After a major technology purchase during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales this year, I’ve decided to challenge myself to a “low buy” month, possibly extending to 6 months or even an entire year, excluding probably February when I plan to go to India. My motivation for doing this is mainly conscious spending, being sure that I’m purchasing things of great value vs. mindlessly buying gizmos here and there. And also, to hopefully focus more on income-generating activities that will lead to a higher savings or investment rate. But besides increasing my income, to also find joy and pleasure in things that cost little to no money. I’m also hoping to engage more in hobbies that I already have materials for such as practicing piano, practicing guitar, reviewing/learning foreign language, streaming, creating videos, music production, gaming, coloring, journalling, writing (blogs, or maybe even another eBook), taking notes (on books or regular logs), exercising or walking, cooking/baking, reading, socializing (meetups or with friends), etc. It’s so easy to buy things and not get much use out of it. I’m planning on changing that.
I’m officially starting the “low buy” challenge on December 1st. And part of the challenge is to create clear lists that outline what I can spend money on and what I must avoid. I took inspiration from other “no buy” or “low buy” challenges on YouTube, so I’m going to create a green list, a yellow list, and a red list. The green list will contain items that I can spend money on, the red list contains items not to buy, and the yellow list contains items I can buy with caution or extra prerequisites. For now, I’m just going to list items on the top of my head, so it might not be an exhaustive list. This is just something to start with that I’ll transfer over to my computer to further consolidate/organize.
- Food and drinks from grocery stores
- Electricity, heat, and water
- Hygiene and bath products
- Home cleaning products
- Meal kit delivery services (e.g. Dinnerly, if I end up doing this)
- Music production services or products to make/sell my own music
- Various subscriptions within reason*
- Threading my eyebrows
* Mostly for work-related stuff, or for major convenience such as delivery through Amazon Prime.
- Socks or underwear (only if needed for replacement)
- Eating out (twice a week max, $25 cap per meal)*
- Books: Check out from the library whenever possible, limit to 1 book purchase a month
- Educational courses/classes: Take free ones whenever possible, limit to 1 at any given moment
- Concerts/shows (once per month)
- Extended or overnight travel (once per month)
- Manicures and pedicures (once per month, for special events only– do from home whenever possible)
- Nail polish or press-on nails ($20 cap per month)
- PC or board games (once per month)**
- Gifts ($50 cap per person)
- Painting my office room (one time)
- Organizers/storage containers (make sure it will actually be useful)
- Make-up: Only to replace what is expired/needs updating, e.g. foundation that actually matches my skin color
- Cleaning services (once per month)
* I struggle with cooking more from home, especially by myself, so I’m gonna start with eating out twice a week and see if I can further reduce that number. If I go above $25 (such as a fancy birthday dinner or something of the sorts), it will consume two of my eating out meals per week.
** I’m planning on streaming, so this could turn out to be money-making depending. Still, I want to limit how many games I actually end up buying.
- Clothes in general (have more than enough)
- Stationery (papers, journals, folders, binders, post-its, pens, etc.)
- Technology upgrades until further notice*
* I think for now, I am okay using all of the technology I currently own. But if there is anything urgent that comes up later such as needing to replace wires or needing a memory upgrade, I might bump this up to the Yellow List. For now, I think it is safe to say that I won’t need to upgrade any of my technology for some time.
I realize that my Yellow List seems quite long. However in any given month, I doubt that I will actually spend my money on all of those categories. For example, I don’t plan on traveling every month. I haven’t gotten a mani/pedi in a while, and probably wouldn’t unless it was for some special event. Even for my birthday, I’m probably just going to do an at-home mani/pedi. The major categories for me are eating out and books/education, which I’m trying to limit but not to the point that I dread it. The Red List mostly contains items that I have an abundance of and don’t want to further clutter up my home with.
In addition to these lists, I plan on tracking my budget with the remaining of my budget planner. I used it for a bit in 2022 just to temporarily track my spending. I didn’t actually spend much outside of eating out back then. I hope I can reduce my expenses for eating out and spend more time/energy engaging in low to no cost hobbies instead.
This challenge may seem like it’s only appropriate for minimalists at first. But as you can see from my yellow list, it does not have to be that minimalist at all. For me, this challenge is more about prioritizing spending on things I actually care about. And also, hopefully work towards making progress on income-generating activities. The challenge has me thinking more creatively vs. just mindlessly consuming.
I’ve been procrastinating on creating YouTube videos. I have a few ideas in the works, such as my practicing guitar progress. Another idea is to film my updates on the Low Buy Challenge. It’s funny because I put “Technology upgrades” under the Red List, but I’m actually running out of space on my phone for filming. So, I’ll have to find a solution to that (probably go through and delete old files, or transfer to my iMac for now). I do also have a couple of cameras that I haven’t used in a while and probably some memory cards lying around, so maybe I’ll pick up using them again. (Again, creatively coming up with solutions vs. mindlessly consuming.)
What do I hope to accomplish as a result of the Low Buy Challenge? To go more into detail:
- Write another eBook
- Create a course (probably on music production and/or songwriting)
- Get into streaming (gaming, music production, and more)
- Create YouTube videos aside from just music
- Get into sync licensing
- Produce another hit song (make it go viral)
- Produce income from investing (more)
- Sing/perform live in-person or online
- Better organize my rooms/space
- Become more physically active
- Become healthier through mindful eating and exercise
I think I’m actually going to copy the different colored lists on a piece of paper that I can carry in my purse or pocket wherever I go. I’ll also regularly review the list every time I track expenses in my budget planner. Most likely, I won’t broadcast how much I’m earning/saving per month when giving updates on this challenge, but might share a portion of my expenses and how that’s going week-to-week. I won’t really be posting updates regarding rent or utilities since one, rent is pretty much fixed, and two, utilities is a luxury that I want to live with aha (don’t want to be freezing in the cold months, or light a candle when I want to stay up late). I don’t really have a target for how much I’d want to spend per month for all my other expenses. I think I’ll just see how my spending goes for the first month and then decide how I want January and the following months to go. For sure, February will be my exception to this challenge as it will be my one time out of the country, and because I already planned on buying quite a bit (lehngas, jewelry boxes, maybe sandals/shoes, and other goodies). But if possible, I’d like to extend this challenge for a whole year and reap the benefits.