I Did a "No-Buy" Year: Here's How it Went!

Monday, January 20

Priya the Blog, Nashville lifestyle blog, Nashville lifestyle blogger, no-buy year, how to do a no-buy year, no-buy year tips, "no-buy" year, how to accomplish a no-buy challenge, how to do a low-buy challenge, low-buy challenge rules, my 2019 no-buy challenge

Ok technically it was a "low-buy" year?

If you've read literally ONE post on this blog over the past year, you're probably aware that at the start of 2019, I challenged myself to do a "no-buy" year (original post here.)

So; let's talk through how it went, along with my plans going into 2020!

First, let's review the outline I wrote last year. 

The rules for my "no-buy" were fairly simple. In 2019, I was not allowed to buy:
  • clothing, shoes, accessories
  • beauty products
  • home goods
  • craft supplies

The real key to being successful, in my mind, was to have exceptions for my rules (Cait Flanders had an "acceptable purchases list.") I allowed myself to buy:
  • one item of choice per season
  • a pair of Madewell jeans I'd had my eye on for months
  • new bedsheets (I think I was still playing around with my room)
  • re-fill beauty products, IF and only IF I was completely out of something
  • souvenirs when traveling 

Then of course, my goals. Why was I doing this anyway? The goals I listed were:
  • Using what I already had/instead of just buying something new.
  • Focusing on making mindful purchases for things I actually needed.
  • Saving money!
  • No more acquiring clutter!
  • Further honing in on my style & paring down exactly what's in my closet. 

My "Report Card."

Ok, so. Was I successful in the sense that I followed every single line item to the T, from January 1st to December 31st? Well, no. Did I shop and overall consume less than I ever have? YES! And for that, I am truly proud of myself and would call this challenge a success.

I'm not going to list out every single purchase I made (& I honestly can't remember) but I think the easiest way to "give myself a report card" would be to reiterate my rules and exceptions. This may be helpful to you if you're planning your own "no-buy" challenge in 2020!

  • clothing, shoes, accessories: I'm proud of myself for, for the most part, sticking to my one item/season. My sanctioned purchases of the year - rainbow dress, yellow one-piece, purple circle purse
  • The only time I can think of where I explicitly had a "I'M BUYING THIS ANYWAY" moment was on my birthday weekend in LA, when we stumbled upon a sample sale for my favorite designer, Mara Hoffman. I bought the dress of my dreams & a swimsuit I love. I mean, it was my birthday. I'm not mad about it. 
  • I bought the Madewell jeans on my exceptions list and tbh...I like my Old Navy ones better?
  • beauty products: I can count on one hand the *not replacement* beauty products I bought this year - two face palettes for travel via Poshmark (my white whale & something I'm still searching for); & I'm not sure where my The Ordinary purchases go, as some were a refill and some were new as I'm still getting into skincare. Let's go with "not totally sanctioned but I'm not mad." 
  • As far as refills go - two tubes of my favorite all-in-one mascara for our Japan trip (L'oreal Lash Paradise), and of course, lots of dry shampoo (this is my favorite that I buy over & over.) Does that just go to show HOW MUCH STUFF I HAVE or what?!
  • home goods: Apart from the sheets on my exceptions list, the literal only thing coming to mind is I did buy a few seasonal candles at Christmas. It feels silly to even mention this because who cares, but this is the point of the review, so, yeah.
  • craft supplies: I can in good faith say I didn't buy a single thing! 


Let's talk about travel purchases, or as I lovingly began to say, the #souvenirclause. I love that I originally, specifically said "this does not mean a Zara shopping spree" when in reality, that's exactly what happened! I stayed within bounds during my travels earlier in the year to South Africa, but by the time I was in Europe for three (!) weeks this Summer, there was much shopping to be done and boy I did it. Let me back up here - I bought probably 5 things total at Zara, two pairs of shoes in Spain, and one pair of espadrilles in France SO while it does feel silly to beat myself up about it, it also feels directly in violation of my "no-buy." Is all I'm saying. We also bought a matching suit & shoes for the trip and I was like wheeeee "free" stuff! Oh - same Uniqlo : : Japan. Same. Which explains my lack of "Fall purchase."

I think the problem here was that there were no boundaries specified that I needed to stay within. I should have just known that I would thrive in a gray area :| I have thought a lot about this and would love your ideas. I will be traveling far less in 2020, but what makes sense? One purchase per trip? Per city? It is so hard for me to put this category in black & white which is why I went "off the rails." 


So what about 2020?
I want to stick to a "no-buy", more or less, with a few different exceptions. 

My goals for this are mostly still the same. 
  • Saving money: now that I'm in the midst of planning a wedding that will be paid for primarily by me & my fiance, I am spending money verrrry carefully. Weddings, man. No matter how you slice it, they are costly!
  • Acquiring less clutter: I'm getting ready to move in with Art, & while exciting, combining our lives & stuff has been a fun little project that I didn't realize would be so complicated. Art has a great house where two should be able to live comfortably, however, we're not quite in walk-in closet heaven yet. Having less makes this easier all together. 

I won't be doing a "seasonal purchase", I'm already viewing the wedding outfits I've been ordering as the bulk of my allotted purchases for the year! This will include shoes, accessories, maybe like a swimsuit for the honeymoon..?

I'm still struggling with a decisive plan for travel purchases. I think the best thing I can do is avoid going to any malls when I travel :) 

One thing I was randomly itching to do last year was go thrifting. Not "random" in the sense that I have never done it before, it's just been a WHILE. I think it's fair to allow myself a few thrifting trips...maybe my rule is that apart from wedding purchases, anything I buy needs to be secondhand?

I'm sure that, together, we will be buying things for the house as we make "Art's house" OUR home. It's impossible for me to make an "approved list" here, but, it won't be in excess. 

I have a list of beauty products that I carefully curated throughout last year, telling myself I could "buy it all in January!" I placed an order at Wet 'n Wild and then my friend once again gifted me a whole bunch of stuff from a purge, so, I'm laying low for now. I know I will eventually purchase a few other things off my list, as well as some nicer things for my wedding - a NICE foundation (hit me with any recs!) probably a lipstick. But otherwise, I have a LOT & will be keeping purchases to a minimum. 

I know this all sounds very vague and wishy washy, and maybe I'm setting myself up for failure by not having a strict list of rules & exceptions going into 2020. However, I can say doing this challenge last year really changed my mindset when it comes to consuming. I've seen now that I can have a happy and full life, even when I'm restricting purchases! I still had plenty to wear, even if it meant repeating something for a special event. I know I can "survive" with what I have. To be honest, my lifestyle shift (not specifically going into an office every day) means I need even less clothing than before! 

If I can be mindful of every purchase I make in 2020, and still keep my consuming on the low end, I'll consider this "low-buy" year a success as well. And I will, of course, keep you posted.


OK if you are doing any sort of no-buy or low-buy project this year - I would love to hear about it! Share your challenge with me and we can cheer each other on!! 

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