January Money Diet Day 17 – Connect with Your Neighbors

Sharing a snow blower

Sharing a community snow blower has many benefits! | Photo: DMJarvey

In a suburban neighborhood like ours where most of us have back patios instead of front porches, it’s easy to lose touch with each other – especially in the winter when we zip in and out using our automatic garage door openers. So we’ve made a concerted effort to say connected, even when we’re not out working in our yards. Along with the happiness that comes from forming friendships with our neighbors, being connected has helped us save money and reduce consumption.

Our neighborhood has an old-fashioned spirit that comes to us in a very high-tech way:  a few years ago, we created a Google Group to stay in touch. Now, we can easily send each other messages and connect with one another. From the start, the messages generated by this group have generally been positive and generous. Some of the things we’ve shared include:

  • Equipment that we’re willing to share
  • Free Halloween costumes and sports uniforms
  • Free clothes, winter coats and boots that our children have outgrown
  • Excess produce, free seeds and plants
  • Books that we want to borrow to read for book club
  • Free and inexpensive furniture, electronics and other items for sale
  • Garage sale announcements
  • Inquiries and referrals for plumbers, electricians, remodelers and other contractors as well as trusted doctors and dentists
  • Security concerns and suspicious activity in the neighborhood
  • Coyote sightings

Before we created our Google group, we used a simple e-mail list and our neighbor Kathy graciously kept the list updated. This option might work for you if you live in a small neighborhood.

My parents have consciously reached out to their neighbors by hosting New Year’s Day parties at their home. The six families in our cul de sac gather for an annual July 4th brunch and a progressive Christmas party every year, and each time we always say “We should do this more often!” Some neighborhoods regularly host potlucks and community dinners, and other groups have started neighborhood food co-ops.

Today’s homework assignment: Reach out to your neighbors, whether it’s a big step like starting an online network or just a friendly, five-minute conversation. Be sure to let us know about your efforts.


The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

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