My no buy year

As from today I am going on a no spend year. Just to be clear to you guys, and to myself. We are the forth of august in our dearly beloved 2020.


I have attempted a no spend year before a few years ago. Then, I’ve massively failed at it, so stakes are high. I don’t want to fail again;. I didn’t even last two months. you can barely count it as a real effort. Then last year, I didn’t spend anything on myself. I didn’t set goals to have a no spend year, it just kinda happened without me really noticing it. I was left with a building construction gone wrong at home, and there was no other way out than to spend all my leftover money on fixing things in the house. I basically spend all my free time working on my house, so there was no time to spend and either way all my money was going towards the house. I was going through a lot of emotional things at the same time. A break up that I didn’t saw coming, my friend dying of cancer and a bunch of other stuff I won’t go into detail to.

Come covid 19, on the positive side, it was allowing me to actually finish these construction works, because of all the time freed up that I would have spend at my day job otherwise. But also a realisation of how hard the year had been and a friend pointing out that ‘ why the heck are you washing with a plain soap bar, where is the shower gel? ” In this process I have shoved myself and my own needs completely to the background. aka it was as if I didn’t exist anymore, and I became painfully aware of what I all pushed trough the past year.


To be honest. I have a normal amount of clothes. I call it normal now, because I’m nowhere near what I had before. In my twenties I was spending money on clothes on a weekly basis. Granted, they were mostly thrifted or very cheap but also not that great. Definitely an example of quantity over quality. When I got to my mid thirties I started to get an understanding of my style and who I was, so the amount of shopping I did got drastically reduced and also I bought a house, that I still currently live in.

After my unintentional a year of no spend, I was definitely lacking things in my closet and in my bathroom. I mean, I could well do with a few jeans and my few good tees rotating, some summer dresses and one cardigan that went with everything. But in the bathroom department, I’t really showed that I hadn’t been taking care of myself. To be honest, my house contains two bathrooms and they were both demolished due to the gone wrong renovation, so they weren’t my favourite hangouts anyway. I didn’t have proper moisturiser, I didn’t have blush anymore, I didn’t have conditioner ( I have long, curly dry hair, so I basically can’t do without), I didn’t have masks, I didn’t have sunscreen of after sun, I didn’t have a serum anymore.

One of the first things I bought when everything started falling into place, was a magazine that had a beauty box with it at a reduced price. I don’t recommend this though, it’s full of products that you don’t choose yourself, and don’t work for your skin type. But anyway, that’s the first that I bought, because I thought it was a good deal to spend x amount and get y amount of products for it.

But then a month into the pandemic, I stared to fill up the rest of all the areas where I was lacking. I shopped and I cried and felt depressed. It was all because of processing this incredible hard year, where the renovation got wrong was just one thing. I couldn’t believe that after all of that shit 2019 had brought, we were in a **** pandemic, making me feel even worse than before, and scared and overwhelmed and going through every emotion ever possible.

I thought I could numb my depression and the sadness by trying to make some things perfect in my life, things I thought I could control. Because those things that I made perfect gave me some sort of stability in uncertain times. The perfect skincare routine, the perfectly organised drawer, the perfect wardrobe. They wouldn’t scammed me, like my contractor did, they wouldn’t leave me, as my ex boyfriend did, they wouldn’t just suddenly die on me after only a few months of cancer, like the friend I felt the closest to, did. And they sure wouldn’t go out and kill anyone with lower immunity like the virus did.

And btw, about building the perfect minimalist wardrobe, or buying ‘ the right kind- vegan- cruelty free ‘ of beauty products.

I feel like this trend is also just a different kind of consumption, the search for the perfect thing, or the perfect eco thing to replace something else with. In the end, they only make sense if you have used up all the rest and if you can’t find a ” no buy” alternative to it. Like those expensive containers for your shampoo and conditioner bar, like what is that? Like you just can’t use an old glass jar to store those in?

