How to Buy Nothing New for a Year

Amy Finley
Woman patching jeans

Whether for financial reasons or to live a simpler, more minimalist lifestyle, many people try different ways to consume and buy less. One way to do this is to commit to going a year without purchasing any new items. If you're ready to go this route, these tips can help you on your journey!

Get the Right Mindset

If you are committed to buying nothing new for a year, it's important to get into the right mindset. Start by evaluating your definition of want versus need and hold staunch against the desire for immediate consumer gratification. Focusing on things that are truly a necessity will help as well as applying creative strategies for obtaining those items.

Note: The challenge of buying nothing new for a year typically excludes items like food and essential toiletries, though there are ways to reduce your purchases in those areas as well.

Join Community Groups Like Freecycle

Sign up for groups like Freecycle where you can connect with other people in your community to obtain items you need for free. You can also offer up items you no longer need or want. Freecycle is one of the largest non-profit groups of its kind, where members connect to help reduce waste and facilitate the reuse of still-functional items.

Trade Goods or Services

The old-fashioned method of bartering can come in handy when you're trying to avoid shopping. Consider how your expertise or existing items you have in your home may be traded for something else. For example, maybe you're great at web design and wishing for a new pair of earrings. Ask a crafty friend to create a pair in exchange for helping with her website. Use services like BarterQuest and TradeAway to barter for both small and major items.

Attend or Hold a Clothing Swap

A year can be a long time to go without purchasing clothing, but you don't actually have to buy new items to update your wardrobe. Avoid the malls and instead opt to attend or even organize a clothing swap. You can get great items and reduce closet clutter at the same time. It's also often possible to find clothing freebies from online swaps or local organizations.

Shop for Secondhand Items

There are so many secondhand stores around today, from traditional and online thrift store or consignment venues to more specialized ones that focus on furniture or kids' items. Buying pre-owned items at secondhand shops or from local garage sales can help you save and keep your commitment to cheaper living.

Make Your Own Products

Avoid buying new products and instead choose to make your own. You can save on consumables by making things like your own cleaning products as well as find hacks for DIY clothing projects and even making your own gifts.

Repair Items Instead of Replacing

If you are committed to buying nothing new for a year, you could run into difficulty if something like an appliance breaks. Research how to do the repair so you can do it yourself (or trade goods or services with a friend who know how to do the repair) and avoid a major expense. Repair smaller items like clothing and shoes as well.

Find Freebies

There are some legitimate places, both locally and online where you can find freebies and product samples to help you stretch your dollar and buy less. If there is an item that you want or need, such as household items, you can even look for products that might be free after a rebate.

Enjoy Free Entertainment

family playing board game together

Go to the library instead of buying books. You can check out all the titles you want at no cost for the ultimate bargain. Depending on your library's policy, you may also be able to check out movies, TV series, music, and audio books for free or a very low price.

Additionally, re-discover the fun of playing classic board games you already have. These are perfect for family night, gatherings of friends, and other get-togethers.

Choose Reusable Items

Instead of buying items that will need to be thrown away, consider items that can be reused instead. Examples include using cloth diapers instead of disposables, using rechargeable batteries, and drinking out of reusable water bottles.

Repurpose or Upcycle

Think before you throw things away - is there a way you can repurpose it and make it usable? With a little creativity, you can upcycle many things. Make craft projects with things like old t-shirts or plastic spoons, use old five-gallon buckets for organizing or plants, or even turn an old license plate into a purse! The project options are endless.

Consider Rentals

For certain things, renting can be a viable option instead of purchasing. If you have a special event to attend, rent your dress through a service like Rent the Runway. Rent things like large power tools or carpet machines for home projects instead of shelling out the high cost to buy them.

Grow Your Own Produce

While food is an essential, you can cut back on what you buy at the grocery stores by planting a garden and growing your own produce and herbs. You'll also save by making things like homemade spaghetti sauce and bread.

Live Your Best Life

The drive to obtain what's bigger and better has contributed to a consumer-centric society. If you're looking for a more mindful, minimalist, or frugal way of life, you may find the idea of going a year without purchasing any new items to be very appealing. It is possible to make the lifestyle changes necessary to succeed, and the year you spend getting by without buying new things can be both impactful and meaningful.

How to Buy Nothing New for a Year