I Completed A No Buy Year - Here's What I Learnt

No Buy years are becoming more and more mainstream. Sometimes these are rules people impose on themselves in specific areas, for example, I actually did a Makeup No Buy when I realised my shopping had gotten out of hand in that area a few years ago; or these are more generalised and people try to buy nothing but essentials to save money or break toxic shopping habits. That's exactly what i did, I set out to buy nothing for an entire year and now I've completed it - successfully I might add - I'd like to share with you some of the things I've learnt over the last year.

I want to be really transparent with my reasons for doing a no buy year. My main motivation was to save money. When we went into lockdown, it was pretty obvious to me that sadly jobs were going to be lost. My job entails visiting NHS buildings which on the whole, has obviously not been possible, so I was concerned that my job could go, that no one in my industry would be hiring and I wanted to protect myself from potential financial ruin as much as possible. I really wanted to get myself to a point of saving 50% of my take home income, because in my mind, for every month that I saved half my take home income, I could survive a month without a job if the worst happened.

Now unless you are some sort of prepper with a large stockpile then there were things I did need to buy, but my rules were pretty simple. I could only buy things I actually needed and nothing just because I wanted it. Over the last year I purchased food, cleaning products and any personal hygiene products that I'd ran out of - so I did buy things like shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and facial wash.



I think the biggest thing I will take away from the No Buy Year is just how much we can all spend on nonsense, things we don't even realise we are buying. I have been what I would call aggressively saving for about 3 years because I had a financial goal of saving a deposit for a house. Yet in the last year, by not shopping and by making savings in other areas, I have managed to save an additional £300 a month - that's over £3500! What on earth was I spending it on? It wasn't clothes, makeup or skincare so for me it really highlights those impulse purchases, those 'oh it's only £3' buys. I can only assume that's where some of the money was going - that's potentially thousands of pounds each year on things I didn't need.


I know looking back over the years I've gone shopping to distract myself from certain feelings. Feel sad? - Buy a new dress. Don't feel pretty? - Buy some new makeup. Feeling bored? - Lets have a scroll online and treat myself to something new. But it never really fixes it. It merely distracts you from those unpleasant feelings for a while.

The last year, being filled with lockdowns and restrictions, has been filled, for many of us, with lots of unpleasant feelings. But nothing I could have purchased could have fixed anything of those things.

I can't say that a year of not buying has made me any better at dealing with these feelings that crop up in all of us from time to time, but I do know that going forwards if I do find myself shopping when I'm not in need of something specific, I will ask myself WHY. Am I wanting to buy this because I love it and it will add some form of value to my life, or am I just bored or unhappy? If it's the latter, I will remind myself it's probably not a good idea.


I've long since strongly believed in having an emergency fund, especially as I've been self employed at times in the past, I know how vital this can be. But further than that, I never really placed a huge value on saving until the last couple of years and the no buy has really consolidated what I already thought about saving. Saving money offers so much more than just the ability to buy a new washing machine if yours breaks.

Firstly it offers a much greater sense of security. If I was to lose my job, obviously it would be awful, especially given finding a new one would be challenging in the current climate, but by saving and living within your means you massively reduce that worry, anxiety and panic, because you know you will be ok.

It also offers a feeling of control. If you are in a job that you really, really hate, you may not do it, but it provides you with the feeling that if you really couldn't stick it for another single minute, you could say 'up yours' and leave. It also makes you feel less trapped - doing a job you dislike, whilst knowing you could leave, means you know this is a choice to keep your income, not something you are trapped in; which is a very different feeling.

It gives you options too. Lets say a business opportunity comes your way, but it would mean earning less for a year or so. You might decide it's worth it, and you could do it because you have that financial bolster - so you could pursue your dreams. Or maybe you can make different decisions by living within your means, like a lower paid job but one that would offer more fulfilment, or maybe one that would give you more time with family.


I was quite late to the Social Media arena, I was hounded by a few friends to join, so I eventually caved in and joined Facebook and att first, I loved it. Most of the time it was just school friends reconnecting, but over time it felt like it had become a platform to just show off - the big house, the flash new car, the fancy watch and I started to dislike it. And instagram is showing off on steriods.

So I definitely think staying off social media for the majority of this year helped as when you don't concern yourself with what others have or what they are doing, you are much more content with what you have. The feeling of needing something new, something better, really does diminish.


Whilst I won't be doing an official No Buy for the next 12 months, I'm pretty confident that my shopping will be fairly minimal. I'm very lucky in that I've kept my job this far, but who knows what might happen in the coming months given we are still living in so called unprecedented times. I can't imagine any purchase would feel important if I was concerned about how I was going to pay the bills.

In the last year, with No Buys and other money saving strategies, I have managed to save 60% of my take home income which is not onlt staggering to me but will probably have changed my relationship with money and shopping forever, so you could say it's been pretty life changing.