Buy Nothing Update – Month 1

Alright, so 20 days have gone by since I announced, along with the Happy Philosopher, that I will buy nothing. There are some caveats like I will not be accounting for food or what my wife buys. She does the shopping for groceries, kitchen stuff, and our son’s stuff. She, however, is not buying me stuff…not stuff I directly I want.

So how has it gone to buy nothing?

  • January 10th– Ordered a nose hair clipper from Amazon. Gotta keep looking sharp for the misses. Plus, grooming should be a part of adult living.
  • January 11th– Both a retainer from the orthodontist. I figure medical expenses are allowed. I also received a free t-shirt from them. That brings my tally of t-shirts to 8…two of which are pre-fire, and 6 are post-fire. That picture of the t-shirt up top was pulled out of a bin in the garage the day before the fire. I washed it and happened to where it the night of the fire. It was prized before and even more so now…there are 6 other folks out there with it and they know the significance of it.
  • January 12th – 24th – Surprisingly I bought nothing but food over this time. I did get a free t-shirt from my brother…so that is 2 free t-shirts this month.
  • January 25th – I purchased a microphone for an upcoming podcast I will be doing. This was a replacement to a fire item I lost, but a purchase none the less. I also ended up buying a hanger for a picture frame and ant baits. Yup, our home is infested with ants. Finally, a yoga mat. I am getting my groove back. I started yoga (something new for me, but hopefully that will get me in shape). So that one I consider a fail, but at least it was for my health.
  • January 26th – A yoga mat. I started yoga this past week. It is a 6 AM class and I figure it will allow me to exercise and still maintain my time for my son. I would rather be doing kung fu, but those classes are from 5:30 to 6:30 PM, prime kid time. Let’s hope it sticks.
  • The rest of the month – Nothing. I spent 2 days looking for a blue suit as I no longer own one. I am going to a business meeting to DC in 2 weeks and realized I should have one. After looking for 2 days, I found nothing of quality and so abandoned the idea for now. Instead, I will be wearing dress pants, a shirt, tie, and sweater for my meeting. I think it will be professional enough…I will buy a suit soon but would rather get a high-quality one than just the first thing I see on the rack.


Stupid thing I almost bought.

Stupid things I thought of buying but didn’t.

  • A circus elephant lamp. Yup, I liked it and it was even further reduced in price. My wife wisely reminded me we do not need a lamp, particularly that lamp.

Useful things I could have bought but didn’t.

  • A level. Turns out my phone has one built in.
  • A measuring tape. I used string instead. See below.

Things my wife bought that I may have

  • A measuring tape. As mentioned above, I did not want to buy one, but she is buying a rug and wanted to measure the floor…so now we have a measuring tape.

What I learned

Surprisingly, it seems like I no longer crave a lot of stuff. This was not something that happened this month, but a habit I have been cultivating for a few years. It feels good to not want stuff.

I do still spend on food, coffee, and booze. This is my biggest purchase but is expected. The goal of this year is not to spend less per se (though I suspect that is a by-product of not buying stuff), but to see if I can get by with what I have.

Minimalists approved? Maybe chic minimalist.

My wife did buy a bunch of stuff this month. Mainly clothes for her and my son (We are going to Tahoe next month!) and furnishings for the house. I do get a benefit from the furnishings, but it is not something I would necessarily purchase myself. I am no longer the perfectly curated apartment in “Fight Club”.

But I am also not ready for this…



My wife says I am an extreme minimalist…I guess time will tell. For now, I am just being more aware. It will be interesting to see where this goes month to month. The only expense I see coming up is my suit, but who knows.


What are your thoughts on this experiment? Stupid? Interesting? Pointless? All three? Let me know.

Monthly recap






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I am a Dad and Doctor trying to make sure I am living life in the best way possible. Whether it is having my finances together, being a great parent, or balancing my home life with work, I am here to kick a$$ and help you do the same.

10 thoughts on “Buy Nothing Update – Month 1

  • February 12, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    I too have pledged not to buy anything this year. Did great for January – bought nothing but food and gas. Inexplicably though I found myself browsing amazon today for a pair of heart shaped leggings to wear while volunteering at my son’s school’s valentines day party. I saw a great pair and just purchased it without a second thought. Maybe an hour later, I thought to myself, I guess I could have just worn a red sweater to the party

    Its like your circus elephant lamp, but unfortunately I didn’t have any sane person around me to tell me to stop.

    Oh well. Back on the wagon.

    • February 12, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      It is funny how wired we all are. Still I suspect those leggings will be a hit! So enjoy and have fun at the party.

  • February 7, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    You make better choices once you become very in tune with your spending. I’d say you’ve got your priorities straight — food, coffee, and booze.

    I try to use your technique of asking myself whether I could get by with what I have. Usually the answer is yes and that will stop me from making a purchase. Sometimes I just want something, and that’s where tracking expenses helps. If I see I spent nothing on clothing in the past year and I really want a few shirts, I’ll buy them. Since my price point on shirts is usually around $10 or $15 I’ll go for it.

    • February 7, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      Sounds like a good plan. $10 to $15 is what I spend on a meal sometimes. A shirt seems like a way better deal.

  • February 5, 2018 at 9:04 am

    I’d be curious to know the thought process that happens when you face a moment where you need/want to buy something. Do you find yourself questioning yourself more with the challenge or less? Is it ultimately harder to make the decision or easier? Do tell.

  • February 4, 2018 at 4:21 am

    I think it’s a good experiment. Helps you figure out what you actually need, what you want that would add value to your life, and what’s just unnecessary. Although that circus elephant lamp IS pretty cook.

    • February 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      Ha the elephant was pretty sweet. It is a weird game to play and keeps me trying to be concious of the purchases.

  • February 3, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    I’m not buying “nothing” but everything is a mindful purchase, even fast food and going out to eat. I track all of my/our expenses. When I retired I wanted to cut expenses to 80% of pre-retirement levels to see what that would be like, so far it’s a no brainer even including 2 kids in college and a trip to Europe, but going lower while possible, I think would start to become a hassle.

    I often read how people will “cut back” if times get tough once retired but I’m not really sure what that means. The SORR in early retirement is the killer, not so much in late retirement so it’s early retirement where some concept of discipline should be applied or at least understood. For me actual tracking rather than guesstimating has been empowering. Since my retirement supports 4 people, I generally come in a little under my budgeted monthly amount but since that budgeted amount is a maximum and very “under” my SWR goal I have plenty of room to “go up” if for example my 19 yo wants to go to a concert in Miami as opposed to being an extreme minimalist. It’s a little different lifestyle experiment than yours but my goals revolve around how to make the pile last as opposed to how to build the pile.

    Good stuff

    • February 3, 2018 at 8:38 pm

      You are doing better than me…that is for sure. We spend a descent amount on things we enjoy…but still I am trying to cut my own spending down. As far as retirement, I am with you…habits are hard to break. If you are a high spender, it is hard to break the spending when you need to. So better to build those habits early.


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