Last Updated on 27/09/2021 by Jenna
Hard to believe, but another three months have come and gone already. Summer is in full swing and I’m now six months into my low buy challenge – a full year of buying way less stuff. Has it been tough? Has it saved money? Why am I torturing myself with such consumer abstinence? Time for a quarterly review!
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Why Try the Low Buy Challenge?
If you’re a new reader (hello and welcome!), you likely missed some of the previous Minimalist Money posts which outlined my reasons for going low-buy this year. You can find those posts here. In a nutshell, the main incentives discussed in my Q1 update were to tighten up my budget, enjoy a greater degree of minimalism at home, and purge stuff so I can live lighter and more simply.
We’re constantly being targeted to buy new things. Whether by the retail sector with its incessant sales and “special offers,” Google and Facebook tracking our every move online and bombarding us with ads, or nerve-wracking email lists and newsletters (not mine, I only send sporadically and I never spam or share your address!), you really gotta cling to your wallet with an iron fist these days. Heck, even the eight-year-old next door is trying to peddle cookies to you to raise funds for his school because apparently the 50% in income taxes you’re paying annually isn’t enough to cover basic edu needs. 🤷🏻♀️
Cutting back on spending by budgeting, being more selective with your purchasing power, doing a strict no-buy year or a low-buy challenge can be very liberating. You start to focus more on sustainability, experiences, and value — quality over quantity. Instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses on the ‘Gram or divert yourself when you’re bored, feeling lonely, or hate your job, a low-buy challenge can offer you a breather to re-assess your habits. To better appreciate and use what you already have. Or to pare things down at home and weed stuff out so you live more simply. With less to worry about, less to take care of.
Oh, and you’ll have more money left over at the end of every month, too. More money to save and invest, or to put towards an experience, such as a class or a trip.
How Do You Stop Buying Things?
In previous posts, I outlined a simple framework to get started on a low-buy journey, and went into more depth on the most important action steps to take such as identifying your spending habits and defining rules that work for you. Check those out if you missed them.
There are a handful of things that really help get you going on your low-buying path in the beginning, especially if you have a tendency like me to shop when you’re bored. I found it really helpful to unsubscribe from retail newsletters and mailing lists, stay out of the shops, avoid temptation by planning ahead, and create new habits. Not having all those marketing promotions in front of my eyeballs everyday meant I wasn’t constantly talking myself into needing yet another black sweatshirt just because it was from Balenciaga and on sale. Knowing when I was most susceptible to defaulting to lazy takeaways instead of cooking allowed me to meal prep accordingly. Finally, replacing my online browsing habits with new things like an online language course also turned my attention away from consumerism.
How Did I Do in the Second Quarter of 2021?
All in all, things went even better for me than in Q1. While I had been finding it rather easy overall to get into the low-buy mindset once I set my initial rules up, some large annual expenses had hit me during the first quarter which I didn’t have to deal with in Q2.
Things opened up a bit again for us, and I was able to be out and about a bit more since late May. I still only spent €95 total in three months on drinks out and takeaways. That’s less than what I used to spend in a week prior to the pandemic.
I used up a bunch of beauty products throughout Q2 I had been hoarding. In retrospect, I was actually glad I had all this stuff at hand, because most of the products were things I more or less needed, but would not have had the extra cash for.
In the fashion department, my #1 weakness, I only purchased new tennis socks, pajama bottoms for the summer, and two tops that were on sale after I had sorted out another 20 or so old t-shirts. I admit I’m ashamed about the second of the two tops because I really didn’t need it and broke my own rule on that one. If I still haven’t worn it by next week I’ll return it, as it still has the tags on.
Long story short: I spent only €62 on clothing in three months total. By comparison, during the same time frame Q2 last year, I spent €6,485.
I’m not sure if Mercury was in retrograde in June or what. I managed to de-rail an entire heavy kitchen drawer one evening. Four of my glass doors started leaking rain during a heavy storm, soaking the hardwood floors. And I knocked over my favourite table lamp from Artemide one morning when I woke up with a pinched nerve in my neck at 4am. Boy was that the pits, and it landed me right back in physical therapy. The repair was pricey, but I opted to do it because it was far less than replacing the lamp. I also generally prefer repairing stuff whenever it makes $ense, and really using things until they fall apart.
The other drama at home involved the curtains in my sitting room, which are monstrously large. I managed to get one of four shawls down by myself without falling off the ladder and breaking my neck. It would not, however, come clean in my washer despite going through three (!) three-hour long cycles. The smog in them got twisted and trapped in the fabric and simply refused to wash out. I was near tears when I visited the decorator downstairs and begged him to come fetch and wash them for me in his professional machine. Thankfully, he did, but this was another bill that did not come cheap. He also scolded me for not having had washed the curtains in so long 😬
Additionally, I acquiesced to investing in some more things for this blog. I went all in on the Tailwind and Canva premium subscriptions because I really use both tools heavily. I also invested in the TastyPins plugin for my Pinterest descriptions, and shared the cost of SEO software with a friend. All together I spent around €175 in Q2 on tools for Tidymalism, which I hadn’t planned for.
Sticking With the Low Buy Challenge in Q3
Looking ahead to July, August, and September, I do have one of my most expensive months of the year approaching. I always know this, however, and prepare for it. August is the month I pay my annual automotive insurance in full. Plus the annual car tax, quarterly property taxes, and my annual legal insurance premiums. It’s a good chunk of change. Whenever possible though, I do prefer to opt for annual payments in full to get them out of the way. Plus, in the case of insurance policies, you can usually obtain a discount if you pay annually.
So August will be hard, but not as bad as Q1 was. After that it should be smooth sailing until January, my next bad month in terms of big annual bills.
As for this quarter we’re now in, I just joined the 2021 Slow Fashion Season, a 90-day pledge to purchase absolutely no new clothing. Check that out if you’re curious and want to join, too, or follow #fashiondetox on Instagram. We’re wearing what we have, borrowing and swapping, thrifting and making our own clothes in a stance against fast fashion. For me, I’m going to be literally shopping my own closet in Q3. I definitely still have a mountain of stuff from the last two years with the tags still on 🙈
In Q3 I also still have some items to sell from my big decluttering challenge earlier this year. I’m embarrassed to admit that. I did move quite a bit of stuff out, but it just takes forever to list everything. So I’ll continue chugging along with my sales on the second hand market.
Leave me a comment if you’re also on a low-buy challenge, and stay tuned for more in this series!