I woke up craving an everything bagel with cream cheese. For a fleeting moment I thought about walking over, on this lazy Sunday, to the local Bruegger’s. Then I smirked knowingly, “Ah yes, it begins.” Today is the first day of my Buy Nothing Challenge.
When I checked my site statistics, I saw that my adventure had been submitted to Reddit. The traffic was streaming in, as were the comments. The vast majority of which, were written on Reddit.
Here’s what some of the critics had to say about the challenge (grammar and spelling are theirs):
Buying nothing for a week as a money saving strategy is about as effective as all those chain-email protests encouraging people not to buy gas for a week to put the big oil companies out of business.
You need food to live, you need gas (or transit) to get to work. Whether you buy it last week or next week is neither here nor there when it comes to being frugal.
Maybe leaving your wallet at home will keep you from making a few impulse purchases, and if that’s what you gotta do to give yourself some self discipline…go for it.
Buying twice as much stuff last week so you don’t have to buy it this week is a 0 sum game.
A “no buy week” should exclude things you need to live, that portion of the rent that is due, etc.
The only exception might be being more food than usual to prove to yourself that you can eat from home more than you think you can.
After reading some of these harsh comments, I questioned my own decision to pursue this: Was it too small a time? Was it fruitless? Was I just delaying inevitable purchases until next week?
Purpose of the Challenge
The focus of the more vitriolic, opposed persons seemed to surround the buying of food. The argument was that I needed food either way; not buying it for a week would amount to little more than delaying the inevitable. Rather than purely counter this argument, I’ll say this: It’s possible that’s correct. But there is another point to this challenge.
I decided to take a week away – a holiday – from spending to write about my realizations, experiences, and possible struggles. It’s bigger than just purchasing groceries. My challenge and yours, is about everyday opportunities to buy. Whether it’s a car wash, gas, laundry, food, floss, or whatever you pay for on a regular basis, I wanted to see if I could even get to zero.
Secondarily, what some of these commenters failed to grasp was that the more exposure we have to touch, hold, or look at products, the more we buy. Remove the stimulus – remove the urge. By not going to a supermarket (or any store for that matter), I was reducing the chances for advertising and marketing opportunities. I wouldn’t feel the urge to buy a tangential – unnecessary – product.
Over the course of the day, I had these fleeting moments to buy or do something that cost money. The response has been quite interesting. I feel guilty and ashamed at the possibility that I might not make it.
Day 1: $0 Spent.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s report and follow along!