July Goals & Capsule Wardrobe

Clothing:

I don’t usually adhere to a capsule wardrobe – I think life is too unpredictable to follow a set of guidelines for clothing a month in advance – but while I’m away, I do the best to account for different possible activities and events. The clothing I brought with me for the month is being bolstered by having access to all of my around-the-house stuff, like sweatpants from high school and every college shirt I’ve kept. I’m treating the capsule wardrobe as more my “out and about” clothing, so that I have some amount of choice in what to wear – which also means that I won’t be tempted to buy something new over the summer.

First, this is everything excluding a belt, two pairs of earrings, two pairs of shoes, and whatever purses/bags I’m using. Side note, doing a flat lay of clothing which are mostly the same colour was a creative exercise, to say the least.

If I count the two pairs of shoes (not shown), I have 20 items that I’m working with for a month, which is more than enough, since I won’t be leaving the house every day – and there are plenty of combinations available. My final point about this is that I think some of the items that were left in the wardrobe that weren’t even considered should head to the Bye-Bye Bin if they aren’t worn by the end of August (or if I’m feeling particularly generous, the end of September).

Reading:

This month, I’m mostly reading from Libby and Hoopla, and I’m going to try to knock out some of the sampled/wishlist items that have been sitting in my to-be-read pile as of last October. I’ve already gone through two books in the last week, so I suspect that I’ll be able to give you a total count (maybe even reaching double digits!) in the end-of-the-month check in.

Using what I’ve got:

I’ve packed full sized toiletries with me for July since I had the room in my luggage (the shampoo and conditioner bottle absolutely were stored in a running shoe each for doubling up on storage space), so I can keep chipping away at using them up.

A topic of using what I’ve got that I haven’t really touched on yet includes my very old laptop (from 2013). I want to spend some time this month – roughly half an hour a day – going through all of my photos, documents, downloads, and other stuff to do a digital declutter of what I’m not using or have reason to keep. I know a new laptop is on the books for next year or the year after, but for now, I’m going to lighten the load a bit on how much is being stored – which will make the eventual transfer of everything be a bit easier.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m aiming for a post per week, and I’ll go for every Tuesday, but if festivities occur and I’m a bit behind, c’est la vie! Thanks for reading 🙂

Mid-Year Check-In

How is the No-Buy going since January?

Of all of my major categories – clothing, accessories, tea, body products, hobby stuff, and books – nothing new/new-to-me has been purchased or thrifted. I haven’t needed anything new in any category. Though there have been two clothing swaps so far this year, only one item (a plain black romper) of the seven I set aside has been kept. Barring books, I’ve been downsizing/decluttering or using up my stuff in the first half of the year (more on that below) – which I feel has helped with alleviating some decision fatigue along the way: I don’t have to worry about what products I’m using if I’m focusing on emptying something, I don’t need to make a choice about buying more stuff when I see an advertisement because the answer is already “I have enough,” and I don’t have the itch to buy a bunch of stuff in my down time. Lastly, for books, while I’ve been on target about not purchasing more, I’ve been looser with my expectations of needing to read only what I own versus what I have at the library, and I feel as though that’s made for a better reading experience overall. Oh, and my estimate that I could get through at least the first half of the year without needing to buy any new stuff was definitely spot on.

Do these goals still work for me?

Absolutely. I’ve been able to see the forest for the trees of just how much stuff I have, and that there’s really no reason to have a mega stockpile for just one person (as in, I think it’s certainly reasonable for a large family to have the Costco bulk pack of toothpaste, but I’m still not even halfway through). I’ve found that restricting what’s coming in and focusing on what I have is helpful in learning more about what I actually like to have/use; black tea and other teas with more caffeine were great while getting my degree, but I don’t need the boost now that I work full-time.

Regarding tracking my progress, I find that blogging and using Instagram has been most helpful. The blogging is great to look back on where I’ve succeeded and what needs to change, while the online community I’ve found has been inspirational and motivational (though I’m not as active as I had been in the beginning). The clothing tracker, on the other hand, is good when I remember to actually complete it. I do still want to see the data on what I’m wearing and how frequently, but I find that it’s easy to have it slip away and I’m playing catch-up at the end of the week. I will continue use it, I just need to be more intentional and set aside the time to do so, rather than brush it off.

