1. Trade in your car for a bicycle and cash
I have seen people here in Bolivia carting 100 pound sacks of potatoes looped over the top bar of their bicycle, not to mention entire families. No more car insurance bills. No more buying gas. No more repair bills. You get lots of exercise which lowers cholesteral and blood pressure. Improves your health! Lower health care expenses. Save money and energy the Andean Way! (Remind me to tell you, in a future Blogcritics article, my story of joyfully giving away my car and feeling free at last.)
Photo: Migdalia and Grandma Muñoz, Loma Panda, Nicaragua. Digital illustration by Lynette Yetter
2. Sell your TV
Get instant cash and save money by not paying for cable, or for the electricity to power a TV, or fixing it, or replacing it. And without advertising propaganda infiltrating your brain, you will bit by bit be freer of the addiction to buy and consume more than you need. And you know what? When I lived in the countryside with a family who had never had TV, the children never whined. Never. Not even on a two day road trip in a sweaty crowded public bus with choking dust blowing in the gaps in the windows and doors. They hadn't been taught by TV to become slaves to their desires. What a bonus! You have more peace and quiet in the house as you save money the (sort of) Andean way!
3. Sell your DVD player
Instant cash! Watch DVDs on your computer. (If you are reading this article, you have access to a computer). You will not need to pay money to maintain or replace a separate device or devices to watch movies. Consolidate.
4. Let your hair grow
No more money spent on haircuts. Be in solidarity with indigenous people. I haven't cut my hair in almost 30 years. One less thing to stress about.
5. Let your hair be the way it wants to be
No more money spent of hair dye, perms, streaks, gels, hairspray, etc.
6. Style your hair the indigenous way
Indigenous women in Peru and Bolivia braid in two braids. The ends are fastened by braiding a string in, then tying the string at the end. No more money spent on hair ties, clips, bands, etc. Amazingly enough, when you braid your hair this way, the ends do not split. No need for trims. Some men tie their tresses in a ponytail with a string.
7. Sell Your Electric Coffee Grinder at a Garage Sale
Get instant cash and save money month after month on your electric bill. Grind your coffee beans between two rocks. Rocks are tried and tested tools, used for thousands of years. Your rocks can be like a mortar and pestle. Or like a batan. Here in Bolivia, a batan is a flat rock, with a bit of a dip in it, for the bottom part. The top part is a crescent shaped stone that you rock back and forth. And everyone here raves about how everything tastes better when it is ground between rocks. I agree.
8. Sell your food processor at a garage sale
Get instant cash and save money month after month on your electric bill. You even save time! Grind your food between two rocks. I'm telling ya. Fresh basil, garlic and nuts grind up into a pesto paste faster than you can say, "bon appetit." And EVERYTHING tastes better when it is ground with rocks. (For suggestions on types of rocks, see Tip #7). And the clean up time? Hot water and a rag and whoosh it's clean! Not like the long tinker toy project of disassembling a food processor and cleaning it and putting it back together again. Save money, save time, and have more delicious food!
9. Sell your dishwasher at a garage sale
Get instant cash and save money on your electric bill and water bill every month. Wash your dishes by hand. I wash most of my dishes in cold water. For dishes that are greasy, I heat up water on the stove. A friend of mine uses two shallow buckets to wash her dishes. She fills them both with water and sets them in the sun to warm up. One is the wash bucket, the other the rinse. She saves the most money of all! No heating water on a stove. Absolute minimum of water used. Wow! What are you going to use the money on, that you'll save by selling your dishwasher?
10. Share with your neighbors – start a small urban/suburban farm
Communal land is fundamental in the Andean Cosmovision, as it has been with all of our ancestors at some point since the dawning of humanity. In times of need we remember this. Like during WWII, when people in San Francisco, California tore down their backyard fences and made whole blocks into giant community gardens. Trading the produce with each other, everyone has a balanced diet and enough to eat. And mutual aid like this is great for developing those treasures of the heart that money can not buy.