Happy New Year, friends! I am now a month into my 13-month-baker’s-dozen-no-buy, and I figured it’s about time I come clean with why I decided to do a no-buy. Everyone’s reasons for doing a no buy are different: some just want to save money, some are running out of room in their homes and on their vanities, and others have an unhealthy relationship with shopping. I definitely fall into each of these categories.
I first got into makeup at the end of high school/beginning of university. My first year of university I had two friends/roommates from high school who had been watching Youtube tutorials since Youtube’s inception. They were our resident makeup gurus, and we could usually coax them into doing our makeup before parties or concerts. My first year of university was the first year that I had been single in my adult life, and my not-so-supportive prior partner had always said how they didn’t like me in heavy makeup, and so this was the first time that I felt I could really experiment with makeup and feel beautiful and not be chastised about it. Makeup was also a fun bonding experience with my troupe of gal pals. It was fun to pre-drink, take pictures, and chat while doing our hair and makeup together before going out for a fun night. Even though I was mostly just using cheap ELF makeup and my roommate’s UD Naked palette, it was probably the most fun and exciting period of makeup in my life. I wasn’t buying much makeup other than the odd lip product because I couldn’t afford to, but I loved doing my makeup each day before class.
My second year of university was a little more dicey, and I think this is where the bad spending first started to pop up. This year I bought my very first higher end makeup product, the Urban Decay Naked 3 (pink) palette. My high school and first year friends and I had ended up going separate ways, and I was hanging out more with people from my English classes and some students who worked at the same job I had started working at that previous summer. It was a harder time, as I found myself struggling more with my mental health, like many university students do, and my physical health, and trying to keep up with university, writing, and work, all while not really being well. I had one friend in particular who also experienced moderate to severe anxiety about school and life in general, and I found myself skipping class at least once a week with them to go to Chapters or the mall. At Chapters and Sephora we would usually end up getting expensive coffees and then making at least one stress-purchase. I don’t blame this friend at all, because we were both dealing with a lot and we definitely both enabled each other’s unhelpful spending. We always justified it, as English majors, as “You can never have too many books, right? It helps us with our degree, it helps us to be better writers, etc.”
From here my spending habits just kind of continued to slide. I continued to use shopping as a way to cheer myself up and cope with the depression and anxiety. I justified it because makeup had become a hobby for me. I had a few new friends who liked makeup too, we took makeup lessons together, and I spent most of my non-academic and non-work time watching makeup tutorials and recreating looks in my apartment. It was a hobby I could do from home in the cold winter months when school, my health, and the weather got me down.
However, because I had become such an avid watcher of the Youtube influencer community, I quickly became sucked into the “You need this!” race of getting the newest items, of feeling panicked when I couldn’t get my hands on limited edition items, and of feeling the need to get everything from each tutorial I watched. Again, I don’t blame anyone else for this. I applied critical thinking to essays and readings during my degree, but I didn’t apply this same criticism to my consumption of beauty products. I willingly chose to blindly dive into this unhealthy consumerism culture without questioning the reviews I was watching or the motives of those making the reviews, and without doing the math or creating a sustainable beauty budget for myself.
As I started first working at a spa and then later at a laser clinic, I discovered even more ways to enable and justify my addictive spending. I was seeing improvements with treating my acne and I didn’t want to revert back to my old breakouts. I claimed that it was for work, because I could make better product recommendations, more sales, and more commission if I used the products myself and could vouch for them. I was working in two different cities, and had a hoard of skincare at both my place and at my parents’ place.
It’s only in the past year or two that I’ve become more conscious of my purchases and have made an effort to get back on track. I attempted a no buy last year, but didn’t have a plan in place, or any sort of guidelines, and lacked specific goals, so I failed miserably. There have been set backs, such as being laid off and having limited income for awhile, and caving horribly during Sephora sales. I used each setback as an excuse to completely sabotage the rest of the progress I had made.
This time around though I know I have the tools to succeed with this no buy, to get back on track with my spending, and to pay off my debt and save up for my dreams. I want to be able to take a warm vacation in the future, to travel more overall, and to buy a house, and I’ve realized that with how I was previously spending, I would never achieve these goals in my lifetime.
Hannah Louise Poston (Youtube) said something along the lines of “I was spending like a rich lady, when I was in fact not a rich lady” in regards to how Youtube makes us feel like spending exorbitant amounts of money on skincare and makeup is “self care”, when it’s actually self-sabotaging. This hit home. I had been buying skincare beyond my means because I thought it was necessary to take care of my acne, and I was buying makeup out of my budget because I worked hard and was stressed and thought I deserved it. This sort of mentality, and many of the influencers I followed on Youtube at the time, have become a huge trigger for my harmful spending.
To sum up this lengthy ramble, I am doing this no buy year because I need it. I think it will be a positive step towards paying off my debt and meeting my financial goals. I think it will be a positive and planned out step towards breaking harmful habits and cutting out spending triggers. Most importantly, it is an opportunity for me to rediscover ways to cope with stress, poor mental health, and the usual mess life throws at us humans in a healthier, less expensive way. I’ve got my rules, I’ve got my community, and I’ve got the motive.
If you’re doing a no buy year, please get in touch with me! I’d love to have some blogging friends I can chat with about this experience. If you’re not doing a no buy, how do you manage your spending, whether it be for makeup, skincare, clothing, hobbies, pets, kids, etc.? What are your budgeting strategies and how have they worked for you?