Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A bit about consumerism in my household

I an a consumer, a relucant one perhaps, one that does think about the items I purchase and Jeff and I have tracked every cent that goes out the door for over a year. We plan our big purchases, we try to buy everything now with cash, or on credit if we know we can pay it off in one month. We fit 5 people in a 1600 square foot apartment, and the apartment also serves as an office for my work as well as a storage center for the Far Flung Craft business stuff. That being said, I really don't buy lots of stuff cause we don't have any place to put it, OR SO I THOUGHT!

We renegotiated our lease this month and first a few oddities about the Singapore rental market.

1. Contrary to the US market, long term leases are NOT cheaper. We wanted to do a 2 year lease at our current rate, have some work done around the house and in return we would stay for two years. Um, no. Landlord wanted to increase the rent by 15%. We knew they would raise the rent that is why we asked for work to be done (painting mostly) but not 15%... so if we stay only one year, the do all the work and they only increase the rent by 11%. What ever...

2. Even when you try to save money by not getting an agent involved, the cheap landlords who want to increase the rent by 15% still call the agent and end up paying him 900 Sing dollars. Now, because we only signed a one year lease, if we stay they will pay it again. Um, lets see, or you could have let us stay at our current rent, paid to paint the apartment and pocketed 1800. As it pencils out now, you actually LOSE money. I am sure the repairs we asked for are more than the one year delta in rent increase-minus the agent fee. WHAT EVER...

So, back onto consumerism, I really think we try to watch what we buy, the kids have a couple of boxes of toys and that is all. Most of the toys are in the living room, because there is simply not enough room in the shared bedroom they have. My big weakness is craft stuff that I buy and then don't use... but that is an issue for another time and place. The biggest thing is BOOKS... We really only have two bookshelves in the living room, and two in the bedroom, but all of the books have to come off the shelves before they are moved so we can paint. YIKES, I through out my shoulder muscle... and it hurts btw, but cripes, we have a lot of books.

We also have a fair amount of just Junk. Stuff that accumulates over time- grimy build up on the stove- just like the build up of crap. Storage closet filled with stuff we don't use, including Jeff and my backpacks from our travels when we were young. Need to donate this stuff to the salvation army and hope someone else can use it. So, the point of this rant I guess is that being frugal, trying to reduce our footprint is something that takes constant work. It is easy to start gathering more.

I am seriously considering joining the Compact (well I mean taking the pledge). I don't know if Jeff will join me or not, and I will have to carve out a personal exeception as our once a year trip to the States to stock up on Kids clothes, shoes and our own personal items will be in February. But, could I do it? Could I only buy used or do without for a year? I am really thinking about it...

Peace yall.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As someone who has taken the Compact pledge, I have found that each person comes to it with their own expectations. For example, in my household, only I took the pledge. I did not expect my spouse to do so. There are others who start small and build up to full fledge no purchases (such as no new clothes for self, or no new cooking gadgets, etc) and then adds other items. I had the exception that canning jars were acceptable to purchase (thus I could preserve locally grown food). Good choice? I think so. Any choice not to consume benefits the earth!
Good luck!

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