We are now about six months further in to this pandemic and this crazy year. And I noticed that I kept adding and buying things I felt I was so desperately lacking. Not that I am shopping like crazy, but I also have to realise that not everything has to be replaced or perfect at once. I feel like I am falling into my old habits of shopping as before the whole shit year happened…

The reasons that I’m going cold turkey or on a shopping ban are :

  1. I’m really suffering from decision fatigue. Ranging from bigger decisions like buying a couch, to other smaller ones to more personal and less material ones. We don’t have a couch yet, and that might be something I will make an exception for during this shopping ban. It’s oké for now, because it’s summer, but I don’t know how I will feel about not having a couch when the colder days come along. If I watch a movie, It’s late at night before the tv get’s turned on, and I watch it from my bed. It’s not so much that a couch is a bigger financial decision because even if you buy a 500 euro’s Ikea couch, you’ll live with it for at least 10 years. And it’s even more stressful if I decide to buy a expensive couch, then it better be completely right. But it is so that the space we live with is actually not suited for a regular nice couch for at least 3 people or to have a couch with a chaise long. Honestly, the space gives me headaches. I like two seat sofa’s or nice lounge chairs, but they are just not as laid back, cosy as a regular fluffy relax couch for many people. But there are also other decisions in the clothing department, the kitchen department, the bathroom department, the hallway. It’s everything at once that comes at me. It’s overwhelming and it’s just giving me fatigue at the moment. I want to stop thinking of consumerism things, I want to stop making decisions that relate to that. Which brings me to the next thing.
  2. Not buying and not thinking of what next to buy to complete a space, or an outfit will free up so much time that I can use for other things. Not only won’t I be browsing online or on instagram or placing orders, I also won’t be waiting for my order at home. Stressing if I can or can’t go to the supermarket at a particular time for example.
  3. Self love. I deserve a break. I tortured myself while I was in the midst of rebuilding my house and fixing builders mistakes, but I’m torturing myself in another ways now. Every purchase I make, kind of reminds me of how much I was not taking care of myself, and although I’m happy buying things, it kinds of feels like this never ending catching up manoeuvre that can’t still the pain I went through.
  4. I wan’t to use up what I have. especially in the beauty department. Because of Covid I ordered almost only online . And most companies, as you are probably aware of, offer free shipping if you buy for a certain amount. Me being conscious of my money thought that it would be less waste full If I just bought three at once. Instead of three separate entities + shipping costs and environmental consequences. Which is why I have for instance 3 Weleda shower gels LOL. Btw Lush, ( on my mission of living more zero waste ) have insanely high shipping costs, and do not offer free shipping. I guess that is because they don’t want costumers to buy that much online and they rather have you visiting their stores.
  5. I want to get more creative. Using things in a number of different ways.
  6. I want to live with less products and less stuff. ( Which is something that is already so, I have majorly decluttered through the renovations. I just have to work at keeping it up…)
  7. I want to organise everything in a good, practical way before buying new.

Et voilà we have the magic number seven.

How am I going to stop shopping?

I’m not being this as an easy challenge. So I need some thought about it and some reinforcement.

I failed the first time I attempted a shopping ban and the second time I only pushed through because there was really no other option, I was in survival mode and shopping for new stuff was the last thing on my mind. So now that I’m back to my normal groove, I have to set some guidelines for myself to stop shopping.

