Low Buy Year Results Are In! The Q4 Update

Close-up photograph of used-up "empties" from the bathroom: products like hair conditioner, facial serum, toothpaste, creams and lipsticks.

Part seven in the Low Buy Series. My low-buy year is over. How did things pan out? What could have been done better? Let’s have a look.

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It’s been one whole year of shopping less, combating clutter, and cutting costs. The low buy year results for Q4 are in!

If you’re new to this series and would prefer to read along in chronological order, head to the Low Buy page or bottom of this post to find the entire series. You’ll find how-tos, tips, and all my quarterly updates there.

Why and How I Started a Low-Buy Challenge

At the onset of my low-buy challenge, I had a few different goals in mind. I knew I had a longer phase of unemployment on the horizon following a round of redundancies at my company. So my number one objective was, logically, to clamp down on spending fast.  At the same time though, I simply wanted to introduce a greater sense of minimalism at home, use what I have, and purge stuff.

Years ago when I moved into my little penthouse, I had downsized my flat and gotten rid of about one-third of my household. Despite this, things had really started piling up again in recent years. My shopping habits for my wardrobe in particular had escalated. I wouldn’t say they were out of control or that I had a shopping addiction, but I definitely had a tendency to browse and shop when I was feeling lonely or restless.

The first thing I did before embarking on a low buy year was to review my budget and really assess my spending habits. Based on this, I was able to create practical rules for a low buy year, and decide on what to stop buying. As I progressed further into the low-buy game, I not only decluttered 465 items from my home, but also mapped out an easy framework to stop buying stuff you don’t need (or never wear).

Keys to Low-Buy Success

Getting the low buy year results you really want to see means you need to set measurable goals. Doing the above spending assessment with earnest intent and defining rules that work for you are the keys to success.

As mentioned in previous posts, taking away from yourself the little things you most enjoy can set you up for failure. I feel really off if I don’t get a manicure every two or so weeks. During my low buy year, I made no attempt whatsoever to cut my nail salon costs. It would have been futile. So to keep my regular nail appointments, I cut back on other things which had less value to me, such as subscriptions I rarely used.

My biggest spending areas prior to going low-buy had boiled down to fashion, going out, travel, and beauty products. Transportation and hotel costs had already been pretty much sliced due to world events, so I didn’t have to make any adjustments there. In the end, the rules I worked with all throughout the year boiled down to:

  • No extra beauty products: only cosmetic and skincare refills I ran out of and needed again could be purchased.
  • No new clothes, shoes or accessories. I was allowed, however, to use two vouchers before they expire, and I said I could purchase a certain bespoke item I had ordered last February if it actually ever arrived.
  • Eat out less: I may only get two takeaways or inexpensive meals out per month.
  • Kill the subscriptions: I only allowed myself to keep the ones I actually use multiple times a week.

My Low Buy Year Results In Q4

The fourth quarter went pretty much according to plan. I stayed on track for the most part, and am happy with my results overall. Here’s how everything panned out.

The Good

As autumn was upon us, I was no longer out and about very much, and I was taking a break from dating anyway. This meant it was super easy to stick to my eating out rule. I only spent €38 on a couple of meals outside in October, €17 in November and €0 in December. Prior to going low-buy, I had easily spent about €100 per week and far more when I was travelling.

In the beauty department, I also stuck to my rules and only purchased a few refills of things I needed such as my CaudelΓ­e cashmere face cream and Frownies (possibly the greatest beauty invention of all time if you ask me). I also had to pick up the usual toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant and conditioner refills, but I stayed pretty much clear of new fads and I did not purchase any makeup except for a refill of my Benefit High Brow pencil.

Photo of empty beauty products used up over the course of one quarter of a low buy challenge. Getting good low buy year results means using up the products you already have at hand.
Another round of beauty empties from products I used up over Q4

I’m also super happy to be finishing the year off with one remaining voucher from my favourite online store, Luisaviaroma, which I still haven’t used. It doesn’t expire until June so I’m looking forward to getting myself something nice from my forbidden realm of fashion, perhaps for the start of spring.

The (Kinda) Bad

Per the usual, some unexpected expenses cropped up again this past quarter. For example, I had known since August that I will need to have another nasal laser procedure so I can breathe better. Much like in August, that ran me €180 plus some trivial costs for additional nasal salves and sprays post-operation.

I went to Paris for a spontaneous short trip in late November. While I did not have to pay anything at all for my hotel (I used up some free nights which were going to expire at year’s end), I had not budgeted for the flight. It wasn’t too expensive, ultimately, but still not ideal in my current situation of ongoing unemployment. I don’t regret it, however. The trip not only did me well, but it also really proved how much I’ve changed over the past year.

I used to always be a tour de force when it came to shopping in Paris, leaving a whirlwind trail of receipts behind me all over the 1st arrondissement. All I bought this time were a new tube of Embryolisse, and a refill of my fave CC cream from Erborian. Both are staples I use daily, and they were more inexpensive there compared to back home. I looked at other things, I browsed a bit, I even fought the crowds at Galeries Lafayette on Haussmann. But there was nothing I needed and it didn’t feel good anymore. I really do feel satiated in terms of wanting and shopping.

In the clothing arena, I’m ashamed to admit I broke my rule twice. Once for new jeans, and once for a dress. Fortunately, these items were inexpensive (both on sale at €17 and €69, respectively). I also understand what had led me to shop: I was severely down and trying to make myself feel better. To be fair, the jeans were a replacement for an ill-fitting pair I had sorted out the day before, and the stunning dress normally would have cost €400.

The Untimely

I got a call in early November to come and fetch a bespoke item I had been waiting on for over a year and a half. I had ordered it back in February 2020. While I was dying for it to arrive, I was sort of glad it was taking them so long to make it. I secretly hoped it would not arrive until after I have a new job. Alas. It was not something one could simply say no to. Fortunately though, I had set aside the purchase price back when I ordered it. So while it did put quite a dent in my wallet, it was an expenditure I had known all year long could crop up.

Looking Ahead to Next Year

All in all, my low buy year results were very positive. Plus, I was able to really understand what triggers my spending. That’s probably half the battle when going low-buy! The challenge was not difficult thanks to good preparations. In such, I have decided to continue on this low buy journey for a second year in a row.

I’ve actually really enjoyed being more selective with my purchases and I’ve grown more appreciative of the things I have. It’s also been motivating to see how I’ve gained a bit more space in cabinets, closets, and drawers as I continue decluttering and working through my Swedish death cleaning checklist in parallel to low-buying. It’s true that you start to focus more on sustainability, experiences, and good value instead of just amassing stuff or trying to escape from life’s frustrations.

Plus I am really starting to value how wonderful it is to live with less. Doing a low buy year results in lighter living. That doesn’t just mean you have more money in your account. You also have less stuff to maintain, clean, and insure!

Have you done a low buy challenge before, or are you doing one this year? Leave us a comment below and share your experience!

Check out the entire Low-Buy Series here at Tidymalism!

How to Start a Low-Buy Year
Q1 Update
How to Do a Low Buy Year: Narrowing Down Categories & Creating Rules
Q2 Update
Q3 Update
Planning a Low Buy Challenge for the New Year
Q4 Update

Cropped, close up photo of a small coin purse against a grey backdrop. The little purse has a clasp closure and is open to show eurocents and rolled 20 and 100 euro notes. Caption reads: finishing a low buy year with success. A Q4 update.
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