June was special for me - I followed the challenge set by the people of Debesy not to buy anything except food for yourself and the car. 1
And this month went easier than I expected. It turns out that such a seemingly crazy challenge is not so impossible after all!
...Not buying anything is not as difficult as it may seem.
But first, why put such a test to your discipline and your inner child who wants everything?
Why a month without shopping?
Here are some honest reasons why you too should try going shopping-free for a month. Thanks to this challenge…
- ...You will be able to reduce your growing debts. Or save money for something you've been wanting for a long time.
- ...You will be able to start the fight against your impulsive buying habits.
- ...You will be able to improve your discipline skills and strengthen your willpower.
- ...The fight against consumerism and deceptive advertising will begin.
- ...You will be able to remember or discover what is more important to you in life.
- ...You can always donate the money you save who need them more.
- ...You will save minutes and hours of your day, which you would otherwise waste choosing new products or comparing discounts. You will be able to use the excess time for other, more important work.
- ...You'll also save on your health bill, because you won't have to worry about whether the gift you bought (or another purchase) is good enough and won't break the next day.
Or at least you will notice that it's really nice to live more minimalistic.
Simple no-buy rules.
At first glance, the rules of the challenge are not complicated: not to buy anything for a whole month (or another selected period of time), except for food and transport (gasoline, tickets). 2
However, as I found out during the challenge, it's not that simple. The definition does not answer two questions:
- What exactly is a purchase?
- And what exactly is food for yourself and for transport?
Let's try to answer this...
*Costels and starts speaking in a professor's voice.*
We can say that purchase is the acquisition of a new thing or service by paying with other things, services, money, work or time. In other words, it is an exchange in which participants receive benefits.
*Coughs again and returns to Daniel's voice.*
Um While the definition is not bad, it does not answer - what exactly is an exchange? Here are two examples: donations and loans. It seems that there is no exchange here, but don't you become happier by donating a euro to your grandmother? And when you borrow, don't you promise to repay in the future?
Let's move on to the next question - what is food for self and transport? Is the popcorn you eat at the movies food or just candy? And plane tickets to Malaysia - can it be added to the cost of transportation?
Such questions occurred to me often during the challenge. They will rise for you too. The solution, however, is simple: In such cases, it is better to listen to the voice of common sense and choose what is really necessary.
In other words, if you really need new underwear, toothpaste, or toilet paper, buy it. But first make sure you can't live without it any longer. 😉
- First ask WHY?
- And then - do you REALLY need it?
You can, of course, choose your own way. After all, we each choose our own rules.
What did I learn in a month without shopping?
First: I need less new purchases than I thought.
Although I have never been a big spender, until I took the challenge I would still buy something new every other day: pencils, a new book, a notepad, some nice junk from AliExpress... And most of the time I didn't use any of those things to their full potential.
After a month I realized - I don't need all that. It turns out I had piles of pencils, 5 grandma has piles of unread books 6 and it turns out I didn't need that "interesting" junk to make myself happy.
It is possible that you too have such a problem of unnecessary purchases.
If you accumulate shopping receipts - review them. If you don't stock up, the next time you're standing in the store, check what you've put in your shopping cart. Do you really need everything? 7
Second: Saving money by not buying unnecessary things becomes... Too easy.
Likewise, I've never been one to spend my savings quickly. But living with this challenge, not saving has become... Impossible.
It would seem that food, transportation and housing make up the majority of expenses, so reducing non-related expenses will not make much of a difference. But this is not true - small and unnecessary purchases make up a bigger part of your expenses than you might think.
Remember the suggestion to look at the receipts? Do it now. It is possible that your little things make up a bigger part of the expenses than mine.
By getting rid of the need to buy loads of unnecessary stuff just because it's cheap, I managed to save over 100 euros this month. And when my total monthly expenses as a student are around 350-400 euros, they were reduced by 20-30 percent in June! 8
Third: The easiest way to not buy is to ignore purchases.
If there was only one piece of advice to be given to someone starting this challenge, 9 it would sound like this: ignore purchases.
I am talking about the truth that many know, but few apply - if the eyes do not see, the mind does not want to. If you don't visit shopping centers, it's like a church, if you don't browse through shops full of goods on the Internet, if, after all, you have less cash when you walk around the city, then you won't want to buy.
The biggest temptations I experienced were when I visited Maxima, various markets, or knowing that I have more than enough money in my bank account for a new self-development book. 10
Looking back at June, I can say that the month without shopping helped me. Although I've never been much of a shopaholic, 11 the challenge showed how, who and when I spend money. And at the same time, it helped me to discover piles of unused things that I would have bought new.
The challenge has shown me that I need less than what the store's advertisements on the Internet, TV or newspapers are trying to convey.
I didn't lose anything by buying less, I just gained. Not only in terms of money, but also in terms of peace of mind, true self-discipline. A month without shopping has taught me to say no. And I am very happy about that.
However, what do YOU think of the challenge? Will you join?
P.S By the way, before I even finished the challenge, Edmund from the cloud joined me. Here is his challenge blog!
After all, the car also needs to eat! 😉 ↩
Or you can customize the challenge for yourself. If you need to look after a child - don't be afraid, change the rules to your own.↩
So no sweets!↩
No flights and no rides because "there's nothing to do"!↩
But in another drawer...↩
Maybe you buy only because you are used to buying everything with a discount? My dad has this habit. Constantly buys everything, because it's a discount! What is the savings here if half of the purchases were not needed at all?↩
Update for 2016: 2 years after the no-buy challenge, my monthly expenses have dropped to 300-350 euros. And I'm not a student anymore. Don't buy challenges help you learn not to buy crap. I also wrote about it in the article presenting minimalism.↩
I hope it's you.↩
My friends always think I buy too few clothes.↩