The following post is by Melissa Batai
This year, one of my favorite bloggers embarked on an ambitious challenge—to pay down her mortgage from 28 years to 20 years, in other words, to pay off 8.5 years of her mortgage in one year. Clearly, it’s an ambitious goal, and one way she’s trying to meet that goal is to buy nothing new for a year.
As I watched her achieve and struggle with this goal week after week on her blog, I started thinking about my own experience. While I have done no spend or often, low spend, challenges, I have never tried not to buy anything new for a certain amount of time.
Could you do it?
Could I do it?
Benefits of Not Buying New
If you haven’t tried a buy-nothing-new challenge, are you up for one? I’m toying with the idea of just doing it for 30 days to get used to it and see what not buying anything new is like. Certainly, there are many benefits:
Less clutter. Buying used is just a little bit more difficult than buying new. You can’t be swayed as much by impulse buys; you’ll likely consciously search out an item rather than just spontaneously buying something you see and immediately want (and often never use). This will likely greatly reduce the amount of clutter that you have.
Less money spent. There are so many goods in this world; there really is no need to buy new. For my daughter’s sixth birthday, we wanted to buy her a bike since she had outgrown hers. However, we didn’t want to spend $100 on a bike that she would ride for a few years and then outgrow. Instead, I e-mailed friends to see if anyone had a bike they wanted to sell. Within 24 hours, I had a $20 girl’s bike, and it was even pink, the color my daughter loves. When she’s done with it, we’ll resell the bike.
Think of every purchase you could potentially make. How much could you save if you always bought used instead of new? On the bike alone, I saved 80%. My guess is that for many products, if you buy used you’ll be saving 90 to 95% over buying new.
Challenges of Not Buying New
Your patience is tested. When you’re buying used, you may have to be patient, because what you need is not always available immediately. Katy Wolk-Stanley, who went over five years without buying anything new, explains, “When I broke our tea kettle beyond repair, I simply boiled water in a small saucepan until I could find a suitable replacement, which only took a week and set me back a budget-friendly $4.99” (Huffington Post).
You can’t be as picky about what you need. If you need a new couch and you’re going to buy used, you likely won’t be able to pick out the exact color and fabric print that you want unless you’re willing to wait a VERY long time. You’ll need to be flexible about what you find if it meets your needs.
If you want to try a challenge to not buy anything new for a certain amount of time, you may want to make some exceptions for yourself. People who do this type of challenge often make exceptions for underwear, bras, socks, and toiletries, among other items.
Have you ever tried to avoid buying new for a certain amount of time? If so, what was your experience? If not, would you consider doing so sometime in the future?