Here goes nothing.

I am taking a lot of deep breaths right now. I’m gritting my teeth & getting ready to jump into something that is going to be incredibly hard. I’m a bit scared, actually… I don’t know if I can do it but I’m going to try.

I am challenging myself to buy nothing new for A YEAR. *faints*


God… it’s hard to even write it. I know it can be done, but can I do it? I failed miserably at “Buy nothing new month” – I could come up with all sorts of reasons why but the truth is I wanted something new so I bought it.

I know Dottie Angel & her “Challengers of the utmost kind” have done it (perusing her list of challengers long ago saw me stumble over Lola Nova; I’m incredibly happy about that), but even earlier than that people were rebelling against needless consumption, I found this post on The Compact from 2006. I like their rules & exceptions so I am going to use them:

  • First principle - don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
  • Second principle - borrow or buy used.
  • A few exceptions - using the "fair and reasonable person" standard -- i.e., you'll know in your heart when you're rationalizing a violation:
    • food, drink, and necessary medicine (no elective treatments like Viagra or Botox)
    • necessary cleaning products, but not equipment (don't go out and buy the Dyson Animal, for example).
    • socks and underwear (utilitarian--non-couture or ornamental)
    • pyjamas for the children
  • Utilitarian services (plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, veterinarians, dog/house-sitters, fire/paramedics, dry cleaners, house cleaners, etc.) -- Support local and encourage used parts (rebuilt transmission, salvaged headlight unit, etc.)
  • Recreational services (massage, etc.) & local artisanal items - Good sources for gifts, but should not be over-indulged in for personal gratification
  • Charitable contributions (Seva, Heifer, and the like) - an even better source for gifts
  • Plants and cut flowers - Whenever possible, cultivate from free cuttings or seeds. Ok in extreme moderation when purchased from local businesses (i.e., not the Target Garden Shop)--and again, within reason (Since this is MY challenge & not Mr’s, I can’t say he won’t be ordering seeds from wherever it is he orders seeds from, but even if it were his challenge too, surely that counts as “food”??)
  • Art supplies - First line of attack: SCRAP. When absolutely necessary (for the professionals and talented amateurs in the group), from local businesses
  • Magazines, newspapers, Netflix - renewals only, no new subscriptions. Even better to consume online
  • Video rentals and downloadable music files (non-material) -- freely shared and legal, please

    My own personal exceptions that I must add for fear of not embarking on this thing at all are:

    • Clothing items necessary for the kids that I cannot or will not find second-hand, like bathers or ballet clothes & bicycle helmets.
    • Hygiene products like toothpaste & soap.
    • Expendables like light bulbs.
    • Punk’s birthday bicycle which was ordered before Christmas & a new chain for my bike.
    • Perhaps 1 “from Santa” Christmas present for each of the kiddos. Am going for the four present rule I saw around the blogs next time; something they want, something they need, something they wear & something they read; if Punk’s “want” is like the last one, it will need to be bought new. Don’t fancy my chances at making a pink princess computer with a key…

    Sooooooo, why am I thinking of doing this to myself & my dear family? Because we have got to stop spending. Because we need to think more before we buy. Because we have enough stuff. But mostly, because we need to stop spending. I do.

    I have been looking sadly at our credit card balance & wondering how on earth we’re going to shrink it. This is one way.

    Another way, hopefully, is with a little Etsy endeavour I hope to begin soon, but hey, one big announcement a day is enough for anyone. In fact, I have a couple of little challenges for myself that may or may not become apparent as we go along, but I’m slowly learning my lesson about grand declarations on my blog… they don’t really work & I feel bad when I don’t do what I have screamed from the hilltops. I think this particular challenge is different though because I am going to need HELP! A lot of my new spending is online; I see something on a blog or linked somewhere, I want it, I buy it… ick.

    All sorts of things are running through my head. What if the toaster breaks? What if a fabulous new craft book comes out? What if I run out of fabric? What if I find myself near Ikea? What if I see super cute boots on sale? How am I going to get another vacuum cleaner? How am I going to read blog posts about new issues of Mollie Makes without wanting to buy it right then & there??

    *deep breaths*

    It’s just a challenge (I am telling myself). I can either do it, or I can’t. All I have to do is try. Nobody will die if I can’t do it, but it’s worth a shot. It’s not like I’m giving up chocolate. That WOULD be dire.

    Am I nutso? Do you think I can do it? Who’s taking bets? Do you want to try too?


    1. I think this is a good brave thing to do which I could not. However I AMA big one for buying quality not quantity. Not based on price based on how it is made where etc. is it ethically produced etc I just worry it will be stressful at times?? With all those rules?? I just think it comes down to this: being mindful of every purchase, plus chop up the credit card. I have never had one and never will. Never ever. Good luck Vic. Xx

    2. Wow what a challenge, I could never do this. Good luck but like you said, it's not the end of the world if you don't quite make it.

