Buy Nothing Update
I've known for quite a while that I have enough. I have a full home, a full belly, a 4-year-old reliable car, medical care, life insurance, and plenty of education. My husband is a tenured teacher with an excellent pension plan. We have good health, good vision (with glasses), decent hearing, and our minds still work pretty well. We have a happy, almost 38-year-old marriage and wonderful relationships with our grown children, our son-in-law, and our grandsons.
What more could I possibly wish for?
And while I realized that I might need a few clothes for the summer (I was down to three short-sleeved tops) and of course food, gasoline, personal care items, haircuts, and the like, I was strongly aware that I had no need to purchase new home décor, kitchenware, tech gadgets, shoes, accessories, or more than two fancy coffee drinks per week.
I started my Buy Nothing Year on January 3rd, because I already had enough.
Do you think that sounds extreme? It's been three months. Are you waiting for me to tell you how I've failed?
Well, believe it or not, it really hasn't been difficult at all, except for the fancy coffee drinks. I've been forced to admit I'm addicted to Starbucks, and I'm working on that. I'm making more coffee and tea at home. The grocery store sells sugar, flavored syrups, or half and half if I want them. I don't think I'm saving many calories, but I'm certainly saving money, and weaning myself of that Pavlovian impulse to pull into the drive-thru line.
I bought a new wall clock for our bathroom when the one we had inexplicably stopped working (yes, we replaced the batteries several times before concluding that it was simply broken). The clock keeps us on time as we bathe and dress and shave and do our hair in the morning, and continually checking our phones for the time just wasn't cutting it. But my Buy Nothing "rules" allowed for maintenance and repair of the things we use, and replacement if maintenance or repair fails.
We attended a play in late February using season tickets I had already purchased last November. We're looking forward to another play this month, but we haven't been tempted to go to the movies, and my "rules" allow for the occasional restaurant meal, which we have enjoyed. Walks in the park and a day trip to see the wildflowers on Table Mountain (about 40 miles northeast of our home) offered fresh air and lots of spring beauty.
I purchased a baby gift for a friend's daughter's first child (a boy), but that was also allowable under my "rules," as I wanted to be able to be generous in case of births or weddings. Our younger grandson had his 3rd birthday, and we spent the day playing with him and reading the books I bought as his gift.
I had also allowed myself a $15 monthly budget for e-book purchases (I have plenty of physical books and don't need more), since our library is currently closed due to remodeling. That's enough for at least a book or two per month, which has been plenty.
Here are my eight goals for my Buy Nothing Year:
- Save money. Check.
- Have fewer things to declutter and donate. Check.
- Lose a little weight because of limits on eating and drinking away from home. I've only lost a couple of pounds so far.
- Practice planning ahead and resisting impulses. Sometimes I do have the impulse to buy something I don't need because it's on sale or "cute" or whatever. So far I have successfully resisted temptation.
- Become more mindful and selective about purchases. Having my "rules" – clear boundaries – has helped with this. In the case of the new clock, I researched and bought one made of wood and metal (not plastic – so many clocks are plastic). It has excellent ratings and should last for many years.
- Become more resourceful about keeping myself busy and entertained without shopping. I've spent a lot of time writing, reading, walking, using up yarn on a crochet project and finishing a counted cross-stitch project that had languished, half-complete, for over a year.
- Deal with temptation, failure, and boredom. So far, except for Starbucks, that hasn't been much of an issue. But it's only been three months so far.
- Understand clearly that I have enough for contentment. And I do!
I don't mean to imply that it's been completely easy, because any challenge requires commitment and discipline. But that determination can spill over to other aspects of my life and help me with other good habits, such as walking more and eating less.
Becoming more aware of habits that lead me to spend more (such as the Starbucks habit) helps with mindfulness in other areas as well. I've noticed I spend less time online, since I'm not shopping or browsing style and décor websites, and more time on useful and purposeful activities.
It might seem that a Buy Nothing Year is an exercise in deprivation, but I haven't felt that way at all. In fact, there are useful things in my home that I don't use very often, so it's clear that I have more than enough. Instead of feeling that I'm missing something, I notice my abundance, which makes me feel grateful.
6 Tips for Your Own Buy Nothing Year
1. Have fun!
Think of it as an exciting challenge, not a punishment for past excesses.
2. Have a reason.
Give yourself one or more goals or purposes that motivate you. (Steal mine if you like.)
3. Have a partner.
My husband is my partner, and we hold each other accountable. Join with a friend, family member, or Buy Nothing Project group for encouragement.
4. Have rules that work for you. (Here are mine.)
Track your progress. Keep a journal or start a blog to record successes, difficulties, and what you are learning.
5. Have compassion for yourself.
Especially if you've been a bit of a shopaholic in the past, don't beat yourself up over every temptation you face or unneeded purchase you might make. Your progress might be two steps forward, one step back, but that is still progress. Don't allow a setback to make you quit.
6. Have a reward.
With the money you save during your Buy Nothing Year, you could take a trip or enjoy an experience you've dreamed of. Having something to look forward to at the end makes the journey more enjoyable.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash