A No Spend Update

Slips, Trips and Soul Decisions: A No Spend Update

Author: Guest Post

Six months ago reader Jess pledged to cut down on buying non-essentials for a whole year. Today she’s back to fill us in on how she’s getting on with her no spend challenge.

Wow. Half a year without buying anything. I have to be honest, the time has flown. And I haven’t exactly not bought anything either – rules have been bent, changed, and quite frankly broken. But I’m OK with it and I’ve learned a lot on the journey so far.

Just to recap on the name of the game – I’m doing this one-year-no-purchase experiment so that I can step off the consumer express and pursue peace and happiness outside of owning more stuff. For someone who works in marketing I sure get sucked into buying a lot of crap to be honest with you. Six months ago I was very likely to be complaining that I had nothing to wear whilst rifling through hundreds of outfits (yet still ending in me buying something new). Today I have a lot less in my wardrobe and haven’t bought anything new to wear in that time (aside from a few items on my pre-approved list eg jeans and winter boots because I had none). And yet not once have I felt like I didn’t have anything to wear.

In fact, if anything, I feel like clothes just aren’t an issue anymore. I wake up, get dressed and go about my day – I just don’t really think about clothes so much anymore. I only kept the clothes that I love and so I love what I wear. Most days I pull on a (finally!) nice pair of jeans and a T-shirt with a cashmere jumper on top and that’s it – it’s simple and non descript but I’m comfortable and warm.

Prior to this project I would very rarely wear cashmere. I owned it but I kept it “for best” eg never. I would always wear the cheapest crappiest outfit I owned in case my baby was sick on it or I got it dirty. Now I only wear my favourite bits because it feels nice and I would rather wear this cashmere top every day until it’s worn out but know it’s been loved and worn – it’s of no use to anyone on a hanger that I sigh over every day.

So let’s get to the dirt! What did I buy that I shouldn’t have, right? When I started this project I went crazy and stopped buying everything but I realised one thing that was making me really sad was not buying crystals. Crystals have always been a part of my life, they make me really happy. But they felt indulgent so when I set these rules, not buying crystals became a part of my new way of life. But then my gorgeous dog Jasper died and overnight my world shattered. The first thing I did was go out and got a little jasper bracelet. I taught my little girl that if she put it on she could connect with Jasper spiritually. That little bracelet was £8 and yet it brought so much solace to our grieving family. It was around this time that I spoke with a wonderful jeweller locally to me who creates bespoke pieces. She agreed to create a red jasper necklace with his ashes in. Mel was wonderful. She let us choose the piece of jasper and sealed his ashes between the silver and the crystal, even engraving a special message on the back of the silver for me. This is the best thing I have ever bought – now I get to wear him close to my heart every single day.

I also commissioned a painting. A wonderful grand oil painting of Jasper from a local artist who blew me away with the piece. Not once during all of this time did I ever feel that I had bought something or broken the rules. Yet I know I did. But I realised that when we are purchasing, a lot of it is about intention. I didn’t buy the painting to make my home look nice or the necklace so I would look attractive, I did it out of the deepest love, the most genuine tribute to my best friend.

So I’m naming this “need not greed” – this idea that you NEED to buy something, not just for the greedy pursuit of consumption. Whether you NEED an item such as shampoo (functionally) or you need something emotionally as I did above, if the intent is pure then I am comfortable with that. During this time I realised just how sad I was to not be buying crystals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not endorsing mindless purchasing of any kind, (including crystals) but a month later when I was drawn to a piece of Labradorite I allowed myself to have it. I didn’t buy it immediately (Purchase Trap No 1), I went away and truly thought about it, consciously deciding whether I would want to care for this crystal, to bring it into my life. And I decided that yes, it would add light to my world. And I know I’m not buying stuff but I also don’t want to deprive myself of things that make me truly happy in moderation. I agree with buying for soul, not buying for show.

I think I may have become addicted to NOT buying stuff in the past six months because just having less stuff feels so good (apologies to my yoga teacher – I have put off buying new leggings for so long even though I desperately need some that I probably owe her a public apology – Lauren, I’m sorry that you are literally looking at my butt in every class now because my leggings are threadbare – I promise to buy new leggings as one of my “need not greed” purchases.

So that’s six months in my life right now. No new clothing (apart from the jeans, a tribute to my dog, a pair of boots and a couple of crystals). But I have looked at myself more, worked out what makes me happy, worked out WHO makes me happy, spent time digging beneath the marketing and learning about meaning. I can honestly say hand on heart that this experiment has changed my life and I’m actually really excited about the next six months.

That’s all from me on Project #NoSpend for now, see you in six months if not before!

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11 thoughts on “Slips, Trips and Soul Decisions: A No Spend Update

  1. Wow, well done! And sorry to hear about your dog 🙁 I hope the things you bought bring you some comfort. Do you think you will keep this up to this level once the twelve months are up?

    1. Hi Jade,

      Thanks for commenting! I really think I will keep it up. I will obviously buy more when I stop the challenge as I’ve been so strict about what I allow myself to buy but I don’t think I’ll ever go back to buying things unless I really need them or really love them, I just think I view it completely differently – I love the feeling of having less stuff and feeling more content. Plus I’m spending time that I probably would have spent shopping doing things I love – reading, writing, being with my dogs (I have two others) and playing on the beach with my kids, everything looks different after six months of no spending. I can honestly say hand on heart this challenge has changed my life.

  2. Wow, I love this! I could really feel your excitement while reading this! Good luck on the next six months and I’m looking forward to “hearing from you” then.

  3. I loved this article. More like this please. I think if we all did this for a period of time we’d see that most of us (myself included) waste so much money on needless items. It’s true that a considered, desired purchase is so much more satisfying that a spur of the moment item. I’m all for that. Sorry about the loss of your dog – they break our hearts don’t they – but glad that there are things you’ve bought that have brought you all comfort. Good luck for the next 6 months.

    1. Thank you so much Siobhan, I’m so happy to read your comment. I honestly bought so much crap, more than you can imagine (more than I can probably admit!) Just as an example, I’m currently only replacing an item once I have none left (e.g. I can’t replace a cleanser because I’ve finished a cleanser – unless I have no more cleansers in my bathroom) – I’ve worked out I think I can do the entire year of not buying without buying one cleanser because I own so many (who NEEDS a years supply of cleansers?!) I am totally heartbroken over Jasper, he was literally my best friend in the entire world, the painting I have of him is literally incredible and I love to see his face every day. Thank you so much, I’ll be back to update!

  4. This is fab – it’s amazing how easy it is to get caught up in the “oh I need to have x and y” and taking a conscious step back from that is such a good idea. I’m feeling inspired, Jess!

  5. Hi Jess, such a great thing you are doing for yourself and the environment, well done. I wondered where you got your new great jeans from as I’m also trying not to buy much especially cheap things that don’t last so I’m on the hunt for one pair of really good jeans – hopefully that don’t need pulling up all the time and don’t go baggy in between washes!

  6. Sorry about Jasper! That’s heartbreaking. And I absolutely think that your commemoration purchases do not break the rules. I love a good crystal myself Jess so I’ll let that one slide… The jeans and the boots though? How dare you not walk around barefoot in threadbare yoga pants for the next 6 months!! The cheek. only joking. You’re doing amazing! xo

  7. I absolutely love this! I remember reading your last update thinking “I must try this” and have done nothing much about it but in the past few months I’ve really become aware of a shift on social media about mindlessly buying stuff we don’t need, and that tied in with trying to limit plastci use is all weighing heavily on my mind right now. Between you and Naomi and feeling very inspired! 🙂

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