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Stop Buying Stuff for Kids

November 19, 2012 in Useful

One of the biggest questions I get when I tell people I am not going to buy anything during the month of November is: What about stuff for kids? With the holidays coming up, presents are on many people’s minds. Last year I suggested some ideas for having a new-stuff-free holiday, but extending that idea to presents for children seems to cause some heartburn for some people.

Well, as it turns out, kids are not actually all that well served by buying them stuff. The most important thing in a child’s life is to be loved. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Although it may seem that one way of showing a child love is by buying them presents, that is actually not all that effective. It is far, far better to spend quality time with children. Rather than making the holidays about getting the newest and best toys, make the holidays about spending time with family and friends.

I was raised in a (monetarily) poor home, so we never focused very much on presents. Instead, my parents focused on having a good time together, eating good food, and enjoying company. My parents always said that if we needed something they would get it for us, no matter what the date was, and that the holidays were more about spending time together. One thing that they did as far as presents go was to get all of us one big thing each year…but it was never actually a thing. Every year we would get year passes to our local amusement park, or a big family vacation, or something like that. An intangible gift that was more about having a fun experience than about getting a thing. And I think I turned out great!

Here are a couple of articles… food for thought, let’s say:

-Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood

-Ten Tips for Raising Kids Who Care

-The Most Important Thing to Teach Children

-The Real Cost of Raising Children

Stop Buying Razors

November 16, 2012 in Useful

Welcome back! We are a little over two weeks into No-Buy-November, and still going strong!

Because No-Buy-November just happens (wink, wink) to fall on the same month as Movember, I have been doing some thinking about shaving. For some reason, when I grow a mustache, like a am now, rather than my usual chin-stripe, it seems like I have a little more facial hair to shave. Call me crazy.

Even if it is all in my head, shaving every day reminds me of one of the little things that I buy, use, and send straight to the landfill. Razors! I don’t go through them very quick, but in the spirit of No-Buy-November I want to take a few minutes to think about this item that is designed to be used up and thrown away.

So, what are some alternatives to the standard disposable safety razor? Well, as my favorite blogger Mr. Money Mustache’ grandfather says, the simplest way to reduce the amount of waste involved in shaving (and reduce the amount of money it costs) is to use two-blade safety razors with reusable handles, rather than the fancy new 5-blade vibrating razor that you throw away after only a few uses. Also, rather than throwing the razor away after it starts to get dull, sharpen it on your jeans instead to make the blades stay sharp longer!

The next level of awesome is to start using the old-fashioned single-blade safety razor instead of a disposable razor. I bought a pair of them on Ebay, polished them a little, and have been using them ever since. The blades are incredibly cheap, and that is the only part of the razor that is disposable. Also, they are easy to find used on Ebay, like I did. They are generally very well made, and can last for a very long time. It is just a little more complicated to shave with them, but after a few shaves, it will become as natural as using any other razor. Here is a great tutorial on using safety razors, and a fun article on how to shave like your grandfather did!

The ultimate in shaving awesomeness is the classic straight razor. Nothing says amazing like shaving your manly face-hair with something that has been around since the beginning of shaving! A straight razor will never need anything new and disposable, and when your great-grandson gives it to his great-grandson a few hundered years from now, it will work just as well for him as it does for you. Buying one can put you back a hundred or more bucks, but it will literally be the last razor you ever buy, and they can definitely be found used. Here is a great article on restoring vintage straight razors, and another article on how to use them properly.

Now go forth and shave responsibly!

How to Have a No-Buy-Holiday

November 7, 2011 in Useful

With the holidays coming up, it may seem like a special challenge to get through No-Buy-November without buying any new manufactured presents. After all, buying expensive presents for each other is how we show affection in western cultures, right?

The truth is, presents are actually a pretty poor way of showing how you care. And here’s some science to back that up!

So here are some ideas for alternatives to the traditional holiday present exchange:

  • Give a gift of personal service – a IOU for a few foot-massages, or 3 “I’ll cook dinner tonight” passes, or even a punch card for 100 free hugs
  • Give a trip to a spa, or a free professional massage
  • Give something you made yourself…it will be much more meaningful, and probably better than anything you could buy
  • Have a gift exchange, or clothing swap party – Here’s a great article on how to hold a good swap party
These are just a very, very few ideas…please share any ideas you have!


November 7, 2011 in Useful

Freecycle is a great tool for getting in touch with a community of people who like to give things away for free!

Have something you don’t want anymore? Well, rather than throw it away, you can list it on this website, and someone else can get some use out of it.

And of course it goes the other way too; if you need something, rather than just going out and buying it, check Freecycle first. Maybe someone is giving away for free exactly what you need!