Image by Micheile Henderson, Unsplash.com
In my quest for financial freedom, I struggled doing a ‘no buy’, so this is more of a ‘low buy’ than a ‘no buy’ update. I will include what I have purchased and the reasons why (otherwise known as excuses). Although I have restrained from buying things I simply don’t need, I have purchased items that will help me on my journey and even save me money. I do feel like I have made a couple of mistakes this year. But, overall, I feel like I have made some useful and practical planned rather than impulsive buys.
I do feel you would need the discipline of Rocky Balboa to do a ‘no buy’ year, for me the ‘low buy’ was more realistic and hence achievable. This really has worked for me, see my Financial Goals Progression Update to see the results of my low buy spending. Whilst this is a work in progress, I hope to continue this pretty much indefinitely as it is very sustainable for me. I don’t feel deprived at all, I feel more in control of my spending as I am now making more sensible purchases.
If you want to do this, my advice is start slow, start budgeting, you may relapse at first, habits take time to change, but don’t give up, and you will find spending less becomes second nature. It took me about six months of trying and failing, I relapsed quite a bit, but each pay day I got a little bit better, I am still learning. I found it useful to reflect on my purchasing, try to understand your spending, mine was emotionally based and very impulsive. However, you will find the progress and savings you make, will make you feel a sense of achievement and in control of your finances, giving you a greater fix than any impulsive buys can.
Although it may not seem like, this is a vast difference to my spending habits compared to the first six months of 2019. See Financial Goals Update, this reflects the results of my low buy efforts. Whilst a low buy year is one of my financial goals, I feel like it justified a post of it’s own, so here goes!
I have been asking myself the following ‘Stop and Think’ questions prior to making a purchase, I suggest you do the same or come up with your own questions to make you shop with intention:
- Do I really need this?
- Is it worth the money?
- Do I already have similar that will do the same job?
- Have I researched cheaper alternatives and ‘shopped around’?
- Can I delay purchasing this, for example 1 month, 6 months or 1 year?
- Can I share the cost with someone else?
- Does this add to my life in terms of helping to make my life easier, improve my finances, help me achieve my goals, or my personal development?
If I can delay a purchase, I will either put in my planner to consider at a future date. If at that date, I decide I want or need the item, I will then schedule in my budget planner for future purchasing.
My January to July 2020 Buys (Excuses Included!)
I have excluded food, hygiene/beauty items from this list because they are either minimal or essential (to me) items.
Fire / Waterproof Document Wallet (£12.99 Amazon)- I have put all my important documents in this, e.g. passport, birth certificate, insurance and mortgage documents and a few more. I thought this was important for a number of reasons a) important documents are protected in case of fire or flood, b) they are easy to grab if I need to evacuate my home quickly and c) all my important docs are together in one place.
External Hard Drive (£21.49 Amazon) – This has been on my ‘to buy’ list for literally years, and after losing some sentimental photos and videos last year of my dog that passed away, I have took the plunge and purchased an external hard drive. I considered this to be pretty important, to back up my computer for obvious reasons. Initially I found one I wanted to purchase, but then decided to do some research and found that I didn’t need one with that much storage, so opted for one with smaller storage space of 160GB (more than adequate for me) and a smaller price tag too.
Strata storage boxes – As part of my decluttering and organising I have purchased 8 x Strata storage boxes (2 x 40 Ltr and 6 x 12 Ltr), I have mostly stored books in the 12 Ltr boxes. Although I have donated many books, these are ones I want to keep a) because I haven’t read them or b) because I want to read again. I have also stored some surplus items in my shed from my kitchen which I don’t use very often or surplus cleaning products I will use when I use existing products. I have also used some for my underbed storage to store winter items like socks, hats, scarves etc. I purchased 1 x 12 Ltr from Amazon (£7.19) and 7 from Findmysupplies.co.uk (5 x 12 Ltr @ £3.90 each and 2 40 Ltr at £6.58 each), less than half the prices on Amazon and free shipping for orders over £14, so I feel like I received free storage boxes with the savings I made. This is why the internet is so great, you can shop for the best deals.
