What it’s like to buy N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

I did a No Buy Month in January and now the question is: What did it bring? Some pros are pretty obvious, some were unexpected. Same goes with the cons.

THIS IS WHAT I’VE LEARNED

No Buy Month, No-spending challenge or fiscal fast, Buy-Nothing-New Month. These are all versions of the same, meaning that you do not spend your money on anything that isn’t absolutely necessary to survive. There are variations to this challenges. It’s up to you how “extreme” you do it. Some also terminate all monthly subscriptions like Spotify and Netflix. Others allow themselves to have experiences like going to a concert or the movies. Another group doesn’t spent money on anything new, which means that they either don’t buy anything that is new to them, or isn’t newly made.

The right depends on your goal. That’s a personal choice. If you want to reset your mind or your reasons are environment related, you could give yourself some slag and stick to the no-spending on (new) stuff part. If you want to save money, you should go a little further or even all in. Think of cutting cable and stay home. Some even don’t allow themselves not buying food. This will only work if you have a pantry chuck full of food. I don’t have something like that, so food is an exception for me within limit’s. I’m in between both. Right now I’m gazelle intense about paying off my student loan to become debt free since may last year. Because of that I already banned a lot of these money eating monsters from my checking account earlier, already. For example, I have a strict budget on food and drinks. Therefore, this time, my focus was not buying any stuff, but with the subsidiary intention to not splurge the saved money on entertainment or food instead. I recommend doing that, since you don’t want to shift a bad habit to a similar new one. Again, it’s up to you.

NO BUY MONTH TIPS

Before you start, figure out what your goal is before you start. Make it’s specific.

Think of what you want to do with the money saved. Again, make that specific. If your goal is not paying off that stupid credit card, maybe it’s saving for the great trip you dream about for years. Or it is that one item you just never seemed to be able to afford.

Set rules based on the goals and write them down. Be reasonable but also critical when doing so. Always ask yourself: Why am I allowing an exemption for X? Is Y realistic?

Budget for the exceptions accordingly. You really don’t want to live without that Unicorn Frappuccino? Well, don’t. There is no explanation needed to anyone but yourself. But also be honest with yourself. Can’t you really live without it for the sake of the challenge? Then, calculate the total amount ahead and don’t go over it. That’s your Unicorn Budget. You can do the challenge without strict budgets. It makes it easier to not fall into another spending trap, though.

Find someone who will hold you accountable. It’s easier if you can talk to someone when it’s getting tough. That cannot be your bestie or mom who think you deserve the whole world. It has to be someone who stops you from doing stupid. I didn’t find such a person within my inner circle so I looked on Facebook. There are lots of No Buy pages with like-minded people.

You might fail here and there. No biggie, just do better after it. If you keep making the same mistake over and over, maybe your rules don’t work for you. Don’t hesitate to change them accordingly.

THE DOWNSIDE

You will spend money sooner or later

First, I want to say that buying nothing a month is doable. That said, buying no stuff longer than that seems impossible to me. At least based on my rules. You just cannot hide from Murphy! Lightbulbs, batteries, washing machine: They all have a live span. These are all things that make your live comfortable, but you will survive without it. Those weren’t on my exceptions list. It also wasn’t a big deal to live without the lamp or the remote control knowing I will buy those things a month later. But what’s the point then? Not buying something in the No Buy Month means you will spend it on those the following month. There is no win here. Put those little necessities on your exceptions-list.

Negative emotions will come

It was a long ass month. Choosing January as my No Buy Month didn’t help. My fun money ran out fast. If it would’ve been summer, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. I would’ve been out and about all day doing fun free stuff like longboarding, hanging out with friends in the park eating homemade lunch (I have to make anyway). It was boring sometimes. It also was frustrating at times. I even got mad or sad a few times. Lots of emotions will show themselves when you want to do something you’re not allowed to do. That is unpleasant. You’ll ask yourself why on earth you are depriving yourself. Short term deprivation, however, will pay off long-term.

Deprivation

Not all goods things are for free. When missing those a whole month, you will appreciate them more. But first, you have to go without them, which is not fun at all.

