Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Getting the Kids Involved

Today I broached the subject of doing without the car. My family handled it well - in fact they were downright enthusiastic. We decided that we will be fanatical about it for a month, and then settle into a reasonable routine. From August 17th through September 16th we won't use the car at all. That gives me a day right after we get home from our vacation to stock up on food - we'll have been gone for two months - and then we'll relax the restrictions a bit when all the kids' activities start up in late September.

I don't intend to go back to our regular car usage even then, though - I hope we'll still mostly walk or ride bikes everywhere. Unfortunately, there are a few activities we just can't get to without a vehicle - guitar lessons being at the top of the list. Anyway, I think cutting our gas costs in half while probably quadrupling our exercise is a reasonable goal. If we cut back even further - great.

The kids' enthusiasm for this experiment really pleased me. They are very environmentally conscious and they love crazy schemes so I wasn't surprised by their reaction. Still, it's nice that they got on board with the plan with so little fuss. In fact, they were all for it.

And they'd like to take it farther. My oldest son has been reading Better Off, the book about a couple who spend a year living among an Amish community. Now he wants to buy an old-fashioned wringer washer machine. He and his brother swear they'd do all the laundry if I bought one, even after I described in excruciating detail just how time-consuming it would be. I don't think we'll go that far, but just for kicks I did look them up.

They do still exist, although they are generally about 60 years old. Do a google search and you'll find lots of them on craigslist and ebay. It looks like they're having a bit of a renaissance now that the frugal crowd has discovered them. They should save you money (plus provide a workout). Still, I'm going to hold off for now. There are other ways to save on laundry. We'll talk about them next time.

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