the no-spend new year: how it started

Back in November 2020, I made a big decision: I was going to stop shopping in 2021 – cold turkey – for all of the things I didn’t need. The distractions, the time-fillers, the pick-me-ups….you know, because I’m sure you’ve been there at some point, too.

I was spending too much, accumulating too much, and quickly realizing how temporary the highs were becoming. I couldn’t possibly use all the things I had – I just liked having options. And I liked how all these options, quite sneakily, served as an excuse to not do all the work I claimed I would rather be doing. (i.e. I really need to write, because that accomplishment will make me feel better, but I have to go to Target first, because that will make me feel better, too. Before I know it, I’ve been running errands all day and I’m no longer motivated to write.)

Basically, I knew enough to know I wasn’t consuming for the right reasons. The only option left was to quit.

So, I set my mind to it, and I wrote out a list of rules.

  1. No shopping “just for fun” (or relief or happiness or boredom or a case of the sads).
  2. I can shop for what I need (food, toiletries, makeup that’s run out). Entertainment and travel expenses are also okay – we can’t do much, anyways. If I should truly need a clothing/accessory item, I should look at what I have and/or try to thrift it rather than buying new.
  3. I should always utilize what I already have first. New seasons ≠ New scents at Bath and Body Works…..unless I’ve used up everything from previous years. This means no new books, either. I need to work through the pile I’ve built.
  4. I will avoid marketing at all costs, unsubscribing from retail emails and not visiting tempting websites or stores.
  5. However, coupons and sales should be prioritized (i.e. annual 15% off when I need to replace something from Sephora), but not used as an excuse to splurge on something extra.
  6. I will continue to sell and donate items I no longer want, but any earnings must be saved and used towards credit card/important life expenses. (i.e. no “flipping”)
  7. I can’t reward myself for being “good.” Three months in, six months in… NO excuses.

It seems easy enough, right? But I know it won’t be. In fact, I’ve already got proof that it won’t be. A few weeks in and I’ve already slipped up once or twice. But I’ve made a lot of good decisions, too. I’ve avoided a lot of bad impulses. And that’s what this experience is about. That’s why I’ll be chronicling it here throughout the rest of this year, opening up about my struggles, my successes, and what I learn along the way.

While the No-Spend New Year is about saving money, unloading things I don’t need, and not falling into bad habits of buying things to feel better, I truly believe it will work towards cultivating something much bigger.

Through learning how to shop less and be more present in each moment, this year (and the posts I share) will be able to focus on finding ourselves without the easy-high, quick-fix accumulation of the shiny & new that often plagues our ability to create. It will be about cultivating an internal hygge of self-knowing (because hygge isn’t just about the cozy blankets, y’all). It will be about making time for new fascinations and interests and appreciations, rather than searching online for that next gotta-have-it thing, and developing a strong-willed focus on what we truly want for our lives. It will lead to a realization of finding a personal brand through recognizing the self and its patterns, being able to distinguish fads from dependable go-to elements. And it will light a path in which we can open up to who we truly are, who we want to be, and learning how to trust in that vision enough to share it.