My No Buy Year: Rules and Exceptions

So I mentioned in my last post that I was undertaking a no buy year.

What the heck is a no buy?

Well! Simply, it’s whatever the heck you want it to be. Or, rather, it’s what you need it to be. The aim is to cut your mindless spending habits. The outcomes are numerous. It’s supposed to help you:

– save money

– decipher needs from wants

– declutter and minimalise

– spend more mindfully

– break your advertising brainwashing

I’m using it as a way to hit reset. I want to spend this year seeing how I feel when I spend less money. What do I need to be happy? That way, I can move forward into the rest of my life with good spending habits and the ability to stick to a budget (this is something that still escapes me). I think it’ll be challenging but I’m excited to see what happens!

So how does it work?

Typically, a lot of people use it to curb their material buying habits, ie. clothes, makeup, shit you’ve seen your favourite influencer use. Now, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been known to buy a thirty quid water bottle and purchase more books than I can possibly read. However, for me, I know material items is not really my problem area. I don’t really own many clothes, instead favouring a Marge Simpsonesque uniform. I own five of the same black t-shirts, a black hoodie, a couple of shirts and a pair of docs. And, I mean, that just works for me. But, if you’re someone who can’t get through the day without scrolling fashion websites, or can’t walk past a sale in H&M without going in, then this is going to be a great area for you to work on.

This doesn’t just go for clothes though. As I say, books is a big one for me. It could also be video games, anime figures, candles, kitchenware, homeware, tech. Like, it’s not about completely quitting your passions. It’s just about wondering whether we need every single thing we set our eyes on.

So when it’s not about material objects, what is it about?

Oh, where to even begin! It’s eating out, it’s eating takeout, it’s coffee, it’s the cinema, it’s gigs, it’s the theatre, it’s exhibitions, it’s lunch. And more than anything, it’s booze. We’re British, we love the pub. It’s not our fault! Haha.

But no. This is my trouble area for sure. ‘Activities’. But mainly, drinking to excess. And don’t get me wrong, I love doing that. I have some of my fondest and funniest memories from nights out or unexpected daytime pub crawls. And I have no intention of stopping them entirely. But I’m getting to a point where I look at my bank account and think, fuck, what have I got to show for it? Good times, yes. But a house? Savings? Trips to California? Nope! And I’d like those things. So that’s my main intention for my own year.

But you’ve just got to find your own.

Traditionally, some people will take the ‘no buy’ idea at face value. They pay bills and buy groceries but aside from that, absolutely nothing is purchased. And I totally respect that. I couldn’t do it. However, I’m not doing my no buy to punish myself. I’m doing it to learn how to be more responsible with money. To be minimal. To focus more on relationships and relaxation than expensive tech and bottomless pints. And that’s okay too.

Some people will probably tell you that you’re doing it wrong. You are not doing it wrong. Because there are no rules. It is not a contest. It is a self-development project. So set yourself some rules to stick to but also list your exceptions. Write them down and then cement them. Having clear rules will help you each time you go to take your card out of your purse. Having clear exceptions will also help you stick to your ultimate goals whilst having fun. If we didn’t have them, our desperate selves would find a loophole and that’s just not what we want.

I think the overarching idea is to have fun. It’s not extreme to take control of your finances and consumerism. It’s actually quite responsible. But with this challenge comes the chance to have fun where you never would have looked for it before. By eating out once a month, you’re not telling your friends you hate them. Simply find ways to hang out with people that are free. Go to the park, go to a free museum, go for a hike. There’s so much out there waiting to be discovered.

I’m really excited about this year. And whether you decide to embark on your own no buy (or low buy, less intense version) or not, I’ll keep you posted on my journey. And maybe you’ll start to think a little more mindfully in your own spending habits!

My No Buy Rules + Exceptions

– No books

– No physical objects

– Replacements/repairs are fine (deodorant, jeans, think one in one out)

– Gifts are fine, so are birthdays (if someone invites me to celebrate their birthday I’ll say yes)

– No new subscriptions but existing are fine

– Things for education/fitness are okay (gym membership, driving lessons etc.)

– Things for the wedding are fine (my sister’s wedding is due to be the event of the year!)

– One day in Dublin (I made a pact with my mum that I’d go there every year of my life)

– One trip each quarter (these will have spending limits. Glastonbury, Scotland..)