How am I doing with using up what I’ve got?

I feel like the best way to see how much I’ve used and what is currently in use of the stock pile is best executed by using the original inventory photos. Body products and tea are where I’ve got the most visible progress, and I’ve added red Xs over the items which have been fully used up (or decluttered or donated), and green circles over the items currently in use.

For body products, I’ve chosen to focus on finishing up the liquid soaps first, since they take up the most room and I prefer to not travel with them (I try to pack light and keep to a carry on, so bar soap is easier).

For tea, the vast majority of the tea pouches have found their way into the tins, BUT I still wanted to highlight just how much more space I have now that all the pouches have been emptied. I have a neat row of stacked tins of tea that are easily accessible, and the only other tea stuff I have on the shelf are the three pouches without a X or circle on it, and the box of drawstring teabags. I go through waves of drinking tea, where I’ll have four large cups (about 3L or so) in one sitting if I’m working from my laptop mainly, or maybe 1-2 if I have back to back tutoring sessions – and then I’ll not have any tea for a week and a half.

For the rest of my categories – particularly for hobby stuff or writing materials – seeing the progress is a bit harder. For the greeting cards, I don’t have many reasons to send or write cards (though I’m sure I could send them for the fun of it), but I’ve been using some here and there as I can. The sticker sheets are the hardest to empty, since some of the pages are mixed content and I’m less likely to use the other half of the stickers. Maybe I can do a sticker declutter at the end of the year for sheets that haven’t been used at all the whole year – whether the entire page is still intact, or it’s a sheet that I’ve skipped over continuously.

What choices have I been able to make/things I’ve been able to do by not buying anything in my no-buy categories?

Travel

Unsurprisingly, my selected luxuries have been able to get more attention as a result of having the for fun money and a specific line in my budget for travel. Regarding travel, I’ve been able to visit family and friends this year more than I thought I would. I’ve been traveling light – which has been helpful while trying to navigate the messy airport situations in Canada right now – and not worrying about leaving space for something to take home, since it was only postcards that I took back (or nothing at all for my more recent travel). I’ve also come to recognise that the people I’m visiting care more about seeing me than what I’m wearing (shocker, I know), and so long as I’m comfortable in what I’ve got on, I’m good to go.

Entertainment

I’ve been to museums this year, and I have two comedy shows to attend this summer, plus a ball later in the fall. I’m not worried about what trade-offs I’ll need to make to be able to attend, and I’m making choices based on my comfort and being able to be present for the events, rather than trying to juggle too many things all at once (namely, trying to squeeze in shopping, whether for myself or souvenirs for others). I’m also finding ways to include my friends in the events, so it’s a two-fer, in that I get to spend time with them and I get the experience of the event itself.

Does anything need to be adjusted for the second half of the year?

For now, I think I need to give myself a bit of breathing room, creatively, and scale down to one post a week. Beyond that, I believe that the system I’ve figured out for myself works on good days, meh days, and bad days – I haven’t purchased anything, and at most, my clothing tracker is set aside when I’m too tired to complete it. However, if you feel like there’s something that could help me, please do let me know – suggestions are always welcome 🙂

June in Review

This month was much more all-over-the-place than predicted, so I’m doing a review for this month today, and then a mid-year check-in for the 1st of July.

Clothing:

I wanted to think about what I would need according to what I’m wearing, but considering that I spent most weekends in not-my-regular-clothing, I don’t know that this month was the best time to test out how often I thought about having a pair of shoes that work well with navy blue outfits. I can confidently say, however, that the slip is not at all a necessity for now. Even with dressing up (semi-formal) and down (sweatpants from high school), there’s only one dress that I have where it would be helpful to wear under it, and I’m not planning to wear it any time soon. I do want to consider whether or not a navy shoe (flats, sneakers, or boot, but not heels) would still be worth it – and I think it will be easier to figure that out over the month of July since I’m doing a bit of a capsule wardrobe (which will be addressed next week!).

I did, however, have a chance to look over some of the bye-bye bin items that I’d been on the fence about and brought them to a secondhand shop that one of my university friends own. The pieces are all cute, but aren’t the right fit for me – the stripey dress doesn’t sit right (from a clothing swap), the floral dress makes me look like I’m from the 1880s (impulse online buy last year), I’ve worn the red wedges once and they don’t go with the rest of my closet (also an impulse buy, but from 2019), and the headband is cute but doesn’t match anything I wear.

