Welcome to the Fluff! Here I blog my goals, especially my reading and studies, and my ongoing downscaling and using up of material stuff and working towards a more minimalist lifestyle.

Friday, 15 April 2016

How to succeed on a No Buy

Whilst I've been watching some YouTube videos, looking at some Instagram posts and reading some forum discussions on not buying any more make up or toiletries or craft supplies etc over recent months, I've noticed that many people are experiencing something noteworthy: It's not working.  They're still buying the things they pledged not to and their collections are not only not decreasing much, they are often actually increasing.  If you're on a No Buy of something and having some trouble or are afraid the same will happen to you if you embark on a No Buy, then I hope the following will be of help to you.

To be honest, I'm quite lucky in that, once I've decided I'm not buying something, I'm just not buying it - period.  I have pretty decent spending willpower and can resist the temptation to get something quite well.  However, I'm still human and find that these tips help me along my way.

First of all you need to be very clear about what you're hoping to achieve and why.

What is meant by a No Buy?  It's a no brainer really.  Being on a No Buy, means you're plain and simply not to buy that thing.  If you're on a make up No Buy, then you don't buy make up.  If yours is a book No Buy, you buy zero books.  It's that simple.

Problems can start when 'No Buy' gets confused with the following

- Low Buy - where you're trying to buy less, but are still shopping

- Being 'aware of what one is spending' - which could mean anything from just keeping a note of how much is spent on a certain type of thing to consciously challenging oneself when on the point of purchase, 'Do I need this?  Should I get it?'

- Saving up for a splurge at some forthcoming special event or sale when people who've declared themselves on a No Buy for a set period of time until the next VIP sale or some show where they will, basically, go and spend all the money they've not spent on their No Buy category items and stock up as much, or even more than they would have done had they been shopping as usual.  This is also one to watch out for when specifying exceptions to a genuine No Buy (more on that later).

Can you see the traps here?  All these fake No Buys still equate to adding to the stuff you already have and may even want to reduce.

You also want to be very clear on just why you're wanting to be on a No Buy.  Some common reasons are:

- Overstock - you already have way, WAY too much stuff, be it make-up, craft stuff, whatever.  You have enough for years and years and your collection is getting embarrassing.  Even though some people may congratulate you (as one lady did on hearing I had over 1600 items of embroidery thread) and envy your hoard, you know you have enough already.  Far more than enough really!

- Financial reasons - you want to save money for something special, such as a trip somewhere or a wedding.  Maybe you need to spend less in order to get out of debt or to make ends meet.

- Interest in a more minimalist way of life - simplicity has begun to appeal to you.

- Pressure from family/partner to stop buying a certain thing which they see as unbalanced and maybe your storage is driving them mad or taking up space needed for other things etc.

It may be a combination of all of the above.  For me embarking on my make up, book and art & crafts supplies No Buy it was a combination of already having more than enough, being attracted to a minimalist lifestyle and an impending home move.  What are your reasons?  Sit down and really think about them.  Let the reason(s) really resonate with you and make a list of why the reason(s) are important.

Once you've clarified your reasons and your definitions, it's time to think about taking practical steps to avoid failure.  Here are some ideas:

- Avoid temptation.  Do you really need to go around the shops in your lunch break?  Or do you need to surf tempting websites?  What and where do you need to physically avoid in order to make it harder to spend money?  Where were you and what were you doing the last five times you bought something you shouldn't have?  Analyse the answers and take evasive action.  Go somewhere else for lunch. Find something else to do.

- Unsubscribe, unfollow.  If you're like most people, you're on e-mail mailing lists and/or follow Instagrammers, bloggers and YouTubers who buy and review the kind of products you like, but are trying not to buy.  Unsub.  It's that simple.  Unsub from all the mailing lists that send you tempting offers, unfollow all the companies who promote their products on social networks in order to make you buy them.  Just go cold turkey on any and all enablers.  That can also include people you might go shopping with and who persuade you to buy.  See them in other situations, but don't let them influence your shopping habits!

- Boycott all special sales events at tempting shops.  Is it the Sephora or Ulta VIP sale event?  A retail craft show?  A massive sale at the bookshop?  Plan something else instead - preferably somewhere right out of the way.  If your favourite on-line store 15% off event is coming up, organise a distraction.

