More people are making ‘no-buy year’ pledges amid overspending or climate concerns

TikTok, Money, Shopping, budgeting, Climate, Cop26, Climate Change

(Getty Images)

Young adults are increasingly pledging to make 2024 a “no-buy year” amid cost-of-living and climate crisis concerns.

From Brooklyn to San Diego, young adults have decided to take frugality to a new level, from refusing to buy new clothes to swearing off sugary drinks. This is a part of the popular challenge that encourages people to enter a “no-buy year,” in which they choose to spend their money only on necessary purchases.

The no-buy challenge consists of self-imposed rules: participants must pledge to stop buying non-essential items, be they unneeded shoes, additional beauty products or other impulse buys for a set amount of time.

A few years ago, the challenge began as a blogged-about experiment in budgeting and mindful spending. Eventually, it gained traction on social media, with one Reddit group where people share their experiences having 51,000 members. The challenge has since become widespread on TikTok, in which a community of accountability has grown as more people post videos of their journeys and seek support from their fellow participants.

Elysia Berman, a Brooklyn-based creative director, explained that she chose to adopt the “no buy year” after realizing she needed to change her spending habits drastically. With a penchant for collecting vintage designer clothing that has resulted in a five-figure credit card debt, her no-buy pledge includes no new clothes, getting makeup and hair products only after she finished the ones she had, and limiting social outings to low- or no-expense activities.

Adopting a more frugal lifestyle serves one purpose for Berman: paying down her credit card debt. “It wasn’t like I wanted to challenge myself. I’m really in a position where this is a necessary next step for me,” she said.

Both sticking to her pledge and making progress toward her financial goal have proven more difficult than Berman expected. Within two weeks of starting her challenge, she couldn’t resist buying a new beret. Next came a new pair of boots. Although the challenge has helped her reduce her spending, she isn't accruing savings as much as living within her means.

“Having this lifestyle adjustment, I was anticipating that it would make a huge difference in my ability to pay down my debt,” Berman said. She’s chosen to take on her financial struggles head-on by discussing her financial struggles with friends and family, and her followers on social media. The latter resulted in more exposure than she originally expected; she has over 60,000 followers on TikTok, where a video in which she displayed her empty skin and hair products received more than one million views.

Although the trend has been growing for some time, the beginning of 2024 provided another opportunity for people to gain back agency over their finances following the “doom spending” of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Courtney Alev, a consumer financial advocate for the personal finance company Credit Karma.

“It’s just people trying to reclaim what’s been a rampant cycle of overspending, to be able to get their financial situation back in order and be able to save money,” Alev said.

Not everyone electing to join the no-buy trend has debt. Amea Wadsworth, who moved back home to San Diego, California, after graduating college, wanted to use her first full-time job as a chance to save, both the environment and money for her future.

After returning to live with her mom, she began noticing how many things she had that took up space. Working for a sustainability app also has made her more aware of her personal contribution to the world's mountains of waste.

“I’m tracking everything that I’m spending. I'm writing it all down,” said Wadsworth, who also writes down the times she wants to buy something but doesn't. She reviews the entries at the end of the month to determine if her purchases were really necessary purchase or a response to a quick craving.

Mia Westrap, a PhD student from Southampton, England, also uses TikTok as a way to keep herself accountable during her no-buy year. Her goal is to save three months' worth of rent, since she currently lives month-to-month. While Berman’s Achilles' heel was fashion items, Westrap’s was food and beverages.

“I figured out that I was spending four figures on just carbonated drinks and Pepsi Max,” she said.

Since social activities like going out for dinner or drinks involve spending money, Westrap decided to put a pause on dating during her yearlong no-buy challenge.

“I don’t want to turn up to a date and expect them to pay for me," she said. "And I also don’t want to get up to date and meet someone and be: ‘Oh look, I make these TikToks about not spending any money and here I am,’”

Other no-spend participants give themselves some latitude. Wadsworth, for example, is not buying any physical items but does allow herself to occasionally eat out with friends and the cost of visiting her long-distance boyfriend.

Sabrina Pare, 31, of Detroit, Michigan, approached cutting back on purchases from an environmental perspective. A sustainable living aficionado with a large social media following, Pare decided to participate in the no-buy year as a way to limit her contribution to the world’s waste.

She began by decluttering her closet and then looked for environmentally friendly ways to build a minimalist wardrobe, like hosting a clothing swap and avoiding fashion trends. At every step, Pare brings her followers along by filming short videos and sharing tips.

“If you’re buying less, it’s better for the planet. Overconsumption, it’s such an issue in our society,” she said.

But just as social media can be used for accountability and support when participating in the no-buy year challenge, it’s also one of the reasons many overspend. Berman, for example, stopped following a lot of fashion influencers to reduce the urge to buy things.

Learning to avoid impulsive shopping takes rethinking your habits and becoming aware of your triggers, said Carrie Rattle, CEO of Behavioral Cents, a financial coaching company.

“[The challenge] does help you try to push back against that need for dopamine. Every time we shop, any of us shop, we get that little dopamine hit," Rattle said.

While the challenge is meant to last for one year, people trying it say they are learning new techniques to help them avoid overspending in the future.

