Guidelines for Our No-Buy Year

We have been asked quite a bit lately, especially since our interview published with Storytellers Unplugged, how we plan to embark upon a year of “No-Buy.” Let’s first establish the reason why we are planning such a year.

As minimalists, sure, this isn’t unchartered territory, but as humans, we often find ourselves falling back into old routines, of buying things without thought, adding clutter to our home, and forgetting about what is important in life. Spoiler alert- it’s not all of the stuff we have.

Each January, with the 30-day Minimalism Game, we are able to clear things out, begin with a clean slate, and feel good about purging the unnecessary stuff from our lives. Well, we want to do that, and then some. What better way to really reflect on the importance of experiences, adventures, and being in the moment, here and now, than to not buy stuff.

As we mentioned in the interview, we want to do it, not as a punishment; we are extremely excited about it! We consider it as a period of fasting- a reset of our spending habits, and withdrawal of the things that just become routine, no thought considered, and to improve overall. We want to make it a habit of living more intentionally.

We see areas in which we need to improve, to not only save money, but to lessen our carbon footprint, by placing less strain on manufacturers, delivery logistics, our sweet mail carrier, Mack, and not to mention the landfill, as most packaging items end up there, and sometimes, the items themselves.

Speaking of saving money, when we have had a “Minimalist Weekend (also, no-buy)” we calculated that we saved $200. Imagine what we can save in a year, of really being intentional with where our money goes.

In preparation for the year, no, we aren’t spending the leading days up until the new year, buying all we can to stock up, on the contrary. We have already had instances where we have almost hopped onto Amazon to buy something, and then ask ourselves, “wait, what else can I use instead?” or “Do we really need that?” We want the considering of a purchase to become a habit, and surely, after a year of not buying anything, it will.

One of the biggest steps for us, in preparation for 2021 is that we did not renew our Amazon Prime. This is a giant step since we have had Amazon Prime for the past 8 years! Can one really live without being an Amazon Prime member? We’ll see. 😉

So, what are the ground rules for our “no-buy year?” Everyone who opts to have a no-buy year has different rules for what they need/want to improve upon. We don’t want to make rules, as if this is something that is a negative event. We want rules so that we both know what we consider a staple/must-have item to purchase, and what items we feel are fine with spending money on.

Here are the guidelines (sounds better than rules, right?)-

Approved Spending:

  • Utilities
  • Auto maintenance, fuel, and repairs as needed
  • Medical/health
  • Betty White medical/health/food
  • Food/Groceries
  • Dining out/Take out- but within a set budget (equivalent to about 1x/week)
  • Toiletries- only after all products are used up, including Shannon’s makeup- no buying any replacement items, including makeup, until all is used.
  • Experiences/travel- bonus, we had several trips planned for 2020 that have transferred credit to 2021, so if all goes well, we will not have to spend any money on travel.


  • Clothing- we have enough of what we need. If there is a situation where we must have something, we have agreed to borrow from family/friends, or buy gently used.
  • Gifts- If we need to provide a gift, it will be a consumable, assistance, or providing an experience. Examples are given, here.
  • Souvenirs- we usually don’t purchase them on our travels, anyway, but we are adding it, just so we set the expectations.
  • Cleaning products- we make our own. We have already begun making our own dishwashing liquid, hand soap, and we’ve made our own detergent for years. We have a recipe for a general household cleaner that disinfects, so there really is no reason to purchase any of those supplies any longer. Bonus- we will reduce plastic and packaging brought into our home, and it is much healthier for us!
  • Home office supplies- use what we have, then all digital.
  • Books- we will utilize our library more and use community book trade groups for new reads.
  • Plants- really, we do not need anymore plants, but with the help of Hilton Carter’s propagation class, we can create tons of plants from the ones we already have. Bonus, they make great gifts!

Similar to our mantra for our minimalist life: (1) refuse (2) reuse (3) recycle, we will be using a mantra for items that come up, where we think we need to make a purchase: (1) Do we have to have it? (2) Can we repair? (3) Can we make it our ourselves?  YouTube can be a beautiful thing when it comes to DIY!

We also hope to learn more about gardening in-season or to increase our support of local vegetable farmers for items we are unable to grow.

Again, the purpose of this isn’t to punish ourselves, live like monks, nor feel deprived. The purpose is to get us to rethink our spending habits in order to learn more, live more, reduce our carbon footprint, and to be more present.

Stay tuned for monthly updates on our YouTube channel with vlogs on how we are doing. We’ll be sharing life hacks we come up with along the way. Let us know if you plan to take part in a no-buy, or low-buy year! We’d love to hear your rules/guidelines you set for yourself! Best of luck!

11 thoughts on “Guidelines for Our No-Buy Year

  1. Well, I’ve already failed. Not ready for this. Just spent two days with a monster load of purging. We can clothe and furnish three families for a year. We’re still working on it. I am not going to set any of these goals for myself because although I’m optimistic, I’m also very realistic. But what I will and have committed to is to continue purging, scaling back, and be purposeful and mindful of needs vs wants. I applaud you and Gerry. While the minimalistic life you lead is not for me, I do aim to be more minimal. I applaud myself for that.

  2. 👏 Well done! Proud of you for making baby steps, and with that, you’ll be making more room for the fun and happy things, that you enjoy, in your life! Merry Christmas! ♥

  3. I enjoyed your article. I’m not a minimalist but I’ve been a ‘frugalist’ for years. I wear clothes I’ve had for years. I take care of them and they last. I love thrifting. It’s really nice to hit a few thrift stores with a couple of friends and then do lunch. I have a budget that I most often stick to. That said, I believe in prosperity…but in a holistic way. I’m Christian and I love the Scripture: Beloved, I pray that above all things you may prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers Biblical soul is ‘mind, will, emotions’. I’m certainly one who wants to have all my needs met, and they are. Living intentionally, on a budget helps facilitate that.

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