This February, I am setting myself the goal of not buying anything. That’s a lie.. I’ll be buying some things.. I have to eat food and get from A to B; but I’m putting a general ban on my shopping habits.

Reasoning:

Growing up in financial hardship was guaranteed to have an impact on me in later life. I’d say that I’m good with money right now – good with saving and good with (most) purchases. But there’s definitely been dips and troughs along the way.

As we have been in some degree of lockdown for almost a year now (shudder), my spending habits have vastly changed. There’s no denying that I’ve been able to save a lot of money since March 2020. The twice-weekly nights out and their accompanying Uber receipts, contactless payments and regretful hangover Deliveroos are no longer trending in my bank statements.

Where I’ve saved lots of money on cancelled trips, cooking my own food, the closure of the high street and enjoying time alone – I’ve somewhat bargained with myself that it’s okay to make big expensive purchases, as I’m no longer spending £120 a week destroying my liver.

The knock of the postman, the ding of a confirmation email and the excitement (and frustration) of tracking a rogue Hermes order is about the closest I’m getting to a dopamine hit during Lockdown 3. Last week I actually genuinely felt sorry for our local Amazon delivery driver, and considered leaving a box of chocolates outside on the doorstep. Then I realised that an easier option was to just stop buying everything on Amazon.

Reality

With all the above said, I’m not the worst shopper. I ditched fast fashion last year, with 75% of my purchases in the last year being either second hand or ~sustainable~ purchases. That’s if you ignore the one PLT order I *had* to make because I couldn’t find Tall joggers anywhere, and the 2 pairs of gym leggings I impulse bought in a Black Friday sale.

But once again, I use the above statement as an excuse to continue to buy other random items. As long as they’re not fast fashion, not remotely related to alcohol/nights out – then it’s okay. But truth be told, this has just resulted in a lot of random purchases.

I’ve just checked my amazon order history and I have made 51 purchases in the last 3 months. Let that sink in. FIFTY ONE purchases in 90 days, that’s an average of 1 purchase every 2 days.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the items I’ve bought from bezos Amazon in the last 90 days:

  • 119 Pieces Hair Extensions Clips, Weaving Thread and Needle (£8.99)
  • PhD Smart Nutrition Salted Caramel Vegan Protein Powder (£11.99)
  • iPad Keyboard case with pen holder (£33.99)
  • The Reader on the 6.27 Kindle Edition (£4.99)
  • Frontline Spot on Flea treatment for cats (£10.99)
  • Burt’s Bees overnight intensive lip treatment (£4.89)

The list of randomness goes on. Amazon seems to be a catch all, instant access, immediate gratification hub. Anything I want, any time of day and it’ll be there. Consider the fact that I live in a very small village in the North of England, with no car and no shops other than a Co-op without getting a bus ticket for £5 a pop – it’s clear to see why I’ve spent so much money online

Then there’s the non-amazon, treat-yo’self purchases. The ones which I actually think serve a greater purpose than some of the “essentials” bought from amazon. There’s the makeup and skincare I bought as a congrats for being accepted onto my postgrad course. The walking boots I bought to give my feet some TLC on their muddy, blistery daily walks. Or the gifts sent out to others, to give them a bit of a dopamine boost.

But for Feburary, things are going to change

Rules

I’m not entirely disillusioned or minimalist, so I’ve set out a clear list of things I can buy and things I can’t buy. February is the shortest month of the year, but I’m not in any rush to make it the most painful month of the year.

I’m also not taking part in this challenge as a form of mental penance or restriction. I don’t think I am a bad person for buying an iPad case on amazon, and I equally don’t think I’ll be a better person for clicking “add to cart” less frequently. I’m not delusional to the fact that once the calendar flicks to 01/03/2021, I can take with me the lessons learned from this month – but I do not have to carry the No Buy habit into my everyday life.

This is purely to reset my habitual purchasing, save a bit of money and give my amazon driver a lunch break.