  1. I’m going to unsubscribe from all promotional emails, except from some green beauty brands websites and clothing brands I have ordered from in the past. It is not easy to find nice eco stores that have exactly what you need or are looking for. It sometimes took me a while to find these, so I don’t want to be looking all over the place again one year from now.
  2. I’m going to avoid going in to shops, or near shops or meeting people at shops where I have no business to be. ( But then again, describe more in detail where I have no business to be hahah )
  3. I’m going to unfollow style accounts on instagram or anyone who promotes products on their IG page.
  4. I’m going to hold a small ceremony and film my first ( lol) and last unboxing video for the year and put in on YouTube. Celebrate your stop shopping with your last official purchase ! Be considerate of what it is and treasure it.
  5. Delay. When I think I need something because I need a replacement. I will consider and re consider for at least 5 days, to see If I really NEED the item.
  6. Separate the needs from the wants. Looks easy but isn’t. And it is also extremely personal, so no general guidelines here.)
  7. Be more present. Allow myself to feel what I am feeling and not trying to cover it up.
  8. Write about it. On the blog, say something about it on YT but also keep a little daily journal to myself to process my thoughts and feelings.
  9. Distract my mind from shopping with other activities.

What will you be doing instead? I’m a firm believer that you should set your mind elsewhere if you want to break a habit.

  1. Restarting my Portuguese lessons and German as I fell off that wagon. My partner is a Portuguese and German is our, I’m Belgian, third language and I absolutely suck at it. I started learning German through an app, which is not perfect. But I still made huge progress because our Flemish is the most alike language that there is to German. German is a hard language to learn, but it is significantly easier for a Flemish Belgian. I’m not setting the bar super high though. I’m not aiming for perfection. I don’t want to have the grammar down completely, I just want to be able to speak Portuguese and German. The fact is also that I re- payed for the app that I was using, without noticing it, so being the frugal that I secretly am, I want to take advantage of that before it expires in February, lol.
  2. I’m going to meditate. I’m in therapy at the moment. Woah, that sound so waspy while I’m typing it lol. Because, I believe, If you have money for therapy, you kinda have a good life where all your material needs are met. Because therapy is not for poor people LOL. I have get a discount because the Flemish government has an 8 sessions reduction therapy plan, it’s in it’s testing phase. They aren’t sure if this 8 session reduction thing is helpful. But it sure is helpful to me-he. So I’m going for it NOW! Anyway, my therapist says I have to meditate ( I’m yawning at the thought of it.) I feel like meditation is trendy and overhyped and a waste of time. We will talk later and see if I have the same thoughts about that. But hey, this is what I will be doing instead of shopping.
  3. More walks and more sport. I was actually already in to that. I have been walking the dog ( She’s the block favourite- all the old ladies go crazy for her… not sad about it lol) , biking ( not that much because I feel an immense sense of guilt if I don’t go out with my dog, because she wants to follow me everywhere lol) and more workouts via Youtube.
  4. Reading books. I just finished Amélie Nothombs Les prénoms épicènes. It felt so good to start reading again! I love it to turn off all screens and get caught in a good book!
  5. Cooking. I got into healthy cooking again thanks to Rens’ Kroes ( Dutch health foodie guru and site of model Doutzen Kroes. If you don’t know who both are, I love you for not caring about that stuff ..) books I had at home an have re discovered.

What am I hoping to get out of this in the long run?

  1. Over all lifestyle with less buying.
  2. A greener more towards zero waste lifestyle. To be honest, I don’t think going zero waste completely is achievable for me. Especially in the skincare and haircare department. I really love good products for my skin, I have suffered from acne for ten years of my adult life and my skin is very sensitive and dry. My hair is also very dry. I colour it with henna and hardly visit a hairdresser, which is also drying so I need quality products to keep it in god shape. I don’t know if a shampoo bar or conditioner bar can give me this. I think If I can get to just buying what I need in recyclable packaging ( preferable compostable) , it would be a good deal for me. FYI I hardly spend money on beauticians or hairdressers so I think I kinda justify buying products that are a bit on the more expensive side that way. I do all my spa and hair treatments at home, but of course, it doesn’t mean I need 5 of the same products.
  3. More time invested in meaningful activities.
  4. Not so much doing this to save more money. But, I would like to manage my budget better. My budget has never worked out completely how I wanted it. Which is ok. I think it’s good to set a budget for all the different spending categories and savings. If you over or underspend or there are difficult months, it’s oké. But I do order most of my things with PayPal, and I find that I do overspend there sometimes and that it’s also less easy to track than if it’s on my debit card bill. I usually also don’t know how much PayPal balance I have left, since it’s a completely different account. And I have to look at it and track it too of course. Because when I look at my debit and I see a PayPal spending I’m mostly going like, ” Oh yeah, what was that again? “. I just want to have less of those moments. I want to have more of : “Oh yeah, that was that thing.” Without having to look at PayPal. If I don’t know what it is anymore, that’s definitely not good.
  5. A real look into my bare essentials budget. I kinda know what my bare essentials budget is. But I haven’t really tested it. So this is a good time to TEST my bare essentials budget and see on what NUMBER I can actually live without much fluff. I think it’s going to be super interesting over all.
  6. More overall appreciation for what I already have.

