Since Black Friday isn’t for awhile yet, I want to try this one a regular day. But I’ve realized it’s far too easy for me to spend nothing for a day. Most days are spend nothing days for me. This is easy as a single person in a good health. If you have a family, this may be different.
Instead of a Buy Nothing Day, how about a Buy Nothing Year?
I’ve read about people in America, Canada and here in the UK doing this. They literally buy nothing in excess for an entire year. This means no spending on anything but bills and groceries.
Okay, I have a social life. And you probably do as well. So we’re going to have to make these rules a little less stringent.
The following blog post is about how you and I can enjoy a Buy Nothing Year. It doesn’t matter when you start. It’s just about making it 365 days without buying anything in excess.
What Is Excess?
Excess is determined different for each one of us. You will have to determine your own. But most people can follow my outline… Buying nothing for a year means buying nothing beyond gifts for others, worthwhile social gatherings, things for pets you already have and bills and groceries.
Remember. The key is to eliminate all wasteful spending. Gifts, social events with friends, bills, food… are not wasteful. But here are a few examples of what is wasteful (by nearly every definition of the word):
- Buying unnecessary clothing
- Buying lavish gifts for people you don’t really like
- Spending money on social events you don’t really enjoy
- Buying decorations
- Buying things for the home you don’t need right now: new cutlery, repainted walls, etc.
- The latest technology
- Eating out when it’s not a worthy social occasion
- Buying ANYTHING from vending machines
- Buying ANY convenience foods – pack ahead, c’mon
- Indulging on your hobbies
- Unnecessary driving
- Giving money to others in extravagant ways
- The lottery
- Fake tanning
- Pedicures/manicures if not done for medical reasons
- Spa treatments
- Hair treatments
- Pet spa treatments
- Plastic surgery
- Movie candy/popcorn/fizzy drinks
- Membership services like Netflix, Birchbox, etc.
- Fees like overdraft fees or out of network ATM fees
- Outsourcing things you could do yourself like cleaning or basic car maintenance
Now that you know what to do, here’s how to get started. At first it will be scary. It’s a lifestyle shift. It hits close to home. However, you’ll get used to it. You’ll probably keep this lifestyle long after a year. So chin up.
Set a start date. And DON’T binge-shop up to that date. Shop like normal and then stop on this day. To make things easier on yourself, start on a Monday. On a Monday, you probably aren’t as tempted to buy things.
Work on finding new friends who fit your new lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to tell your current friends what you are doing. But if they are very spendy, they won’t fit well in your new lifestyle. I’m not saying to ditch your friends altogether, rather expand your network of friends. Find people who won’t think you’re a weirdo. Remember, humans are pretty basic creatures. This means we develop into many different forms to become as crazy as we are. What I’m saying is that not everyone likes to spend money. Some people will love what you’re doing. They’ll support you immensely. Be around these people. They’ll make you feel good.
Learn to settle into your new lifestyle. Be blunt with yourself. Tell yourself that this is the new lifestyle you’ve accepted. You shouldn’t be sad about it. You want it. Live your new life. Enjoy life.
This doesn’t mean you need to be a shut in. Find free ways to have fun. Try biking. Try exploring your city. Go to events and festivals that are free. Watch YouTube instead of Netflix. Embrace cooking as opposed to eating out. And remember, you can still have fun with friends, just watch your spending. Do what feels appropriate. Take words like ‘splurge’ and sayings like ‘I’ve been so good.’ out of your vocabulary. You’re on a no extra spending year. Stick to it!
Find Your New Normal
Pretty soon, you won’t be bothered about spending little. It’ll just be your new normal. My guess is after about a month of this routine, you’ll be just fine. What helps me is to consider again that humans are very basic creatures. We don’t need much in life. Most of the things we buy are upsells. Keep reminding yourself of this truth.
Now enjoy your Buy Nothing Year! May it be the best year of your life!
How much will you save?
Will Lipovsky is a personal finance freelance writer and internet marketer. His most embarrassing moment has been saying to a Microsoft executive, “I’ll just Google it.” You can get in touch with Will at FirstQuarterFinance.com.