Let’s talk about something that crosses over the boarders of minimalism, frugal living, and environmentalism – low buy! What’s low buy? It is when you actively avoid buying anything new to help you achieve your goals. Maybe it’s saving money or paying off debt. Or decluttering your home and not bringing anything new in. Perhaps you want to lessen your environmental impact with what you choose to buy. For us, a low buy year is meant to do all three.
I’m going to share with you our favorite tips to stick to a low buy year (or however long you decide to do it). Because after the emotional dumpster fire that was 2020, we could all use a reset.
Figure out your “why” and revisit it often
Before beginning any resolution or goal, ask yourself why you chose to do this. What’s pushing you forward to achieve this goal? In this case, a low buy year.
For us, our “why” is so that we can put money into savings, reset our spending habits, and to bring less clutter into our home. We certainly don’t need more stuff and things. But for me, there is another layer. I want to make sure my spending aligns with my values and part of that is being more eco-conscious. I would love to produce less waste and that starts right at home – refusing to buy more just because advertisers tell us we need it or because it will make our life easier. Often those things come with a huge environmental price tag.
“The Story of Stuff” is a wonderful book to see how your everyday spending habits effect the planet.
No matter your “why”, revisit it frequently. Whenever you feel yourself reaching for your credit card – check your heart. Does this purchase align with your “why” or will it hinder your goals?
You could go as far as to put your low buy goals on your fridge or as a background on your phone.
Set goals and celebrate your hard work
As with any long term commitment, it is essential to set achievable goals broken down into bite-sized pieces. When you start your low buy journey, your first goal might be to go one whole week without purchasing anything new. Then a month, then two months, then a full three months! But after a few of those months, you might start to get fatigued and lose your traction.
That’s okay. It happens. But remember that setting small goals to achieve something bigger is important for a reason – it gives us a chance to celebrate! Boast about it on social media, treat yourself to a whole season of your favorite TV show, make a decadent cake. However you choose to celebrate – do it! Then move forward to your next goal.
Find an accountability partner
Hard things are easier when you drag a friend along. If my husband wasn’t on board with a low buy year, it would be very hard for me to stay motivated while he spent money. The same could be said for paying off debt, losing weight, decluttering, committing to minimalism… it can be super lonely to do those things by yourself.
Whether you find accountability (and a cheerleader!) from your partner, other family, friends, or people on social media, you’ll have much more success when you can share your struggles and triumphs with others.
Actually use your things that you already own
There is such a simple joy in using things up. A big part of a low buy year is using things that you already have – and using them up!
So all of those half used shower gels, tubes of lotion, bottles of paint – can (and should) get used up during a low buy year. Not only will you buy fewer things by doing this, you’ll also save a good amount of money.
This applies to your clothing, hobby items, food, and just about everything you already own. Maybe it looks like using things for their intended purpose. It could also mean that you repurpose something to serve you better.
For more on using things up (and wearing them out) see my post about the Four Elements of Frugal Living.
Tune your subscriptions – social media and advertisements
Subscriptions go far beyond magazines and TV. They are also who you follow on social media, what newsletters and promotions are sent to your inbox, and what you watch on TV or YouTube. Most everywhere you are going to see ads or be sold something. That’s the job of every advertisement you see whether it’s a big production during the Super Bowl or an influencer on Instagram. They want you to buy what they’re selling.
How do you stop the flow of advertisements? Unsubscribe.
Stop following super spammy people on Insta and Facebook. Unsubscribe from promotion emails. Unsubscribe from everything you don’t need.
Also try a digital detox. Avoiding advertisements all together will help you not purchase things on a whim.
One big thing about doing a low buy experiment is practicing gratitude. After a few weeks of not really purchasing anything you don’t need, you’ll find that you are more and more grateful for your favorite things (people included).
So everyday, write down the top three things you are grateful for. This could be done in your planner or in a specific notebook. However you choose to do this, you can go back in a year and look at all the great things that happened and be grateful all over again. It’s a really cool thing to be able to do!
The people in your life could also use a word of appreciation. My husband’s love language is words of affirmation. So taking a moment to let him know that I’m grateful for him or appreciate him putting our son down for a nap (everyday… it’s magic dad powers!), goes a long ways. Thank you notes sent in the mail can be a wonderful way to brighten someone’s day, too!
The more often you take a moment to be grateful for the people and things in your life, the less time you’ll spending wishing and wanting things you don’t have.
Shop your home before you shop anywhere
I am a big believer in using what you have before you buy anything. Shopping your own home is a powerful tool in doing a low buy year. You can shop your home by:
- First write down what you think you want/need
- Get everything out of that category (like home decor, clothing, etc.)
- Use what you have
- Create a list of things that are missing that you still need, only then buy them
- Rotate your items so things stay so you can shop your home on a regular basis when you feel like buying something new
For more on shopping what you already own, see my post HERE.
Keep a “wish list” of items you would like to buy
If you really want to buy something that isn’t necessarily a need, but rather a want – write it down and save it for later. I do this quite frequently on Amazon. I’ll add things to my “for later” list… and forget about them.
That’s the magic of putting things on a list and waiting. Often you’ll find that you forget about them completely. If you would have made that impulsive purchase, would you still be satisfied with it? Probably not.
Adding wants to a list and then waiting a few days (like a 72 hour list) will help you stick to your low buy goals and ultimately help you save money.
Remove things that steal your joy
If you’re surrounded by things that you don’t like, then remove them. If you hate shoving 20 mugs into your cabinet, then get rid of some. Don’t like taking care of 5 plants, get rid of 3. Find new homes for your unwanted items and move on.
Keeping items that steal our time and joy is not beneficial. They clutter our homes, take up our valuable time, and just get in the way.
I highly recommend decluttering when you start your low buy journey. While getting rid of things seems counterintuitive, you’ll be much happier knowing everything you own and owning less. Of course, don’t get rid of things that you actually use! That would defeat the purpose. 🙂
Decluttering your entire home is a huge task. Here’s my guide on how to do it with less mess >>> Less Mess, Less Stress Decluttering Guide
Give yourself grace
Doing a low buy isn’t going to be perfect for anyone. I don’t think anyone gets it right the first time. But give yourself some grace and try again. Even if you flub up and buy an entire Target’s worth of clothes and home décor … try again. Don’t waste time shaming yourself and giving up!
Figure out what went wrong, what emotion or event made you feel like shopping. Then find a new way to cope with that emotion or situation. When you’re prepared for when that comes up again, you can say no to spending money and buying something new.
Giving yourself grace and telling yourself that failing the first time (or five times) is okay. We all deserve some grace. Just don’t stop because of one little hiccup. You’ve got this.