Yes, you heard that right. I am not spending any money on unnecessary items during 2018. No clothes, accessories, books, haircuts, online programs, and even gifts. I have wanted to do this challenge for a while, but I didn’t think it was possible. Well, last year I embarked on the zero waste lifestyle, where I decided to limit my trash to a single garbage can for the entire year. Guess what, I did it! If I was able to limit my waste, then why can’t I stop spending money on unnecessary items?
This idea started when I realized that I spent 500 to 600 dollars on extra expenses outside of gas, loan payments and groceries, during the month of November and December. Where did this money go? Presents, train tickets, and nights out with my cousins, that’s where all my money had gone. I couldn’t believe that I spent that much money in just two months.
My list will not include groceries, medical bills, loan payment, blog related items and subscriptions, gas for my car, and 2 restaurant visits per month. By the end of the year, I am hopping to save enough money that I am able to pay off a huge chunk of my loans and take a few trips to visit some friends. This will allow me to start 2019 feeling empowered, financially free, and allow me to realize that the money I use to spend on necessary items, wasn’t actually necessary.
Thankfully I do live with my parents, so I don’t have to pay rent and additional bills from my health insurance and loan payments. You’re probably wondering how exactly I am going to embark on this challenge.
1. NO MORE SHOPPING FOR THE SAKE OF SHOPPING!
No you don’t need that new shirt, dress, pair of shoes, or necklace. These items aren’t and wont ever be a necessity. They are items that you like at the moment, but will probably get lost in your closet in the next couple of months. Go to the library and get a book, or have some friends over for a dinner party. Shopping is an unnecessary “hobby” that will lead to more clutter in your life.
2. Start making your own products!
Before going zero waste, I use to purchase a ton of different makeup items, facial serums, acne treatments, and hair care products. This resulted in me spending 50 dollars a month on things that I really didn't need. When I decided to go zero waste, I tried to find homemade alternatives to these products. Currently, I now make my own mascara, lip balms, facial powder, dry shampoo, body scrub, toothpaste, facial masks, and many other products. This has helped me save a lot of money and really evaluate what products are actually necessities.
3. Use up your old products
We all have stockpiles of soaps, shampoos, skin care, and other products that we need to go through, but just haven’t. I personally have way too many soap bars and old shampoo bottles. Once you go through your items, then try and making those products. The big rule of thumb is that if you can't make it or go with out it, then you should repurchase it. Currently, I one item that isn't zero waste that I will continue to repurchase is a facial spot treatment from my dermatologist, because it's the only thing that helps to get rid of my acne and prevent scarring.
4. Keep track of what you can do for free!
I love going to the library to look for new books and movies, volunteering at a local shelter, and going to my cousin’s house for a small dinner party/ movie night. These are both free activities that only cost a little bit of gas every couple of weeks. Don’t feel like you have to go shopping, sign up for a work out class, or go to a restaurant to distress and relax. There are way more free activities that you can do with the same results!
5. How to stop feeling discouraged!
During your no spend year, don't let others suck you into making plans or feeling ridiculous for not wanting to spend money. Whenever someone tells you, “come on, let's just go out.” “You got the money, why not spending it on something you enjoy.” My response is always, "sorry guys but I am trying to limit my spending in order to save up for (whatever you are saving up for), but I would be completely okay with (eating in,going for a hike, or any other free or very low cost activity)". You will be amazed on how understanding true friends can be. If they aren't understanding, then you may not actually want to be friends with those people. SAVE SAVE SAVE!
6. NO MORE IMPLUS PURCHASES
I have made too many impulse purchases because I had the money in my checking account. Once 2018 hits, I am only going to allow $2,000 dollars into checking account every month. This is just enough money to pay off my loans and other necessary items. All the rest of my money will be going into my savings account. This will force me to not spend relentlessly on unnecessary purchases.
7. Get rid of your credit card
I don’t have a credit card, so this isn’t a problem for me. But, credit cards force you to spend more money than you have. Cancel your card, and cut it up. If you need one for emergencies, just put that money into your checking account and use a debt card for emergencies. You will thank me when you don’t have a big anxiety attack every month from your credit card statement.
8. Think strategically
The holidays and birthdays will definitely be a challenge. Think about what you own that you can gift to someone else. Is there a dress or a skirt that your friend has been eyeing in your close that you rarely wear, gift it to them! This is a great way to purge items and not have to go out and spend money on something new. At the end of the day, the thought matters more than the gift itself!
9. But, I can’t re-gift old items to friends and family, that’s an insult.
Than make them something! Homemade body products like scrubs, lotions, and other products are great things to gift to others! Best of all, you can make them from every day items. No unnecessary purchases needed for these items!
10. You Got This!
I am not saying that you have to be a hermit in your own house to save up money. I am just telling you that they should re-evaluate what is necessary in your life. Is that trip to the local café 5 times a week really necessary, or can you make coffee at home for way cheaper? You don’t need to be a hermit to not spend money; you just need to be a little bit more cautious with your spending. You don’t need to spend 500 dollars a month on clothes, coffee, restaurant bills, and other items that aren’t necessitates!