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A Buy-Nothing Year: Halfway Point Already (Finally)!

September 18, 2019

I’m already (finally) six months into my buy-nothing year. As I explained at the beginning of my challenge, the goal is to rethink my relationship towards material things. This initiative stems from my wish to impart healthy consumer habits to my daughter.

THE Question: Did I Buy Anything?

I believe that’s THE question that comes up most often when people talk to me about my challenge. The answer: “Yes, of course!” I’ve had to make some purchases. As life would have it, my first buy came rather quickly when a toilet part broke at home. Not the most exciting expense, but definitely an “essential.” However, determining whether I should buy something or not has not always been as obvious as the decision to repair my toilet!

It may seem easy to discern essentials from non-essentials. Basic food, clothing and bills clearly fall within the “essential” category, but what about skincare, makeup or sports clothing to work out? This challenge has and still leads me to reflect on what really matters to me.

Here is a complete list of my essential purchases during the first six months of this challenge:

  • Toilet part that needed replacing: This item is self-explanatory.
  • Mascara: I decided to maintain a minimal beauty routine with basic products.
  • Sunglasses for my daughter: This is the only purchase I regret, which I had to make quickly after an eye exam. The optometrist used drops to dilate my daughter’s pupils and she complained the sunlight was bothering her afterwards. So I bought low-cost (slash poor quality) shades that broke just a few days later.
  • Washable sanitary pads: I don’t regret my choice since I won’t have to buy the disposable kind anymore.
  • Summer clothes for my daughter: I didn’t go crazy; I only bought the basics and in reasonable quantity. I also decided to try my luck at a thrift shop and I found everything she needed at a lower price.
  • A pair of sandals and a pair of ballet flats for me: Both pairs broke last year and I didn’t have spares.
  • Toothbrushes: I chose bamboo toothbrushes; a more environmentally friendly choice given they are almost entirely compostable.
  • Tablet: my laptop chose this particular year to die on me! After consideration, I decided to replace it with a tablet, which better suits my needs.   
  • Swimsuit: the only one I owned was completely faded.

I could also list all the purchases I didn’t make because they didn’t fall within the scope of my challenge… but it would be very long. However, I do want to share one particular anecdote. 

My Little Jogging Mittens

I know I’m not the only one with a box filled with a variety of tuques, pairs of mittens, neck warmers and scarves. But on cold days, I always went for my little black jogging mittens, a big favourite I had purchased two or three years ago. Obviously, I chose this year to forget them on the bus (which is really unlike me). And since I had other mittens, I could not replace these as it wasn’t a necessity—but you can bet I still miss them! What an eye opener: I understood it was better to own fewer items, but quality ones that I really like.

Halfway Point Report

Although the last six months flew by, they weren't always easy. I realized that often, my desire to make purchases was emotion-driven. A hard day, boredom or the desire to pamper myself combined with well-placed social media ads was all it took for me to suddenly question whether or not I could purchase an item. Of course, 99.9% of the time the answer was NO. In the past, I probably would have given in to my impulse and spent money for the fleeting thrill of the buy.

I’m quite proud to share the following snapshot of my finances after six months, compared to the one at the start of the year:  

% of my income spent on each budget item

Category

Balance Sheet:
Start of Year

January to December 2018

Balance Sheet:

Last 6 Months
January to June 2019

Difference

Savings and insurance

5.97%

31.71%

+25.74%

Food

29.13%

23.42%

-5.71%

Housing

22.26%

20.76%

-1.5%

Daycare/School and RESP

2.04%

7.90%

+5.86%

Hobbies and vacation

11.88%

5.90%

-5.98%

Transportation

4.45%

5.45%

+1%

Telecommunications

4.37%

3.31%

-1.06%

Retail Stores

13.52%

1.55%

-18.35%

Health

4.28%

Miscellaneous

2.10%

 

Quite a change, wouldn’t you agree?

 

See you in six months for the final report! Until then, if ever you want to chat about my challenge, please send me your comments via Universitas Financial’s Facebook page.

 

A Universitas mom

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Par Stéphanie Deslauriers