PhD student shares her plan for a 'no buy year' that could save her thousands

Small tweaks like this could help almost anyone get closer to their financial goals.

no buy year, how to do a no buy year, no buy year list, how to save money

Many people find a no-buy year to be extremely helpful for their financial goals.

Everyone wants to save money. But with continuously rising costs, virtually no one knows how to make those lofty “10K in savings by 2025!” aspirations really happen.

One thing’s for sure—without some kind of plan, they most assuredly won’t happen. Which is why PhD student Mae Westrap created a detailed list of actions to make 2024 a “no-buy year."

For those who don’t know, a “no-buy year” is a self-imposed set of rules when it comes to extraneous spending. Though everyone’s “no-buy year” might look a little different, the general rule of thumb is to avoid unnecessary items or impulse purchases. That extra money can then go towards debt, savings, a larger, a more meaningful purchase, whatehaveyou.

Determined to stop “living paycheck-to-paycheck,” Westrap began taking a hard look at her finances and realizing that she wasn’t spending on “experiences or anything special,” leaving her to blame her situation on “pure laziness.”

And thus, her “no-buy” plan was born. And to hold herself accountable, she

's shared her journey on TikTok.

First up on the agenda: consolidating books and entertainment.

no buy year, finances, how to save money

If you haven't perused your local library lately, do yourself a favor.

@miawestrap /TikTok

Westrap admitted that she spends way too much on books, and will often put down a book she has already purchased because the next new release has caught her eye (relatable). So to combat this, she purchased a library card, which she was amazed to discover how much her library card had in terms of new releases and even audio books, which made her able to also cancel her Audible subscription.

In addition, Westrap created a list of books she already had that she’s excited to read to keep her motivated to use what was already available. Plus, she went through and canceled streaming subscriptions she wasn’t using like Disney + and Paramount +.

Westrap's next goal might be a tad controversial: cutting out caffeine.

debt, no buy year, no buy month

Pepsi is a "big no-no" for Westrap this year.

@miawestrap /TikTok

Westrap shared that she would be weaning herself off of her beloved Pepsi Max, which she currently bought 500-milliliter bottles of everyday that set her back about “a grand a year.”

“That’s like the big no-no of 2024,” Westrap said in her video.

And while this might trigger some coffee lovers out there, with cafes costing anywhere from $1 to upwards of $5+ a cup—depending how fancy you take your joe—it’s a habit worth looking at to see where costs could be cut.

Lastly, Westrap made a list that put items in one of three categories. Green (for items she could buy without question like groceries) Yellow (for items that could be bought if she has extra cash, like face cleanser) and a red list (for things she absolutely cannot buy, like Pepsi Max, books, clothes, etc.).

@miawestrap 2024 is the year of no cherry pepsi max. Not sure why I said I “bought” a library card, they’re free!!! #nobuyyear #nobuy2024 #nobuychallenge #lowbuyyear #budgeting ♬ original sound - Mia Westrap

While your no-buy list doesn’t have to look like Westrap’s, her template makes it easy to replicate in a way that does make a no-buy year work for you, especially as you figure out your own red, green and yellow categories.

Yes, a no-buy year does take some planning, but in addition to extra cash flow, you can also have peace of mind, a chance to declutter, more time and energy to spend on something more meaningful to you. Plus less consumption means less waste, meaning less damage to the environment.

It’s also good to note that you can commit to a no-buy month, rather than a full year. Or a no buy year for one item. Again, this should probably be a personal approach that’s challenging, but it doesn’t have to be extreme. And even if you “fail” in your no-buy attempts, you have still changed your relationship to shopping, which is a big win.

Bottom line: any goal, certainly a financial one, needs to be broken down into small actions that feel doable. A no-buy year is just one example of how to enact that principle.

To follow along on Westrap’s no-buy journey, find her on TikTok.

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