Today I’d like to share my top tips for surviving a no-buy year or a low buy year:
Have a Financial Goal
The first one is to have a financial goal; now, for me, I think this was without question the number one thing that kept me going. I actually only intended to do a no-buy for a much shorter period of time, maybe three to six months, just to bolster my savings. But, still, by having a financial goal that was important to me, I kept going so much longer than I ever anticipated.
It really doesn’t matter what the goal is, whether it’s large or small, only that it’s important to you, so it could be something as simple as having enough money in savings to cover the cost of a boiler breakdown or a washing machine breakdown, to something as significant as maybe clearing all your student debt or paying off a mortgage. But, again, it only matters that it’s important to you.
I found that every time I was tempted to buy something I didn’t truly need, I would think about my financial goal and think about how much more valuable than money would be to me in terms of additional funds, and then I just found it easy to walk away.
See It as an Opportunity
Now it’s likely if you’ve been a regular shopper in the past that you already have plenty of things. One of the side benefits of not buying anything has been the opportunity just to appreciate what I already own. By purchasing no new clothing, I found new enjoyment in items I’d forgotten about in embracing creativity to put outfits together in new ways. I also learnt an awful lot about what fabrics I like, what cuts I like what I actually wear, and I think this will probably guide me in the long term to only purchase things that I know I will genuinely get value out of.
I won’t waste money in the future either by not buying cosmetics and skincare. It was an excellent opportunity to use what I already have and declutter the cupboards. It also again taught me a great deal about what I actually use day to day and will probably help me not waste money in the future by buying things that I just don’t use in general by not bringing new things into the home it was an excellent opportunity to learn to appreciate what I already have, and we genuinely need very little.
Although that’s not to say that having things that we want is a bad thing, it really taught me an awful lot about my values and shopping habits. I think this will serve me in the long run, and it will probably help you in the long run to learn a little bit more about those triggers and why we want to buy things.
So see it as a great opportunity not only to save more money but to learn a lot more about yourself. About what you value, what matters to you, and potentially this will help you maximise the value that you get from your purchases long after your no buy or low buy has ended.
It’s also an excellent opportunity to start decluttering your home if that’s important to you; one of the surest ways to reduce clutter is to stop bringing more stuff into the house.
Change What You Tell Yourself
One of the simplest and most effective things you can do when on a no-buy or a low buy is to change your internal dialogue.
Most of us are having conversations with ourselves all day, every day, and our internal voice can pretty much justify any purchase. I’m sure you’ll be familiar with these conversations:
“I deserve it.”
“I’ve had a challenging time at work; this will cheer me up.”
“Oh well, it’s only x pounds, why not?”
Yet if you simply ask yourself, “Do I need this? Do I really want this? Have I got anything similar at home already? Or could this money be better utilised towards my financial goal?” You will find it is so much easier just to walk away.
Don’t Be Tempted
Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, and we make our goals hard for ourselves; indeed, when you’re on a no-buy or a low buy, we need to help ourselves by removing the temptation to buy things.
This can come in a few different forms, but the first thing I would recommend is to unsubscribe from email marketing from brands that you like. Then, of course, you can always resubscribe at a later date. But what I would find is that when I would get an email saying there’s a sale or a discount code etc., even though I didn’t need anything or hadn’t even been thinking about buying anything, I would find myself logging on and scrolling looking for something to buy.
So I definitely recommend unsubscribing from newsletters. Secondly, if you can, I would recommend staying out of stores. So often, we can tell ourselves that we’re just going to window shop, we’re not going to buy anything, and then you get into the store. You see something that’s a great deal, or it’s on sale or just see something that you really like, it’s so hard to walk away from it, but if you’ve not seen it well, you don’t know you’re missing out!
I would also recommend considering limiting social media. When we scroll through maybe Instagram, for example, you might see an influencer that you like or perhaps just a friend wearing a new outfit, and you think, “Oh gosh, I like that. Where can I buy it?”.
Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I found some great brands by seeing what other people wear, but if you’ve committed to a no-buy or a low buy, you’re just tempting yourself. Even if you say, “Well, I’m not going to buy it”, you’re going to bring up those feelings that you are missing out and then it makes the no buy miserable.
Sleep on It
Now, if you happen to see something that you want, be it in-store or online, I would recommend to just sleep on it; even now, way after my no-buy has ended, I still use this tactic if I see something. Maybe I’m shopping online, I will leave the product in the basket, sleep on it, and more often than not, the following day, I’ve either forgotten about it, or I’ve decided that I don’t need it.
Have a Separate Goal
So one last thing that you might find helpful is having something that you’re working towards that has absolutely nothing to do with shopping.
As it happens, shopping actually takes quite a lot of time, travelling to stores, perusing the stores, looking online, scrolling through different websites, reading reviews and waiting around for deliveries. It takes a lot of time, yet I used to tell myself that I didn’t have time to sew even though I wanted to. I would say to myself that I’d like to read more than I do, but I was just too busy, and yet I would regularly find myself spending an hour scrolling through websites looking for something to buy.
I’ve had a few people say to me, “What did you do with your time when you were not shopping?” You know it’s a kind of an enjoyable pastime of mine, and I just worked on other things that were important to me, something I’d always told myself that I didn’t have time for, and actually by working towards a goal that is unrelated to shopping can really improve your self-esteem which is of great value.
So that is it for my top tips for a no-buy or low buy now. I actually don’t believe in saving money at all costs. Still, I highly recommend the experience because it taught me an awful lot about saving money and understanding my shopping habits to understand what I value. For example, now I would much rather have fewer items but have outstanding quality items, maybe even luxury items, even if that means per item they’re more expensive rather than just wasting my money on things that don’t matter to me, I’d rather just have a few things that really give me value.