I Completed SIX MONTHS of No-Buying – An Honest Update

I completed 6 months of No-Buying about three weeks ago. During these six months I didn’t buy a single item of western clothing, shoes, bags or makeup. And honestly, it wasn’t even that hard. Here’s why –

No-Buying is A Habit

You know how they say that you need to get your head into the game if you want to be successful at taking on a diet? Because making responsible eating choices is a habit – and similarly, making responsible purchases are also a habit. I took on the no-buy because I was sick of the crap that I had accumulated over the years – I had way too many clothes, way too much makeup, way too much stuff and yet, I wasn’t happy. Every time I was tempted to make a purchase, I reminded myself of how shitty I felt when I went through my stuff and I forced myself to introspect every time I saw something that I liked –

Do I really need this?

The answer was almost always a no. The first couple of times is very hard, but after you’ve formed the habit, it gets easier every time. Today, it’s incredibly hard to tempt me into buying clothing, makeup or shoes. Like it has to be spectacular if I am to even consider it.

no buy, personal finance blog, personal finance blog india, pennmoney, lavanya mohan

I Cut My Wardrobe Down

One of the more interesting things that happened during the course of my no-buy is that I actually ended up giving away a ton of stuff. Honestly, I thought I’d be hoarding more when I started this exercise but it’s actually made me ruthless. If I don’t love it, I toss it out. And as it turned out…

I Learned That My Previous Buying Habits Were The Fucking Worst

My previous buying habits were so bad, you guys. I used to buy nonsense on sale, just because it was on sale and not because I really wanted it. As a result I had a mountain of cheap-ish clothes that I felt only lukewarm about. Didn’t hate them, but 6/10 times, I never wore them either. I could have spent that on a full priced outfit that I loved! I also bought clothes that I thought looked great on other people without thinking if they were good for me. Anyway, I had just accumulated a ton of shit that I didn’t love wholeheartedly. And the no-buy has really helped me be more ruthless about what I wear and what I store.

My Style Has Evolved

Over the last six months, I’ve really learned a lot about my own personal style based on whatever I keep wearing from my own wardrobe. As it turned out, I like solid colours over pattern, clean silhouettes and minimal embellishment when it comes to the clothes I wear – both Indian and western styles. My wardrobe doesn’t match my style entirely at the moment and I am still figuring out how to align it. I am missing a few pieces as well, so every time I feel like, okay, I need this (for example, I have 10 pairs of blue jeans when what I really NEED is a pair of beige linen pants to take me through the summer), I write it down so that I can remember to get it when my no-buy ends. Until that happens, I try to make do with what I have – in this case, I wear skirts. #Ventilation

Didn’t You Just Feel Like Shopping?

I did! Plenty of times. But as I learned, retail isn’t really therapy and when the first few times I really felt bummed, I bought some stationery. Today I’ve managed to cut even that. Instead, I spend on consuming or experiencing. Like when I had a bad day, I’d step out to get a coffee or sign up for a class. It’s definitely a more constructive way to spend your money.

I do feel tempted to buy all the time though, but whenever I do, I take the time to stew over it. If I find myself really wanting something for more than a month, then it goes into my ‘things to buy after no-buy’ list. Currently, there’s a pair of Valentino Rockstuds on that list – I’ve wanted those shoes for three years now! But although my want is clear, I am still unsure of where to get the money to afford them, heh.

But Did You Really Not Buy Anything?

Here’s a comprehensive list of things that I bought over the last 6 months that didn’t fit in with my Pongal and Birthday allowance:

  1. A pair of workout leggings from Puma because the ones I had ended up getting ripped in the crotch. This is not even up for discussion.
  2. House slippers, because I started developing cracks on my heels

I didn’t buy any shoes, makeup or bags and all my skincare purchases were replacements. HAVING SAID THAT, and because this is an honest post, I did receive a couple of kurtas to wear to work on my birthday from my parents and in-laws, as well as a saree on occasion of my baby’s first birthday. Old me would have made at least triple the number of purchases.

You’ve Got To Try It

Not wanting anything is so liberating! Today I am not tempted by any sales or whatever, to the point where I’m confident that even if I do end the no-buy, my consuming habits have seen a permanent shift towards quality over quantity. I am going to Europe in July, so I may end it then, hehe. But until then, I think I can safely say that no-buying, or at the very least, consuming less is a way of life (I feel like I should have a beard right now) and I cannot recommend it enough.