Books:

This month certainly got away from me for reading, but that’s not the end of the world since I’ve spent the majority of the month meeting up with friend and family. I’ll return to the books when I have the time, since I have more “in-person” events and gatherings planned for the summer. What I’ve read so far has captured my attention and has been interesting, but reading while visiting with people I haven’t seen in 2+ years was not the priority.

Using What I’ve Got:

So, I got no prep done for the incoming journal thus far, but I’m setting aside the day tomorrow to work on it. Between packing and travel, work, and keeping myself going through a busy spot, there wasn’t the creative motivation (nor time) to really dig in and figure out what I want my new planner to look like. I still want to take the time to make it look cute and use up what I have, so that I have a base structure figured out, and then I can add a bit of flair as I go.

Overall, I had ideas that would have worked out had there been a bit less busy-ness, but considering it was for mostly good reasons – and not at all due to procrastination – I’m not worried about it. As I mentioned above, I’ll do a mid-year review on the 1st, and then July goals will follow on the 4th. Thanks for reading!

June Goals

So, here we are at the mid-point of the year, and I still have no bought anything from the no-buy list. My approach still seems to be working, so let’s dive in on the goals:

Clothing:

I mentioned in my May review that there are two things that have been on my mind for a while – navy blue shoes and a slip – and I want to see if, by the end of the month, there are enough instances where either could have been used to warrant adding it to the wishlist properly. I’ll be honest, with how high my arch is for both feet, I don’t know that I would feel comfortable buying second hand shoes, but I’ll worry about that as I get closer to the end of the month. For the slip, I want to do more research on if there’s anywhere within in Canada that makes them/look into what I want specifically from the garment before thinking of purchasing it.

Books:

June is a bit of a travel heavy month (a different city each weekend, for different reasons), so I want to rely on e-books for while on the road, and then have a physical book to read while I’m at home. I’m currently reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki as an e-book through Hoopla, and my physical book is “Scottish Customs, from the Cradle to the Grave,” by Margaret Bennett. I bought the Scottish customs book back in 2020 from the National Museum of Scotland, and it’s definitely about time that I get started on it.

Using what I’ve Got:

I still do my agenda according to an academic year, since I take classes here and there and my work cycle follows it as well. With that in mind, I got my new agenda for Christmas (how’s that for planning ahead?), and I want it to be ready to go come July – rather than planning in July – which would include writing in major functions throughout the year, when my holiday weekends are, deadlines to keep track of for applying to grad school, and anything fun along the way. I want to make the best use of the planner stickers I have, especially with being able to plan things out more cohesively throughout the year, rather than feeling like I’m scrambling to keep up with myself each week.

Other than that, I’ll be moving to a weekly schedule for the time being – and I’m still figuring out next week’s topic, so stay tuned 🙂

Changes I’ve Noticed

So there’s been positive changes that I’ve been documenting so far – haven’t bought any clothing this year! haven’t spent money without being aware of my budget! haven’t bought from any of my other no-buy categories! – but I need to be realistic about “areas of improvement” that I’m noticing as I’ve gone past the 6-month mark of not buying any clothing (if we count from the soft start in November).

For one, I’m still on my phone more than I would like to be. In 2022, that’s a bit of a nebulous statement since we use our phones for so much, but I mean it in the sense that I’m not being intentional about my phone use. Watching youtube videos to clear out my “watch later” playlist, reading an e-book, or listening to a podcast while out for a walk or doing chores don’t fit into unintentional use – I’m setting out to do something and my phone happens to be a tool to complete part of the task. Where I end up losing track of time is generally through social media, particularly Instagram’s explore page – made worse by having both my personal and my Lady with Less account to scroll through. I want to highlight that I’m not saying I feel like I’m wasting time taking in content from fellow no-buy, mending, and outfit repeat accounts – you’re actually all so inspiring, just saying – but specifically the explore page is where I can lose more than an hour of my day (minimum). I know there are ways of having your screen-time limited within the app, but if I’m already in the middle of reading or watching something, I usually just hit “ignore” and go back to whatever content was on-screen.