Builders Bucket (£5.99 Amazon)- I mainly use this for collecting weeds from the garden. I feel this was a little overpriced as I know I could have gotten a couple of pounds cheaper, but it would have cost me more to go out to get one and with lockdown I thought it best to just order online and it is a good quality strong bucket so should last a lifetime.
Washing Machine Laundry Ball (£8.99 Amazon) – I purchased this to save money on washing capsules and fabric conditioner for my clothes. The ball cleans your clothes, I should get about 1200 wash cycles out of it, it seems to be doing a good job so far, I just use dryer sheets in the dryer to add more fragrance. The only thing I am using washing capsules and fabric conditioner for now is the bedding. This should save me a significant amount of money over time as I find washing capsules and fabric conditioner to be quite expensive in the U.K.
Rucksack (£34.99 Amazon) – I purchased this just after lockdown as I started to read up about prepping. When Coronavirus hit the U.K. I struggled to get toilet paper and certain food items that I use, I didn’t have much food in the house and as I’m vegan this made things difficult. Somehow, I came across prepping for emergencies and pandemics etc. online. The rucksack was a mistake item really. I read about having a B.O.B. (Bug out Bag), if you have to leave your home in an emergency, whilst it is useful, it is not really a priority for me at this time and it sits empty at the moment.
The pandemic (and lack of toilet paper) has made me realise how vulnerable we all are and how fragile our supply and economic systems are, not just in terms of the pandemic itself but supply shortages, food shortages, economic and societal collapse. Whilst I don’t plan on becoming an extreme prepper, e.g. I don’t plan on building an underground bunker). I do want to be more prepared than I was, it’s just being sensible and prevents panic buying when the SHTF.
I have purchased some bottled water, an extra packet of toilet rolls and some some tinned fruit, not much, but a start. I am trying to purchase 1 extra item every time I shop, so at least I have a few weeks worth of supplies. At this rate I should be well prepared for an emergency by 2040, but hey, it’s a start! I may do a post about my prepping, as I found some of the prepping advice online is a bit extreme, not always practical, focused more on scenarios that are unlikely to happen in the U.K. and I think could easily become an obsession. Although, I think if we all did a little bit of prepping, we could prevent panic buying in the future and gain some peace of mind too.
Alexa Amazon Fire Stick (£39.99) – The lockdown had a great influence on my purchasing of the Amazon Fire Stick, as I had more time to watch series such as ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Lost’ and some films too.
Two Window Frames included fitting (£680) – These were long overdue and essential for my lodger’s bedroom.
Water Tank / Butt (£36) – For watering pots and vegetables in the garden, saving me money as I am on a water meter.
Body Weighing Scales (£21) – These are to motivate me to lose weight, post-lockdown, they are small and link in with an app on your phone, it measures BMI amongst other things. I am doing a low FODMAP elimination diet and lost 6lb in the first 4 days.
Weed Burner (£21) – This was great for killing weeds in-between flagging, it really saved my back, until it broke 1 month later.
Will (£258) – I have finally, at the age of 52 had my Will drawn up by a Solicitor. I have wanted to do this for so many years, and it is only my low buy that has enabled me to prioritise and finally get this done. I am also getting other areas of my life in order, to save any headaches for my family, should I ‘pop my clogs’.
- 100 Steps to Financial Independence: The Definitive Roadmap to achieving your financial dreams by Natalie Inge Hol (£14.99 Amazon) – Literally 100 steps with actions, a large book too.
- PDF Books ‘Money: Master the Game‘ – Tony Robbins (£3.40 Ebay), The Simple Path to Wealth’, JL Collins – (99p Ebay), ‘The Total Money Makeover‘ – Dave Ramsey (£1.14 Ebay), I will Teach you to be Rich‘ – Ramit Sethi (99p Ebay), Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki (£1.19 Ebay), ‘The Richest Man in Babylon‘ – George Clason (£1.35 Ebay), ‘The Millionaire Next Door’ – Thomas J. Stanley, William D. Danko (£2.99 eBay) and ‘The Intelligent Investor‘ – Benjamin Graham (99p Ebay)
- Clever Fox Budget Planner (£14.99 Amazon) – This has really helped me keep on track of my budget and spending, I have tried many methods but enjoy using this planner.