Anyone else try a no-buy?

39 Comments

  1. I am not drawn to too much shopping, I guess. I buy stuff only when my current stuff is old and battered. I actually buy the same thing New so I don’t have to think about the fit and style etc! I am on the other side of the spectrum I guess.
    Kudos to you for doing this!

    • Hi SK, actually I’ve become like that now. Don’t want to buy unless something tears or my mom yells at me for wearing it because it’s so battered 😀

  2. I keep wanting to do this. But honest to god, it terrifies me. I would not consider myself a serious shopper. Maybe a dress or two once a month. I do however I have an addiction to bags. If I’m not ordering a bag, I’m planning my next purchase. The colour, the shape. What I can pair it with, how many times I can wear it and so on and so forth.
    Maybe I should start small… a bag no buy?

    • Hi! And yes, just for a bit 🙂 You’ll start appreciation what’s at home more. When it comes to bags, I realized that categorising helped me stop buying – like currently, I’ve the perfect black evening bag, I’ve more than a few ‘going out’ crossbody bags in colours, a work satchel and a ‘can fit my entire life in this’ tote. So I don’t think I’ll be buying anything for a while, or at least until something breaks. So try putting a pause and see how it works for you! Good luck 🙂

  3. Im currently on my 5th month of a no-buy – I’ve only bought groceries in the last 5 months. The single most critical thing that allowed me to do this was uninstalling Amazon and Nykaa 🙂

  4. So you went 180 days without buying clothes or makeup, except for the stuff you bought on two festive occasions, and the stuff you were gifted by your family? WOW. What an achievement. 6 WHOLE MONTHS, with only like 5-6 new pairs of clothing to tide through it.

    Seriously though, you probably need to introspect if this is even worth celebrating.

    • Just a question. Would you say what you just wrote here, with the same amount of implied eye-rolling and meanness, to somebody’s face?

      • @JV – Yes, I would. And if someone told me the same thing, I would check my privilege, because this is a case of extreme privilege.

    • Hi, I’m sorry that you feel this way. I am no one to tell anyone to do anything, but I would request you to think about like this – For a cigarette addict, going from one pack a day to six-seven cigarettes over the course of six months is a huge deal. Similarly, for an alcoholic, it’s a big deal to go from getting drunk every other day to five or six drinks in a day. I am no smoker or alcoholic, but I was an addict. I know I didn’t like completely quit and completely erase this metaphorical lung/liver disease, but it took me a lot of work and self-control to even get to this point. I understand that it seems trivial or like some extreme first world problem, and in all honesty, it is. But this is also my blog, where I want to share certain aspects and habits of my life, sometimes because I think some others may find it interesting/helpful and sometimes because it’s cathartic. I wrote this because it was cathartic and I felt really good about having broken a cycle that was on its way to destroying both my finances and my self-esteem…so yes, it was worth celebrating for me. Also, it’s 2018 – people should be allowed to celebrate whatever they want to, however they want to as long as they’re not causing any physical discomfort to another person, and I know I’m not doing that, so yeah.Excuse me while I go fetch the balloons and my party hat 🙂

      • Lavanya, STOP explaining yourself to some rando who chose to put some down, when she could be doing pretty much ANYthing else in the world. You celebrate what you feel like, when you feel like it, however the fuck you feel like celebrating because you fucking earned it. Change is hard, no matter what type of change it is. And anyone with a half a brain knows that. PLEASE don’t qualify their attention-seeking behaviour/insecurities by feeling like you need to explain yourself.

        Also, thank you for sharing this, and everything else you do; even if I don’t have specific takeaways from specific posts, I’ve always, always enjoyed your writing.

        Lots of love,
        A Chutneycase fan.

      • Thanks for responding! I do see what you mean, and many congratulations on breaking a bad habit.
        I guess what peeved me was with the fact that there is a thin line between personal blog and social influencer — while I do respect your personal right to define what is important for you to celebrate, I also believe you are an internet personality of sorts right — it’s just not Lavanya as an individual, but Lavanya as someone with 1000s of followers on Instagram and a sizeable reader population. In the latter context, it would be worth introspecting how this form of “6 month deprivation save some gifts” comes across to many followers, for whom this doesn’t really seem like such a big deal. This is what I thought at least. Anyway, I do get it’s your personal choice to talk about whatever you want, and I respect that.

