people walking on park near brown trees

Ditch the consumer mentality

Defining the consumer mentality: “I have a problem (or need), therefore I must spend money.”

In a culture of “more is more,” sometimes you just need a reset. I like to find ways to make sure that the things I own are serving me, rather than the other way around.

It’s easy to end up in a lifestyle where you do work, get a paycheck, and use that paycheck to buy stuff and solutions. Ditching the consumer mentality is about finding ways to make your own solutions at least some of the time. In time this tends to decrease the dependence on a paycheck.

scenic view of forest

If the concept is intriguing you might check out the book Early Retirement Extreme which is available from libraries and online including a Kindle version. (author’s website here)

1. Mend an item of clothing

A basic sewing kit ranges from $2-$10. Consider that less than 100 years ago, making at least some of the clothes for oneself or one’s family was a common skillset. Nowadays, sewing is more of a niche crafting skill.

While crafting isn’t for everyone, fixing a seam or replacing a button is easy to learn, only takes a few minutes, and is well worth doing if the item is your favorite.

2. Complete one existing task or project

It’s a lot of fun to come up with ideas and start a new project.

If you have a project languishing around, tackling it can really give you a boost. Plus, then you can start a new one!

For me right now, this is a scarf that has been in progress for a LONG time, and getting some plantings into the ground in the front garden.

3. Cook or bake a thing from scratch

We all have to eat. Extra credit for trying something new or a bit challenging, but I will allow anything at all that you haven’t made before.

Cooking from scratch is another lost art, although the 2020 covid lockdowns made things like sourdough starter popular for a time.

If you find or develop a great recipe, especially for a baked good, that can be a nice item to share and gift in the colder months.

close up shot of a person slicing a bread on a wooden chopping board

4. Propagate a houseplant

Pothos is especially easy, and spider plants practically propagate themselves. (Whether or not they clean the air, plants certainly bring natural beauty inside.) I use a few hanging planters that keep them out of reach of pets and children.

5. Make a library trip

Gone are the days when libraries only had books. They have music, DVDs, and often online resources. Often local libraries host crafting and other creative groups. Some libraries offer “take and make” craft kits.

I wish I were into crafting. It is just not my gift. But in terms of free entertainment, libraries are so amazing. If they don’t have the particular item you want, they can almost always order it from other libraries with reciprocal agreements.

brown wooden bench with brown dried leaves

6. Educate yourself without spending money

Spend an evening on something you find interesting…

Listen to a podcast. Listen to an audiobook. Watch a documentary. Read something not directly necessary to your daily life. Check out Coursera, Bored panda, or Youtube (I love recipes, sustainable lifestyle, and gardening inspiration videos especially.)

7. Invent and make something

This does not have to be a crafty item. A birdbath can be any shallow container, weighted down, with some water in it. A clothes rack. A pillow. Change up home decor by shopping what you already have, repurposing something, or rearranging items. My coffee table started its life as a shipping pallet. My planted fishbowl started out as a gallon pickle jar.

Making, creating, and living on less…

It’s a way of life.

person spreading hands against sun