Implementing a No-Buy Rule This 2021: The Whys and Hows
It’s a brand new year. It’s a symbol of a brand new start for many. Some start their year with a resolution, something they want to change or start doing. And one of the most common resolutions is to save money or spend less. This goal is especially important given that we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
The COVID-19 crisis has taught us many things about finances. It taught us that having an emergency fund is important and that we should control our spending to avoid living paycheck to paycheck.
One way to save money is to have a no-buy year, which means only buying essentials throughout the year.
Benefits of a No-Buy Year
The most obvious benefit of a shopping ban is saving money. The less you spend, the more money you save. You can either put it in your savings account or invest in something, like insurance or the stock market.
Reduce Carbon Footprint
A shopping ban is an environment-friendly practice. When you buy something online, it is covered in layers of plastic. This material is ruining marine life and contributes to climate change. Also, the shipping industry makes up 3% of global carbon emissions. Thus, if you prevent yourself from buying things you don’t need, you reduce your waste and lower your carbon footprint. Even this small gesture can have a huge impact on the environment.
Develop Good Buying Habits
When you forbid yourself from buying non-essentials for a certain period, you can develop good buying habits. For example, you’ll avoid impulse buying since you will always buy with a purpose.
And without impulse buying, you’ll avoid buyer’s remorse. It’s the feeling of something wrong after buying something, whether due to dissatisfaction or the realization that the purchase was unnecessary. This phenomenon can result in an extreme feeling of paranoia, guilt, and anxiety.
How to Do a No-Buy Year
Understand Your Goals
Before you start your shopping ban, you need to specify your goals or the purpose of your shopping ban. Knowing your goals will make you more likely to stick to the ban as your goals will remind you of why you’re doing it in the first place. Why do you want to forbid yourself from buying certain things? Is it to save money to pay a high-interest debt? Is it to save up an emergency fund for yourself?
After determining your goals, you will need to make a list of things you are allowed and not allowed to buy. It will serve as your guide throughout your shopping ban period and will prevent you from getting off track. What items are you allowed to buy? What are your “essentials”? These may include food, toiletries, and other things you need to stay healthy. Meanwhile, what are the things you’re not allowed to buy? These may include things you don’t need, such as books, a streaming membership, and so on.
You might also consider opening a new checking account and only use that to settle your bills and pay for the items you buy. This will help you easily track where your money is going and will prevent you from touching the money you have in your savings account.
Make an Inventory
Try listing down everything you own. When you need something, you can first check your list if you have that item you’re looking for. If you don’t, then you can buy it, as long as it’s included in your list of allowed purchases.
This inventory will not only save you from repeat or unnecessary purchases. It will also allow you to see how much stuff you own. This information may be overwhelming and may discourage you from buying anything you don’t really need.
Track your purchases
During your shopping ban, you’ll want to track your purchases. You can do this manually, using a pen and paper. You can also do it digitally by using an app or creating an Excel sheet. Write the date of purchase, amount, mode of payment (e.g. cash, debit, credit, etc.), and the reason behind the purchase. These pieces of information will help you assess whether each purchase follows your rules.
Making purchase tracking a habit will also help you in the long run. It will allow you to make wise buying decisions in the future. You’ll also understand your buying patterns so that you can make changes to save more money.
Having a no-buy year will help you financially since you’ll be able to save money. It can also help you mentally by preventing buyer’s remorse and developing healthy spending habits. Given these benefits, the practice will be worth the trouble and will help you change for the better.