  5. Shopping is something I run a mile from. I have a large house with few things cluttering the space. When we moved countries my husband and I decided we’d give away all of our furniture. There was nothing altruistic about it because we felt so happy and light at the end of it. We used a newsletter called Freecycle and simply listed all we wanted gone and people contacted and collected them. By far the best decision ever! The goodwill we gathered has powered our journey into new waters. I spend instead on experiences and on eating well. They don’t take up as much space -only.in the mind and some on your waist. But altogether better than clogging up wardrobe space.

    Well done on sticking to your challenge – and don’t let anyone knock it off. It is a big deal. Here’s to keeping it a long-term habit!

    • I wish we had something like freecycle here! That sounds like a great idea.

  6. Totally get what you said here about sales and accumulation of clutter. Been trying to adopt the minimalist lifestyle for some time now. This post has inspired me to try harder. Will start my 6 months no buy soon!

  7. I understand you are super affluent and thrive on lavish brands but this is really like rubbing it in on people who really can’t afford such stuff.
    I don’t usually say mean things to people on the Internet and just ignore or block, but this post of yours made me feel that I live in a world where the privileged are mean to the ones who are not and money just moves from rich to rich.

    • Hi, I’m sorry that you feel this way! That was not the point of this post. While I will never deny that I was not born in privilege, I am not someone who sits on some high echelon of monetary power – I earn a salary that is in line with my educational qualification as a Chartered Accountant. I am also just your girl next door who is surrounded by businesses – in real life, on the internet, telling her to buy things to make her feel better about herself and her life. I think it’s interesting when we actually get down to talk about how we spend this money, which we should be using to create better futures for ourselves, and how our consumerist culture is forcing us to part with it without us even realizing it. I was someone who fell into that trap to the point where I had to compromise or deprive myself of a lot of other, more useful things I could have done with that money. And so, I thought of sharing my experience with the hope that I could get more women to talk about money, a subject that many feel uncomfortable discussing, in a more open and honest way.
      Once again, I am sorry you felt this way and thank you for reading.

    • Hi Kavya,

      You could have just stopped reading the post/clicked away/unfollowed her/exercised the n number of other options there are to NOT see things on the internet, right??

      Also, do you feel the same way when you read about actors buying new cars, heads of state travelling to exotic countries, businessmen establishing new companies? If yes, do you also write to them asking them to not rub it in your face?

      Along with taking care of her family and dealing with the other pressures and insecurities that come with living a regular human life (struggles are struggles no matter how “affluent” one is, if at all), Lavanya is supposed to account for other RANDOM people’s feelings about how people will feel about her wanting a particular pair of shoes or what she ate for lunch?

      Do you also realize that she is smart with her money, which is why her money stays with her (so to speak), and you have the same options and resources that are available to her, should you choose to take them? Different circumstances probably, but you want to be “rich”, it is up to you and how much work you put in to make things happen for you. Not easy, but it is just a matter of smart and hard work, I’m sure, for an upstanding member of society with ample morals such as yourself,

      You feel like you’re a better person than her because she is “super affluent”? I want to ask: Do you recycle? Do you make conscious choices with regards to the environment and society? Do you support small businesses? She does. Whatever other things she does/does not do, she gives back in whatever little ways and does more than necessary by creating a bit of awareness with her reach; how do you contribute?????

      I’m sure you’re a very nice person and you don’t say mean things, but when you feel like putting someone down for writing a post about what they consider a victory in their life, think *for a second* how they’ll feel upon reading a denigrating comment (not constructive/positive criticism to improve their work). Think about the hurt you will cause, the number of times you will make her second-guess every other decision in her social media life, a little ding on her self-esteem, all for what? She made you feel impoverished and so you’ll make her feel shitty about having money in the bank?

      Remember, YOU exercised a choice by reading the article, she does NOT have a choice but to read your comment. See the inequality there?

      P.S: I don’t know her IRL, she doesn’t know I exist, don’t go accusing her for anything I’m saying.

