If you have planned a no-buy year or perhaps you are considering not spending for a year, we have the tips for a successful no-buy year. We are speaking from experience. In 2021, we spent a year of no spending. You can read more about that here.
Whether you are starting the new year with plans to change your spending habits, or completed a no-spend January and found this to extend this journey, we’ve got you! We will help you survive a no-buy year and thrive in the process.
Considering a no-buy year
Do you ever look around your home and feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you own? Does it seem like, no matter how much you declutter and donate, there is always more stuff piling up? If this sounds like you, then maybe it’s time to try out a no-buy year. A no-buy year means exactly what it sounds like—no buying anything for an entire 12 months. It’s a great way to save money, lower debt, reduce clutter, and get back in touch with the things that really matter in life.
The no-buy year is a period of time when you commit to not buying anything, except for basic necessities. This can be a great way to save money and get your finances in order. But it can also be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. We’ll walk you through our tips for a successful no-buy year.
Why would someone take part in a no-buy year?
We can tell you why we did. We found ourselves just buying out of convenience. It is easier to just buy something new, but we realized that it isn’t easy on the environment. We wanted to do everything we could to reduce our carbon footprint, and experience life in a different way. Adventures over things, always.
Other reasons may include:
- You want to reduce debt, save money, and pay off credit cards.
- Your personal finances are not where you want them and you want to pay more attention to unnecessary purchases.
- You want to know more about activities that don’t involve money and need a push.
- You spend money with no thought and want a year to strategically assess your life and spending.
If saving money is not the primary goal, it is a result of the no-buy year, when done correctly.
Here are some tips for making it through a successful no-buy year
Set realistic goals
The most important step in embarking on any journey is to set realistic goals. When it comes to a no-buy year, it’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve. Maybe start by committing yourself to only buying essential items (food, toilet paper, utility bills, rent, etc.) for the first few months before gradually expanding into other areas of your life such as clothes or entertainment. Setting realistic goals will help make sure that you don’t end up feeling discouraged if you are not able to completely commit right away.
Before you begin your no-buy year, make a list of those items you are giving yourself allowance to spend money on. Have a plan if you find yourself in a situation where you think you need to make clothing purchases. How will you handle that? Planning is one of the best tips for a successful no-buy year.
Make a date for checking on your progress
Having a monthly check-in is a great way to keep you on track and assess what is working/not working in your no-buy year. This will keep you motivated and on track throughout the process. For example, set up a budget and track how much you save each month. Or decide how much money you want to have saved by the end of the year and figure out what steps you need to take to reach that goal.
We made a date each month to film a check-in via YouTube. We knew that we had to talk about our experience that month. Having that planned date was powerful in our success of the no-buy year.
Find an accountability partner
Having someone who is also doing a no-spend year can really help keep you motivated and accountable throughout the process. This person can be a friend or family member who is working towards similar financial goals as yourself. Having someone who understands what you’re going through can make the process less intimidating and more enjoyable!
Tell people about your no-buy year
When you tell your circle of friends and family that you are embarking upon a no-buy year, you alleviate the pressure. If you make it known, you don’t have to find a way around or out of plans that are not included in your no-buy year. You may get questions surrounding it, but just take it as a lesson to help others understand that things don’t matter as much as experiences.
By telling people, you can also borrow items you may need from your circle. You can also join your NextDoor community or Facebook group in your area where people swap items as needed. Considering the option to borrow things is one of the best tips for a successful no-buy year and will come up frequently.
Make use of what you already have
One of the best things about taking part in a no-buy year is getting creative with the things that already have at home. Take those old clothes hanging in your closet and challenge yourself to come up with new ways to wear them! Sell them and make some extra cash. Bake something tasty using ingredients that you already have at home instead of going out and buying new ones! Making use of what you already have is not only fun but also incredibly rewarding when all these little changes add up over time.
Make products for cleaning and beauty products
You would be surprised at how many DIY recipes there are for cleaning and skin/beauty products. Most of the ingredients are in your kitchen. It is also much healthier for you. Check out ways to Repurpose Kitchen Staples for Skin + Body and our Green Cleaning Recipes.
Find other ways to enjoy yourself
Instead of spending money on activities such as eating out or going shopping, find other ways to enjoy yourself without spending money. Taking walks outside or playing board games with friends can be just as enjoyable while being totally free! Plus, these activities will help keep your mind off shopping while encouraging quality time spent with family and friends—something we can all benefit from more often!
Life is about the experiences, not the stuff. When you get creative and find the experiences around you, you learn to appreciate things differently.
Wrapping up & final tips for a successful no-buy year
If done correctly, taking part in a no-buy year can be incredibly beneficial both financially and mentally. By setting realistic goals, making use of what you already have at home, and finding other ways to enjoy yourself without spending money—you’ll be well on your way toward achieving success during your no-buy year!
Purchases do not bring happiness. Happiness usually comes from activities that do not involve spending money. You make your own rules for this journey. So why not give it a try? You might be surprised by how much better life feels after freeing yourself from the burden of never-ending materialism. Best of luck to you!
If you spend outside of your guidelines, recognize it, learn from it, and move on. Always try to do better. No one is judging you. So, no, the no-buy year is not a pass/fail experience.
Sure. Similar to our declutter challenge, you can start anytime. A year is 12 months in a row, so start whenever you’d like.
If you set your guidelines to not spend on things, but you have the allowance of travel, then yes. Just set it up at the beginning of your no-buy year. If you make up the rules as you go, it just doesn’t work.