It’s been a while, but I’m back. Between getting sick at the beginning of August, work coming back into full swing, and starting to apply for grad school, things have been a bit busy on my end. I feel like I’ve reached a point where the goals that I’ve set at the beginning of the year and the adjustments I’ve made along the way have become habit and second nature. I have gained some perspective for what seems to be major spending triggers while back in Montreal (I’ll go into more detail about that in a future post), but now that I’m back out of the city, there’s a lot less temptation.
I still haven’t bought anything in my no spend categories, I’ve been able to take advantage of experiences as they’ve come up, and I’m still chipping away at using up my stockpile of craft supplies and body products. At this point, I know that I have a busy few months ahead – particularly with so many applications due on December 1st – but I fully believe that I’ll still be able to work out a once-a-week posting schedule (especially with this being a creative outlet for me).
For now to the end of the year, I don’t see there being much change in what I’m doing from the no-buy perspective and for what I’m writing about, with it being mostly reflection pieces and thoughts that come up when different situations arise. Looking much further into the future, for next year, I think I’ll keep the goals as being much of the same thing – but I’ve got time to figure that out.
So, to keep it simple for now, I have 2-3 topics that can easily be fleshed out for this month, and then I’ll see what’s doable with my schedule as the final quarter of the year progresses.
Also, thanks to everyone who checked in with me while I took my unplanned break – I appreciate you sticking around 🙂
February has been a slump-ish month for me in the past: the shiny wow-factor of the new year is gone, the sky and slush are the same dreary grey, and the next holiday feels as far away as the sun – and when I was still a student, it usually meant that midterms were ripe to pop up. However, I want to go into this month with the mindset that I’m going to choose to make it fun, rather than let the shortest month of the year drag on (especially after a January that felt like being trapped behind someone standing on the walking side of a long escalator). The overall vibe I’m going for will be “fun and flexible” since I can’t predict what the month ahead holds, but I can choose how I want to approach it.
I found that in January, I would reach for outfits that I’ve worn before – or combinations that I’ve tried in the past, but this time with a different colourway. I want to challenge myself creatively to switch it up a bit with what I’m wearing. I work in person, so I’m not going to throw together something that I’d feel uncomfortable wearing, like a tartan blazer, striped shirt, and a polka dot skirt (I don’t think even the Emily in Paris wardrobe team could make that work). More so what I want to focus on is to not just wear the same outfits on rotation each week, and try to flip more hangers throughout the month. I’m not setting a specific number of specific pieces to be worn, but I want to try to do about once a week either something that hasn’t been worn yet this year, or not yet together. We’ll see, this is for the fun of it, after all.
So life got busy and I’m still only half done the linguistics book, though I will soon need a new bedside table read. I’m taking a second go at reading the Monet book for the month, but I think I’ll keep that more for day-time reading – since part of what takes me so long is that I just run out of energy at the end of a my busiest days and fall right asleep. Also, as fascinating as any topic is, reading nonfiction before bed feels far more like cramming for a test than reading for fun, so I’m much less motivated to reach for it. If all goes well, I should be able to line up finishing reading Monet in time for my hold on “Do You Really Need It?” by Pierre-Yves McSween becomes available. I found this ebook while browsing through the personal finance section of Libby. The humorous tone and straight forward approach (from what I’ve read in the sample) will offer a look through categories I struggle with, as well as categories I may not have even considered. Which I think is important – seeing another perspective about how to approach spending/what’s worth bringing into my home will be something to reflect on as I go through it.
Using what I’ve Got:
I’m starting the month with a new tube of toothpaste and bar of soap (side note: had you told me even two years ago that I would think the previous sentence was content worthy of sharing on the internet, I would have cackled and continued scrolling through the Old Navy sale page). I will start a second lip balm before finishing the small tin, but that’s because I’ve found it incredibly annoying to fetch it from my work things each time I want to use it while I’m home, and possibly forget it for work the next day. For yarn, I’m going to be making a few things for family when I visit in March, but beyond that, nothing else is on my radar yet. Finally, for planner stickers, I’m entertaining myself so far with seeing just how many stickers I can use on a monthly spread page, and still make it look like a cohesive theme. I’m not at all taking this seriously, and it’s more of a “funny because I’m doing it ironically” thing – as opposed to last-year me painstakingly lifting stickers off the page because I set it down at an 80-degree angle instead of 90.
