Preparing For A No Spend Year: What You And The Environment Stand To Gain, And How To Kickstart It
As household debt in UK households rises and the impacts of climate change continue to be felt, many consumers have shifted their focus to minimise their spending and do their part for their environment, such as through reducing their energy usage. Some consumers have even embarked on a mission to buy nothing for a year. While a no-spend year can certainly address shopping compulsions, poor spending habits, and sustainability, it does require some preparation if you’re going to be successful. After all, going without buying anything except the essentials (food, shelter, etc) for 365 days is a long time and can prove to be quite challenging in a world that seems consumed with consumerism.
The Benefits Of A No Spend Year
One of the best benefits a no-spend year can provide is helping you gain more control over your finances. Impulse spending is a key issue for most consumers in the United Kingdom, costing Brits £144,000 during their lifetime, according to recent research by MYJAR.com. Also, with more disposable income throughout the year, your debt and financial standing can be dramatically improved. Currently, fewer than one in three Brits has more than £1,500 saved in the bank, while 15 percent have nothing saved at all.
On the ecological front, a no-spend year encourages you to use what you already own and be more inventive in reusing possessions such as clothing. It can also extend to reducing food waste, which currently averages 4.5 million tonnes for households across the UK. However, for you to fully experience the financial, ecological and even mental perks of a no-spend year, you must make sure that you’re adequately prepared leading up to the launch of the year.
Set Your Ground Rules
Contrary to the popular belief of many, a no-spend year does not necessarily equate to not spending any money for a year. In fact, it is up to you to set your boundaries and decide what you will and will not spend money on. Most consumers give up spending categories such as clothing, dining out or gadget purchases. You can also opt not to spend anything on food until everything in your pantry/refrigerator is used up.
If you are worried about going cold turkey on trying new trends or foods, you can always add in a standing recurring delivery of curated samples of your favourite items such as snacks or beauty items. Choosing a particular category to cut spending on is also a great way to work up to reducing your spending on all levels except the necessities.
Try No Spend Days And Weeks For Practice
Cutting out spending for an entire year can be daunting and requires a lot of restraint and creativity. Using no spend days and months can give a boost of confidence and practice before you commit to one year of cutting your spending completely. The use of spending trackers can help, or more recently, designated no spend months like No Spend January or November are a good place to start.
Do A Spending Analysis
Once you get to understand your spending habits, you can pinpoint your spending triggers and implement safeguards against them. Some of us spend based on our emotions, while others do it as a habit after each payday. With the help of personal budgeting and spending trackers, analyse your spending habits over a few weeks and see if you can identify any particular patterns or trends you have developed in your spending – e.g. going for a takeaway every Friday after payday.
Buy Second Hand First
The second-hand industry has garnered a lot of support in recent years, but there remains a long way to go if the impacts are to be truly felt. In 2019, a survey by Oxfam found that almost nine in 10 adults happily buy new items. Instead, try to incorporate a buy second-hand first way of thinking, perhaps by limiting your new purchases before cutting spending altogether.
Doing a no-spend year is not just about cutting your spending: it is essentially about changing the way we approach spending. Learning to distinguish between needs and wants and being more resourceful should be the overwhelming takeaway from it all.