    3. You are a brave girl Vic to even put it out there. If I look in any room of our house I think, OMG we have too much stuff and do we really need it? The answer is probably no. I too need to stop the spending if I want us to be able to go home next Christmas (and I really do) so it deep breathes here too. I will be sending no spending thought your way:) Cyndy

    4. I think it'll be hard for the first couple of months but then it'll become second nature and it'll probably stay with you forever.
      Maybe put a no junk mail sign on your letter box if you don't have one to stop the temptation coming in your home and if something does come out you want desperately then it's not in the rules that you can't ask for it for your birthday.
      Good luck! I'm sure you can do it! :)

    5. Oh wow, what a challenge you've set yourself. Best of luck to you. I know I'd struggle with it. Your local op-shops will be getting a work out. Garage sales are a goldmine too. x

    6. Yes you can , yes you can . If it all falls to poop after a few months you have saved money and the enviroment in those months.Good on you !

    7. "What if I find myself near an Ikea?" hahaha! You will resist, and you will tell yourself that you can always go back next year. What a massive challenge. Good luck, I can't wait to see how it goes.

    8. I know you can totally do this,Vic. We almost live like this most if the time and spend all our cash on eating out! Not ok!! We put the credit card in the freezer. Literally. I hope you blitz the challenge and have fun with it. I hope the vacuum cleaner doesn't break and the op-shop gods are smiling! Happy new year! xx

    9. Hey Vic you can do it, you're not an idiot, no-one you love will suffer, you've Ooodles of commonsense and you'll go gang busters. Check out Freecycle, it will amaze you!
      Hey if it drives you nuts then postpone for a smidge or have a week of time out.
      You're courageous, you're talented and if you weren't so darn far away I'd be doing it with you ... well for three months to start with.
      Make every post a winner Darling, here's to a magical, frugal 2012 for YOU and Your Beloveds ♥♥♥♥.

    10. Wow! This is a very brave thing to do. You are a stronger woman than I am. I believe that you can do this and so do a lot of other people in the blog world. When you are having a hard day and want to buy something come back to this blog post and read these comments and remember we all believe in you and we are all backing you on this challenge. You can do it!!!

    11. Wow good luck Vic!
      I think it's a lot about thinking before you spend, and deciding whether you really do need that new fangled whatsit. I'm trying extra hard to save this year but I'm not making any promises teehee!

    12. I reckon you can do it, Vic. (And, regardless, the consideration you give to the challenge will inmprove your credit card balance and the amount of "material" goods you own)

      This coming from the queen of "no self control when it comes to shopping": I have been walking away from the numerous internet sales that have been flying into my in-box (except maybe a yarny one or two) and it feels so good to do so- to think of the money not spent and the "stuff" that wasn't needed in the first place not arriving at my door. I suspect once you start, you will annoyingly good about it and make the rest of us feel inadequate and cluttered...

    13. Good for you Vic! I think the important thing here is becoming more conscious of spending habits, and as you say as long as you try to curb those you are already ahead in the game.

      I did Tif's challenge last year which was perfect for my op shopping obsession and only strayed twice when I needed new lingerie...ew so not getting those second hand and a pair of shoes which I desperately needed.

      Good luck, who knows you may even have fun thinking out side of the square :)


    14. That's a great challenge. Congrats for making the first step.
      Maybe you need to create a bloggy swap market......?

    15. Phew ... thank goodness you can indulge in "local artisanal items" even if they have to be gifts for others!
      Good luck Vic - you are a braver woman than I.

    16. Go Vic!! Right behind you and wishing you the best of luck.

    17. Happy new year's challenge Miss Vic!
      I think that is just totally awesome.
      I def think you can do it.
      You are brave and ace and creative.

    18. Wow. Not nutso - inspirational I say :) I so wish you good luck with this Vic. Happy New Year! Kx

    19. Im sure you can do it. It does get easier as you go, your spending muscles will weaken and your resistance muscles will get stronger. Like someone else said, lose the junkmail. I also unsubbed from various tempting emails and co-ops that often dangled tempting wares in my unsuspecting path. It urt to start with and I felt deprived but now feel freer. (I buy less now, not nothing).
      A REALLY BIG challenge would be to stop buying USED! Couldn't do that, and I suspect you would struggle with that one too.. ;)

    20. I think you can do this. With the things on Etsy that you desperately want, write about them on the blog - one of your readers will buy them and you'll know they've gone to a good home! If you run out of fabric or need something in particular, post about it on here - probably someone else will have what your after and will be pleased to destash. With Ikea, if there's something you really think you both want and need, scour ebay for it - if you still want it by the time it comes up you'll know its not just a passing thing and you wont be breaking the rules as you'll be buying second hand...
      As for craft books, I reckon if you post on every give away post explaining that you can't buy it but desperately want one you'll find it may well come your way! Otherwise, library.
      Vacuum cleaner and toaster - ebay/freecycle.

