Buy Nothing Year – How To Save Money As A Consumer 

Do you ever find yourself questioning your need for the things you own that drain your bank account? Sometimes, it’s easy to get carried away with consumerism and when you stop and think about all the “non-essential” items you’re purchasing, it can be scary; clothing, home furnishings, hair cuts, cabs, gas, dining out, transit passes and alcohol – to name just a few! And as most of us know too well, that adds up to a lot of money!

advertisement - learn more

Geoffrey and Julie are a pair of Calgary-based roommates who – between 2013 and 2014 – embarked on a one-year “buy nothing” adventure. Their experiment was to live an entire year without purchasing anything besides their defined necessities; to live in alignment with their values of community and sustainability and to re-think their definition of “necessity.”

The friends saved $55,000 in one year. Think you’re up for the challenge, too? Want to take planning, purpose and progress seriously? Itching to start saving for something – or just to not squander money on things you don’t need? Well, with these money-saving tips for the ethical new consumer, you can!

Know Where Your Money Goes

The most important (and surprisingly, one of the hardest) step in this saving equation is to know your money. Find out exactly where your money goes and then you can work out how you want to shift your spending. If you spend most of your disposable income on clothes every month, then cut it in half to save for your plane ticket, instead!

Fix Instead Of Replacing

Because we’re so used to the availability of household and day-to-day items out there on the market, it’s hardly surprising that we’ve gotten used to just tossing old things out and buying brand new ones in their place! But next time something breaks, how about trying to fix it, first? Save yourself money by doing a little scouting around for spare parts and doing some DIY!

Hold Off On Major Purchases

The next time you’re thinking of replacing your bed, kitchen table, or TV – just because you want a new one – wait a while! A lot of the time, we’re tempted by just wanting to buy something. But if you take some time before splashing your cash, the chances are that you’ll forget about the new item and realize that you never needed it, anyway!

advertisement - learn more

Cook At Home

Ever find yourself not planning home meals properly and ordering takeout, or meeting friends at a restaurant because you don’t want to cook? Make your own food more frequently and dine on special occasions. Just think – the money you save will taste a lot better spent on dinner in a fabulous new country, than on takeout pizza you only half wanted anyway!

Focus On What You Have, Not What You Need 

Buying nothing means that advertising just doesn’t work on you in the same way. So, instead of spending time and energy on wanting things, you can focus on what’s really important to you now: travel plans, for example. Being able to appreciate what you’ve got can add a spiritual component to your life and make you appreciate how lucky you really are.

Bike & Walk

Sounds pretty obvious, but this one is all too easily overlooked. Instead of driving, save the money you’d usually spend on fuel and try cycling or walking to the places you drive to daily. Not only are biking and walking fantastic types of exercise, they may also make you feel more involved in your surroundings and help you feel ready to face the day!


It’s true – if you want money, you have to learn how to manage it, like Geoffrey and Julie did. Nobody said that was going to be easy. But, if that means buying nothing for a year, being a more ethical consumer, and being able to do something awesome at the end of it with the money you’ve managed to save – then why not?

Your lifestyle will change – and with it, your sanity may waver. But your willpower is a rock and challenges can only strengthen us… You have no idea how awesome your life is going to be!

Lessons Learned:

  • It’s easy to get swept up in consumerism, but it’s not that hard to break free.
  • Knowing where your money goes is essential for knowing how to save it.
  • Your lifestyle will change, but not necessarily for the worse – just focus on what you have!