This is an updated post of an article we originally posted in 2016. It’s something we still enjoy and hope you can enjoy too!
This will be my family’s eighth year of doing our own “made up” version of No-Buy November. What? You didn’t know No-Buy November was a “thing”?! Well, neither did I until I started writing this article. But in truth, there is a whole non-profit website/movement to encourage less spending in November. The movement kind of died in 2012 so, call us “un-cool” if you want, but we still love it!
K, so what is a No-Spend Month? This is how we do it:
We don’t purchase anything from November 1st until the day (or so) before Thanksgiving. So yes, it’s not technically a whole month for us, but read on. No-spending includes no groceries (yes, even milk!), no online shopping, no clothing, no eating out, nor entertainment. So pretty much NOTHING, right?
There are some exceptions:
- Bills: insurance, utilities, mortgage… those need to be paid!
- Car stuff: gas, and maintenance.
- Services (babysitters, hair, etc) and fundraisers are fine too. Hard to tell the neighbor kids, “No, I don’t want to support your hard work ethic right now.” FYI- we go pretty light on all services, and I do say no to a fundraiser if it doesn’t make sense for us. I’m in a “no-spend” frame of mind, so it’s easier!
- Gifts. For me, it’s hard enough to find a good gift- so if I come across a great idea for a gift- I jump on it. On that note, we’ve been known to use an old gift card during the month too. Our No-Buy-November is all about using the resources we have, so we think it’s ok.
What on earth?! Why a no-buy November?
We spend less time/energy consuming things that don’t really matter.
For a few weeks of my life- I immediately throw the weekly grocery ads, the coupons, catalogs, scratch-discounts, etc. DIRECTLY into the recycle bin. Our food and meal options are greatly simplified. And, I don’t spend thirty minutes trying to determine which of the twenty-two items on Amazon has the best rating to suit my needs. 🙂 I have more time to do things I care about. I’ve got the whole rest of the year to think about/ plan for/ actually go: shopping! I sooo welcome that shopping break and even have a hard time wanting to go to the store at the end of the month. So yes, we get a few things for Thanksgiving, and then I don’t jump back into regular shopping mode till December. It feels so good.
We feel a greater appreciation for the things we do have.
We discover that the things we have in our home are enough. The whole family gets more creative and puts their problem-solving skills to good use. We use the games and sports equipment we’d forgotten about. We enjoy the free activities that don’t usually sound appealing when compared to the easier/lazier option of going out to eat for an activity. When we return to our regular spending habits at the end of the month, we are totally excited about everyday luxuries again! I remember last year my kids were thrilled to come and see what I brought home from my first trip back to Walmart. Thrilled. Again, you do have my permission to call us weirdos. 🙂
I feel more equipped to handle an emergency situation.
This reason is a biggy for us. There are several things that could happen to wipe our store’s shelves clear at any time. Whether it’s a natural disaster, something happening to the only freeway that comes in and out of our area or uncertain government/financial future. UPDATE 9/28/18 Hurricane Florence demanded that two major freeways in North Carolina were closed for TEN DAYS! There were hundreds of other roads that were closed. You really never know when something crazy could happen in your area!
Because I practice no shopping for one month out of the year, I know what items I would really miss if there was a disaster that made access to new items impossible. I stock up a little before we start the no-spend month. I try to keep my pantry filled so if a disaster occurred at any time, and we can’t get to a store, we’d be ok with what we had in our home. On a small level, I’ve experienced it!
We are forced to try some of our food storage, like powdered milk. I always get a case of vanilla soy milk from Costco, but some of my kids actually like the Morning Moo’s brand of powdered milk better than soy. A few years ago we branched out and tried TVP (textured vegetable protein). We actually love TVP ‘cause it’s really easy and fast to prepare! I always have some on hand to use throughout the year and it tastes pretty good! We use the taco meat and sausage, often to add to our spaghetti sauce. It also costs less than real meat, so it’s a total win-win-win!
I am also more mindful of how I would survive if our utilities were out too, so we pull out the solar cooker (seriously love ours!). I am naturally prompted to think about water storage/purification etc. We try to make sure we’d be able to get by if there was some type of emergency that ruined our water supply temporarily.
Buying food in bulk helps on a time/money-saving level anyway!
While buying twelve ketchup bottles at the same time seems a little extreme- our family goes through it long before it expires! (My husband would marry ketchup if he could). If the price is good on an item- pick up as much as you can! Since Walmart discontinued its ad-matching program, I have enjoyed shopping case-lot sales at other stores!
I find that it’s better to be ahead of the pantry-game anyway, and so when I’m reaching for my last bottle of unopened jam (or insert your often-used item here:_______), that’s when I need to purchase more, not when we’re almost out of the bottle in the fridge! If you have space, you might as well pick up as many as you’ll use before the expiration!
Our home gets a little barer, and I like it that way.
I’m way more resourceful with what’s in my fridge. By the end of the month, it’s super-easy to deep clean, right before we’re gonna need the space for Thanksgiving! With de-cluttering being all the rage– a no-spend month really allows us to use up what we have, not be so wasteful and adds more breathing room to the whole house. Less is more!
It’s better for Mother Earth.
Remember when I mentioned the non-profit movement and website that was trending a little bit in 2011/2012? Their philosophy behind the movement was to combat the commercialism and wastefulness that damages our minds and pollutes our earth. From their site: “At a certain point, the exponential growth of the economy will hit the real limits of our planet, at which point exponential growth (or growth at all) will be impossible. There are things we can do to make the economy more efficient, and squeeze a little bit more out of the same resources, but even that has limits.” In a no-buy month, we are using less peak oil and fewer greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming. Added bonus, right?
We save all that money!
I almost forgot about this one, but seriously umm… Hello! This reason should be kind-of obvious, right? There are two ways you can go about this: it can be out of necessity to be able to afford a special Christmas for your family, or a vacation, or whatever you want to save up for. Or, you can donate the amount you’ve saved to wherever your little heart desires! Either way, you can feel at ease knowing you’ve done everything in your power to allow for your goal!
So, by now you think we’re totally loco at our house or you’re intrigued! To all y’all, I say customize a “No-Buy November” (or any month, for that matter!) for your family and give it a shot! You don’t have to do it perfectly. I’d be lying if I said that we haven’t bent the rules for some exceptions over the years. But, a no-spend month is kinda like exercising. It’s a little hard to get started but so fulfilling as you go. Liberate yourself from your attachment to stuff- I think you’ll love it! I welcome any and all questions- comment below!
See also my article on How to Prepare for a No-Buy November. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading,