Buy (Almost) Nothing New

on Life, Style  

As we came towards the end of our big Eurotrip and were faced with returning home to depleted savings and a year on a single income, I started thinking about my spending habits. I reeled things in quite a lot whilst saving up for the trip, but ended up indulging in some fast fashion in Europe where I had access to Zara, H&M, Gap and other big brands that have yet to make it to Perth. Since returning, I’ve been doing my best to buy (almost) nothing new, and this is something I’m hoping to keep up for the rest of the year. This doesn’t just apply to fashion, but also kitchenware (we have at least as many boxes of kitchen stuff as all our clothes combined), gadgets, furniture, house stuff and camera gear.

Here’s the plan. When I want something, I will:

  • think about whether I have something else that can serve the purpose
  • think about whether I can adapt something I already have
  • try and find whatever it is secondhand, even if it requires some alterations
  • try and make it myself
  • wait until next year to buy if none of the above works
  • only buy new if the above doesn’t work and I actually need it now

The point isn’t to torture myself, but to think about the alternatives instead of hitting up online stores. I know that great things can be found in secondhand shops or verge collections, I know I can learn to make things if I have to, I know that I should take the time to properly think out new purchases – but I don’t do any of these things when it’s so easy to just hop on whatever online store has a sale on. By making the easy route the last option instead of the first, I’m hoping I’ll get myself into the habit of going through more of a thought process before buying things. Since this will result in saving a bunch of money, I’ll be able to consider more expensive but better quality and more sustainable and ethical products instead of making the excuse that I can’t afford to do the right thing.

It’s now been close to three months since I started doing this, and whilst I sometimes get a bit tempted I’ve mostly been too busy doing other things to feel like shopping. It probably helped that we were still living out of a suitcase and didn’t want to add any more things to our boxes of stuff when we can’t completely remember what we already have. I’ve had to buy a few things, like a new pair of running shoes and a new pillow (both replacing old ones which were well past their use by date), but they were properly thought out and very much necessary. Once we’re settled into our new place I’m looking forward to sewing and knitting more, and being on the lookout for things that I want in secondhand shops. It’s exciting and a little sobering to see just how much money we actually save when we’re conscious of not purchasing things. I thought we’d be struggling to make ends meet this year with a mortgage and The Boy studying, but so far not buying stuff is putting us in a pretty comfortable position. Fingers crossed it stays that way!

5 notes

  1. Good work Teresa! I did a similar thing when I first moved to a new state a few years ago, at that stage it did it more so because I didn’t want to own too much stuff… wanted my life to be simpler etc. Not buying things became a really good habit for me which I’ve stuck with quite well for years. Every now and then I freak out and realise that all my clothes are years old and I need a good wardrobe refresh but everything else about putting more thought into purchases is something I’m proud of and happy with these days. :)

  2. I’m buying much less these days too, ever since doing Buy Nothing New Month last year and also in an overall attempt to simplify my life. I always feel so liberated when I’m travelling with a tiny case and don’t have to waste time wondering what to wear, or cleaning up heaps of junk.

  3. Thanks guys, and well done on your own cutting back! It really does become a habit after a while doesn’t it? Completely worth the sacrifice to be able to travel more.

  4. I love this post and your idea. Well done to you. I think 90% of my clothes are secondhand – I have no qualms about it and I save so much money from doing so. I also love shopping at markets – you should give them a whirl! I got a beautiful, brand new red silk ASOS dress from a market not long ago – still with the tag on – for $5. Once you start, you’ll ever stop :)

    1. Ooh nice! I think I need some more practice to get the hang of op-shopping, I haven’t had much luck so far. What markets do you go to?

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