Which leads in nicely to my next point: getting enough/better sleep. I already have a weird sleep schedule for working second shift and being on call during the night, and I’ve strongly identified with being a night owl for most of my life (I was maybe 8 the first time I stayed up until midnight outside of New Year’s Eve to satiate my curiosity of what happens when the alarm clock goes from 11:59 pm to 12 am on a normal day). Some nights, I’m falling asleep by the time midnight rolls around, but there are others where 2 am comes and goes and then I’m fighting against the melodious squawking of the early birds greeting a new day. If I’m able to follow my routine to a T, particularly that I fit in some time to read before bed, rather than scrolling, my sleep is significantly better. Pardon the tangent, but I want to point out a win: this time last year, my endless scrolling wouldn’t have been nearly as aimless and at the whim of the algorithm, but I was instead surprised by the sudden light of the rising sun after losing 2-3 hours to going through every page of the stores I spent the most money on. So, while there’s growth in that I’m no longer midnight shopping, stores would run out of content eventually, while the explore page does not.

Finally, sugar. My skin gets worse, my body hurts more, and I don’t feel great (overall) when I backslide into snack-y comfort food for meals on end as opposed to something more balanced. I didn’t study nutrition in university, but I know my body well enough at this point to recognise what my patterns are – and what reactions correlate to my actions. I generally don’t buy anything sugary of my own (I am a Montrealer, so I will always have at least some maple syrup at home), but my workplace has a generous snack supply that we can take from as we please. If I’m not getting enough sleep over a few days and things are quiet at work, I’ll grab something to munch on, since the kitchen is right by my desk. It’s almost like no one part of my life exists in a vacuum and everything is connected (pardon the sarcasm).

For me, it’s reached a point where saying, “I need to be more intentional about XYZ” has almost lost its meaning since I’m going through things too quickly (real talk, I haven’t used my planner in three weeks and have instead relied on daily post-its around my monitor screen). I need to give myself that time and work through what’s working and what isn’t, and make small adjustments rather than sweeping statements about massive change. I also realise that the focus of this blog is about the no buy, but I feel as though the no buy touches so many areas of my life that there’s grounds to bring up other areas that I want to work on as well.

To close with another win, in all of my endless scrolling, I’ve still been seeing ads for the clothing stores I like. I don’t have them blocked for the sake of knowing I can see them without losing the plot, and the unexpected benefit has been that I’ve seen spring/summer items over the last two months, and I feel nothing. It all is just the same florals and pastels that I have something similar to in my closet, and the cuts of the sleeves and skirt lengths on the dresses are the same, too. So, if nothing else, this check in coinciding with switching in my spring/summer clothing has highlighted how little I need more clothing.

May Goals

Let’s jump right in!

Clothing:

It’s finally warm enough here to switch out my winter clothing for my spring and summer stuff. Usually, I have a habit of shoving the new seasonal items into my closet alongside the fall/winter clothing, but I want to try reducing the visual clutter of items I know I for sure won’t wear between May and September. I also have my spring/summer clothing to go through, both for the sake of decluttering, but also for adding the items to the clothing tracker (which I’ll split up bit by bit – even doing some 20 items a day is a chore). I don’t think I need to make a point of specifically aiming to wear everything throughout the month (it’s definitely not quite shorts weather yet), but I want to instead see what I’m most drawn to.

Reading:

Art history still seems to be keeping my attention well enough, so I’ll keep going for it with more Taschen books. I happened to have finished the Matisse book over the weekend, and had already pulled Georgia O’Keefe to read, so I’ll just be adding Keith Haring for now. If I happen to finish both, I’ll see what I’m feeling – mythology? ancient civilisations? fashion? fiction? – and choose from there.

Using what I’ve got:

For my financial literacy courses, I have an activity planned for them this week which is focused on price comparison in the context of different groceries charging more/less for the same items. To make it more fun, I’m including the instructions of the activity in some of the cards from my stationary box that I don’t think I’d use otherwise (it won’t be all of them, but it will be a solid dent in the pile). The intention is for the cards to feel similar to an old-school dinner party invitation, with the double purpose of the design on the front of the card being how I split up the groups (i.e., everyone with a blue card will be in the same team).

