2020: My Year of Less

In 2018 and 2019 I attempted versions of a no buy year, succeeding in a few ways and failing in many. I failed, most importantly, in that I ended up breaking my rules and buying forbidden beauty and skincare items before the year was up. I succeeded in that I did significantly reduce the amount of money I spent on these products each year, and opted for more sustainable options.

In 2020, I am attempting it again. Of course, with the hopes that this time I will completely meet my goals and completely follow the rules I set out for myself. Even if I fail though, I feel confident that at the bare minimum I will make some progress, make some healthy changes, and learn a bit more.

I recently finished listening to Cait Flander’s audiobook, The Year of Less, and really enjoyed listening to her experience. Seeing that she is able to travel more and reach more of her goals now that she has her spending in check has made me really hopeful.

I’m attempting another no buy year/year of less sort of challenge for a number of reasons. I would like to save more money to visit my friend who lives abroad in Australia, travel more in general, and put more money towards purchasing a home. Reducing the amount of clutter and objects in my home has greatly helped with my anxiety and has made it a bit easier to keep my home clean, but I’m not quite at the ideal place I’d like to be. I still have a number of clothes that don’t fit me since I gained weight, makeup and skincare that I need to use or get rid of, and a pile of 27 books, 3 audiobooks, and 15 ebooks that are sitting about unread. I’ve got more of a push to downsize my belongings this go-around, as one of my brothers is moving in and we will no longer have a spare room to throw all of the odds and ends we don’t use on the daily.

My goals for my year of less:

  1. Opt for more sustainable options in my home, and reduce the amount of unnecessary garbage coming out of my home.
  2. Use up the backlog of makeup, skincare, and books that I own.
  3. Stop buying things I do not need so that I can travel and one day own a home.
  4. Improve my mental health and the way I cope with stress and how that translates to my shopping habits.

How I am going to achieve these goals:

  1. Regular declutter challenges, starting with a big clean and declutter right before the new year.
  2. Create a set of clear and simple rules about what I can and cannot buy.
  3. Dedicate the money I would have unnecessarily spent on beauty and books to savings accounts for travel and home ownership.
  4. Track the skincare and beauty items I am using up, with the goal of completing the Reverse Rouge challenge. The Reverse Rouge challenge is something I first saw on Instagram, where beauty enthusiasts pledge not to buy new makeup and instead attempt to use up $1000 worth of beauty products, as $1000 is the amount needed to be spent at Sephora to reach VIB Rouge status in their rewards program.
  5. Consume content that relates to my goals. For example, reading other no buy year blogs and books instead of watching makeup reviews on Youtube, spending less time on social media where I’m exposed to countless advertisements, etc.
  6. Hold myself accountable by blogging about it.

The rules:

  1. Makeup: No makeup purchases at all in 2020.
  2. Skincare: No purchases until I entirely run out of one category. Exception: The Caroline Hirons Spring Kit, as her Winter Kit has been well used and has actually been a good investment in my skin.
  3. Sephora: No Sephora purchases at all in 2020. I’m quite unimpressed with Sephora’s rewards program, and how even though Sephora does next to nothing to retain their customers, I still spend a stupid amount of money through their mobile app. A few hours ago I cut up my VIB card, and I intend to instead shop directly from brand websites or at local stores if needed to replace skincare once entirely out.
  4. Nail polish: No nail polish purchases in 2020. This has not been a bad category for spending since I stopped working at a spa, but I would like to use up the nail polish that I currently have first.
  5. Hair products: Purchase as needed. I don’t spend a lot on my hair, and I don’t shop for hair products impulsively or ridiculously. I’m not worried about this category and am fine with purchasing a decent shampoo and conditioner every now and then for my curly hair.
  6. I am only tracking the facial skincare and makeup products I use up (no body care, hair care, etc.).
  7. If I purchase a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes, one old item has to be thrown out, donated, or sold.
  8. Books: No books to be purchased in 2020. As I mentioned above, I have 45 books to get through first that have sat unread for weeks, months, and years. For the book club titles I will need to read, I will either borrow them from the library or borrow from within my book club. It’s a good group of ladies that is good for sharing both purchased and library copies to make sure everyone can read the book before the meet-up, so I am not worried.
  9. Any makeup gift cards will be kept until the challenge is over. Gift cards don’t expire, and there is no rush to use them. Any book gift cards can be used up after the challenge as well.

