March 26, 2020
For different reasons, we learn to make do with less.
Sometimes it’s because we’re questioning our toll on or contribution to the environment. Another “fast fashion” purchase feels irresponsible. So does a state-of-the-art appliance when the old one still works just fine.
Oftentimes it’s a matter of short or nonexistent paychecks that force us to distinguish the difference between “want” and “need.” Sometimes the difference is clear. Food is a need; a gourmet meal at a fancy restaurant might be a want. But there are gray areas, too. And it’s easy to convince ourselves that wants are needs when we really really want something!
Today, as we cope with the Coronavirus, learning to make do with less may be a matter of survival. No exaggeration.
Having been on the trajectory of being able to get anything and everything almost instantly hasn’t set us up well for a global pandemic, has it? Unless your toolbox is well stocked, you might find yourself needing a certain size nail or screw to complete a home repair project. Maybe you’ll run out of your favorite pens or soap. Or maybe you’ll have a hankering for that carton of ice cream you denied yourself earlier in the day on your grocery run. So many reasons for running to the store or placing an order online and having it delivered within a day or two. It’s almost as if there are fairies out there fulfilling our every wish.
Instead, those of us who are committed to staying at home — and not taxing the system by buying nonessentials online — find ourselves doing without.
I learned to be resourceful from my mother, who had little money for “non-essentials” (and sometimes even for essentials). She taught me that a little creativity not only goes a long way, it makes for a fun way, too. I discovered that if you wait out the impulse to buy, it often goes away. And I learned that taking good care of things — by cleaning them, making them function better, even shining them up — was not only frugal but wise and respectful, too.
Beyond the family budget, I don’t know much about economics. But I understand why there’s a big, confounding discussion about our limited ability to purchase right now. And I continue to look for ways to support small businesses in my community. But I also don’t think that every aspect of an individual pause on purchasing is necessarily bad. Maybe it will even foster more taking-good-care skills in us.
How has staying at home affected you when it comes to purchases? Do you think it might make you more creative? Do you see any upside?
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