- The Meaningful Money Handbook – Pete Matthew (£5.04) waste of money as it was faulty, pages mixed up so impossible to read, but cheap, so it wasn’t worth sending back.
- 100 Day Goal Journal (£11.38) – this is helping me focus on one particular goal I have, with the aim of achieving this in One Hundred days, purchased from Amazon
- The 5 Personality Patterns: Your guide to understanding yourself and others and developing emotional maturity – Steven Kessler (£15.66 Amazon) – Haven’t started to read this yet, but this is to help my ongoing self-awareness journey.
- Attachment Theory Workbook – David Lawson (£13.86 Amazon)- again part of my self-awareness journey
- Parent Yourself Again – Yong Kang Chan, Kindle book (£3.49 Amazon) – as above
- The Comprehensive INFP Survival Guide – Heidi Priebe (£4.88 Amazon) – another self-awareness book, yes I have been quite big on self-awareness this year. I am learning things about myself which explains a lot about my behaviours, emotions and patterns, particularly about my relationships, not only with others but myself.
For Interest or Hobbies
- The Preppers Blueprint – Tess Pennington and Daisy Luther (£16.27 Amazon) – quite expensive but very informative and information is presented in priority order.
- PDF Book ‘Good Vibes, Good Life‘ – Vex King (£1.49) Ebay – I want a good life obviously.
- Set of 4 Sudoku Books (£6.49) Amazon – to keep my brain active during lockdown.
- The Ultimate Tarot Journal and Notebook – I purchased this after completing my Tarot course for continued learning and reference.
I love learning and consider ongoing learning to be an essential investment in yourself.
I have recently completed two online courses on the Centreforexcellence.com website; Tarot Reading Diploma and Law of Attraction Course. I thoroughly enjoyed both courses and continue to develop and practice what I learned from them, although, I have a long way to go. They are U.K. based, unsure if you can access in other countries, but they have a wide selection of courses including lots of spirituality courses (my personal interest) and everything from business, writing, counselling, reiki, history, animal care courses and much much more. They have courses discounted at certain times of the year, January for example and they had a huge discount during the start of the lockdown, so I purchased these courses for £29 each, the original costs were £197 each, so quite a significant saving.
Lots of courses are certified and accredited. You can do the course at your own pace, you have access to it indefinitely, there are assessments to complete as you go work through the modules to aid learning. I really enjoyed them and the quality of the courses are excellent.
You can register for free without taking a course, and you will receive notifications of discount codes, go have a browse, Centreforexcellence.com. Investing in yourself through learning whether for career progression or personal development / interest is never wasted money.
Clothes and Accessories
- Two Sun Dresses – One was in the sale for £18.90 from Accessorize.com and really nice quality, it has come in very useful during our recent hot spell in the U.K. Still waiting for the other one to be delivered from Asos.com, (£20). Everything is a bit of a snug fit (understatement) from last summer due to the ‘Lockdown Diet’
- Cross Body Bag (£30 Asos) – I purchased this bag because it was neutral in colour, so will go with anything, influenced by my fantasy of having a capsule wardrobe, one day …….
- Top (£28 Asos) – I have had my eye on this top for a while, so no regrets here.
Other Items For the Home
- 2 x Pillows (£16.97), Duvet Set (£28.20), Fitted Bedsheet (£18.99) Amazon – all purchased for the new lodger as previous one had his own, but my new lodger brought his own. I should have checked first, but I did use them to take pictures for advertising the room, and have them for future.
- Door Fly Screen Net (£5.99) Ebay – last years was a bit tatty, but I do tend to buy a new one each year.
- 2 x Frying Pans (£36.97) Amazon – My old ones were well used, probably about 20 years old, so time for new ones. Really nice quality, actually non-stick and easy to clean.
