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Could You Commit To a No-Buy Year? Here’s How It Works

Gabrielle Olya
·5 min read
PeopleImages / Getty Images
PeopleImages / Getty Images

If you found yourself doing more online shopping in 2020 than ever before, you’re not alone. Research firm eMarketer predicted that U.S. e-commerce sales will increase 18% to $710 billion by the end of this year, CNN reported.

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Although that’s a big boost, this stat is pretty unsurprising. It’s all too easy to make mindless purchases on Amazon and other retailer sites, and with many of us spending more time at home, online shopping could have become a form of entertainment for you this year. After all, who doesn’t love the thrill of opening up a package, even if it’s filled with something you probably don’t need? But if it’s gotten to the point where you’re receiving so many deliveries, you can’t even remember what it is that you ordered, it might be time to consider making a drastic change. Enter: the no-buy year.

What Exactly a No-Buy Year Entails

Also called a no-spend year, a no-buy year involves cutting out unnecessary purchases in order to reset your spending habits — and with 2021 coming up, now could be the perfect time for that reset. The exact rules you stick to will depend on your own goals, as well as what you consider to be a necessary expense.

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To start, make a list of what purchases you will allow. This should include things like food and replacements for items you currently have and use, but can also include things like experiences and vacations if you deem these to be essential to your happiness. You want to be smart about your purchases, but you don’t have to deprive yourself all year.

Next, make a list of purchases you will not allow yourself to make. This could include things like clothes, home decor, Amazon purchases and fast food.

Once you’ve created your two lists, begin documenting all your purchases. Even if you end up breaking a “rule,” at least you will be mindful of it and may not make the same misstep again.

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Benefits of a No-Buy Year

You’ll Save Money

The biggest benefit of your no-buy year will likely be financial. All those little, unnecessary purchases you make throughout the year can really add up — and that’s money that can likely be put to better use, such as paying down debt, adding to your emergency fund, going toward a retirement fund, or being put toward a big purchase like a vacation, car or home down payment.

You’ll Become a More Mindful Consumer

A no-buy year will also make you more mindful of your spending. It can help you get into good spending habits that you can stick with after the year is over, such as making fewer impulse purchases and wasting less time browsing online shopping sites.

It’s Good for the Environment

Consumerism, while good for the economy, is terrible for the environment. A 2015 study conducted by the Journal of Industrial Economy found that household consumption contributes to more than 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions and between 50% and 80% of total land, material and water use. So essentially, the less you consume, the less of a negative impact you will have on the environment.