      OK i've almost convinced myself I could do this too!

    21. H... you suspect correctly. ;)

    22. Like others have said - it will become a way of life! And if you need to buy the odd new thing, then thats okay too - you can only do what you can do! Go for it!XX

    23. I think it's a valiant thing to attempt and I wish you every success. Don't forget that when you see a wonderful handmade thing that you feel you must have, you can always offer to swap. Explain you're attempting a 'Buy Nothing New' year and ask if there's anything they'd want in exchange for their item. Maybe you could set up a Flickr album of stuff you have for swapping - some crafty stuff, some opped stuff, a set of three custom drawings etc. Some people might say no, some people might say yes.

    24. WAY to go!!! i watch with interest.

      I like it though and wonder if I could do the same. ME not my family - sighhhhh. Someone has to break the mould and make it look good enough to do...

    25. WHHAAAAAATTTTT?!! You are so brave. But I like the idea. I think I will adopt it for the most part, and not beat myself up if I slip. I consider newspapers and subscriptions a necessity (I'm a journalist) so I'd have to make an exception for that... but I like the challenge! Bravo to you x

    26. Yep, you can so do this! It will be difficult at first and then become second nature. Think of when people change their diet and lifestyle to lose weight: at first the changes are hard to remember and stick to and then after a while it just become part of the everyday. It's a brave challenge to embark upon, but take it one day, one week and one month at a time and you'll get through it!

      It makes me think about what I might be buying that may be unnecessary...

      Can't wait to hear how you get on!

    27. I have been pretty much living like this for years and never considered it a challenge - just the way I live! I have the same exceptions (I will always buy new underwear but I wear them until they fall off and I will buy the occasional accessory at 70% discount). I have very modest and frugal tastes and mostly I just love the thrill of an op shop or a recycle. Good luck with your challenge - I suspect that you will find it a lot easier and more fun than you imagine and I am so looking forward to hearing about your adventures! Sarah xxx

    28. Go you!!! We can totally keep each other accountable. I must blog my acceptions too..

    29. How about having a rule that if you sell something you already own you can buy new with the proceeds? might be handy for emergencies! Good luck to you x

    30. Go Vic! I don't know if I could do it but there will come a time when I have to think twice before I buy something new! Look forward to following your progress.

    31. Happy New Year! I loved reading this post because ive bought nothing new for a whole year, because I had to. It taught me a lesson on how to manage money and above all how to respect it. The whole world is in debt (including me!) and going from someone who didnt care about "excess" to someone who "makes do and mends" is the best thing thats happened to me. The best life lesson of all. Its not easy so the best of luck xx

    32. How brave you are.
      Brilliant challenge. I mean its not as if you have done any thing stupid like say you can't set foot in an opp shop for a year!
      Good luck, looking forward to seeing how you get on.

    33. Wow! That is MASSIVE! But very admirable! I understand what you mean, I've been looking at our finances & that on top of all this useless STUFF around us all just really irks me & I think I've had enough! For the last year I've been trying to buy less new stuff & I think we did ok. I know that I would really struggle with going a whole year but I think I'd like to try maybe every second month - starting next month, I'll have to egg myself on & get inspiration from you!

      Good luck! I really do look forward to seeing how you go! I'm cheering you on! :)

    34. Wow! It's a huge challenge but I think if anyone can do it then you can as you are the op shop queen :) Don't forget about Freecycle too. I think I will try this but only for a month to start with to see how I get on - it would do me good actually as we have too much stuff in this house :) Good Luck!

    35. wow!! go you!!
      i would love to have the courage to do it so will watch your journey and maybe try next year!

      all the best.

    36. Good luck with your challenge. I have reduced my spending but need to try harder. Look forward to reading how it is going.

    37. Good luck! I hope you have fun with it. Have you read 'Living the Good Life' by Linda Cockburn? I loved it, it's about a family that does a similar challenge for six months, maybe you could get it at the library.

    38. You go girl!!! You can do it!! It will be a challenge but a creative chick like you will make it work. Goodluck and Happy New Year to you and your sweet family. xx

    39. You CAN do this Vic. It will be FUN! I get some sort of morbid kick out of this kind of deprivation. . . although you won't see me signing up to this one soon?!

      At the moment it is crazy crazy tourist time in our little town. to avoid the shops, i'm eating purely from the garden and pantry this week... and I LOVE it! creating something from nothing. i'm having a blast. other family members, not so much. oh well.

      good luck.