I’m focusing on smaller, more bite-sized goals for the month with the plan to turn that into regular habits, rather than carrying too much throughout the month – which my guilt goblin thrives on (the name I’ve given to the second loudest critical voice rattling around in my brain).
Coming Up Next Week:
Saturday will be the next set of printables, which focus on productivity; Monday will have part two of my relationship to shopping, and Thursday will go into more detail about small changes and sustainable goals. Thanks for reading!
I thought I was going to be able to open this blog post dramatically with a claim that I have amassed and used the equivalent metre-age (yardage) as a percent of the distance to the Moon. Thankfully, however, my yarn stash total – used and unused – works out to just under 26 km/16.2 mi. Who would have thought that taking a step back and assessing how much I have makes the volume of it less daunting? I’ve just frogged/unraveled a blanket, have left over yarn from gifts I made, as well as abandoned-projects-that-are-more-technical-than-my-skill-level yarn – so, I’m certainly not lacking craft materials.
The gap between my desire to make something and my skill level has only been the cause of over-buying yarn once. The remaining 23 km of yarn comes from either left over yarn from completed projects (I’m not great at estimating how much yarn is needed for something I’m making without a pattern), or from the idea of a project and the mixed feeling of “I want to have enough to make what I want, when I want” and “if I don’t have enough, I can’t make the piece.” Oh, and I’m a sucker for marketing when things are in my favourite colourways.
Yarn, and other craft supplies, is one of the no-buy categories for the year – and I am planning to use it for various projects (maybe I’ll get a jump start on making for the holiday season this year). Crocheting is one of my hobbies that I can do on autopilot once I’ve figured out what type of stitch or pattern of stitches I’m using, so I like to pair it with listening to a podcast or catching up on my “Watch Later” playlist on YouTube. Or, if I’m feeling spicy, I can be alone with just my thoughts and not have any media on while crafting. For reference’s sake for project size, I’ve made both scrunchies and blankets, which are equally rewarding to me.
I have no desire to monetize this hobby. Frankly, dealing with the post office is about 30% of the reason I don’t want to, but the other part is the “quiet” that I have when I’m working away at any project. If something is for myself, it’s allowed to be imperfect and wonky. If it’s a gift, I’ll make a bit more of an effort or go over a line of stitches twice if necessary. In essence, I’m genuinely doing it for the fun of it and my brain is happy to see a physical representation of my efforts (as opposed to the majority of my work being digital or otherwise abstract). I don’t feel that I need to maximize my skill level, compete with anyone else (whether for sales or complexity of projects), or be perfect (crochet is great for this: messed up a stitch? Undo it and start again).
What I do desire, however, is to be able to minimize the stash of yarn. I find that when I have many projects going at once regardless of medium, I pick up new projects but never finish them. I tend to slow down when the stash is smaller, actually completing the projects I’ve started. I think two projects – one short-term, one long-term – is reasonable to have going at the same time, but more than that is unmanageable for me.
My major take away would be that slowing down and being more intentional would also be beneficial to my personal/for fun projects. Oh, and also remembering to make things for myself as well, not just as gifts.
What’s coming up next:
Next week will start off with looking at the rest of my categories for inventories, as well as the products that I’m looking to finish up using. Thanks for reading!
The purpose of a No Buy or Low Buy is to reduce how much you are purchasing new things. You set parameters for yourself of what you are limiting (whether entirely or capping), and for how long. You make the rules for yourself according to what your needs are (i.e., it would be incredibly difficult to purchase nothing an entire year if you included essential categories like food and rent), as well as what exceptions you have for your rules – or what you are indeed allowed to spend money on that may not be considered to be essential by others.
I chose my categories based on where I spend the most money: clothing, accessories, shoes, crafting supplies, tea, and body care products. Books are also on the list, but are being treated a bit differently. For clothing, I have more than enough seasonal wear, and I know what colours and styles I like to wear most – and I know that I don’t need more. Accessories – earrings, other jewellery, bags, scrunchies – are just as plentiful as clothing. Shoes are a bit different in that I have a lot, for different events/purposes, but many of those events are not currently taking place, so they are not in use. Crafting supplies is likely the broadest category with stationary, writing tools, stickers, yarn, washi tape, scrapbooking paper, and about par for clothing in sheer volume of materials. For tea, I like(d) to buy in bulk with DavidsTea having moved to being almost an entirely online store, so I have around 1.5 kilos of tea, and I certainly don’t need more. For body care products, I amassed so much of everything from shopping sales, buying in bulk, or thinking that I would need more than I reasonably use. A single person doesn’t need five tubes of toothpaste, but that’s what I got from Costco six months ago. For books, I have a healthy To Be Read stack that I want to complete without rushing myself. Books are a bit different, then, as I’ll still be going to the local library, but I won’t be buying new books.
