It is Time for Extreme Measures!

I have been feeling really anxious about a big life change that is coming my way in January. The details are still being finalized so I’m going to wait to discuss it in a future post. For now, let’s just say that it’s imperative that I get my financial shit straight. This is the fourth month of my journey and nothing seems to be clicking in the way I had hoped it would. 

I have realized that I can save us money on our groceries and there are a few tricks I’m learning that should lead to a decreased heating bill next month but otherwise, it seems as if we are destined to continue to have a low savings rate. I look at the money that we are spending and everything seems justifiable. We need everything I buy…bullshit! 

I’m calling myself out on this bullshit excuse I keep telling myself. I mean for the love! I have 12 effing candles under my kitchen sink. I recently added two more to that collection because they were on sale. I absolutely did not need them!  

I just received some new ink pens from Amazon that I ordered…let’s add those to the 27 I just collected when I cleaned out the junk drawer. That box of cold medicine I picked up on the way home because I’m currently sick, I’ll just add that to the two half used boxes in the medicine cabinet.

I’m really glad I asked for those fancy dish towels from Williams Sonoma for Christmas, I will just add those to the 14 that are already in the drawer. Enough already! It’s obvious that the clutter in my home and my over spending go hand in hand. The inflow of stuff is because I shop without taking stock of what we currently own. I buy items before using up the items I already have. I continue to bring new items into my home that aren’t needed, wasting money, yet justifying every purchase.

Realizing all of this over Christmas break led me to re-listen to old podcasts on minimalism, something I once dabbled in but never quite got the hang of, and its got me thinking that I need to do something beyond decluttering.I can get rid of a bunch of stuff but if I don’t stop bringing more stuff into my home the problem of clutter and overspending will just continue. It’s time to do something extreme…So I’ve decided that 2020 will be a “No Buy Year”. 

If you haven’t heard of a “No Buy Year” the gist of it is that you establish some rules for yourself about items you can and can’t buy in the hopes of breaking your current bad spending habits. There are a few blogs and vlogs by people who completed a NBY but honestly, there aren’t that many because it’s really hard to do. 

You have to identify your problem areas, like candles, and learn to walk right past them every single time you enter the grocery store. You have to refuse to purchase one even if the Yankee candle scent that’s your absolute favorite is on sale for 95% off, you must refuse to place it in your cart. Refusing to purchase these temptations occasionally isn’t that hard but refusing them for a full year is going to be really really difficult. But I feel it’s necessary for me to get control of my clutter and my spending. 

My husband doesn’t do extreme so I’m excluding him from this. He isn’t the reason our spending is out of control, I am. My kiddo is also excluded but as I am the one that does all her shopping the onus falls on me. Yes, she is growing and will need new clothes but I can limit the number of clothes I buy for her. She will need school supplies this year but she can have the basics. I will have to be careful to avoid what I’m going to term as “shift spending” which is where I overbuy for others because I can’t buy for myself. There is a certain joyful buzz that comes with spending and I must make sure I’m not seeking that out in the name of being generous to others. I will need to question my own motives before making purchases.

My goals for my NBY 2020 are to decrease the inflow of items into our home thus decreasing our clutter, decrease our environmental impact, and break my bad spending habits. I’m also hoping to learn to delay my gratification a little. Remember when you were a kid and you had to wait until your birthday or Christmas to get that toy you had been coveting? Well I’m hoping to relearn what that anticipation feels like. 

The Rules for my No Buy Year:

1) It starts on January 1, 2020 and ends on January 1, 2021

2) Gifts for family and friends are excluded items but need to be limited to birthdays and holidays.

3) I may use gift cards that I receive for my birthday and holidays but only to replace worn out items I already own. 

4) Curtains for the home we moved into this year. They are the only allowed interior decor purchase.

5) I can not cheat and ask my husband to buy the item I’m tempted to purchase.

6) Work related items are excluded.

7) I can buy Art/craft supplies for my kiddo but will refrain from buying new craft projects until the ones we currently own are completed or the supplies are used up.

