A few years ago there was a rise in folks looking to be more money minded to participate in a financial experiment of sorts called a No Buy Challenge. While some took this to an extreme level, others did a more casual version. Take a look at some of these videos:
Why I Did the No Buy Challenge
A lot of thought went into this decision, and I expand upon those choices in the blog post linked to the left. For the purpose of today’s post, I’ll elaborate.
For twenty years of my life I have worked in the retail industry. It is a very unforgiving environment for anyone who isn’t a manger or a full time employee in key positions. Try as I did, I never managed to get either, so I began looking for ways to help myself out financially until I was in a much better position.
Never did I have a credit card to my name until I was in my early thirties. As soon as I saw how the credit score worked and was affected by debt (or no debt), it became this little game I would play with myself. However, life happens and at the beginning of 2022 I found out that I had some medical concerns that needed to be taken care of. At one point I couldn’t lift more than ten pounds due to worsening scoliosis, and as a result I couldn’t work for three months. When the pain becomes so unbearable that you can’t even pull a pallet jack with your good arm, it’s time to look for a new job.
The Steps I Took To Limit My Spending
While I didn’t exactly do the full year like I thought I could, I did manage to go six months without making any dramatic impulse purchases. It’s a good thing I’m a simple girl with simple pleasures in life, and having designer things has never been a goal. In short, here’s a small list of things I changed to help me along my way:
- Deleted online shopping accounts
- Chose quality over quantity (if I DID have to buy something)
- Saved for the items I needed
- Waited for sales or coupons
Item No. 1: Deleted online shopping accounts. Yes, my friends. This included dumping Amazon Prime and eventually Amazon all together. I first got rid of Amazon Prime, but kept my account so I could still use my Kindle. Amazon was the easiest site to delete. Unfortunately, it took me two or three weeks to contact all the others I had accounts with to have one of their reps cancel the account for me. I really really wish businesses made this easier for consumers.
Item No. 2: Chose quality over quantity. As I mentioned before, I’ve never been one for designer names. However, I am someone who loves it when an item is well made and will definitely withstand the test of time. Material and maker were two of the biggest deciding factors on if I should buy an item. The third was its usefulness in the home.
Item No. 3: Saved for the items I needed. I’ll use this as an example. Furniture. Furniture is frikken expensive, y’all. I don’t care where you live. The prices on this particular household good has only increased these last few years. So I furnish my home with a lot of second hand items. I was about to splurge on a brand new desk with a mid-century modern inspired design when a secretary offered to me by my cousins took its place for free. It’s something I’ve wanted since my mother inherited her mom’s secretary, and it cost me absolutely nothing. The secretary was in a home my cousins recently purchased, and they’d been trying to get rid of it. Knowing how much these things go for, I tried offering them something for it. They wouldn’t take anything, and my heart is happy.
Item No. 4: Waited for sales or coupons. If something need to be purchased (or wanted, because let’s face it, I’m only human), I would wait for annual sales or when I knew coupons would be sent out. For example, I still love using Bath & Body Works products. Instead of just stopping by once every few months, I wait for their two semi-annual inventory clean out sales. I can get a full sized item for up to 70% off?! Sold! Thankfully I’ve only ever had a bad reaction to one of their scents (there’s just something about the Black Cherry Merlot my skin doesn’t appreciate). But I do appreciate a good sale, and these sales are great teachers of patience.
The Overall Goal: Being Debt Free
Or rather, as debt free as I possibly could be. By the time I started looking into this, I had credit cards I didn’t want to have but found them still necessary at the time. Not only that, but the bank had decided to raise my limits for me, without asking if I wanted them raised. One credit card was for emergencies, the other for shopping.
Until they both were used for the same purposes.
I mentioned earlier my worsening scoliosis, right? How I didn’t work for nearly three months? Well, nearly all my groceries went on my cards. Any other purchases also went on my cards as I watched the money in my actual accounts go down and my credit balances go up and up. So doing the No Buy Challenge, even for six months, and finding a better paying job, really helped the journey to financial freedom along.
No More Credit Cards, and My Future With No Buy
Some of you may think I’m crazy for giving up credit cards completely, but if I managed to make it through my twenties and part of my thirties without them, then they’re really not necessary for my life at all. If you are great with money and managing your finances, then by all means keep them.
While many versions of the No Buy Challenge suggest partnering with a friend or family member, I did this all on my own. I didn’t tell a single soul I was trying to get out of debt, and I didn’t tell anyone that I had debt at all. I know there’s probably still something out there that I’ve forgotten about, but I’ll tackle it should it rear its ugly head.
Within the last few weeks I’ve begun replacing things in my home; these were things I bought ten years ago that needed replacing. Or, I’ve been switching out items in my capsule closet and realized I’d gotten rid of so much stained and old things that I never got something new.
How have my habits changed? I am pickier about my purchases, I wait to buy something to see if it’s something I want or need, and I have no more credit cards. Not only that, but I’ve changed banks and am saving more than I ever have in the past. I can finally make bill payments on time, and the idea of that money coming out of my account no longer causes stress.
It took a long time to get to this point, and I finally feel like an adult. I still haven’t shared this with my family, but I did on the Yammer for the company I now work for. Would you believe it’s been viewed by over 70,000 coworkers? What?! And just today I was interviewed on having financial well being for a highlight coming up in December. Is this what internet fame feels like?
I kid, of course. But if someone who has very little discipline at times in her life can get out debt, so can you. And if you think participating in the No Buy Challenge for any length of time can help you, then I highly recommend it. Good luck!