I am excited for 2020 and the positive actions I can take this year. If you’re doing a no-buy challenge or year of less challenge too, pop by and say hello 😊

NO BUY 2019: Thoughts on inevitably losing VIB Rouge Status

This is something I’ve been thinking about since I decided to do a “no buy” year back in December 2018, and then thinking about why losing VIB Rouge status is even important to me. Serein Wu recently posted a video touching on this and I share many of the same feelings.

Presently as I write this on April 8, 2019, a little more than 4 months into my 13-month no buy year, I would need to spend $940 at Sephora before taxes by the end of 2019 to reach VIB Rouge Status for 2020. I’ve only spent $60 at Sephora since December 2018, averaging out to about $15 per month. If I continue along similarly with this spending average, there is no way I will reach VIB Rouge Status again by 2020. Even if I were to quit buying replacement products from the clinic I work at or the drugstore, I would still have to spend a little over $100 a month at Sephora to reach status again.

I think I first entered a Sephora about 4 years ago or so, back when I was but an infant mystified by the world of makeup and skincare. My friends were super into Sephora, but we didn’t have one in my university city yet. However, one opened up not too much later, and I gradually began shopping there more and more. At first I had zero disposable income during my first year of university, but gradually I picked up part-time work while in school, which fuelled the shopping.

At one such part-time job at a spa in my hometown, I worked with a number of reception staff who were trained as makeup artists and collected makeup, and this rubbed off on me. At this point in time I thought it was wild and unfathomable that I somehow made VIB status, and couldn’t believe that these ladies regularly made VIB Rouge status. I was a little envious not only of their makeup skills, but their luxury makeup collections as well.

As I found myself working more, school getting more difficult, and my mental health declining, I spent more and more. I became a little obsessed with the cycle of new releases, and was the person who would stay up late just to get a new palette as soon as it launched on Sephora. At this point, I had definitely more than made VIB Rouge status, and maintained this status for 3 years.

Sephora has done this really great job of marketing their rewards program and making it seem far more luxurious and important than it actually is. Even the language they choose to use amplifies the want to reach each tier of the program. Rather than using “VIB level” or “VIB tier”, they use “VIB status”, alluding to high social standing. They stagger their “perks”, saving benefits like free standard shipping and VIB Rouge event access for Rouges only.

All of these perks make a person feel special and privileged at first, but when it comes down to it these perks are not really a worthy award for the amount of money you are spending, and their only use is to aid in the shopping process. The tiny sample sizes are often too small to even be considered a proper travel-size, and only wet your lips to encourage you to buy other high-end products. The savings you receive are minimal, and the events are entirely shopping and sale based. Why did it make sense to spend $1000 on makeup, before taxes, in a year just to receive free shipping and tiny samples? I very rarely place a makeup order under $50, so by default I’m getting free shipping regardless of my Rouge status. While I love samples and travel sizes as much as the next person and find them to be quite handy at times, they often just end up sitting in my bathroom drawer unused until they expire.

After mulling over these points and Serein’s video, I realized that being sad about losing a fake status was something I didn’t need to waste my time with. In fact, losing VIB Rouge status or VIB status would actually be an accomplishment; it would mean that I’m making wiser financial choices and refining and minimizing my beauty collection.

NO BUY 2019: What I spent in February, a check-in

If you are going to do a no buy at any point in time, I highly recommend incorporating a budget into your rules. I did NOT incorporate a budget into my rules at the beginning, and I find that I am still spending a lot of money on beauty products. Instead of replacing products with cheaper products when they’re finished, it seems that I’ve been replacing them with equally expensive, if not more expensive products, which is something I aim to change in future months. I seriously cannot stress how helpful it is to create very specific and detailed rules for your no buy, as you will constantly seek out loopholes to feel okay about spending if you truly are addicted to shopping. It’s hard because I work in a clinic that sells expensive skincare, skincare that I know is really good and has been effective for my skin in the past. However, even with my staff discount, I cannot afford this skincare and I think I need to accept that. I can’t afford to keep buying luxury line replacements from work or from Sephora and I need to stop pretending that I can, because the interest rates on my credit card will slowly eat me alive. From here on out I am going to try and replace items with drugstore products, or from affordable lines like The Ordinary and Mario Badescu.