If I have the time this week, I’ll have a look at stages of change & shopping habits – and if not, that will be next week’s post!

April in Review

I feel like this month has flown right on by, but I’m also doing my review a bit earlier than usual. Anyhoo, let’s get into it:

Clothing:

I’ve managed to wear just about everything that I’ve set aside as my visual cue for not being worn yet for shirts and dresses. In keeping up with my tracking on a semi-regular basis, I’ve noticed entries for earrings and a few pairs of pants I hadn’t worn yet – which allowed me to experiment a bit more than I probably would had I only been focused on shirts and dresses. Fun bonus, two of my outfits of unworn items got compliments at work – even though both were outfits I’d been hesitant about wearing (hooray for perspectives other than my own!). The items I haven’t gotten to wear are not season appropriate – two burgundy/red dresses are much more fall/winter, and one frilly black and white dress is too late spring for the rain we’ve been having.

Books:

Finished both of them in about two weeks, and now I’m slowly getting through the Matisse book from the same series. Reading before bed has been the easier choice for now, though I suspect if I maybe put my phone down more during the day, I might be able to squeeze in some reading time, too.

For Fun Money:

Without messing up my budget, I’ve found ways to have fun – well, in the future. I booked a flight to go visit with friends from university during the summer in the US, and then take advantage of attending a Just For Laughs show while I’m in Montreal for the rest of the summer. These both factor well into my budget, and I managed to squeeze in a bit of “treat myself,” with a stop at bulk barn after going to the bank, and stocking up on some of my favourite chocolate. All in all, goal well met.

Next week, I’ll have my May goals ready for you – and depending on my workload, I just might dip my toes back into some psychology and shopping. Thanks for reading!

April Goals

With the first quarter done and the sun’s warmth returning (kinda), I feel as though I’ve gotten a seasonal boost of motivation and I’m ready to get back into what I was working on before March’s hiatus.

Clothing:

The average temperature through to the end of the month is supposed to be around 12C, so I don’t think I’ll be pulling my sun dresses out just yet. With this being the last month before I do the seasonal swap out, I’ll mirror my February challenge of finding things I’ve not worn yet – but with a focus on unflipped hangers, rather than remixing combinations. It’s mainly tops and dresses that fall into this category, which shouldn’t be too difficult to pair with the rotation I have for trousers and skits for work. What I’ve done so far is separate the unworn from the worn items and placed them at the middle of my closet so they’re easier to see – and with the 20 or so items, I should be able to wear each one at least once by the end of the month, especially if I plan what to wear either the night before or at the beginning of the week.

Books:

I’m going back to picking my own books now that I’ve finished reading the last of my library loans (digital and physical). I’m going to read at least two art history books, one about Friday Kahlo and the other about Marc Chagall. I know a bit about both, and I’ve seen Chagall’s works in person, so I think it would be easier for me to get invested in their stories. The books are also visually pleasing and roughly 110 pages each, so it should be easy enough to get into.

Using What I’ve Got:

With the prospect of travel back on the docket, I’ll focus more finishing up my bottled body care products that wouldn’t be allowed through security – as opposed to alternating between bottle and bar soap. For planner stickers, I will finish working on doing a memory spread in my planner of my two weeks away in March, especially since I have pages of stickers dedicated to travel, dinners, and other fun plans. I haven’t got anything specific in mind for yarn, nor for writing and stationery supplies, but I’m keeping an open mind if something crosses my path.

For Fun Money:

I want to be more intentional about treating myself for my efforts or if I feel like it, especially with there being a handful of new places to eat having popped up in town in time for spring. If the weather is nice and I just so happen to walk by the mom & pop smoothie shop, then why not support the local economy? But on a more earnest note, having felt guilty and hesitant about spending the for fun money while traveling because I forgot about it isn’t a feeling I want to carry forward. I need to get in the habit of being aware that this line in my budget exists and shouldn’t only be spent at the end of the year because I held out for 11 months. I don’t so much have a negative relationship with money (I’m quite fond of spending it, actually), but I don’t want to develop any miserly habits and miss out on little blips of fun for food and experiences in between the bigger stuff.

Later this week I’m dropping a spicy opinion storage bins, and then on Monday, I’ll be back at another instalment of psychology and shopping. Thanks for reading!