- Plan in advance how to treat yourself and what you're going to do if you ever feel the need to indulge in retail therapy.  It happens to us all.  We need a treat and, before we know it, we've bought something and blotted our copybook badly.  So, devise a list of treats that you can indulge in without breaking your No Buy.

- Take great care when specifying exceptions.  The most common pitfall I've seen here is to specify the special sale/event as an exception.  You're doing so well on your No Buy and then up comes the event you've given yourself permission to splash out at and - BANG - up goes all your hard work and self control in smoke.  Not only have you splurged badly and bought all the things you wanted all through your No Buy (thus nullifying the whole thing), but you've very possibly also bought even more as 'a treat for having done so well for 3 months' or as a release for all the pent up frustration of not being able to buy.  Your collection and/or finances are then in the exact same state as they would have been had you never been on the No Buy, or maybe worse!  Again, don't confuse a No Buy with saving up to spend at a special event or sale.

Allowing a certain amount/quantity at a special event is a possibility.  Only you know how reasonable or feasible this is in your case.  I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show in November last year having already decided that I was only going to buy the specialist goldwork thread I needed for a Craftsy class I'd bought access to and that I would join in a certain 'make and take' activity with one designer I like very much.  I stuck to that 100%, although I did deliberate for quite some time over some metal organza fabric at the Stef Francis stand.  In the end, what clinched it was, not only would it almost certainly be available again next year, but I knew I wasn't planning to do projects that needed it in the meantime.  I walked away without the fabric.

My only exceptions are: 1) When I genuinely run out of a product as I did last year with the one make up item I bought - an eye primer. 2) When I really have nothing that will do, then I can buy it.  Recently I've made a couple of baby knits which needed buttons.  I don't stock buttons, so I always need to buy those specially for each completion.  Something similar may happen with a zip or something like that,

- Plan rewards in advance for succeeding, but DON'T make them a violation of your No Buy!  If you're on a make up No Buy, don't make your reward the latest Too Faced palette.  Make it something else that you'll enjoy.

- Pal up with genuinely supportive people.  We all have a friend who says, 'Why don't you buy it, Elizabeth??' and they are best seen away from the shops or computer.  It's like being on a diet.  Some people will kindly help you to avoid temptation and support you and others will, in mistaken kindness, encourage you to 'treat yourself'.  Well, if you're needing to be on a No Buy, you've been treating yourself to quite a degree already and now it's time to stop.  So, enlist the help of people who are reliably able to help you and to give you some accountability.

- Make a really unpleasant forfeit for failure and hold yourself to it.  The supportive friend is useful here too as they can be someone who can keep an eye on you.  Don't make your forfeit something that you really don't mind so very much or that you will feel good about, such as making a donation to a good cause.  Make it something you really, really don't want to do and do NOT make excuses or let yourself off 'this once'.  One easy failure leads to another and another and another.  It gets easier to excuse yourself every time, so start in right from the start on being tough about it.  You may even want to consider passing this task to someone else to punish you if and when needed!!!

- Keep a reminder on hand of what you're trying to achieve and why.  It could be a photo on your phone of your massive lipstick collection that you can get out and look at when you find yourself wandering into unsafe areas and facing temptation to buy.  Maybe it's a list of reasons to resist, an inventory of what you already own in bald figures, a photo of a person you want to please (or even a nay-sayer you want to prove wrong - that can be quite a strong impetus!), or a monetary figure you want to save up for that special trip.  Keep motivation to hand.  The last few years, I've spent some time looking through my needlework stash the night before the Knitting and Stitching Show just to remind myself what and how much I already own.  It really helped.

Well, I hope that's been helpful to some who are struggling out there.  Remember, if you're on a No Buy then DON'T BUY ANY and get tough with yourself to keep yourself on track.  Recently I saw a make up No Buy-er post on Instagram that she was packing for her trip to Paris and asking what products should she bring back?  My suggestion was perhaps predictable: "None. You're on a No Buy."

What do you think?  Will these suggestions help you?  Can you add anything to them?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016


Rachel said...

Knowing I can't afford something has always stopped me buying it...!

Stephanie Cockrill said...

I'm really glad you left this link on my YouTube video. I love all the points you made and am now really excited to stick to my low-buy, hopefully turning it into a no-buy!