I think a big challenge in my no buy will be my upcoming trip to Toronto. Whenever I go to Toronto I tend to overspend because there are so many stores there that we don’t have anywhere in Saskatchewan, and I prefer to try on clothes or try out products in person. However, I plan on arriving with a set list of items that I can purchase and a budget for each day that I spend in Toronto to keep me on track. I need a pair of jeans as I only have two pairs that fit me, and the one pair is several years old and literally ripping apart on me. I also need a good bra that fits me, as well as an inexpensive eye cream. I’m hoping to visit the actual Deciem store, so I am hoping to pick up my Caffeine Eye Serum there and see what the store itself is like. I won’t be purchasing any makeup or books on this trip, as I have in the past.

As I won’t be purchasing or using up anything else in February, here is what I spent and what I used up this month:

What I spent on replacement beauty products in February 2019:

  • Mario Badescu Glycolic Toner ($22): I purchased this as I was entirely out of toners, including samples.
  • Laroche Posay Micellar Foaming Cleanser ($22): I purchased this because I had a bad bout of fungal acne earlier on in the month, and the ingredients in a number of my other skincare products aggravated and fed my fungal acne. I purchased this and a few other products to use until the fungal acne cleared up.
  • Laroche Posay Toleriane Ultra Fluide ($34): Purchased for fungal acne.
  • Milk Luminous Blur Stick ($0): This was a Sephora reward that came with my Mario Badescu Toner order.
  • Aczone Gel ($80): Prescribed by the dermatologist I work with for my fungal acne outbreak.
  • Nude by Nature Foundation ($36): Purchased because I have no matte liquid foundations. I do presently have a Covergirl foundation, and though it claims to be matte it is a luminous finish. This is fine when I go out or to wear on weekends, but at work I prefer something more heavy duty. The shade itself turned out to be lighter than expected, but I have been mixing it with a summer shade of Glo foundation and it seems to be working a bit better for my skin tone.
  • Nude by Nature Powder Foundation ($32): I purchased this as I had entirely finished my Giorgio Armany Powder. I did actually try to go a few weeks without using any powder foundation to see if it was actually a necessity, but I did direly miss it. I frequently use powder foundation both on its own and to set my greasy t-zone when wearing liquid foundation, and have come to the conclusion that it is something worth keeping in my routine.

Total Canadian dollar value of product replacements purchased in February: $226

Products that I entirely finished in February 2019 and their value in Canadian dollars:

  • ZO Skin Health Sulphur Masque ($65)
  • Skin Medica 0.25 Retinol ($85)
  • LaRoche Posay Cicaplast B5 Gel ($20)
  • Celazome Penetrating Body Lotion  x 2 ($68)

Total Canadian dollar value of products I used up in February: $238

Another thing I am discovering during this no buy is what I can and cannot live without in my routine. For the most part I haven’t missed eye cream sort of products too much, but doing my makeup without using powder foundation was driving me insane. I’ve been trying to pause for a few days or weeks before purchasing replacements to see if in fact I do need to replace that item category, or if I can live without it.

Are there any makeup or skincare categories you think you could easily eliminate entirely from your regime? Off the top off my head I feel like I could probably go without primers of any kind without being too heartbroken, and maybe lip liner and translucent setting powder. Are there any categories you know for sure you could never give up?

NO BUY 2019: 54 days in

screenshot_2019-01-25-20-59-49

I am nearly two months into my no buy, and honestly I’m really loving it. I actually get excited when I use up a product category and get to seek out a new one. Instead of just hopping on the Sephora app and picking out multiple replacements as I previously did, I spend more time reading reviews, shopping around, and considering drugstore options. I’m actually getting good use out of my products, instead of letting them sit around and expire.