Allowed list:

  • Weekly Groceries
  • Hello Fresh*
  • Essential Travel (everyone’s favourite buzz word)
  • Existing Direct Debits (ones which haven’t been culled)
  • Gifts for others (don’t worry Miles, you’re still getting a valentine’s card)
  • Emergencies

Not Allowed List

  • Anything from Amazon
  • Amazon Prime
  • Clothes/Shoes/Makeup/Skincare etc (unless something has absolutely completely run out, like shampoo or conditioner)
  • Take out coffees
  • Groceries beyond the weekly basics**
  • Plants (lol)
  • Books

*I’ve just started a trial membership with Hello Fresh, where each box is £12-£15 and the meals are meant to serve 2 people, but in my reality they’ll make three portions each and the kit will easily last me over a week. Hello Fresh is a last ditch attempt at helping me make evening meals beyond my current extensive menus of: stir fry, porridge, ready meal, wrap pizza

** By this, I mean that if I’m going to the shops to buy milk – I’m not coming back with 2 boxes of cereal on discount, a fizzy drink, some yogurt and then realising I never even bought the milk

How:

How will I do this? How will I survive 28 days of not seeing the bright red royal mail van outside my house, or the joy of placing a new eyeshadow pallet in my makeup bag, only to be used whenever we leave this dystopian lockdown life?

  • Cancelling Amazon Prime. This blog post is not a vendetta against Jeff Bezos. There’s plenty of those elsewhere on the internet. But there’s no denying that placing an order whilst sat in the bath at 7pm and receiving it at 11am the next day doesn’t feel like you’ve hacked the system. Like the £3.99 that leaves my bank every month is membership to the elite club. Cancelling Amazon Prime means I have to now grapple with the idea of spending £4.99 on shipping, bulking my order up to £20 for free shipping – or just leaving it all together and getting on with my life. I’m aiming for the latter.
  • Deleting my card details from common websites. This means that if I really, REALLY want to buy something, it’s likely I’ll have to dig my wallet out of my bag, in a different room. Which is more effort than it’s worth, and signifies that I probably don’t need the item
  • Deleting Apple Pay. I did this in my first year of uni, when I realised that Apple Pay was a bit too convenient, making purchases happen anywhere and everywhere. Taking the physical cards with me means that I’m committing to the fact that I might buy something. Choosing not to take my card holder means that I’m left with just a mere iPhone, and the only way to get money out of it is to hand it in at cash converters.
  • Unfollowing influencers/youtubers who promote fast fashion and spending. If you’ve read enough of my blogs, you know I’m an advocate of an unfollow spree. There’s been countless times when I’ve made purchases purely because a pretty girl on instagram has used it. Or a discount code has made me think I’m getting a bargain – when truly the real bargain would be not to buy anything at all.
  • Finding other things to bring me joy. There’s more to life than deleting your bank balance and filling the recycling bin with delivery boxes. Whilst nothing will quite replicate the joy and confusion of something arriving without remembering I’ve bought it, or going to the shops for bread and coming back with a pint of ice cream – there are plenty of other ways to spend my time. I’m a real hobbies person, and I get quite invested in different things for short periods of time, so I guess this month is about getting stuck into the things I already have, like painting, running, reading, animal crossing etc.

My goals:

Hopefully, by the end of this month I feel a bit lighter. Whilst I’ve joked about the fun and excitement of receiving orders all the time – it can feel a little overwhelming. A bit like I know I’m doing something I shouldn’t, but don’t really have a good enough reason to stop. Sort of like drinking my fourth coffee before 12pm. It’s not a wise idea, but it’s not the worst either.

I hope that by the time this month is over, the world is edging closer to normality. The opening up of the high street will be the best thing for me, as I’m really quite frugal in person. I can go into Superdrug and buy 6 months worth of toiletries for £12. But that’s because I despise the high street at times, and do my best to be in and out in the most convenient way – physical shopping is nothing like the luxury of a beauty bay order whilst eating some toast.

I’ll continue to update my blog with bits and pieces throughout the month – how I’m feeling, the things I *almost* bought but managed not to. The things I’ve caved on, and the things I’m finding easy.

Guess what. After writing this blogpost, I cancelled an Amazon order I made at 11am this morning. Consider 51 orders, down to 50.

One thought on “February 2021 No Spend Challenge

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