People won’t like you

Not spending any money affects the people around you. Saying no to a lot of fun stuff isn’t fun. Some will understand and still be bummed. So many times my partner was blaming me for not having fun. And I get it. It wasn’t his choice to go slow. Off course, you offer alternatives but they won’t see it as an alternative when you’re not on the same page when it comes to not spending. Others won’t understand it at all. Like for real. I have lost friends once when I did a No Buying New Clothes Semester even though I did go window shopping with them. They got mad because, apparently, there is no fun to shopping when only one actually buys something. Well, screw them. It’s just a month. Don’t be selfish. If you cannot support me, then you might not be that great friend after all.

Preparation

When you can’t spend money on convenience, you have to prepare. Making office lunch the night before, making coffee in the morning for work, packing snacks when not at home all day. If you forget, you’re screwed. And I’m really not a nice person when hungry. Personally, I didn’t like preparing everything. It’s just not me. But you get used to it.

THE UPSIDE

Ka ching!

You will save lots of money. Probably more than you expected. Remember the months before when you had no idea where your money went? Right, you’ve spend it on unnecessary things you don’t even remember. That money is not spent that month. Add to your expected savings a huge amount of money you saved in addition to that just because you didn’t randomly buy bs. I’m not talking nickels and dimes. I’m talking about Franklin’s.

Getting to know yourself

As said, the negative emotions were unpleasant. But they were also necessary. Emotions tell you something, they’re not just popping up for no reason. Ask yourself: Why do I feel this way right now? As soon as you figure out the why, you will learn more about yourself. Maybe you forgot what you actually like doing. Or it distracts you from being mad or sad about something you don’t want to think about. Shopping, then, is your pacifier. Or maybe you feel less worth when you don’t have the stuff. Stuff might define you, then. If you buy lots of junk food, then junk food is your best friend in bad times; A friend that doesn’t have your best interest. You could also be the type of person who spends money when getting stressed or overwhelmed. Especially when you stress about money and your answer is spending, you are sitting right in the middle of a vicious circle. That has to stop for your own sake.

The reasons why you shop can be endless. When you find the source of bad behavior you can start working on it. And that will make you a better version of yourself. It’s hard work, yet, still, it’s better than filling a bottomless hole by shoving stuff into it. The hole is still there, you just tried to hide it to no avail. You need to fill it with solid ground. It will make you an overall happier and more relaxed person.

Creativity and knowledge

That’s the fun part! If you are about to spend money on something, ask yourself the following questions. First, ask yourself “Do I really need it?” One lightbulb stopped working once. That’s unfortunate, but do you actually need to replace it right away to have a decent live? There is no need to live in the dark. In my case, however, the answer was no. The lamp has two lightbulbs and one is just fine. Actually, one was even better lightning. My first reaction would have told me to buy a new one right away. 5 months later, and I still haven’t replaced it.

If you do need it, the second question is: “Do I have something like it already?” If you have a lot of stuff, you probably do. You just forgot about it. Or the alternative is not as nice. But it does serves its purpose, right?

If you need something and you don’t have something similar to replace it with, ask yourself:” Can I make it myself with what I have?” This is where the fun starts. At least for me. I really forgot how fun it is to make or fix stuff! I made a lamp. I also upgraded an old side table, made bags from old t-shirts, fixed a tire of my bike, successfully planted sprouts and so on. No, I didn’t do that in just one month. Making a handmade lamp in that month taught me a better way to do things. So, I stuck to it. Spending your time on learning how things get done and activate your creativity is so much more rewarding than spending your well-earned money on something everybody has.

You probably might think: DIY’s are not for me! I contribute to the #fail when trying #DIY. So what!? Becoming a master takes practice, even for the talented ones. You will get better at it. Just go fail and error through the process until you will succeed. And make time for it.

Time for yourself

Stuff absorbs money, time and energy like a dry sponge absorbs water: working, shopping, comparing, evaluating, trying, choosing, spending, using, cleaning, organizing, re-evaluating, repairing, returning, replacing, repurposing, recycling, trashing. Every single item. Having less stuff means more time. Time you can spend doing what you really like. You see? You don’t have time. You make time.

Better choices

I made a list of all the things I wanted to buy after the month. I haven’t bought any of it. Impulse buying is never a good decision. Also, priorities shift within that month. What seemed a good buy before, wasn’t later on.

OVERALL REVIEW

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Not in January, though. Maybe I do a second round during summer holidays. It will be a longer one, because I think I’m able to and because I believe that there are more benefits to it.

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