Products I’ve finished so far:
Skinceuticals Phloretin CF ($175)
Wet N Wild Photo Focus Mate Setting Spray ($6)
Marc Jacobs Honey and Daisy Deluxe Perfume Samples
Giorgio Armani Power Fabric Foundation ($72)
Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask Mini
SkinCeuticals Blemish and Age Defense ($100)
ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Cleanser Mini
Biossance Oil Cleanser ($36)

Total dollar value of products used up from December 2018-January 2019: $389

I wish I could boast about how much money I’ve saved and how great it is for myself financially now, but that is not entirely the truth. Any money that I have managed to save has had to go towards paying off debt, and paying for a sudden and expensive vehicle repair. Had I been spending responsibly and reasonably on makeup and skincare the past three or so years, perhaps I wouldn’t have some of this debt, and would actually have emergency funds for vehicle repairs and other unpredictable expenses.

I do want to switch over more of my products to drugstore as I replace them. For some reason, once I started using high end products I developed this petty superiority complex, where I thought that high end products were better and I simply could not revert back to buying less expensive drug store products, which is ridiculous. Now that I’ve started trying out more new drugstore products and that more drugstore brands are becoming cruelty-free, there are so many affordable options! I have recently been enjoying the CoverGirl Outlast Primer, and the Essence Matte Setting Spray, for example. Normally I have super low expectations for setting sprays, but this one by Essence is surprisingly nice. It has a fine and wide mist, and it actually does improve the longevity of my makeup without making my face feel cemented down.

How is everyone else’s no buys going so far?

NO BUY 2019: 3 weeks in

I’m three weeks into my 2019 no buy (if you’d like to see my rules and stipulations, or my inventory for this no buy, feel free to check out my previous posts!) and so far, everything is mostly good!

I’ve tried a year long no buy and smaller no buys in the past but have been entirely unsuccessful, primarily because I didn’t have a specific enough goal in mind and didn’t have rules to guide me to my goal. This year I am much more prepared, and know that I will succeed with this no buy.

I downloaded an app called NoMo, which is a sobriety app that has many different settings, including one for shopping. It keeps track of how long it has been since you’ve purchased something, and keeps track of how much money and time you’ve saved by not partaking in whatever habit it is you hope to break.

To keep track of how much money you’ve saved, it asks you to input an estimate of how much you were previously spending weekly on the habit. Based on my purchases at Sephora from 2016-2018, I calculated about $40 a week. This seems insane at first, but when you take into consideration that placing an order every month or so with a couple of items in your cart can easily total $100, it seems more easily done. This amount is on the low side, as it doesn’t factor in how much I spent on drugstore makeup the odd time I’d buy some as a treat while grocery shopping (I have no decent way of tracking what I spent on these particular items), and it doesn’t factor in the skincare and makeup I’ve purchased at work in the past few years. So while not entirely accurate, the money saved does give me an idea of the minimum amount of money I’ve saved thus far by participating in a no buy. I use the app just for the skincare and makeup portion of my no buy, and not to track books or clothing as skincare and makeup was the most frequently problematic genre when it came to shopping irresponsibly for myself.

The no buy itself hasn’t been difficult this month, as it’s early on in the challenge and I’ve had to prioritize my money elsewhere. I recently moved, Christmas is right around the corner, and I have debt to pay off from when I was laid off. Any spare money that I do have (which isn’t a lot, after bills, pet needs, and groceries are paid for) has been going to paying off my credit card and other debt, towards Christmas presents, and towards moving expenses like carpet cleaning and damage deposits. The thought of purchasing makeup has rarely crossed my mind because paying off my debt and becoming financially responsible has become one of my highest priorities, and when I do feel the urge to spend when I’m stressed, I take one look at my overwhelming collection on my dresser vanity and know that I can’t justify it in any way.

Moving unsurprisingly has been a huge help in showing me just how much I have and what an excess of products I have. You can’t ignore what you own when you physically have to pack each and every item up, haul it across town, and then unpack and find a place for it! I’ve moved twice in the last year and since that first move I’ve been doing ongoing declutters of expired items, items that I don’t use, and samples that I don’t find appealing. I try not to force myself to do it, and instead try to do small declutters when I notice I have expired lipsticks or when I get fed up with how many foundations I have. Awhile after I did my makeup inventory for the year, I decluttered a handful of lip products that were expired, rarely used, and/or irritated and dried out my lips in some way.