Westrap carries a bag big enough to hold something to read when she leaves her apartment so she won't have an excuse to buy more books. Pare unsubscribed from newsletters that tempted her to buy clothes and skincare products. Berman dyed her hair back to its natural brown since salon appointments to keep the color bright blonde were costly.

“My consumer habits have changed so much through this," Berman said. "Just because you see all the waste and you’re like, ‘Why is this necessary? Why buy a million little things when you can just buy one big thing, and it’s even better if it’s refillable.’”

After she makes a significant dent in the credit card debt, Berman hopes to start saving and investing. Wadsworth plans to focus on spending her money on experiences with her loves ones rather than material things. Pare hopes to pay off her student loans.

Wadsworth advises anyone who hears of the no-buy challenge and can't imagine doing one to give it a try, even if it's just for a month.

“They say that it sounds so hard and yeah, it sounded hard to me, too. But if it sounds so terrifying to you, it probably means that you need it," she said.

OTHER NEWS

34 minutes ago

Russia hits Ukrainian energy facilities with barrage of missiles and drones

34 minutes ago

Western Sydney trio make history as the first-ever APAC girl group to sign with a major US label - and tour the globe with some of the biggest names in R&B

34 minutes ago

Cat Rescued From Perilous Position At Grand Canyon National Park

37 minutes ago

HK star Stephen Chow shares video of him ‘dancing’ with Avantgardey

37 minutes ago

Authorities searching for escaped inmate from Angleton trusty camp, TDCJ says

39 minutes ago

Video: Jay Slater's father struggles to hold back tears as he pleads 'I just want my boy back' - after Brit, 19, went missing a week ago

39 minutes ago

Video: Drunk partygoer wakes up in locked club toilets the morning after the night before and sets alarms off as she stumbles out

39 minutes ago

Video: Weapons nut, 46, charges out of his home semi-naked carrying a SHOTGUN amid neighbour row about loud music - before armed cops find a sword, flail, and three homemade petrol bombs in house swoop

39 minutes ago

Pitch invaders, lookalikes and a steward’s slide tackle: Ninety minutes in the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo

39 minutes ago

Thousands of agency workers set to leave NHS and care roles, poll suggests

39 minutes ago

IDF admits tying Palestinian to jeep bonnet violated orders

39 minutes ago

Euro 2024: Ange Postecoglou 'on the bandwagon', backs Scotland to make history

39 minutes ago

Deliriously happy Edmonton Oilers fans celebrate Game 6 win

39 minutes ago

‘They miscalculated’: Gaza’s floating aid pier failing to deliver in rough seas

39 minutes ago

Derry dig deep to edge out Kerry and progress to All-Ireland final after thrilling encounter

39 minutes ago

Is Nvidia stock now becoming a joke?

39 minutes ago

Why Pilates should be part of your fitness routine and where to join a class

42 minutes ago

Vibrant rainbow recipes to make for Pride: Tie dye Swiss roll cake and more

42 minutes ago

JetBlue will soon offer free carry-on bags for Blue Basic fares

45 minutes ago

Tesco and Sainsbury's urgently pull bread from supermarket shelves due to 'health risk'

45 minutes ago

Magic, mystery and cryptic prophecies return with The Wheel of Time season three

45 minutes ago

England squad friction: Kane calls summit after Foden plays ‘peacemaker’ between Three Lions pair

45 minutes ago

How the ANC lost the info wars to the far-right parties

45 minutes ago

The World's Ugliest Dog title goes to Pekingese named Wild Thing - after judges can't resist his crazy fur and lolling tongue

45 minutes ago

England heroes of Italia '90 back Three Lions to turn it around after lacklustre start to Euro 2024... as long as manager Gareth Southgate is ready to gamble with his starting XI

47 minutes ago

David Ornstein reveals all as Chelsea hijack Man Utd talks and surge into lead for explosive striker

47 minutes ago

Career ruined Molefe wants justice

47 minutes ago

Everton close in on signing of Newcastle winger as agent confirms he’s ‘agreed’ terms with new club

47 minutes ago

Knicks News: New York Reportedly Shopping Key Piece of Core Roster

48 minutes ago

Some homeowners are doing surprisingly badly, even as their homes grow more valuable than ever

48 minutes ago

'I would rather have no career and live in a functioning country,' says Nish Kumar

48 minutes ago

Clinching scenarios for knockout rounds of UEFA Euro 2024

48 minutes ago

In-demand Tigers star barges over

48 minutes ago

Meet the wellness guru who is teaching yoga to England's Euro squad

48 minutes ago

Willie Nelson misses start of tour 'on doctor's orders'

49 minutes ago

Edson Alvarez injury a huge blow for Mexico, says coach Jaime Lozano

50 minutes ago

Charles Leclerc appears to COLLIDE with Brit Lando Norris during FP3 at the Spanish Grand Prix... as Ferrari star unleashes X-rated outburst after feeling held up behind McLaren driver

50 minutes ago

Mexico captain Edson Alvarez limps off the pitch in TEARS… with fears that the West Ham star's Copa America could already be over after suffering a hamstring injury

52 minutes ago

DR PHILIPPA KAYE: It's an insidious form of domestic abuse... and many don't even realise they're a victim of it. Here are the six warning signs everyone needs to know

53 minutes ago

All the times Princess Charlotte has told off her brothers Prince Louis and Prince George - and she no doubt gets it from her great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth