I have written before about my compulsion to buy as a coping mechanism in times of stress and anxiety. I think in recent years we all have fallen victim of aggressive marketing and an abundance of choice, and as a result we probably ended up with more things than we need and want.
In the second quarter of 2018 I started obsessively decluttering various areas of my life. It was therapeutic, it gave me great joy and it lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I think it’s safe to say that my shopping habits had already improved by that point, but I still found myself accumulating more things and often feeling overwhelmed by my possessions.
For the year 2019 I have decided to commit to a “no buy”. The aim of this is to minimise the amount of things I have, to use and appreciate the products I already own and to save money.
Below I will outline my inspiration for this, my intentions and rules. In the coming weeks I will break down the products I own into categories, share with you what I already have and what my goals are for each specific category.
Why I Want To Do This
The Back Story
In August 2017 I was targeted by a co-worker to be the subject of a public joke. I was bullied as a teenager and this incident brought up a lot of old trauma. As I was already in an emotionally vulnerable place, this atomic mixture put me in a downwards spiral and I suffered a mental breakdown in which I found myself with little to no support from some of the people I counted on. The timeline of this event was really unfortunate, as it was less than a month before my birthday, which I knew I would be spending alone. So, depressed and not finding comfort in people, I turned to shopping to make myself feel better. It made perfect sense – I’m just buying myself a birthday treat, I deserve it after what I’ve been through. Well, the treat turned into one purchase after another, adding up to hundreds of pounds in a matter of a week or two. Thus began my infatuation with make-up, leading to following YouTube influencers, leading to buying more make-up.
Simultaneously I had bad skin. I’ve always complained of dryness and sensitivity, but it’s the acne that really affected my confidence. Although not quite addictively, I was already buying more skincare than necessary to try and fix my problems. December 2017 is when things finally improved, but worsened again with a vengeance after a couple of weeks. Desperate, I started searching the depths of the internet for remedies I could try. When after a month I started seeing results, I started learning more about skincare. I wanted to try every product I ever heard or read about – and so I did. Additionally, recently I started working for a large skincare company; aside from fantastic discounts and other perks, I keep getting an abundance of products to try that I am not permitted to sell or give away (for the most part). In my bathroom I have a whole washbag of samples to go through, and just yesterday I was given four full sized products.
Where I Am Now
Since August 2017 for make-up and December 2017 for skincare, I have learned a lot about myself. I’m very aware now of what I like and dislike in make-up, what techniques I like to use, what methods I want to try and what colours look best on me. I know what skincare ingredients work for my skin, what formulations feel good and what benefits me the most.
Even with the knowledge I have gained, today I find myself with too much product for one person to use. I don’t enjoy having this abundance of product and the anxiety that comes with it. I have already somewhat minimised my collection and I got myself into the habit of really thinking through how much value a new product would add to my life. In 2019 I intend to focus on this more, to be more disciplined in my purchasing habits and to use what I already have.
- Marie Kondo. I read The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying and Spark Joy prior to my decluttering phase earlier this year. It was extremely helpful in the tidying of course, but also in my thought process and outlook on life. As I follow her on Instagram I’m often reminded of her philosophy and recently I started flicking through her books again, feeling an urge to read them again. I want to get closer to achieving the lifestyle Marie Kondo’s methods promote.
- Anna Newton, aka. The Anna Edit. Fun fact: Anna Jo B. is a pseudonym derived from my real name, and it was inspired by Anna because I adore her whole life aesthetic. With her recent book launch, An Edited Life, I think of her as the English Mario Kondo. I love watching her videos on capsule wardrobes or organising her attic. Sure, she does beauty and fashion posts too, which you could argue contribute to my problem, but I don’t find that to be the case for me. I’m going to see her at a talk in Norwich where I will be getting her book, and I can’t wait to delve into her thoughts on organising your life through and through and applying her strategies during my 2019 “No Buy”.
- Hannah Louise Poston. She started her YouTube channel in January 2018 to document her No Buy Year, which is coming to an end. I have followed her for most of her journey (I found her sometime in March or April) and I almost feel a change within myself as though her No Buy affected me in some part too. Hannah is a joy to listen to – something she hears often – and observing her reflection on her habits throughout this year has been an interesting educational experience for me. Plus, I kinda want to be her, or at least her friend, so there’s that too.
My Rules And Goals
Before I outline what I intend to do and achieve in 2019, I have to make it clear that these rules and goals are not set in stone. I am going to review them after three months, reflect on my progress thus far, and make amendments to My Rules And Goals if I feel they are necessary or plainly a good idea.
I name this my “No Buy” as apposed to my No Buy, because I will still be buying things, but I think a Low Buy is not strict enough for what I need. I won’t be going in as harsh as Hannah did in her No Buy Year. But who knows, maybe after the first quarterly review I will find converting to a No Buy to be more suitable. Time will tell.
- I am NOT allowed to buy a product until I am down to the last one in its category, with some exceptions – I will specify these in the coming category breakdown.
- I am NOT allowed to search for sales, unless I need a specific product and I’m looking for the most cost effective way to acquire it.
- I AM allowed to shop sales for backups of my Holy Grail products if it’s in a category I work through quickly – I will specify these in the coming category breakdown.
- I am NOT allowed to shop for any other backups or bulk purchases.
- In the event of a sale I am NOT allowed to give in to it if I have to spend more to “save” or if it doesn’t benefit me in another way. Only shop a sale if it actually means saving money and it doesn’t mean adding to my pile of stuff.
- During the “No Buy” if I come across a product I would like to try, I am to write it down specifying its category and revisit it at a time when it comes to replace my last product in said category.
- I AM allowed to ask for skincare and make-up as gifts.
- I AM allowed to shop for limited edition make-up if after careful consideration I conclude that it would add value and joy to my life.
- Finally, realistically I can’t tell myself that I can’t comfort or reward shop because of my life situation. But it’s something that I want to avoid. Therefore the restriction I will impose upon myself is to only make the purchase after careful thought and consideration, as with limited edition items. No impulse buys.
- To reduce the amount of products I own down to the necessities and things I truly love – ideally I would like to identify True Love necessities to combine these two criteria.
- To get to know my products, truly test them and thus learn more about my own likes, dislikes and preferences.
- To be more aware of what I have and to have less of it.
- To spend less money, and to spend it more wisely when I do make a purchase.
- To observe how my spending in other areas of my life is affected by the “No Buy”.
- To track my spending on skincare and make-up and to track what I use up.
- To produce less waste.
- To make a conscious effort to shop in stores more than online.
- To live a more mindful and organised life.
My main categories of products my “No Buy” applies to are Make-Up, Skincare, Bodycare and Haircare.
Over the next few weeks I will further break down each of these categories, share what I currently own, explain any exceptions that apply and more specific goals.
After that, I will document my “No Buy” as Hannah does on her YouTube channel. I am doing this to hold me accountable as well as to help me observe any behavioural changes and to reflect over time.
If you find yourself described in anything I’ve said in this rather lengthy introduction, I invite you to join me in my “No Buy”. You can create your own rules and goals that are most suitable for your life – you could be more lenient or stricter than I am. Or, I hope that you will be interested to stay around for the ride and watch my progress with me.
Anna Jo B.