  8. I’m feeling relieved that someone else is also feeling the same way of how I feel about you. Your affluent, no doubts but you also have brains to earn, I’m not questioning that. The pity is, how you have wasted your money, time and energy in the things that you right now feel shit* about which once you flaunted and bragged, made others feel less.

    I’ve read your marigold tales and how your content catered only for the affluent class weddings and spending style. That is not necessary at all to be happily married. I never wore any expensive clothes, & international brand makeup, nor hired best in class make up artists or photographers like you always suggested, I’m happily married and settled abroad where I can afford all the cosmetics that you flaunt in Chennai and make others feel less.

    Instead, you could’ve read and researched how not to put on 20kgs during pregnancy while it is just not necessary to gain so much weight while carrying a baby or after delivering, medically. I just delivered so I know it’s possible. If only you had taken time and read about how lactating works (you don’t need to eat fancified oats EVERYDAY or eat any special food to secrete milk, all myths). No food can secrete additional/excess milk. Sad, you fooled yourself with wrong knowledge that was imparted in you. Sad to see you that you had to spend so much effort in reducing your weight gained! I was 53 when I got pregnant and 62 right now, eat no special food, need no special effort to reduce weight. So the point is, is it worth celebrating your 6 months achievement when it could have been just a normal thing for someone else! It is time to broaden your horizons beyond spending. https://kellymom.com/nutrition/mothers-diet/mom-calories-fluids/ ; https://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/oatmeal/

    • I feel so relieved that not everyone feels the need to offer pregnancy advice like you have so kindly provided. Please do understand that every woman’s body is different and the changes which happen during pregnancy are not the same. It is completely normal to gain weight as your baby grows. But I’m going to stop right here. I’m sure you have read and done enough research.

      • Yes, I have done enough research before offering any gyan about pregnancy, looks like you haven’t. If bodily changes are normal during / after pregnancy why can’t ppl just live with it? Instead celebrate!

        • Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll just get my gyan from a doctor. Honestly people can celebrate whatever they want. They don’t need to be accountable to every other random person. That being said, goodbye Rashmi. I do not want to engage in a conversation anymore and spread negativity.

    • Oh my god Rashmi – But why haven’t you gone back to weighing 53 kilos? assuming its weight since you are anyway not very clear. I’m shocked you are gloating about weighing at 62. Nothing proud to be about your “No special food, No special effort” when it is just a normal thing for someone else.

      • Oh yes, I’m gloating about just being normal and not flaunting my regular life on social media while some talk and celebrate child birth as an achievement.

    • LOL, when you said 53 when you got pregnant and 62 now, I thought you meant age!! I was thinking you are a medical marvel! Anyway, do realize that not everyone is like you! Some of us gain weight more easily, or have husbands/families who encourage us to indulge while pregnant, or just have less self-control and more interest in sweets! I am sure there are things you do less than perfectly!

      • Oh poor, looks like you have very little comprehending skills. Work on it, kindly. I was only wondering when a person like this can give finance, fashion, cosmetic gyan has very limited knowledge about child birth, weight gain and trying boast about it as an achievement. This author is in no capacity to provide advise/recommendations about cosmetic or finance which has a very shallow perspective just with her personal experience if I’m wrong in sharing my experience! I’m not a perfectionist, but the author felt perfect with all the wrong habits a while ago. If you indulged in eating more, just leave it at that, no boasting please on what you did!

        • What!! You got pregnant and had a child? Am sure you celebrated that with at least few friends and family? But why would you do that and make those without kids “feel less”. You settled abroad and declared it in social media? But why, it would surely make someone “feel less”. You just gained 9kgs during the whole child birth ordeal? But why would you tell that here – someone who gained only 10 would “feel less” no??. Am sure going ahead you will celebrate your kid’s achievements and make tons of other kids “feel less” !!?? Just like how you took all the effort and typed up the huge comment and made someone ‘feel less’ about you. This is her blog. If you felt influenced and liked to read it, it was your decision. If you didn’t like it, move on. Just because you “felt less” doesn’t mean someone isn’t entitled to have more and have pride in it.

    • You’re a jealous thing, Ramya 😉 You need to learn to hide it better.

