I recently wrote about the 7 Reasons Why I Love Our “No-Buy November.” As the busy summer season closes, I find myself craving the simplicity of our No-Buy November. A quick recap of what our “No-Buy November” is:
We don’t purchase anything from November 1st until the day (or so) before Thanksgiving. So yes, it’s not a technically a whole month for us, but read on… This no-spending rule includes: no groceries, no online shopping, no eating out, nor entertainment. So pretty much NOTHING, right?
There are some exceptions:
- Bills: insurance, utilities, mortgage etc.
- Car stuff: gas, and maintenance.
- Services and Fundraisers are okay.
My last post goes into a lot more detail, but here’s why I find it’s totally worth doing:
WHY I love No Buy November:
- We spend less energy consuming things that don’t really matter. Less time thinking about shopping and more time on simple joys.
- We feel a greater appreciation for the things we have. What we have is always enough- gratitude is POWER!
- I feel more equipped to handle an emergency situation. We practice what it would be like if a disaster came our way and we couldn’t go to the store.
- Buying food in bulk helps on a time/money-saving level anyway! It’s smart on so many levels to keep your home stocked.
- Reduces clutter in my home. Best part: empty fridge, just in time for Thanksgiving yumminess!
- Better for Mother Earth. We squeeze more out of our resources and there is less greenhouse gasses and wasteful attitude.
- We save a lot of money to go towards whatever is calling to us. Could be giving to someone in need!
So- hopefully there are a few of you that are inspired to give it a shot this year! I hope you enjoy it as much as we have. My family is coming up on our 7th annual No- Buy November, and we have a learned a few things along the way. While you don’t really NEED to do much to prepare, here are five helpful tips to get everyone on the same page.
Four steps to prepare for a “No-Spend Month”:
Step 1: Customize
Customize your own “No-Buy Month Rules” with your spouse. You may go about this month a different way than us- just be on the same page with rules YOU actually want to follow. Write them down.
Step 2: Inventory
Do an inventory in your home of the things you use regularly. Make a shopping list of all your most essential items you need to buy for the month.
- Baking items: flour, sugar, yeast, etc.
- Lunch and easy convenience items: string cheese, applesauce pouches, etc.
- Sauces, spices, condiments
- Canned goods, rice, pasta, drinks, paper goods… you get the idea!
- Milk, eggs, butter, yogurt.
- Fruits and veggies: both fresh and frozen
- Bread, tortillas, and maybe a frozen pizza or two for nights you may not feel like cooking.
Other household items: *You do NOT want to run out of any of these items!
- Toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste etc. Diapers!
- Laundry and dish detergent.
- Office supplies, yard maintenance, etc.
Step 3: Shopping
Go grocery shopping! I try to not stress too much about getting every item we will possibly want or need for the whole month. You can’t possibly predict it all and it kinda steals some of the fun if you’re not sacrificing a little, right?
Go with your list. Keep in mind, that some things go bad faster than others. Your asparagus, tomatoes, and spinach will only last a number of days, so you may want to go heavier on produce that lasts longer.
Here’s a list of favorite veggies that stay fresh for 2-4+ weeks:
- Potatoes: sweet or any type you like!
- Romaine hearts (6-pack from Costco)
- Winter squash (acorn and spaghetti squash).
- Herb pastes (not a veggie, but they are by the veggies at the store!) : basil, parsley, garlic, and ginger. Read my love for them here.
You definitely need a balance of some produce to eat in the first week or two and then save the above-mentioned foods ‘til all the other more-perishable items are used up.
Step 4: Prepare for conflicts
It helps to have an idea of how you might handle conflicts so you’re not caught totally off-guard. Here’s a couple conflicts to think about:
Conflict #1: Our friends invite us to _________ (dinner, go camping, movies etc…)
The choice is yours! Don’t stress too much about whatever you choose. It IS hard to get social schedules to line up, so you may want to make one exception. One year we totally went camping and tried to keep to the no-spending rule as best as we could. I am so glad we spent that time together outdoors that year! For an out-to-dinner invite, propose dinner and games at your house instead! Take a rain-check to do a movie night another time… It’s up to you to decide what’s most important for YOU, then don’t look back! There will be opportunities that will come up again, OR you make them!
Conflict #2: We’re running out of easy-to-grab snacks and treats.
Make these easy protein bars! I usually spend an hour or more each week at the store anyway, so why not spend 30ish minutes to make some healthy and yummy snacks from scratch! Honestly, most of the time I don’t enjoy baking (so much effort for food that isn’t even good for you! I prefer to just buy it lately!) However, in November I welcome a fun change and enjoy baking more! I’ve got extra time since I have not shopped at all that week! I totally put my $5 used bread-machine to good use to make yummy white bread often and we love the switch. Oh and you might be surprised to find a box of fruit-snacks buried in the back of the pantry you didn’t know was there!
A couple last tips for a successful No-Buy November:
K, so you’ve stocked up and you’re plugging along. Then, you realize you need something that’s not in the fridge, freezer or pantry… what do you do? That’s when good neighbors come in handy! I seriously love it when a neighbor texts me asking to borrow a can of tomatoes. I bet most people’d love to have someone to trade items back and forth with. If you don’t know your neighbors, now’s the time to reach out and introduce yourself, BEFORE the no-spend month hits! The social interaction is good for both of ya. 🙂 Be sure to let them know you wouldn’t be able to return the item for a while, but you will when you can!
Gardening is also a huge help to surviving the month. My in-laws usually have tons of pomegranates and that helps us so much! I don’t have a garden that’s still producing in November, but the fact that I’ve shared extra squash and onions with my neighbors earlier in the year helps me be an excellent target for extra food they have! I should also mention that for the last five years we’ve had an extra freezer. Without a garden and an extra freezer, No-Buy November would be extra challenging!
Lastly, an important reminder: your best experience will come if you let your mind relax and embrace it. Just Breathe! So… let’s say you notice your razor is getting super dull one week-oh well! How important is it to have your legs perfectly shaved every time they’re exposed? Hopefully in a “November” frame of mind, you can be totally cool with just skipping it! You do know that No-Shave November is totally a “thing,” right? We can still be happy even if we don’t have all the “stuff” we think we need.
I hope this helps you start off a No-Spend Month on the right foot! This experiment won’t go perfectly the first time, you might even run into a bump in the road- but don’t give up! You’ll learn as you go! Just keep your eyes on the prize: the sacrifice you’re making is so worth it.
Let me know if you have any questions or added insight on No-Buy November! I love to hear other people’s experiences.