Quarter in Review – January to March

With the first quarter of the year coming to a close, I thought it would be good to check in on my goal progress and see if there’s anything that needs to be adjusted.

Clothing:

So far, so good, I haven’t bought anything new or thrifted. There was one item that I picked up from a clothing swap – a dress for warmer weather – and two items that were in my maybe pile that got put back before I left. I’ve also decluttered some 20+ clothing items since the beginning of the year. I did have a bit of temptation when a new activewear line was released from Joe Fresh, but other than that nothing had been added to my wish-list or particularly caught my eye. I feel that the fact that I still haven’t worn everything once through is helping me to immediately reconsider making any purchases. I’ve also been lucky that nothing has needed to be replaced, so there’s been no need to browse online or in store for stuff. I haven’t brought in any new/new to me accessories either, which is great considering I still haven’t yet worn all 60+ pairs of earrings that I own (so it’s not like I’m lacking new-to-this-year things to wear). Lastly, regarding tracking my clothing, shoes, and earrings per wear, if I have the energy at the end of the day, I’ll add the tally marks right away, if not, I’ll do it every 2-3 days.

Craft Supplies:

Slowly but surely, I’m making my way through my yarn and planner stickers. Pens are harder to go through as quickly, but I haven’t bought any new writing utensils. Through travelling earlier this month, I had picked up postcards and was careful not to buy more than who all I wanted to send to – so nothing has been added to a stockpile, but I haven’t used up any of my other stationary. What’s important to highlight (hehe) is that there’s nothing new in this category either.

Tea:

I have drank so much tea since January, and yet somehow I’m still barely making a dent in the quantity I have. I make anywhere between 1 and 4 cups of tea a day (sometimes double-sized in my huge mug), so progress is there, but sometimes hard to see since I keep all the tea in tins. Same as above, nothing new has come in.

Body Products:

When I made the estimate that I wouldn’t need anything until at least the summer, I was 100% right. I’d even be willing to wager that I’m going to last a bit longer on certain items, like toothpaste and body wash (liquid and bar soap). The only “new to me” items are hotel shampoo and conditioner that my mum passed me before the second leg of my trip (she wasn’t using them and I could still get through security with them in my bag), but other than that I’ve just been chipping away at what I have.

Books:

I have a bit of a mixed review for this category: I haven’t bought anything new, but I’ve only read two of my own books this year. Making the most of my local library (physical and digital branch), I’ve read or listened to some 10 or so books since the beginning of the year. I think what’s drawn me more toward the library is the “newness” factor of content, or finding old series that I never finishes/aged out of but still wanted to know how it ends. I’m pleased that I’ve read more than double in the first quarter what I read in all of 2021, though I’m looking for ways to recapture the “wow” factor of the books still left on my shelf. I don’t know if I want to do something as extreme as flipping the books around on the shelf, or select titles through a random generator – or maybe I just need to slow down and choose what to read based on more than just the title. In fairness, packing light but wanting to read on my trip meant that I’d opt for e-books and audiobooks, and the trip wasn’t planned until later January/early February, so I couldn’t have predicted that when setting goals on January 1st.

Bye-Bye Bin/Empties/Wish-list:

I believe the bye-bye bin format will still work for me, as it’s been the same method I’ve been using for a few years now. Regarding empties, I find this to be rather helpful in seeing what I’m using, as well as how quickly (or how long) it takes for me to go through a given product. Lastly, for the wish-list, I still think the parameters I set are what’s best for me – there’s no reason to lower the bar just because nothing has met it yet.

Anything Else:

I’m pleased with how experiences-focused my plans have been thus far, as well as what I’m looking forward to for the rest of the year. I feel that being more mindful and intentional with my budget (including my “for fun” money) means that I’m not opening up my banking app at the end of the month and trying to figure out where my money went after I went off the rails with impulse purchases. Additionally, I’m more inclined to answer “yes” to looking at an experience (solo or shared) of “is this event worth 10 hours of work,” while the same question geared at clothing or other no-buy categories are a resounding “no.” Other than reading my own books, I don’t think there’s much yet that I need to change about how I’ve been approaching my no-buy year – but I’ll be sure to keep you posted if that changes 🙂

