Could you buy nothing for a year?
You could save a lot of money and reduce your waste if you sign up for a Buy Nothing Year, says Erin Reilly.
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.
Turn gym memberships into Neighbourly running clubs to help you ‘buy nothing’.