Other Miscellaneous Purchases
- Rapesco Stapler (£2.58) and Rapesco Tape Dispenser (£7.20) Amazon – These are really good quality heavy duty ones, my previous tape dispenser had broken, my stapler was rubbish (would jam constantly) plus these items were discounted so I got a bargain. These are such good quality they should last a lifetime.
- Ink Cartridge (£11.99) – to replace ink on my printer
- Frixion Refills (£5.38 Amazon) – for my erasable pen which I use for my planner, so there are not lots of crossings out.
- Q Connect 3/4 Cover Expanding Punched Pockets A4 5 Pack (£8.10 Amazon) – Love these as they keep all my project paperwork organised and easily accessible, very strong and again hopefully last a lifetime.
- Rolson Four Way Service Utility Key (£2.48) – don’t ask, but part of my prepping, will probably never use but Oh well, was very cheap
- 2 x Amazon Prime videos (before purchasing the Amazon Fire Stick) @ 0.99p each (The Survivalist – disturbing and The Road – still disturbing but enjoyed watching this more)
Whilst the above may look like a lot of spending for 2020 so far, I felt most of my purchases were practical, and mostly not wasted money. Some items such as the windows, fire / water proof document wallet, external hard rive, and Will, are things I have wanted / needed for a number of years, so certainly not impulsive buys and I feel necessary to have.
I did particularly well in the clothing category, I have only spend a total of £96.90, this is actually from November 2019, so an average of £12.11 per month, as someone that used to spend at least £200, sometimes up to £400 per month on clothes usually on credit cards, that’s a significant improvement. I am wearing clothes that have been on ‘lockdown in my wardrobe’ for quite some time, they are actually being used now, some of which I had forgotten I bought (shameful)!
Unfortunately I don’t have a spending log of what I used to spend, but I know it was significantly more that what I currently spend. I know this because I could spend £500 in one month previously and after tightening my purse strings, I am certainly not going without, so I feel I am doing rather well. I will try to improve on this for rest of 2020 and should be able to, as some of these were one off purchases that should last a long time, my pans and external hard drive for example. I am not going to aim to do any better in the clothes category, because I think £12.11 a month is pretty good.
I could definitely cut down on my books and utilise the internet more for information. Although, I feel some of my books are helpful in my financial freedom journey and also my self development. I would also like in future to spend more money on items that will save me money, items such as the Laundry ball which will probably save me several hundred pounds over the next few years.
Low Buy Tips:
- Have your ‘Stop and Think’ questions (scroll up)
- Start in one area, I started with reducing my clothing spends, then books
- Make the time to do a budget, track your spending, this is key
- Reflect on your purchases, are there any you regret, why?
- Track your progress, how much have you saved? this gives you motivation
- If there are things you want, schedule them into your planner or budget
- Shop around, don’t just go to familiar websites assuming they give the best deals, I have recently found this not always to be the case.
- Have specific financial goals both long-term and for the next 12 months and why you want to achieve them, how will it benefit you? how will it make you feel etc.?
- Figure out what’s more important, achieving your financial goals or getting your quick fix shoppers high.
- Keep a notebook dedicated to your financial freedom, you can put your goals, ideas and any good tips you have found. I have an A5 project book for this, for my ideas, to record any useful tips I have found, action plans, next steps and also to do my spending reflections. I schedule any actions into my planner.
- Allocate money for different areas; clothes, self-development and learning, home maintenance, hobbies. Just limit the amount you are allowed to spend in each area, better still, don’t spend these monthly, save them up so you can get a bigger purchase later on. Allocating money like this, helps you not feel too deprived, unless you are disciplined enough to do the ‘no buy’, then go for it ‘Rocky’!
So there you go my low buy update, I hope you found it useful and encouraging to change your spending habits. As I say, it is a work in progress, but I want this to be a long-term if not permanent change to my spending habits. If you need more encouragement, do check out my Financial Goals Progression post which as mentioned is proof that my new habits are improving my finances. As someone who sometimes lacks motivation, I am now highly motivated probably because of the results I am seeing. Remember progress is progress, even if you are saving £1 a month, you are moving in the right direction and this is how you gain momentum to achieve your financial goals.