What are my no buy rules:

  1. Only buy needs. This all the bills paid, the house and food for me, my BF and my pets.
  2. Don’t overspend on food. It can get real fancy when it comes to food but this is also a category that is difficult because I find spending on good food is like a medicine to your body and soul. So. I don’t think I’m going to restrict myself too much in this category. If I’m making my latte’s at home and not going out to eat excessively, I will treat myself at home.
  3. Only replace when it’s finished or find an alternative. For instance. I have one bottle of body lotion that’s s almost done. But I still have 2 bottles of sunscreen and two bottles of aftersun ( we’re in August, I doubt I will use up 4 these bottles) , and moisturising body oil. Only when I use up all these, which to be honest can all be used as body lotion in a way, I will allow myself to buy a bottle of body lotion.
  4. No make up, no clothes, no lingerie, no beauty products, no fancy stuff.
  5. Books. I love buying books, but to be honest. I don’t read all books. So I allow myself to buy a book or better go to the library after I’ve read everything that is laying in my house unread. If I don’t care about reading it on my no spend year, the books has to be donated.
  6. Apps. I will buy no apps. I will continue to pay for what I am using. I pay for Spotify, Netflix, Picmonkey and Duolinguo. These are all apps that I use on a daily basis. If I no longer use them I might of course discontinue. But I won’t buy more apps.
  7. House : as I mentioned, we might get a sofa. Or buy other utensils for the kitchen or house or fixer up stuff like paint. This is definitely an exception to the rule since I am currently still fixing up the house. Not in an overwhelming excessive way, but there are still things that need to be done, so when the time comes we might spend on the house.
  8. Garden: I feel like I overspend on the garden this year due to covid but the garden is, like the house, also something that needed some desperate love. With nowhere to go I felt so lucky to have a garden. Every year I plant new stuff. This year I will allow myself only to buy seeds to plant new veggies and soil or compost ( If my compost doesn’t turn out right. I haven’t chopped a lot of stuff in to small pieces this time, we will see how it turns out..)
  9. Gifts. I allow myself to buy gifts. A few of my friends are having babies this year or have babies with birthday parties. And so yes, gifts, birthday gifts, all kinds of gifts are allowed.
  10. Eating out, social activities, outdoor coffees or vacations. I will also allow myself this. I feel this is the category that I really don’t want to save on because It does takes away from your life quality. I will try to meet friends for coffee rather than for dinners. Now with Covid this is not that big of an issue. The vacation in Portugal is cancelled. I do allow myself to eat out once or twice a month if the occasion calls for it. I’m going to allow also take away. We don’t do this very often and the rare occasions we do it it is because we are tired from fixing things, don’t have anything in the house to cook or are too tired to cook. And we mostly get good Italian homemade pizza from a nearby pizzeria, so nothing over the top here.

Next post will be a review of my July budget. With august being no spend, I’m also hoping these budget reviews will get a bit shorter to go over lol.

Have you ever done a shopping ban, long or short-term? What are the categories you definitely do not want have a shopping ban for and which categories would be easy to have one on?

Love, Maureen

Published by Catharina

Lover of all things natural

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