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!