– Eat out with Danny once a month

– Eat/drink out once a month with friends

– Six visits to friends outside of Liverpool

– Twelve cinema trips

– Twelve theatre/gig trips

– £15 for food/drink with each theatre/gig trip

– £20 monthly in house budget (beers, ice cream, treats and such)

– A couple of extra Christmas outings is okay

And there you have it! Those are my rules. I don’t know if people think that’s a lot of trips out or barely any. For me, that’s a lot less than I’ve gone out this past year so for me it’ll be challenging to stick to! As I say, you can choose to do your no buy however you like. Some might cut everything but essentials. Others might just do physical objects. Some might do a mix like me. Anything goes, kids. You should know this on my blog by now! Also remember, you can start a no buy whenever you want, it doesn’t have to be January. You also don’t have to do a year. You could do a month or even a week!

Let me know what you get up to!

Say Anything – Girl In Red

Minimalist Packing List

So for this week’s self-care post I thought I’d do something a little different. One thing I’ve not really spoken about on my blog is minimalism. I’d like to think I’ve been living a minimalist lifestyle for about five years now. I haven’t spoke about it much in my posts because I don’t necessarily think of it as something I do so much as something I am. I don’t know if that sounds obnoxious. What I mean is I live my life always with the intention of keeping things minimal, having things with function. But I don’t sit down and think ‘okay, how can I be ‘minimalist’ today’. Get me? So I’ve seen the huge surge of minimalism and konmaring recently and believe me, I’m all for it, but other than telling you what possessions I own I didn’t see how I could have anything to say about it. But I’m going to Paris next week and I always try to take inspiration from my life for the self-care posts, so then it hit me. I’ll do a packing list. Stick with me here.

I think as humans we can easily get overwhelmed. Often we make problems for ourselves. An area we tend to do this is going on holiday, or moving, or just generally having to look at things we own and decide whether they’re worth putting in a bag. Holidays, for example, are supposed to be a magical time. We’re literally supposed to be having the time of our lives. But who can tell me you haven’t started a holiday in the worst mood imaginable because your partner/dad/mate told you to hurry up, you underestimated how long you take to roll things and now you’ve got a bin bag of wet knickers in your hand luggage that you’re gonna have to dry when you get there and a face like a smacked arse? It should be simple. Hassle-free.

So I’m going to break it down for you.

Everyone’s packing list will be different. That’s the first thing. Because everyone has different priorities. But I presume we all wear clothes and brush our teeth and need passports to fly. So we’ll keep it open.

My first experience of minimalism was probably when I moved to uni with a seven-seater full to the brim of belongings. I also had a room on the third floor with no lift. I quickly reevaluated my life. Slowly I decreased my possessions until third year when I was flying to America for an exchange year. One suitcase and one carry on. That was my limit. This trip was already costing me so much, I certainly wasn’t paying for extra luggage! So I had to really evaluate what I thought I needed to survive. What things did I need in my life to feel safe and satisfied and functional. And so my hard turn into minimalism began. And you know what you instantly find? Fucking hell, is that shit freeing. I felt like I wasn’t being held back anymore. Even now, I feel like at the drop of a hat I could be packed up and ready for an adventure. I know where every possession I own is. Think about that. Cos I think that’s a really important part of minimalism. If you don’t know where it is or what it is then what exactly is its purpose? Do you know where everything you own is right now?

But before this post itself overwhelms you, let’s move on. We’ll work towards that. For now let’s just perfect the packing list because isn’t running away from our problems way more fun?

Sarah’s Minimalist Packing List


Phone + Wallet

Book and/or Headphones (I don’t know your life, though if you don’t go everywhere with a book I do not trust you)

Other electronics (laptop, tablet, camera etc)


Papers (tickets, boarding passes, travel insurance policies, maps, or just you know, go paperless, man)

Water Bottle + Cloth Bag

Small pouch (lip sil, tissues, bobble, plasters, hand sanitiser, atomiser, portable charger, pen)

Bigger Toiletries (hair/tooth brushes, tooth paste, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, sun cream)

Clothes (jacket/coat x1, hoodie/jumper x2, shoes, jeans x2, t-shirts/underwear xamount-of-days-not-three-weeks-more-than-necessary, hat/gloves/sunglasses/swimwear (weather dependent), pjs)

Anything you need to make you feel human. Maybe it’s a bullet journal, maybe it’s a pair of straighteners, maybe it’s a teddy bear, hey no judgment here. As long as the object is serving a valid function for you and your trip then bring it along. You only need to justify it to yourself. If you come back from this trip and it hasn’t been used, remove it and don’t take it again. You’ll learn as you go. But don’t be breaking your back carting round garbage you don’t need. You’re not a pack mule. Now go and enjoy your trip!

ps. Shot every time I said minimal/ist/ism.

Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men