Lip products is by far my most out of hand category, so decluttering offers a lot of relief. I really won’t need to purchase any lip products until 2020 and beyond with the outlandish amount that I currently own (50+!).

Skincare has been the hardest not to buy, as I work with medical grade skincare every day and am selling these products and using them on patients. I have avoided any unnecessary purchases though! My only purchase was a SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel, as I was entirely out of any redness neutralizing/inflammation soothing products. This agrees with my repurchase rules I set out for myself.

I know I will succeed with a no buy this year because I want to succeed so badly. I am fed up with my poor spending, and with shopping when stressed or emotional. I don’t want to experience that weak feeling of knowing that products and advertising have more control over my impulses, decisions, and finances than I do. I want a cleaner home with less clutter, and I want more money in my bank account for my future and for travel. Being financially comfortable is SO enticing and I cannot wait to get to that point.

For those who have also recently started no buys, how are you doing and feeling so far? For those starting no buys in the new year, what are your goals and what do you hope to achieve by doing a no buy? For those not doing no buys, what are your thoughts on the efficacy of no buys and their recent trendiness?

Wishing everyone a lovely Christmas and wonderful holiday season ♥️

-Andrea

2019 NO BUY: The Inventory

I started my 2019 no buy a month early on December 1, 2018, making it a 13-month no buy. On the second day of my no buy, I took an inventory of all of my makeup and skincare products, which I think is crucial to determining the efficacy of my no buy. What use is abstaining from purchasing makeup if in 13 months I can’t go back and determine how many products I finished and decluttered overall, or if I am stuck with the exact same amount of makeup?

With this inventory I haven’t outlined a specific number I would like to reduce each category to by the end of the year, but I do have a vague idea in my head. In a perfect world, I would love to be able to chop my collection right in half. To be able to use up say 40% of my makeup and declutter 10% and be left with a manageable 50% of the collection going forward in 2020. However, I know that based on my previous makeup usage this is not a realistic outcome. Although I LOVE makeup, because I need to be at work early in the morning and I am NOT a morning person, I often go barefaced the majority of the work week. Even on weeks when I am really into doing my makeup in the morning, I still like to have 2-3 barefaced days so my skin can “breathe”. Realistically, I think that downsizing my collection by about 15% to 20% in this year is more achievable.

I also want to note that this starting inventory is not something I am boasting about. Honestly, when purchasing a decent portion of this makeup I was going beyond my means, and I don’t think that’s anything to brag about. This is just to give both you and myself an idea of where I am starting this no buy at, and to give a measure to compare my progress at the end of next year to.

The starting inventory:

MAKEUP (161 items)

Face Primers: 4

Eyeshadow Primers: 1

Foundations (including deluxe samples): 10

Pressed Powder Foundations: 2

Under Eye Tints/Concealers: 2

Concealers: 1

Colour Correctors: 2

Liquid Highlight and Liquid Bronzing Drops: 2

Setting Sprays: 2

Brow Gels: 3

Mascaras: 3

Eyelash Curlers: 2

Pencil Sharpeners: 1

Bronzers: 3

Finishing Powder Palettes: 1

Face Palettes: 3

Blush Palettes: 2

Highlighter Palettes: 3

Eyeshadow Palettes: 14

Lipstick Palettes: 1

Blushes: 7

Highlighters: 7

Setting Powders: 3

Lipsticks: 60

Lip Glosses: 5

Lip Primers: 2

Sunscreen Tinted Powder: 1

Brow Pencils: 3

Lip Liners: 6

Eyeliners: 6

SKINCARE (25 items)

(including deluxe samples)

Cleansers: 2

Oil Cleansers: 1

Toners: 3

Eye Creams/Products: 1

Face Sunscreens: 1

Body Sunscreens: 2

Antioxidants: 2

Acne Targeted Treatments: 3

Retinol: 2

Glycolic Acid: 2

Face Masks: 2

Sheets Masks: 1

Moisturizers: 3

Lip Scrub: 1

Perfume (15 deluxe samples)

Are you doing a no buy or low buy for 2019? Do you have any makeup related goals and resolutions for the new year?

