# # The Necessary Year: June 1st, 2008 to May 31st, 2009

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The Necessary Year: June 1st, 2008 to May 31st, 2009


(this post is part of an aborted 1 year experiment in material abstinence I called The Necessary Year)


Prologue: Necessity is the Mother of Invention

It is crass to have this concept in a world where so many need so much but I am about to embark on an attempt to have a year devoid of pointless consumerism: The Necessary Year.

What do I mean by that?

I’ve spent my entire adult life spending my excess income on stuff I don’t need; books, music, movies, toys, hats, beer, etc. I’ve never saved a penny. Moreover, in the late 90’s I found myself in a position of having an almost entirely disposable income. Not that I was making making much money but the point is, during the last ten years or so, I lost all sight of reality. You should see the mountain of silly garbage I’ve accumulated.

To my thinking, the only things one “needs” that can be bought are a place to sleep, transportation, food to eat, and clothing. Of course, life is much more than this and my list of necessities, once fleshed out, might seem like luxuries to some but, hey, I’m a fat, spoiled American living in the fat, spoiled American world -what do you expect?

So, again, what is it I’m proposing?

Very simple: to eschew all the gew-gaws, whatnots, and behavior that leads to unnecessary expenditure for one full year. Beyond not buying stuff I do not need, like dvds or shoes when I already have serviceable pairs, I also intend to avoid seeing films, attending concerts, going to festivals or any other activity that costs money. There are plenty of other free pursuits. Things that once helped define my life but that have faded as I sat about waiting for the postman to drop off my next batch of parcels.

As to food and drink, I’ve no intention of cutting down to bread and water or something ascetic like that (the idea isn’t to spend a year devoid of pleasure) but I will try to trim out those things I consume purely for the pleasure of it. No ice-cream or beer, in other words, unless they are specifically part of the meal or celebration.

Now all of this sounds hard enough to do on my own but, as I have friends and relatives who will not only be tempting me with their lifestyles but will actually get angry at me from time to time for refusing to accompany (or take!) them to films and whatnot, I find myself quite curious at to how successful I will be.

It would be great to have a record of all my uninhibited expenses for the years prior but I’ve not kept any records – the few times I tried to take a tally it made my head (and stomach) spin.

The funniest bit is, when I first began contemplating this, I thought about starting up a website -but then I realized that paying for it would run counter to what I am trying to do! – so here I am, utilizing a free blog …

Now don’t get me wrong: I am not an anti-materialist. I have no problem with things, with wanting to own things. I like and am fascinated by things and consider this a natural part of what makes me human. I enjoy making things and I want things that other people make. Hey, you can’t take it with you so you’d best enjoy it now! No, for me it is about consumerism; the mindless, knee-jerk urge to buy that I dislike in myself and my culture.

The Necessary Year is intended to be a record of my financially constrained activity between the dates of June 1st, 2008 and May 31st, 2009.

I plan for the record to consist of

1.) the money I spend throughout the year and on what
2.) the times when I fail
3.) the story of my discovery of what constitutes necessity to me and
4.) what it all teaches me

I also intend to keep a list of the unnecessary things I see that I plan to buy once the year is up. It will be interesting to see what makes the list … and what falls off.

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6 Responses to “The Necessary Year: June 1st, 2008 to May 31st, 2009”

  1. Matney says:

    Wow. Good luck with this…
    I know I couldn’t do it, no CD’s! 🙂 That’s great though that you want to sort out what’s necessary and whats expendable, in your life.

  2. Lynn says:

    The best of luck to you my friend! I think what you are doing will help you in more ways than you realize. I try to live every day very similiar to what you are attempting to do. To me – it is the “moments” in life that count most – not the items. You will find what really matters and what doesn’t AND save a lot of $$ along the way! 🙂


  3. Matt says:

    Good luck, man! Here’s to finding what you’re looking for and to all those things you also were not. At the very least you’ll have a marvelous story to tell.

    • cae says:

      Thanks for the encouragement guys! We shall see how I do. Really, it is little more than acting like an adult, I think. It is rather scary that NOT shopping has become such a specialized skill, don’t you think?

  4. Kris Petersen says:

    I’ve wanted to do this, starting a few months ago, but haven’t been able to commit yet. Good luck!

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