How easy is it to buy nothing?

… and you might ask: ‘Why bother?’

Abstaining from something can actually be a useful decision. Known as the practice of renunciation in spiritual philosophical terms, choosing to give up a particular behaviour, even if only for a short time, throws our attachments to that habit into stark relief, against the backdrop of our many other accustomed ways.

Today is Buy Nothing Day in the UK. Here’s an opportunity to spend a whole 24 hours exploring our consumer impulses and our intimate relationship with money. Oh, no!… and in the lead up to Christmas too!

What might be the benefits for us of devoting the time and energy to make this exploration? For me, this type of exercise has unearthed some revelations about my impulsiveness, a better understanding of where I’m wasting money, what it is I value, how I use purchases to reward or punish myself, how and when I sabotage my efforts to use money wisely, how generous I am sometimes and how stingy at others, how honest I am with myself about what I can afford, how I decided what’s ‘affordable’ and a host of other things.

What can we do to make this easier (assuming that we’ve chosen to bite the bullet and participate today…)?

Here are some suggestions:
•    Stay at home
•    Plan any outings before leaving home to take into account that you’ll need to be totally self-sufficient while away from home.
•    If you stay at home – stick a note on any device that might be used to access the internet, to remind you to stay away from online shopping opportunities. Similarly with phones if you think that you might find yourself buying something by mail order.
•    Food and drink – get creative with what you’ve already got in stock in the kitchen and cook for yourself. If going out, take some home prepared food and drink with you so as to avoid the temptation of buying any. Probably not a day for meals out or takeaways!
•    Transport: If driving, make sure you have enough fuel to last the day.  Other alternatives to consider might be car sharing, hitching, walking or cycling, if feasible.
•    Consider other forms of exchange, rather than those involving money, e.g. bartering.
•    Review all the other ways in which you can enjoy your weekend time, other than by shopping.

I’d be interested to read yours.

You might also like to consult The Moneyless Manifesto by Mark Boyle – which is free to read online here.

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