Soft Start

I’ve failed a lot in my personal goals throughout my life. I bite off more than I can chew, I dive in without enough planning, or I just don’t have enough information about what I’m getting myself into – all of which can lead to failure or false starts. In many cases, I’ve given up, shrugging off the sense of embarrassment by claiming that I wasn’t that “into it” whatever project or goal. Other times, I’ve left the goal aside for a length of time until I could devote more attention to it, without actually changing my approach the second time around. What usually leads to this repeated outcome is trying to make too big of a change and expecting perfection on the first go. I wasn’t reflecting (enough or period) on what wasn’t working – and would throw myself into the next thing to distract from the lack of immediate success.

I was aware of the idea of practice tests, tutorial levels in video games, and receiving training prior to beginning a new job, but my brain saw each of those as context-specific rather than something that can be applied beyond the singular situation. I also had the expectation of perfectly mastering whatever I was attempting to do in minimal time – which was partially fostered by the culture of my high-calibre schools and partially from the feedback I got from non-parent adults in my life about how brilliant I was at whatever I set out to do. I feel this is something other gifted-kid types can relate to (based on the volume of memes and tweets), and it’s an incredibly difficult mindset to break free from.

Now that we’re all sad and feeling a touch dreary, I want to point out that I’ve found something that does work (at least for me), so there’s hope. Other than planning and reflection, I’ve found that setting myself a mini-scale goal – fewer things to be changed and a shorter time scale – is not only more manageable, but it also allows me to explore different approaches if something doesn’t work before fully committing to it.

We’ll use my first attempt at doing a No Buy Year. In 2021, I was fresh off of looking at my spending from the year before, aghast that I’d been so frivolous with my money. I resolved to curb my spending and there were to be no purchases made other than food. Except, I needed a thick yoga mat for my knees, after a decade of ballet effectively turning my knees to dust. Well, and a new pair of running shoes since I’m taking my fitness more seriously. Let’s not forget the semester-long course I took, since my alma mater was offering it online. Oh, but wait – Le Chateau is having a closing sale, and I could really do with two more ball gowns, five suits, and a handful of work tops. This was all before March 2021, and after I’d gone from too restrictive to “this is justifiable, I guess,” more and more purchases were made until around July. I spent the next six months observing what triggered my spending, what I was spending the money on (… other than just the turtleneck shirts), and listening to podcasts and videos about what worked for others on their No/Low Buy. 50 hours or so later of content, I felt like I had a better idea of what could work, namely, having a set of rules (rather than full restriction), budgets for the allowed different categories, and figuring out what purpose this goal was serving.

For the latter half of October to December, I slowed my spending and shopping, left items on a wish-list for the holidays, and spent less time in stores. I had a few holiday gifts to purchase, but I wasn’t doing my usual “one for you, one for me” approach to shopping, which helped immensely. This also coincided with opening my first credit card, and the last thing I wanted to do was go all out and rack up a huge debt that I wouldn’t be able to pay off (or, as my dad put it “how many months of your entire paycheque would it take to pay off your total credit limit?”).

Trying this goal out twice in the same year – once without much structure, during a high-stress period, then later with research under my belt and a clearer idea of my “how” and “why” – highlighted the difference (for me) between a false start and a soft start. For the former, I went off the rails when the wiggle room for necessity burst open to include anything I could justify to myself, and then I quietly gave up. For the latter, I could already feel the sense of relief of not having to guess at what was left in my bank account on any given day, since I wasn’t spending money on just whatever, nor was I making unplanned purchases.

If you’re doing a Low/No Buy this year and this is your first ever go at it, I commend you. Regardless of real-life setbacks, things being over-budget from inflation, surprises/emergencies, if you’re still at it, that’s splendid. If you’ve taken a pause because now is not the right time for you, I think that’s an incredible choice for recognizing and respecting your needs over fulfilling a goal that you can return to whenever. Whether you’re on day 1, 55, or 365, your choice to try something out and stick with it (or pause) is equally valid.

Lastly, for anyone thinking of tying something new – No Buy or otherwise – I want to encourage you to start small. Even Costco lets you sample snacks before committing to a knee-high box of chicken tenders, so give it a go, one tender at a time (Editor’s note: I should have eaten before writing this).