nice things too! New clothes, a newer car that doesn't cost a fortune in gas ($75 for one tank last time), a house.... The difference is, my need to spend very little to stay out of debt is greater than my desire for fleeting material goods. But I think I'm losing out on a valuable support network by not talking about this more with friends. I think we are losing out by not talking about it with each other.

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