2019 NO BUY

I’m back at it again, friends. Yes, I failed my no-buy for 2018 about three or four months in. I learned from this failure, and feel that I have the tools I need to get through 2019. I’m doing another year long no-buy, and this time I am much better equipped! Between the WUIM Panners Facebook group and Hannah Louise Poston’s videos on Youtube, I feel that I have a number of strategies that will help me to accomplish this goal, and that I also have the online support to push me through to the end of this goal. There are a number of reasons I am doing this no-buy, and I’m going to be quite honest and candid about them.

The first is that I financially need to. When the skincare centre I previously worked at laid myself off and most of my coworkers off due to the centre’s financial predicament right after I got home from an expensive holiday, I did accumulate a fair amount of debt. It simply does not make financial sense for me to continue to purchase makeup at this frequency when it would push me further into debt. The second reason is that my makeup collection is more than enough! I recently did a thorough inventory of my makeup and skincare collection, and makeup-wise there is not one item category where I do not have duplicate or backups of some sort. I am not in need of makeup, and likely won’t be for several months. Thirdly, shopping for makeup does not make me happy. I used to get this little thrill when I would place an order, or walk out of the drugstore with a little bag of cosmetics, I really did. Now, however, I feel nothing but guilt and dread, and that moment of happiness is unimpactful and fleeting. The final reason is that I am so exhausted by this quick-release makeup industry we are now dealing with. Companies just keep cranking out collection after collection. It is exhausting to keep up, and I don’t have the desire to even attempt to keep up anymore!

A goal is meaningless without a clear idea of what the actual goal is, and the steps and rules that will get you to said goal. So, here are my set of rules and my game plan for this no-buy:

  1. The no-buy started December 1, 2018 and will carry on until December 31st, 2019. Once 2020 hits, I will permit myself to drop this no-buy if I so desire. Oh my god, it so strange to say 2020. It seems so far in the future, but it’s honestly only a year away!
  2. This no-buy includes not only makeup, but skincare, clothing, shoes, body care, and books as well.
  3. If I am entirely out of a necessity item (e.g. I use up every single drop of every single facial cleanser that I have in my home, or I have used up all of my mascaras, etc.) then I am permitted to purchase ONE of that item.
  4. Exceptions to the no buy:
    –When in Toronto in March, I am allowing myself to go to the Bite Beauty Lab to create two lipsticks as per their package, as long as I finish two lip products prior to this trip.
    –When in Toronto in March, I am allowing myself to purchase TWO books, permitting I finish reading 10 books or e-books that I presently have at home before this trip.
    –If I gain/lose a tan as the seasons change and none of my foundations (powder or liquid) match my skin tone, I am allowed to purchase ONE foundation product.
    –I will not force myself to use products if I have an allergic reaction, breakout, or if they are genuinely expired, because that is just unhealthy.
    –If I need an item for my own health or for work (e.g. if I need to purchase new glasses, or if I completely wear out my work shoes) then I am allowed to purchase it.
    –If by chance I receive a gift card, I’m going to use it. If I don’t, I will forget it and it will go to waste. However, I won’t spend more than what is on the card, i.e. I won’t use my own money to top up a purchase.
  5. I will be more mindful of the content I consume. I will follow more folks who are doing no-buys and project pans, and who actively challenge others to contemplate how and what they consume. I will unfollow pages that feed the urge to purchase new releases, or who glamorize excess.
  6. I will be open about my no-buy on my blog and Instagram, and seek out support from online groups doing similar projects and from friends who understand the end goal of this project. I’ll also make a thorough list of the items that I do purchase out of necessity this year, for my own personal interest.
  7. I will shop my stash and put away makeup for periods of time to take a break from them, and will seek out tutorials for the products that I already own.

And that about sums it up! Do you have any makeup related resolutions for the new year? Have you done a no-buy previously and do you have any advice? Are you attempting a no-buy for the new year as well? If there was enough interest from others doing year-long no buys for 2019, I would love to start up a Facebook group where folks can chat about how they are using up their makeup, reach out for support, and chat about the ups and downs of this experience. If you are doing a no-buy and this appeals to you, comment and let me know! 🙂