A woman has saved tens of thousands of dollars after she vowed to buy nothing for a whole year.
It may sound extreme, but caught up in a consumerist society, Michelle McGagh thought it would change her relationship with money forever.
The personal financial journalist became a minimalist, and stopped cluttering her house with possessions and making unnecessary purchases. Now she is about $27,000 better off for it.
The Londoner wrote in the Telegraph it was a mortgage she took out on a home in 2013 that led her to think more about her spending.
Looking into minimalism on American websites, she stumbled across Buy Nothing Day, a time when people are urged to avoid shopping for a day. She then wondered if she could attempt to buy nothing for a year.
“Spending nothing for a whole year would do wonders for my wallet and stop me from refilling my empty shelves with more possessions,” she wrote.
“It sounds extreme, but I’d set myself budgets and spending plans in the past and they’d always fallen by the wayside on my next night out.”
McGagh would pay for necessities — her mortgage, bills, insurance and charity donations. That all equated to about $2,200 a month.
— Michelle McGagh (@mmcgagh) May 22, 2016
She’d then spend money on toiletries, cleaning products and groceries.
Her food budget was only about $45 a week and she would cook in bulk so meals would last.
“But there was no budget for luxuries,” she wrote.
“That meant no cinema trips, no nights in the pub, no takeaways or restaurant meals, no new clothes, no holidays, no gym memberships, not even a KitKat or cheeky cheesecake from the supermarket. And certainly no flat whites.”
McGagh did not spend money on transport and began riding her bike from A to B and she refused friends and family who wanted to buy her things.
Her year of buying nothing began on Nov. 26, 2015, and she wondered if she had made a mistake.
“Would I get uncontrollable FOMO? Would I have to spend a year indoors living like a hermit?” she wrote.
McGagh made it through Christmas without buying or receiving gifts, but she said it became tiring in the winter months when she was sitting with drunk friends by a fire at a pub.
— Michelle McGagh (@mmcgagh) January 7, 2016
“The winter months dragged. Each time I jumped on my bike for another wind-whipped journey across London, I berated myself for not including a transport budget. But then something wonderful happened: spring. As soon as the weather got milder, my friends wanted to wander around galleries and museums or meet for a walk in the park,” she said.
McGagh wrote in the Telegraph that she began doing different activities to keep her social life and “fostered a new appreciation of sitting in the park in the sunshine with a homemade, in budget, picnic of falafel salad.”
“These simple pleasures made me far happier than any expensive restaurant dinner,” she wrote.
McGagh and her husband became closer and she began to realize the true meaning of the saying “Money doesn’t buy happiness.”
What McGagh missed most was clothes shopping and beauty products, but on Nov. 26 last year, marking the end of her buy-nothing year, the first thing she bought was a round of drinks for friends and family who had helped her.
I was too hungover to post this yesterday but here’s me buying a round of drinks for my mates on Saturday night pic.twitter.com/PqzARconHS
— Michelle McGagh (@mmcgagh) November 28, 2016
Even though she was allowed to spend again, she didn’t want to make a habit of buying unnecessary products and only replaced worn jeans, tattered sneakers and sweaty T-shirts.
“I decided to use the surplus of cash to pay off a chunk of my mortgage early. I’m now a step closer to getting rid of our debt instead of being beholden to a bank,” she wrote.
“After a year of no spending I realized that I valued financial security over material possessions: I don’t want to be forced to stay on the treadmill of work just to pay off a home loan for the next two decades or accumulate more stuff.
“I also came to understand that I don’t need things to make me happy. Spending time with the people I love makes me happier and if I do have money available, I’d rather spend it on them — like traveling to see my grandfather or visiting my friend in Australia.”
Source : Nypost