I’m going to make 2022 a Low-Buy Year because I want to be a grown-up! Financial literacy eluded me for the first 20-some years of my life. My parents were immigrants who made ends meet by working hard and being thrifty. They had hawk eyes for a good deal and were champions at couponing. I remember them evaluating whether or not to purchase an item based on whether or not it was a good deal (cheap.) While they made sound decisions for our family, I became ingrained with unhelpful beliefs towards money.

Unhelpful Beliefs Why They’re Garbage
Spending money = BadI never learned what it means to invest in yourself
Cheap = GoodI didn’t know what quality entails
Having more money = Better Inherently I’m not enough until I have more

The compounding of these unhelpful beliefs resulted in a fiscally, unbalanced lifestyle. I’d save money by stowing it into a savings account, and then never invest it out of fear. Or I’d swing the opposite direction and justify purchases as a “treat myself” day or with the rationale that this is for a career move or self-improvement. Money is often describe as the root of all evil, for me it’s more like the root of all my anxiety.

Why a Low-Buy Year?

I remember two separate friends casually mentioning that they were doing a Low-Buy or No-Buy Year. Both of whom I have deep respect for and also appeared very content with themselves. Then that Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (frequency illusion) kicked in and all of a sudden I’m noticing others consciously evaluating the flow of money –Or Google is spying on my and its algorithm is feeding me budget-minded content. Regardless of the source, I became curious about what I could learn about myself and how I could change my relationship with money from committing to a Low-Buy year.

  • I want to change my relationship with money
  • I want to have a growth mindset instead of a scarcity one when approaching life
    • I’m not a struggling artist anymore, I want to stop acting like one
  • I’d like to become a more informed consumer
    • When I do buy new things I’d like to buy quality items from companies that are either local or put the planet first
  • I want to audit my needs, likes, and wants
  • Timing is appropriate, I’m still more or less stuck inside while Covid-19 continues to run rampant

Diving deeper, I’m hoping to confront a fear within myself: I don’t believe that I’m inherently enough. And I back up that fear with lies and false guidelines such as:

  • I need more things to make myself more attractive. Being more attractive will open more opportunities for me.
  • I need the right thing and more of that thing in order to fix a certain thing. Fixing that thing will make me happy.
  • I need more stuff to become a better version of me. The better version of me will achieve more accolades and live a happier life.

Ultimately, this isn’t about entertaining deprivation, challenging my willpower, or hoarding money. Rather it’s to align my spending habits with my values.

Low-Buy Year Rules

  1. I must consult the all mighty budget before making any new purchase
  2. Replacements and refills are allowed once I’ve emptied the original
  3. No eating out, unless it’s to share an experience with another person
  4. Purchases related to health and safety are unquestionably allowed.
  5. (Of course) I have to pay my bills

Tips to Reduce Spending

Be creative and use what I have at home first

For example, when I had a brief Covid-19 Omicron scare earlier this month, I mentally prepared for 10-day isolation and therefore justified buying a pair of 20lbs dumbbells. Falling back into my old habits, I started Googling for deals on weights and headed to Amazon. Luckily, I had previously logged out of Amazon and paused to reconsider my decisions. I already have a 25lb kettlebell at home that I could use. It might not be the most comfortable, but it will get the job done. I should at least explore them as an option before making a similar purchase. There are also plenty of body-weighted and calisthenic exercises as options.

Thankfully, I didn’t catch Omicron nor buy more weights. Win!

Practice Gratitude and Letting Go

This feels like a deep cleaning for my mind. I need to practice gratitude for what I already have because I’m already enough. I also must audit other lurking thoughts that remind me of my inadequacies and let them go.

Decluttering is an offensive tool. Letting go is a defensive tool.

Ronald L. Banks

10, 10, 10, 10

Before buying something I should ask myself how will the purchase make me feel:

  • 10 minutes from now
  • 10 days from now
  • 10 months from now
  • 10 years from now

By slowing down and asking myself to evaluate the actual value a purchase would make in my life I should be able to avoid spending or become extraordinarily confident with my purchase.

Ask Yourself If this is Really Worth It (+ Guilt/Shame)

I found this handy Bad Habits Calculator on Reddit, which will calculate how much that impulsive spend will actually spend cost you over time. In my case, I learned that I could potentially buy a small car if I opted out of buying a daily $5 boba milk tea.

What the cost of a $5 boba milk tea would actually be worth in 10 years

Create More Friction

Add blocks, obstacles, and annoyances to deter to keep the credit card at bay.

  • Stay logged out of Amazon Prime!
  • Remove default shipping and payment information
  • Unsubscribe from mailing lists. If you want extra credit points, contact the sellers directly and ask to be removed from physical mailing lists.

Reread Old Reviews

I am a sucker for shiny, new toys (especially cameras!) I can justify another lens or latest camera because it’s work-related, but, do I need new gear at this point in my career? Or do I need to own the equipment when renting is available? Rereading and watching old reviews of tech gear that I already have has helped remind me of what my equipment is capable of. I don’t need more cameras… I don’t need more cameras…

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries is a muscle that needs exercise for maintenance. Boundaries help define what you’re comfortable with and what your limits are. In my case…

Dear Friends, I know the new Canon EOD R5C exists. Now please stop sending me links!

I don’t need more cameras…

Celebrate Milestones

It’s important to celebrate whenever you’ve hit a milestone because we need to be reminded of the good feelings. Allowing yourself to feel the positive emotions after reaching a goal helps to create the positive feedback loop to stick with the challenge.

In my case the feedback loops looks like this:

Cue: I want an excessive item

Routine: I evaluate if it’s actually a need

Reward A (not a need): I don’t buy the item and instead invest the amount and watch my money grow! Then I’ll daydream about my future retired life.

Reward B (need): Yay! Instant gratification of spending! And my need is met!

Reward C: Celebrate in a way that continued within the almighty budget!

Final Thoughts

Like my other lifestyle challenges, I’m hoping to gain mental clarity and reduce the amount of anxiety that “scary” topics invoke in me. My ideal would be to become more intentional and have a grounded understanding of my finances.

I’ll check with this blog once a quarter regarding my status with this Low-Buy Year. Wish me luck! Or even better, join me so we can feel crazy/empowered together! 😉


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