Broadly, the rule is to not purchase anything from these categories. I know that I can easily make it through the first half of the year without having to think about replacements for anything. That being said, I have thought ahead of what to do if I do need to replace anything (in order): 1) go without for a two-week span (unless it’s related to personal hygiene, like toothpaste or body wash), 2) if after two weeks, I still feel that I need the item on a daily or multiple-times-per-week basis, see if I can find it second hand (preferably from a local thrift store), and 3) buy new from a local/Canadian retailer. I will be spending on groceries, monthly phone bill, and other necessities, and I have both travel (when it’s safe) and experiences budgeted in for the year so I can be intentional about where I’m going, what I’m doing and what I’m not taking back with me. I will also be purchasing gifts, which will include a birthday present for myself, but that’s months and months away at this point.
What makes this goal doable
I did a bit of a test-run last year to see how I would fare in slowing down my spending/shopping, and I was able to figure out what did and didn’t work. What worked was making sure I had frequent visual reminders, both in my agenda and on my wall calendar, as well as following content related to these topics. Shifting my thoughts towards abundance and gratitude as opposed to curating or scarcity have helped in how I see what I own. I feel like I’m ready to jump in headfirst and commit to a full year as I’ve just completed a daily habit for a year that I thought I could never do: gratitude journaling. I kept it simple and wrote at least one thing per day that I was grateful for, and I have at least 365 things listed in my journal – while all other attempts at journaling in other formats have failed. Quitting shopping cold turkey and entirely restricting myself doesn’t work for me at all. If I do choose to spend, then my limit of $0 can turn into $20 or $200 when there’s no reasonable limit – so it’s better that I set aside money for experiences, and that I keep a wishlist for myself. Between small lifestyle changes that I’ve been making throughout 2021 and the desire to downsized my stockpiles, I believe that I can do a no-buy for a year for the categories that I know I need to work on.
What will be tough about the goal
Avoiding sources of temptation will likely be my biggest struggle over the course of the year. Certain stores, like Michaels, DavidsTea, and Simon’s are full of stuff that I like (and that can stay out of my shopping cart), and avoiding them as a whole is my best bet. In 2021, I went to Michael’s twice, once with spending nothing (but I’d already been shopping at thrift stores that day), and the second time with buying more than I intended once I found something that would make a cute gift. I don’t need to say much about tea (see the 1.5 kilos remark above), and Simon’s is a catch all for cute clothing and home goods, and probably my number 1 targeted ad on instagram. I find that thrifting without a physical list has also led to buying more than I intended, and the rush from shopping for new items is the same as it is for thrifted items, with the additional layer of it being an unexpected find. To help prevent these temptations, I’ve already unsubscribed from all emails from these stores (and others) and I don’t follow them on social media anymore.
When it comes to what I’m going to do when faced with decisions of whether or not to purchase something, I want to have a much more intentional and slowed-down approach than I used to. I want to know what I have and what I need (which likely won’t be anything, at least for a few months) and be able to consider what it is that I’m taking into my home. If I don’t want to be in a space where I’m shopping, whether online or in person, I will need to be intentional about how I’m spending my time and what I do in a day. I want the time otherwise lost from online or in-person shopping to be spent on activities that are more meaningful to me, and I want my living space to not be bursting at the seams with stuff. I will be going into this year’s challenge with the mindset that the decisions I make are my own, and that there is no luck involved in the process; if I am tempted by an item, and choose to make a purchase, that is my decision. However, I also recognize that I do make mistakes, stuff happens, and what matters more is what I learn from my decisions and what I choose to do next.
What’s coming up this week:
I’ll be doing a paper-based inventory of my clothing (so I can keep track of number of wears per item), flipping my hangers over, and picking out the two books I’m aiming to read for the month beyond the remaining library book I have on loan.