Could you buy noth­ing for a year?

Kapiti Observer - - WHAT’S ON -

You could save a lot of money and re­duce your waste if you sign up for a Buy Noth­ing Year, says

Ire­cently read an ar­ti­cle about a wo­man who’s em­bark­ing on a ‘‘Buy Noth­ing Year’’. Yep, 365 days of not spend­ing a cent (with the ob­vi­ous ex­cep­tions like food and bills). Her plan is to save a lot of money, be­come more mind­ful about her wastage and gen­er­ally live a much sim­pler life.

‘‘Pfffft,’’ I ini­tially thought. ‘‘That’s just not prac­ti­cal. No birth­day din­ners? No hol­i­days? No Fri­day night take­aways? Blas­phemy.’’

Then I had ques­tions. Does she have kids? Won’t she get bored? What about Christ­mas? What about new undies?

Then my ques­tions be­came more rational. How much do I spend on take­aways in a year? What areas of my life could I cut down my ex­pen­di­ture? How could be­ing more in­ten­tional about money im­pact my bank bal­ance?

A quick Google search will tell you that a Buy Noth­ing Year is ac­tu­ally a thing. The older brother of Buy Noth­ing Day which con­fronts the con­sumerism that sur­rounds Black Fri­day, a Buy Noth­ing Year chal­lenges peo­ple who want to live more in the mo­ment and less in debt. The num­bers are very im­pres­sive. One guy saved more than $30,000; an­other saved 65 per cent of his take-home in­come.

So how could the aver­age Kiwi im­ple­ment a Buy Noth­ing Year? Firstly, over­haul your bank bal­ance. How much do you spend on din­ners out? Take­aways? En­ter­tain­ment? Hol­i­days? Cloth­ing? Al­co­hol?

Next, set your pa­ram­e­ters and ex­cep­tions. Can you drive your car to work, or are you only al­lowed to walk or use pedal power? Within your gro­cery shop­ping al­lowance, are you al­lowed to buy clean­ing and beauty prod­ucts or do you have to make your own? Do den­tal check­ups and hair­cuts fall un­der the es­sen­tial or nice-to-have cat­e­gories? Will you forego birth­day and Christ­mas presents al­to­gether, or al­low for sec­ond­hand pur­chases or hand­made gifts?

Next, tell your fam­ily and friends. They might think you’re crazy at first, but the more peo­ple who know what you’re do­ing, the more sup­port you’ll have along the way.

Fi­nally, stop spend­ing money. They reckon it takes 30 days to start a habit, so com­mit to last­ing a month, then an­other, then an­other… un­til you’ve done 12 of them.

A word of warn­ing, though. Wannabe Buy Noth­ing Year­ers need to be pre­pared to change their life­styles. Din­ners out will be­come din­ner par­ties at home. Trips to the movies will be­come games evenings or (do they still ex­ist?) DVD nights. Trips to the zoo will be­come for­est ad­ven­tures. Gym mem­ber­ships will be­come Neigh­bourly run­ning clubs. Friends might change, but you might find new ones.

A Buy Noth­ing Year won’t be easy – but it will be worth it. If you’re in­tent on mak­ing a real dif­fer­ence to the world around you, re­duc­ing waste and sav­ing a truck­load of money could be the way to fu­ture hap­pi­ness. Now all I’ve got to do is con­vince the other half.

123RF

Turn gym mem­ber­ships into Neigh­bourly run­ning clubs to help you ‘buy noth­ing’.

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