Andrea writes that her family has been doing the Boxing Day shopping embargo since 2006! Each year since then, from Boxing Day until Feb. 28 not a penny is spent on anything except essentials. Whoa. Here’s more about what they do:
The Shopping Embargo – at its core – is about a few elemental things. It’s not about deprivation, or putting people out of work. It’s simply about
being grateful for what we already have,
examining our needs and wants,
shopping mindfully, and
Now, if you know me even a little bit, you know I like to shop. I wouldn’t say I’m a shopaholic, but I would say I tend to buy more than I need. And while I don’t need to shop all the time, it sure does pick me up when I’m down.
Just wandering a mall, going in store after store after store, can pick up my spirits. But nothing, NOTHING, feels as good as walking out of a shop with a bag, or a handful of bags.
OK, maybe I do have a teeny tiny problem.
Anyway, if you remember, one of my 2013 resolutions was to spend less, save more and pay off some debts. Suddenly, this shopping embargo began to look like a good idea.
Andrea’s post suggests stating one’s embargo mission. She started her embargo on Boxing Day and plans to finish on Feb. 28. Since I’m starting late, I plan on going from today until March 31.
Here is my Embargo mission:
Until Feb 28, I pledge to only purchase essential items for me and for my family: groceries/consumables, basic hygiene (shampoo, soap, but not cosmetics), medicine and essential clothing. And we will also challenge ourselves to borrow more books from the library and buy less Kindle books.
Gulp. So, err, who’s with me?
Who else is taking a shopping embargo? If you’re thinking about it, Andrea has some great tips on how to survive your embargo on her post from last year.
Thanks Andrea and Amy for the inspiration. Flickr photo by Jamuudsen.
I had it easier than today’s twentysomethings, and I have no problem saying so. But quite a few others can’t see what all the fuss is about when it comes to the financial concerns of today’s young adults.
“Finally!” was a common refrain from those in my generation. “Someone who gets how I feel and how hard it is to be me!”
I read Carrick’s column and walked away with a mediocre feeling. I didn’t see this as a battle cry. This wasn’t the refrain of a generation. Are things tougher for my generation than my parents? I don’t really know. I can say my parents had it rough while I was growing up, but it was such a different time. I commented on this recently when my boyfriend and I went shopping for tablets.
Back when I was a kid, I remember my parents saving for months and months and months to get a CD player or finally a VCR. Nowadays, my generation seems to live in a kind of “I want, so I buy.” When was the last time you really saved for anything? Personally, I don’t even remember it.
But sure, OK, we have it harder today.
Then this week, Carrick published a letter from a 29-year-old man thanking him for what he wrote. This man, who is the same age as me, lamented the things he’ll never be able to do because things are so tough for us right now. Here’s an excerpt (the man was kept anonymous, so not to hurt his job hunting chances):
At the age of 29, I’ve likely forever lost the following opportunities due to cost and probable inability to make up for lost wages and career potential:
- Getting married.
- Having children.
- Owning a home that’s bigger than 500 square feet. (hint: that’s not big.)
- Studying any more, whether that means grad school, law school, or even just night classes at a random community college.
- Retirement. Sure, I’d love to be investing for it. But with what money?
The piece goes on about how this guy applies for 100 jobs in the hopes of snagging 15 interviews, and how he continues to repeat the process. Like Carrick’s last piece, many of my peers leaped on to this as a battling cry.
I posted my response on these four points on a friend’s Facebook wall, but here they are:
You can get married without a big giant paycheque coming in. If being “married” is so important to you, then go to City Hall and spend $140 on the licence and get married there. This guy is whining he can’t afford the party that usually comes with getting married — the party is not the same as getting married.
Having kids: Poor people have kids. Full stop. Sure our generation hoped to plan better for our kids and have the money, the time, the whatever, but it doesn’t always work out that way. My parents didn’t have all those things and I survived. Love is the most important thing when it comes to having kids, and as J.Lo says, Love don’t cost a thing.
Owning a home that’s bigger than 500 square feet: Again, I wonder where this guy is looking at buying. If it’s in Toronto and Vancouver, then you’re right, it’s expensive. But there are ways to make it work. Did I ever expect to own a home this young? Nope. Is it hard? Definitely. But I’m making it work despite not bringing in the millions I so obviously deserve.