8) Avoid trigger stores as much as possible. It’s too much temptation to even enter these stores so I’m not going to put myself in these situations at all as I will be setting myself up for failure.

There are 3 categories:

Items I can not buy unless flood or fire destroys everything we own

Items I can replace once the current items are used up or nonfunctioning 

Items I can buy but will massively decrease my use of because of the chemicals they contain, the expense of the items and the environmental impact. 

Items I absolutely cannot buy in 2020 unless a disaster happens such as a flood or fire:

  • hot tea (I love the idea of being a tea drinker but prefer coffee. I have 5 unopened boxes of tea in the pantry right now)
  • Candles 
  • Kitchen gadgets 
  • dryer sheets (bad for the environment and full of chemicals so i bought reusable dryer balls)
  • Vases
  • Toys for my child outside of her birthday and Christmas
  • Clothes for myself
  • Accessories
  • Expensive hair products (anything over $5)
  • Interior home decor
  • Interior seasonal decor
  • Foods specific to a diet plan (no more paleo protein bars, coconut oil I never use, or protein powders for smoothies I never made)
  • Anything I don’t actually need that I would normally buy just because it’s on sale
  • Fitness items (I don’t use the items I already own)
  • Birthday cards (have my child make them instead)
  • Nail polish
  • Linens of any kind
  • Books (I can sell my books for credit at the local used bookstore or go to my library)
  • Pedicures or manicures (unless given to me as a gift)
  • Massages (unless given to me as a gift)

Items I can replace as they are used up:

  • Ink pens, tape, paper and other home office supplies
  • make up
  • essential oils
  • hygiene products (there are 4 deodorants in my bathroom drawer)
  • Electronics (but it’s my goal to replace these items for free using credit card points)
  • medications
  • pantry items such as flour and salt
  • cleaning supplies

Items I wish to massively decrease my consumption of in 2020:

  • paper towels
  • plastic bags
  • items bought new (try to buy second hand if possible)
  • Processed foods
  • hair color (I’m slowly decreasing the highlights in my hair to decrease my salon visits)
  • Buying anything online (attempt to buy local to decrease my environmental footprint)
  • Commercial cleaners (attempt to use vinegar, baking soda etc) 

This is going to be one of the toughest personal challenges I have ever placed on myself. I must be totally transparent and say as I write this I’m thinking of all the things i should run out and buy before this challenge starts, which is highlighting that there is an unidentified itch that gets scratched with every purchase.

People who have successfully completed a NBY say it changed them in many ways and almost every single person agrees that they were faced with demons they didn’t know existed. Their tendency to overbuy makeup was because they lacked self esteem or their abundance of clothes was more about being identified as successful by their peers than it was a love of fashion. I have no doubt I will be faced with my own demons over the next year. Wish me luck as I fight them off and move forward on this journey. 

Thanks for reading,


2 thoughts on “It is Time for Extreme Measures!

  1. I look forward to your blog updates! FIRE blogs that aren’t all spreadsheets and technical details are rare – and your blog talks about things that are relevant to every household not just FIRE’s.

    You can do this – it’s a shift in mindset but like any habit can be broken! I did a no buy year for clothes a few years ago (apart from things like underwear if needed replacing) and it completely changed my relationship with my wardrobe (closet). I am on the road to minimalism but I think really for most people it’s a journey not a destination. But what I found with my clothing was a more considered (and smaller) number of items has meant I have more ‘to wear’ than ever before. The Curated Closet by is a good start!

    I use Libby the library app – and this has helped me stop buying books – sometimes the things we value as ‘worthy’ or not blatant consumerist items get a pass from scrutiny – but they are still non-essential. I will also use your list as inspiration.

    Good luck and I look forward to reading how you are going from a very hot and firey (not in a good way) Australia.


    1. This response made my day! Thank you so much for the encouragement. I am nervous that I won’t be successful. Already a family member is telling me about something I “just have to buy” and it made my skin crawl a little that I can’t run out and buy the item. I definitely have lots of inner work to do. I appreciate all your suggestions and will definitely look into them.
      On a side note, I hope you are safe and no where near the fires!
      Happy New Year from the USA


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