Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Make Do or Do Without

by Chiot's Run

I have always loved this quote:

What fabulous rules to live by. If you follow this advice you'll save tons of money and not end up with a house full of stuff you don't need. Mr Chiots and I try to live by this rule. When we first got married we didn't have a dining room table for several years, we simply ate on the sofa or floor. We had hand-me down furniture and a really old TV someone gave us. We have replaced most of these items over the course of the 12 years we've been married, but we've always waited until things have died before replacing them. Using things up can be difficult in our society that emphasizes hip, shiny, new and trendy. We look at magazines and watch TV shows and then notice that our old hand-me down sofa looks dated, old and doesn't match the curtains. We start to feel inadequate because our stuff looks shabby. I'll admit, we went through a phase where we bought some shiny new items, but that phase is over. Now when we think we need something we usually try to figure out something we have that will do the job. If we can't do that we try to find it secondhand or used. We only purchase new as a last resort (except in certain areas, like cordless tools, certain appliances and some business equipment).

We've saved a lot of money in our garden by using native rocks gathered from the woods surrounding our property to build our retaining walls, edge our flowerbeds and to use as stepping stones. Since we live on a very sloped lot, we need small retaining walls to help with erosion (don't want to lose all that hard work amending the soil). We could have easily bought stepping stones and retaining wall stones, but that would have cost us a small fortune. We invested some sweat equity gathering all these rocks (Mr Chiots bearing the brunt of that work). I think these look much better than the ones make of man-made stones. They're beautiful and FREE!

Using items you already have, instead of purchasing is kind of like a scavenger hunt. It's fun trying to think of things in a less conventional way to fulfill a need that you have. I have to laugh every time I make tea because we don't have a proper teapot, even though we've avid tea drinkers. Our teapot is a 2-cup pyrex measuring cup that gets used for cooking and as a teapot several times a day.

There are times when making do is a little more work than buying new. When we built and installed our rain barrel system we wanted it to be high so we'd have some water pressure and so we could store things underneath the barrels. We didn't want to go out and buy wood for the platform, so we tore out half of our deck and used that lumber. We didn't like the dimensions of our deck anyways and it wasn't build very well, so we killed two birds with one stone so to speak. Sure it took a lot longer and was a lot more work than a trip to the lumber yard, but we ended up with a studier smaller deck and a free rain barrel platform.

Wear it out - gardeners know about this rule. The garden is usually the final stop for those clothes that are no longer fit to be seen in public. Do I really need to say anything about these? This photo was take a year and half ago and these jeans are still in service, but barely. I'm sure they'll end up as something else in their second life after they can no longer be worn.

Do you have any great examples of living by this quote?