September No-Buy / Low-Buy Results & Lessons Learned!

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To celebrate the final ‘quarter’ of the year and to amp up my savings goals for the remainder of 2014, I used September as a ‘experiment month’ and embarked upon a No-Buy / Low-Buy. While I’ve already written about my savings goals and my six month check-in, I haven’t actually written about my final thoughts on the whole she-bang. Maybe part of it is because I wrote a follow-up midmonth, but I think it’s also because I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my findings.

But first, the numbers!

The No-Buy

Breakfast items at the cafe at work: Tiny fail! I bought maybe three breakfasts from the cafe downstairs? I did a good job of bringing breakfast/eating at home this month, and since I won’t NOT buy food if I really need it, I think this was a job well done. I definitely broke my August habit of getting a muffin/sandwich every other day.

Books: Pass! SORRY BOOKS. I love you but we need a break. I’ve started reading some of my unfinished hardcovers from this year, and have added some books to my library hold list.

Makeup: Pass! Absolutely no makeup! This one was easier than I thought. I also purged a bunch of things I don’t use/hate the colour/have gone bad, so now if I want to buy more stuff, I can do so knowing that I’ve lightened my collection a bit.

Hair products: Pass! Not a one!

Nail polish: Fail! I bought Yuna from Zoya’s Ignite collection. But to counter this purchase, I cancelled my Julep subscription which saves me $23 a month Now my only monthly subscription is Topbox, which has the best customer service around. (You can read about my Topbox wins on Darling Magpie.)

The Low-Buy

For the month of September, I will curb my spending on:

Take-out Lunch: Pass! My goal was to only go out once a week for lunch and I succeeded! I’m sticking with this strategy though because it’s such an easy money-saver. It’s also a great way to watch what I eat at lunch-time.

Coffee: So-So! Other than my film festival coffees, I think I bought four take-out coffees for work? A HUGE step-down from the ‘every other day’ habit I’d developed in August.

Non-Essential Clothing: Pass! For $50 I bought a pair of pants for work, a replacement t-shirt on a day I got caught in the rain, and an office-blouse.

My Findings

I think the most interesting thing about this experiment was learning about my habits and what was hard vs. what was easy. Lunch turned out to be an easy fix, I used to make it my goal to never go out more than once a week for lunch so I fell back into this habit quite easily.

Nail polish was trickier because it’s my GREAT BIG (little) luxury. But having recently tossed a dozen cheap polishes, I’ve decided to only buy higher-quality ones from now on. That said, I splurged on a sale my second day out of the No-Buy so I still have some ways to go on that side.

I think what I’ve learned is that I still mostly spend the way I did when I was debt-ridden. I do well with my goals (savings or otherwise) but I don’t meal plan very well and while I still eat frugally, I COULD be eating BETTER. I also still buy little luxuries instead of just spending the money for a pair of well-fitting pants or a new blazer. I no longer have to shop at Old Navy sales almost exclusively but I don’t act like it. I don’t have to spend $100 in several transactions to get the ‘most’ out of it, I can just get the best value instead.

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I’m continuing some of these habits into October, but instead of a strict no-buy, I’m just going to increase my savings goals and see if I can curb my habits through simple budgeting. If the easiest way for me to save money/spend money is to literally earmark it, I’m going to do just that.

Have you done a No-Buy/Low-Buy? What did you learn about your habits?

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