Saturday, March 1, 2008

Not Buying It! - Review (Part1)

Judith Levine and her partner in life, Paul, decided that they weren't going to buy anything except the necessities (sustenance, health, and business expenses) for an entire year and her book, Not Buying It!, chronicles their journey. Thanks to Finally Frugal for mentioning the book in one of her posts. I've started reading it and it is compelling and well-written. As an author, she is a master in her craft. In each chapter, she details each month starting in December 2003 just prior to starting her year. I will be highlighting a few of the ideas that I found particular interesting in each chapter.

December 2003: Panic
December was a month of splurges and last-minute purchases to help them survive their upcoming year. I wasn't sure whether it was strictly "fair" to try to prepare ahead of time for a year of non-consumption. If it was a year to avoid consuming, then shouldn't you just live as you would have? Nonetheless, I'm sure I'd have done the same.

January: Surplus
January was spent trying to decide what was strictly a necessary purchase. If you were buying food to eat, could they buy fancy mixed greens or would just a plain head of lettuce suffice? I enjoyed the fact that she shared the details of the struggle to decide what was strictly a necessity. I don't think that would be easy.

February: Consumer Psychology
Levine spent quite a bit of time discussing the activity of homo economicus in this chapter. As such, homo economicus is not a specific individual per se but serves as the bellwether of so many economic actions that consumers take. She also made the point that purchasing and consuming is very much a social behavior and emulation. We want what everyone else has. If you were to live somewhere else in the country or the world than where we are now, our economic behavior would most likely mirror our neighbors.

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