For many Americans, shopping isn't just that thing you do when you need something. No, for far too many of us, buying things has become a hobby, or even a way of life.
It's time to stop. Not only is this constant consumption bad for our finances, but it's not so great for the planet, either. Moreover, there's only so much stuff we can fit into our homes before we're simply piling junk on top of other junk.
One of the ways folks are trying to cut down on their consumption is by creating "No Buy" lists. You consider all the things you're prone to wasting money on, then put them on a list of things you simply won't buy this year.
Not sure where to start? Here are some items many of us could probably add to our No Buy lists.
The size of our wardrobes in the U.S. has grown astronomically, in large parts thanks to the fashion industry pushing the narrative that success means an abundance of clothing. The side effect of this is that many of us have closets that are fuller than our bank accounts.
And this isn't a gendered problem. I know plenty of people all along the gender spectrum who have things in their closets they haven't worn in years -- or, worse, things still sporting price tags that have never been worn.
Instead of hitting the stores for new clothes, spend some time getting to know your own closet. Take off those tags, mix and match, and let your imagination run free.
Having a hobby is great. Having a hobby that causes you to spend too much money on things you aren't using…well, that's less good.
As the person who seems to have turned buying hobby supplies into my hobby, I put this one on my 2023 No Buy list. And I have to say, I haven't actually missed it as much as I thought I would. Instead of buying new supplies to add to my collection, I've started to use up the ones I have.
Do I sometimes wish I could splurge on cool supplies that I come across? Sure. But I'm actually enjoying stretching my creative muscles while working my way through my closet full of this and that.
Yes, kids absolutely need toys and play to be happy and fulfilled. No, they absolutely don't need a new toy every week, or even every month. In fact, many kids could probably go an entire year without a new toy and still never play with every toy they already have.
One trick you can use, especially with younger kids, is to simply pack away the toys they don't often use. Then, re-introduce a "new" toy every few weeks. They get the joy of rediscovering toys they likely forgot existed -- and you get the joy of having far fewer things to clean up every evening.
Every year, we're bombarded with ads for the hot new gadgets. And every year, millions of us feel compelled to toss out perfectly good electronics for the marginal-at-best upgrades of the latest tech.
Just say no. Seriously, is a slightly better camera really worth a $1,000 upgrade? Trust me, those pictures of your breakfast burrito, or your dog in a hat, or your kid's cannonball into the pool, will all look just as good on last year's phone as they do on the new phone. Really.
In a way, this one could encapsulate everything else on this list. So much of what we consume these days is made of plastic that our entire planet has been infested by it. There are microplastics in the air, the water, even our bodies.
Unfortunately, the only way to get companies to stop producing so much plastic is to, you know, stop buying it.
Instead of shelling out a fortune on plastic that will either break after a few uses, or, worse, that's only designed to be used once in the first place -- consider reusables. You can find sturdy, well-made, non-plastic versions of pretty much anything these days, from drinking straws to feminine products.
Not only will you save money in the long run, but you'll help reduce waste. So it's a win-win.
Embarking on a No Buy year (or month, or even week) is all about learning to take pleasure in the things you have -- rather than going for the quick hit of dopamine you may get from buying something new.
So do it. Explore the treasures already hidden in your home, and give your credit cards a break from all that swiping and tapping. Your wallet -- and your closets -- will thank you.
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