How to Have a Successful Low Buy Year in 2023


Low buy year | a hand holding a beige tote bag against a green wall

You may have heard that one of the best ways to be a more conscious consumer is to simply buy less. Of course that’s easier said than done given that our society is built to thrive on consumption. We’re constantly bombarded with advertisements and TikTokers telling us we need to “run not walk” to buy a “life-changing” Amazon product.

It doesn’t set our wallets or the planet up for success. And without goals or strategies in place to curb our spending it can be very easy for it to get out of hand, leaving us with starving bank accounts and closets full of buyer’s remorse.

But with goals and strategies in place perhaps we can end this cycle of frivolous spending. That’s the point of a Low Buy Year—to only spend on what you need. And to help make sure you achieve your minimal-consumption goals, here are a few ways to set yourself up success.

How to Have a Successful Low Buy Year

Low buy year | a person scrolling on their phone through a clothing website

Set monthly budgets

You’ll never really know if you achieved a low buy year, if you don’t set goals. So each month, map out what you want your expenses to look like and stay on top of tracking them. It may sound tedious, but there are apps like Mint that can help you out. Or you can create your own financial dashboard like the one found in my Planner for the Planet Notion Pack.

Celebrate the months when you spend below your limits, but still be kind to yourself if you accidentally go above (because it’s likely to happen). What ultimately matters is that you’re being conscious of your spending and trying your best to do better.

Set rules

Setting rules or guidelines for your low buy year can help you quickly make purchasing decisions when you’re feeling the urge to impulse buy. These rules may involve setting limits, such as capping your takeout orders at one per week. It could mean boycotting purchases from an entire category, such as clothing, or perhaps setting parameters around when you can and can’t buy.

For instance, I still plan on buying clothes throughout my low buy year, but I will always look for them secondhand first, and I won’t be buying any new clothes for vacations because that’s typically when I buy things that only get worn once. You can check out my full list of rules here.

Keep a wishlist

Slow, intentional shopping is a big part of achieving a successful low buy year. Generally, when it comes to developing sustainable buying habits, you typically want to wait before purchasing something. The desire for something new, or the conveniently placed 20% off sign can sometimes trick us into thinking we need something now. But most of the time, we don’t.

So start a wishlist where you keep track of items you come across that you think you’d like to purchase. If in 1-3 weeks it’s something you still want and feel you would use often then go ahead and buy it.

Shop secondhand first

When you do make purchases throughout your low buy year, try searching for them secondhand first. A lot of the things we want or need are already out in the world, moments away from heading to the landfill. So why not check local thrift shops, online secondhand retailers, or Facebook Marketplace first? You may end up finding exactly what you need at a lower price point than you would’ve found it new.

Hit the unfollow button

It’s no secret that social media has thrown overconsumption into overdrive. Every time we start scrolling we’re bombarded with pictures and videos that jolt us into comparison mode (if not consciously, at least unconsciously).

This constant exposure to what we “could” have drives us to make more purchases. It’s a pattern that has to be interrupted. To do so, unfollow brands or people that give you the urge to buy or make you feel like you’re not enough (spoiler alert: you are in fact enough without the “life-changing pants” you just watched a video about).

Find other sources of joy

Newness sparks joy for a lot of us. And it’s why you may find yourself “just browsing” when you’re bored. But try to find new ways to release those little bursts of serotonin we know and love. Try out a new hobby, join a league, or make plans to meet a friend for coffee.

Giving yourself something to look forward to or something to conquer may provide you with the same kind of happiness that buying a new thing would. As a result, you may find yourself breaking out your credit card a little less.

If you enjoyed reading about how to have a successful low buy year and are craving more sustainable living tips, then sign up for The Eco Edit! You’ll be joining hundreds of other pro-planet enthusiasts who are passionate about bettering the world through small, sustainable steps

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