Studying any more: Again, get off your high horse. In theory, I don’t “have the money” to be taking extra classes, but I’m finding a way to. And if I go back for a master’s, which I’m seriously considering, I will be doing it with the help of OSAP. I’m not above having to take out a loan that I pay back. I still owe $18,000 on my undergrad and am happy to pay that back every month. I would not trade having to pay for my education for anything. I know I wouldn’t have the same value for it if it was free.
Retirement: You’re right. We’re all going to work until we die. Poor us.
Now, I’m not saying our generation doesn’t have it hard, because we do — every generation does (heck, my grandmother was born into the start of the Second World War, her parents lived through two world wars and a Great Depression). But we’ve got to stop feeling like we have it the hardest of any generation that ever came before us because it just makes us seem entitled. Yes, entitled.
While I’m sure his job search is hard, I haven’t heard of anyone who applies for that many jobs at once. Which makes me wonder what industry this anonymous letter writer is searching in.
And my second question goes back to my observation about the difference between my parents’ generation and mine: Do we not have the disposable income to get married, have kids, buy a house and save for retirement, because of all the gadgets we buy?
Next time you lament how you can’t afford a downpayment for a mortgage, look at where you’re spending money: smartphones, gadgets, dinners out etc.
And another thing that’s different from our generation compared to our parents: In 1984, university degrees were rarer. More people went to college. That’s not the case today. An undergraduate university degree nowadays does not guarantee you a job, you need more to stand out from the pack.
That being said, sometimes it’s all about luck. I know a 23-year-old recent immigrant to Canada that just landed a job paying almost $50,000 a year — and she has no post-secondary education.
Yes, things are tough for our generation, but let’s quit whining about it already.
I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Until recently buying a car to get to work (about an hour away), I took public transit — the Toronto Transit Commission or TTC.
I guess I should rephrase this. I didn’t “take” public transit, I loved riding it. If it weren’t for my new job, I never would have gotten off the rocket. Even with the car, I tend to try to take transit to get around the city instead of driving.
Recently, a fare increase leaked to the public. The TTC moved up its monthly meeting to the middle of November, apparently to push a fare increase in before/around the New Year.
The proposed new fares went like this:
Cash: Up 25 cents to $3
Adult token: $20 for 8 instead of $22.50 for 10
Adult metropass (monthly pass): Up $17 from $109 to $126
Now, I know if I were still riding the rocket as my primary form of transportation, while not making much money I would be frustrated by this. But I stood by the Commission’s decision on why fares were going up. It’s a fact that the TTC needs money from all levels of government to survive. It does not get this.
Thus if it comes to service cuts or a fare raise, I say jack it up.
However, after the proposed fares came to light, the TTC realized they had a problem on their hands.
See, everytime the fare goes up, people stock up on tokens beforehand. Because unlike tickets, they cannot be changed everytime a fare increase occurs. It used to be not a big deal because the TTC used to offer its adult riders the option of using tickets or tokens to get on the system. So while there always used to be a token shortage around the time of a fare increase, there was always a backup fare method for those patrons who preferred to ride the rocket by the use of tokens/tickets.
The TTC got rid of tickets last year.
So in order to keep the hoarders at bay, the commission said there would be a limit on to the maximum number of tokens one person can buy at once. They set it at 10 (though really, with nearly two months notice, one can still hoard a number of tokens in that time even with that limit).
Obviously someone at the TTC realized that to and now the maximum tokens you can buy — even from a collector at a subway station is five.
Oh yeah, and once the collector runs out during the day you have to pay the cash fare — which is 25 cents more than the discounted token price.
I love the TTC more than the average Torontonian. I am a self-described transit geek. But this I have a problem with.
Now, not only are the system’s customers bracing for a big fare hike right after Christmas (likely January 3), but they might have to start paying more now.
The thing is, not everyone is going to hoard tokens. And if the commission runs out, then something else needs to be looked at here. When I used the system, I often used tokens because I did not take transit enough to warrant buying a monthly pass, but did use it enough that paying by cash was too expensive.
Adult tickets were done away with because they were too easy to counterfeit, but at least they served a purpose come fare hike time. Perhaps it’s time the commission put some thought into something like that instead of just angering more riders enough that they might decide to take their cash and invest into a car or a carpool system.