How To Get Richer By Buying Nothing New

Last October, I participated in Buy Nothing New Month, a global initiative aimed at reducing consumption, promoting recycling and raising awareness of the finite nature of the Earth's resources. For four long weeks, I battled fiercely against my knee-jerk consumerist reactions and attempted to buy absolutely nothing that was new, aside from the obvious necessities such as food, hygiene products and medicines.

Sale picture from Shutterstock

Tough times

I've got to be honest with you, folks: they definitely weren't the easiest four weeks of my life. My not-so-steely resolve was tested daily as challenges threw themselves at me from all angles -- from fixing up knackered bags and pairs of shoes, to suppressing the urge to sprint into Sportsgirl, to convincing myself that my ye olde bricke phone could and would last a few more months. Some of the savings I made included:

  • Getting my beloved bag fixed at a tailor (saving $210 on a new one)
  • Buying from a vintage market
  • Finding a new outfit at a clothing swap
  • Superglueing a broken sandal
  • Getting last season's clothes out of storage

Thrifty Triumph

But I emerged triumphant. By 31 October, my whole mindset and attitude towards spending had shifted radically, I had a heightened awareness of my impact on the planet and its resources, and I had saved just over $1000. For all its struggles and difficulties, Buy Nothing New Month turned out to be a fantastic experience.

Now, six months down the track and well into the new year, I thought it was about time I checked back in and took stock of exactly how much of the Buy Nothing New philosophy I am still applying to my daily life.

And the results of my little wander down introspection lane, I am pleased to report, are pretty darn good!

Flat-Rate Fit Out

How's this for anti-consumerist? Earlier this year, my partner and I were faced with the mammoth task of kitting out our first home together. Although she sat drooling over IKEA catalogues and occasionally throwing me a pleading look, I was firm and fierce and I resisted. After a couple of Saturdays driving round to our local op-shops, dropping in on garage sales and begging stuff from our parents and friends, we had collected a whole bunch of second-hand stuff that we then set about reappropriating, restoring or just cleaning.

The results? An apartment full to the brim with quirky, individual and entirely functional pieces. We love our new home, and I'm pretty sure the planet and our bank accounts are sending us a whole lotta love too.

I guess this shows that the enlightened state I found myself in post-October 2012 hasn't really faded. I am still thinking twice before whipping out my wallet, and I am still asking the important questions like: do I really need this? Can I buy it second-hand elsewhere? Above all, I am still striving to be a clever spender - aware of my spending habits, aware of my spending limits and aware of the impact my purchases have on the world around me.

Super valuable lessons gained for free:

  • Second-hand doesn't necessarily equal second-best.
  • Willpower truly is like a muscle: if you use it enough, it will get stronger.
  • Thinking twice before buying is smart, mindlessly subscribing to consumerism isn't.
  • Impulse buys are terrible for the environment and your wallet.

Georgia Kriz is a uni student and student-banking guru at comparison site Mozo.com.au, where you can compare credit cards, banking, loans and insurance. A self-taught frugalista, Georgia is full of savvy and innovative money-saving ideas for students and under-25s.


Comments

    In this post - a girl writing about what guys have always said; stop buying so many clothes that you barely wear.

      ^^ This x 1000000.

      I'm pretty sure I participate in Nothing New Month for about 9 months of the year.

        Agreed. I don't see how one whole month is in the slightest bit challenging. A year maybe? Definitely two years. A month though? Are you kidding me?

        Georgia Kriz is a uni student and student-banking guru at comparison site Mozo.com.au, where you can compare credit cards, banking, loans and insurance. A self-taught frugalista, Georgia is full of savvy and innovative money-saving ideas for students and under-25s.

        Sounds anything but frugal or savvy to me, I'd definitely stay well away from this person's advice.

          I did it for close to four years. It was called Uni and paying rent myself.

    "Willpower truly is like a muscle: if you use it enough, it will get stronger."

    Studies have shown this to be not true. In fact it was your public display of your objective to hold out a month that was the true motivating factor.

      http://youarenotsosmart.com/2012/04/17/ego-depletion/

      "Willpower is a truly finite resource".

      An interesting read.

    Stop the presses! If you want to save money don't buy so much stuff! This revelation is fascinating.

    Ignore to haters, bless your cotton socks for overcoming your buying habits. For some people it is truely hard.

      It's hard to disentangle purchasing habits from purchases-of-opportunity. While I'm one of those who barely ever buys anything new I can understand getting into certain spending habits: I feel kind of weird if I don't buy a coffee at some point during the day. Even if I bring or make coffee, there's a compulsion to visit my regular cafe.

      So, while it's easy for me to say "try living near the breadline", that's kind of the point: when you're impoverished, it's "easy" to not buy new as that option is not open to you! But if you have the option to buy new and struggle to save money, it's good sometimes to remind yourself that there are other ways to provide for yourself.

    Well try not shopping at sports girl might help your budget that place is way over priced.

    Compulsive shopping is a disease, and one shouldn't make fun of people with problems like that. Your article was very interesting :) I am considering organizing my own shopping-free month, starting right now - just to test if my willpower "has been exercised enough" :)

    Yours sincerely,
    Megan Steel, Marketing Executive at Fantastic Cleaners Docklands

    Why did the article suddenly get more exciting when I read "My Partner" & "She"...Quickly scrolled to the top again for the confirmation and there it is......"Georgia"

    Buy Nothing New Month, also known as being a Uni student, just over a much, much shorter period of time.

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