Can You Go a Year Without Buying Anything?
Awhile back, Ann Patchett wrote an article for the New York Times about her experience giving up shopping for shoes, purses, clothing, and jewelry for a year. She wrote that didn’t find it to be particularly challenging.
The concept of a “buy nothing” time period has inspired a Reddit community and local Facebook groups. The rules are personalized for each participant, but people almost always make exceptions for food, toiletries, and medicine. A lot of people vow to buy many items used, and arrange swaps.
I haven’t bought a purse or jewelry in years — my old stuff works just fine — but I don’t think I could go a year without buying clothing or shoes. I am the type of person who carefully stores my winter gear so I can use it next year, and has one dress I wear to weddings, but inevitably, things wear out. And sometimes, I want to get something new to wear to work.
Still, I think the idea of buying less is important. A few years ago, I cleaned my home following Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. One of the easiest ways to stay tidied is not to buy new stuff.
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A lot of times, we buy stuff to impress other people, but they don’t pay as much attention to us as we think. Someone recently complimented me on an article of clothing I was wearing. “Thanks,” I said. “You got it for me.” She’d completely forgotten about it.
Not buying stuff also saves money. Before I started on my minimalist journey, I bought clothes every month. Now, I’m down to a few times a year, and only when I need to replace something that’s worn out. I try to thrift clothes that will last a long time, instead of buying fast-fashion that will wear out in a season.
Transitioning from impulse buying wasn’t easy. I used to leisurely check shopping sites every day for new stuff. Then I deleted all the shopping apps on my phone, and when I had the urge to shop, I would write or read the news instead.
A lot of times, I want to buy something, but look around and realize I already have it. I know people who will go out and buy something new rather than spend the time looking for what they need, which makes me cringe. They’re not solving the problem, but only making it worse.
January is the time when I usually buy a lot. I often take advantage of sales to buy winter gear or use up my holiday gift cards, but there’s very little I need this year. A new pair of shoes for a fancy job I started; some socks. That’s it.
Every New Year, I go through my home and toss out expired food and try to organize the closets. Every year, I have less to go through, and this year I haven’t even found enough stuff to donate. The stuff just sits in a tiny box in my closet, waiting until I have enough to make it worth my while to call a charity.
But when I empty the closets, I always find stuff I haven’t looked at in years. I recently found paperwork from a class I took over 10 years ago. I recycled it, and made room for the next chapter in my life.
I couldn’t go a full year buying nothing, or I’d be wearing rags once in awhile. But I don’t have to give myself a New Year’s resolution to buy less stuff. I’m already there.