    40. Wow, Vic! That is an admirable goal. I think you've set-up reasonable exceptions that will make this doable. Good luck!! We're also planning on spending less in 2012 and donating all of the stuff we don't use anymore. It's time for us to PURGE!

      Happy New Year to you and your fam!

    41. If it was me I would set myself the challenge of not buying for a month then when that month was over starting the challenge over for the next month. A year is way too big for me! Good Luck with your challenge Vic, though I'm sure that as you are the Queen of Op Shopping you will have no problem doing it. x

    42. Wow Vic, this is a brave and challenging choice, but I have no doubt you can do it. We women can do anything. And frankly, if I can give up chocolate, you can give up spending. I have been slowly winding back my spending in the last 12 months, and I plan to do more in this coming year. My me-made 2011 xmas was a success, and so I plan to do even more in 2012. And thankyou for the 4 things for xmas hint ..... I think its a great way to control your xmas spending. Best of luck, I will be watching with interest.

    43. Im feeling just a tad dizzy reading all the rules.Best of luck with this one!!!!

    44. You can absolutely do this, there are so many second hand options available! I'm doing a smaller version, of no new clothes for the family, but with a few get out of jail free cards, for those local artisan clothes that I like to support. Go girl!

    45. Wow this is a big endeavour, I wish you the best of luck with it, and I'll be following along. I'd love to do this challenge and I think there have already been full months where I haven't purchased new, but there would be no convincing my husband to play along, so I know I couldn't commit fully. I think I'd find Christmas the hardest, but you've got all year to practice and build up to that! Good on you!

    46. I did a "No Buy July" last year and although it was hard to start with, it so quickly became a habit that I'm still reaping the benefits! Not sure I could go a whole year though.

      Good luck! I totally think you can do it!

    47. Oh my.
      I have plans to do this constantly, but I am overwhelmed before I even begin! Good for you! I am sure that even if you do cheat and buy those on sale boots you will still be more aware and have a smaller credit card load in the end...hmmm has me contemplating my own goals again.
      Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying hello.

    48. Sounds like a great challenge. I am a Girl Guide leader. We talk about challenges a lot. When the kids come to me saying they've done a challenge, I ask them did they do their best. I know straight away whether they believe they did or did not. If they did - challenge completed and on to set a new challenge. If they did not, then nothing's been lost. They know what their best standard could have been and they failed to meet it. Failing isn't the end. It's the beginning kid. What I am always looking for is the expectation. We lack expectations, I think. Kids are encouraged to have low expectations of themselves, their lives, their standards, values, etc. Anyhoot, this is becoming a rant. You know your expectation and you know what your standards are. You've set a challenge to test them. If it goes well, yay you. If it doesn't, start again or set a more realistic challenge. Nothing lost but heaps to gain.

    49. This is such a good idea! I will try it. Because my bankaccount doesn't look healthy recently...
      If i can do it you certainly can!

    50. No nuts at all but brave and wow I know I couldn't do it.
      Not that I'm a big consumer, but that would mean no cds ( yes i still buy cds, only from Polyester though an independent music store) bear supplies etc and I do love giving handmade ( not be me sometimes) gifts to people. But Vic I'm super impressed and want to wish you all the luck in the world.
      You go girl xo

    51. four words for you
      trading post


      it's all will power. only you can control what you do in the end... ie i reckon you can do it if you put your mind to it.
      can't wait to hear how you go on this journey!!!!


    52. WOW! If you pull this off you are my heroine! I wish you the VERY best with it and I think you are aces for giving it a go!

    53. Fantastic challenge Vic! I'm full of admiration of you! I would love to do this one day. It makes perfect sense.

      Good luck, I know you can do it!

    54. You can totally do it. A friend of mine just finished doing it for 6 months. I asked "when you finished, did you go out and splurge?" and she said "no, I didn't feel like shopping".

      Give yourself a small amount of room for error - it's easy to forget when you're at the supermarket and put something in your basket that wasn't on the list.

      But you can do it! Yes you can!

    55. oh yeah and get yourself over to ziilch.com, swap.com and freecycle.org

    56. This is fab idea - good luck!

    57. Oh wow! Good luck! I'm afraid I could NEVER stick to that but hope you do!

    58. Its such a fabulous concept. Especially after cleaning out my childrens rooms over the last couple of days am I ever aware of the vast consumerism that all memebers of the family fall too. That I somehow wish we could minismise this. So a Garage sale, Op shops and garbage here we come. I know that in my heart of hearts I couldn't keep to a strict 'no shop' policy without clauses. However, I support your endeavour thoroughly & will 'check in' and looking to be inspired to 'clean up' my own act :)

    59. I think my little almost 4 year old and your recently four would get along well. Bonnie was quite keen for a remote control fairy this Christmas. :)
      Good luck with the challenge. xx


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