  9. Loved this piece! Funny as usual while giving ‘sagely advice’ 🙂
    Been following your blog regularly and I cannot stress enough on the fact that, these topics are something which are very pertinent today. Nobody teaches personal finance; tailoring it slightly for women makes it all the more useful.

    Most of the points you have listed seems like you are moving towards more sustainable fashion. If you do end up making a complete shift to ethical and responsible fashion, could you please do an article on the same?

    As a 20 something female who is active on instagram, I am constantly bombarded by makeup, clothes, designer brands etc etc. It is so easy to fall down that hole and lust over material possessions. I am not going to demonize wanting pretty clothes or handbags. But like she says, asking whether you reeaallly need this makes all the difference!

    I’ve become obsessed with skincare recently. One trick which helps me is, is to add a product to my wishlist rather than the cart. When I review it two days later, I can really weed out the impulsive additions.

    Also can I please point out that there is nothing wrong in spending on a designer handbag? There is a vast difference in quality, workmanship and durability. It will outlive any of the more affordable ones. If I want a handbag, I’m going to work and save up for it. I’m not going to bash a stranger over the internet just because she has the means to afford it. (Which she worked hard for btw. CA is not a joke.)

    P.S To all the people saying she is affluent or privileged, please stop. You do not know her. It is so easy to pass judgement behind a computer screen. At the end of the day, you decide who you follow on social media. If your views are not echoed you can always unfollow or leave constructive criticism/feedback. It’s her hard earned money and she can choose how to spend it.

    Please keep up this series! People might categorize it as first world problems, but NO. This is a much needed discussion today. Most of my peers and I have been guilty of shopping unnecessarily. My bank balance is seriously going to benefit from being more mindful as a consumer. Which just means I can go to Disneyland sooner 😛

  10. Congrats, Lavanya. Looks like you just came out of some sort of self-rehab program and wanting everyone to follow your steps. The tone of your article is so much like, you were a drunkard once and the moment you stopped drinking everything made sense in the world. But you occasionally had one or two drinks which was given by your mom and in-law. Not quite sure if people who come out of a rehab programs celebrate their stay/experience like this. Anyhow, hope you had a good celebration.

  11. Loved reading your article and the aftermath.
    I’m currently in a zero-buying mode myself and I understand how tough it can be. I write this sitting in an airport lounge ending my SriLanka vacation. The only thing that kept me from buying Spa Ceylon coconut cream and go on a shopping spree at Noritake was to parrot myself “Do I really need this?”

  12. I love your writing and selfishly enough I worry these comments may make you think twice before you hit the publish button 🙁 Please don’t let the trolls win.
    Also I’ve been trying no-buy ever since you wrote about it (like so many others) so trust me you are doing good things for the world 🙂

  13. Wonderful!

    Nowadays it is so so important to learn how to derive happiness from means which are OTHER THAN shopping. This includes me.

    Like I want a Kindle but I VERY WELL KNOW from my heart that I have so many hard over books already at home which are still unread. Also, I love reading hard cover books but I don’t understand why this urge come always! Also, I am sucker for stationery too! And I have loads of it already!

    Thanks anyway for sharing this!

  14. I am slowly taking this #Nobuychallenge. I don’t remember a single time when I came out of Coimbatore without visiting Mahaveers and buying atleast once kurta. But the last time I was in India, a few days back, I consciously did not even enter the store and came back without any new dresses. Also I gave off the stuff that I bought on sale in a whim and never wore to my househelp’s daughter. Feels so good to see so much empty spaces in the cupboards.

  15. Hi Lavanya ,

    I regularly read your blogs , I tried my no buy for 3 weeks , it is very tough and stopped which made me to shop more . I won’t say almost into no buy mode but I cut down my spendings … first step I did was downgrade the credit limit from 2 Lakhs to very less . Then I opened RD account . This actually improved my savings. Slowly I’m adopting to no buy . You are true inspiration writer … there is lot of hidden issues about the recent booming of online shopping..,

  16. Hi Lavanya,
    I tried your no-buy blog & this prompted me to take up the no-buy challenge for a year.Post my marriage I went on a shopping rampage & have ended up with lots of clothes, most of them I have worn only once. Thanks for inspiring me to take up this challenge.

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