Should you embark on a “no buy” this year?
“No Buy Year” videos have made their way into my YouTube feed. I watched a young woman from the UK extoll the virtues of her “No Buy” experience, and soon my feed was filled with other young women sharing their experiences, offering tips and discussing what they learned from their “No Buy” year.
In 2008/2009 I was catapulted into an involuntary “No Buy” experience when the economy took a dive and our income was cut in half. Luckily for us, the funds coming in were just enough to cover our expenses, with next to nothing left over. It was absolutely terrifying but I soon saw we were actually lucky. One of the biggest lessons was that I became grateful to have enough to meet our needs, including keeping Brooke in private school and not have to dip into our savings. We had to make a lot of lifestyle changes fast.
After the sheer terror wore off, and I began to work with our new budget, I became very creative, which was one of the biggest gifts of the experience. Over shopping had become a problem solver, a mood booster, and an ego enhancer and I was in definite need of a reset.
My “office/craft room” was bursting at the seams, as was Brooke’s bedroom, my wallet deleted and yet, I felt compelled to continue to buy more. My obsessions centered around craft supplies and cooking and serving items, which ended up tucked in closets and cupboards unused, or left in bags, in the case of my craft items, forgotten.
As I made my way through my “no buy” experience, which lasted about two and a half years, I learned many important lessons.
- I experienced a “withdrawal” and grieving phase. Because we had to cut our budget to “survive” and it was fairly sudden, I experienced denial, shock, anger, bargaining, and shame. It was uncomfortable as I worked through my emotional baggage around money and shopping.
- I was determined to maintain “quality of life”. Our lack of money meant I had to be very mindful of what we purchased. Instead of focusing on what we couldn’t do or buy, I looked for fun things we could do for free, like going to the park, taking walks and riding bikes, going to the library, and using what we had at home. I discovered we had more than enough without having to buy more and actually began using some of the stuff I had bought.
- I began to look more deeply into my “trigger” purchase items. I discovered that I wanted to be more creative, so I bought lots of craft items, but I wasn’t actually being creative. My shopping had a secret language, it seemed. It was trying to tell me I needed to make changes in my life. As I uncovered these secrets, I began to do more which was highly satisfying. It did mean making some difficult changes too.
- While I had little success with garage sales, I did host a couple and I began to thin my collection. Clearing things out gave me space to see what I had and use it, as well as feeling as if a weight was lifted some how.
When our financial pressure lifted, I was still very mindful with money for a long time. However, over the last couple of months, Roger and I have been talking about moving, which lead me to think about taking a deeper dive into reducing my stuff, as well as noticing that my purchasing has increased a little.
When Brooke and I moved to the Casa, we had cut our belongings in half, and now, five years later, I am now looking at my belongings again, thinking of letting go of more, and possibly invoking a voluntary “no buy” for the next six months as we research the move and consider our options. After all, why buy more stuff when you are planning to move?
Looking at buying patterns:
My buying, while considerably reduced, spikes up every so often, and right now, I have noticed an increase in my beauty spending. I have a pile of eye shadow palettes I bought to try but haven’t written a blog post about them, which I had planned to do. Like my crafting and entertaining, I know my subconscious is sending a message I need to take some time and sort out. Oh, and guess what’s coming to a blog near you?— Some beauty posts, of course!
Considering a No Buy Year:
- Make reasonable rules for yourself. Don’t make things so tight you can’t sustain your plan or can’t live comfortably with.
- Go cold turkey. Studies show that going cold turkey works better than the baby step technique for this type of project.
- Keep a journal. Track your savings, successes and feelings. When you finish, it will be interesting to see who you were when you started and who you become.
- Get support. There are a number of support groups on line for people embarking on No buy years. I have now seen multiple videos on the subject and several perspectives.
- Make it fun. Look for creative ways to live more fully.
Let me know if you are considering a No buy year or half a year like me, we can work on it together!
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Like you, I’ve had involuntary times where we couldn’t purchase extras. I like how you stated that if you’re going to do it voluntarily go for cold turkey. Right now we need to recover savings. I’m not sure about the whole year though…Thanks Nina. Enjoyed the read.
I’m not sure about the whole year either! I have been much more mindful so far this month and have only purchased drawer organizers $26 and a set of baskets I ordered in December but were on back order. So far, I am doing pretty well just putting things on my wish list and thinking about them rather than buying when the impulse hits. Glad you stopped by and commented!
Great post, Nina! I have sort of involuntarily been forced into at least a limited buy time for the past 6 months since I quit my job to focus on writing and blogging. Since I have not generated the same income from this, we have had to make a lot of changes to our frivolous spending habits as well. And you are right, you do go through a kind of grieving process. But it has gotten much better and has forced me to shop second hand when I get the urge…and I have been wanting to move my shopping focus… Read more »
I know what you mean about the environmental impact of our society’s penchant for mega shopping. I saw a statistic that said the prior to the 1980’s people bought an average of three new clothing items per month. Today, people buy an average of seven items per week. Thats a lot of clothes! I’ve stopped shopping at the discount retailers and am focused on only buying a few really special items as needed rather than lots of trend or things that are just ok. I was shocked at how much I have donated in the last six months! I find… Read more »
I haven’t and won’t do a “No Buy” year but I am giving more thought to what I buy. When I was younger I would buy something cause “It was such a great deal!” Now I ask myself “Do I really need it.” Or if I see a pretty home decor item I ask myself first “Where would I put it?” If I don’t have a spot for it, I don’t buy it.
I hear you! I have been putting everything on my wish list and then looking at it later and deleting stuff I am no longer interested in. it’s amazing how many things I thought I wanted in the moment but I really don’t.