Ways to Save Money by Buying Nothing!

Ways to Save Money by Buying Nothing!
Written by Irina Vasilescu

When it’s that time of the month for you to receive your paycheck, what’s the first thing that you usually think of? For some, it’s all about juggling the bills that need to be paid while also saving up money for retirement, the kids’ college fund and an emergency fund. For others, it’s simply a matter of allotting money for rent, transportation expenses, and planning which luxury items to buy or indulgences to spend on.

If you fall under the second category, you are not really doing yourself any favors. You’re probably only forced to create a budget out of necessity, otherwise, you won’t have anything to pay for rent.

Another scenario is you having the money to pay all the bills but because of your spending, there really is not much left for savings or all your future needs. Here, we will take a look at how you can actually buy nothing – or at least save money if you really need to buy something.

How Can I Actually Buy Nothing?

Is there such a thing as ‘buying nothing’? In today’s materialistic world, there is probably no one person who hasn’t been enticed by a TV ad to buy something. There is always a new cool gadget to spend hundreds of dollars for, an experience to spend money on, events to be seen and fashion items to wear. This means that buying nothing actually poses a huge challenge.

Whenever you receive your paycheck, you cannot help but think of the next thing that you will be buying with your money. As such, you can consider buying nothing as a motto in saving. The more willpower you have to resist buying stuff, the more you will end up saving. In the same vein, finding out that you can really live with very minimal possessions will give you a simpler, less complicated way of life.

Ways to Save Money by Steering Clear of Purchases

Here are the individual ways by which you can save money by buying nothing, which can be done simply by steering clear of purchases.

If you’re a compulsive buyer, you need retail therapy

Retail therapy is a popular term for those who turn shopping as a hobby. Whenever they feel stressed or unable to cope with whatever life is throwing at them, they use shopping as a way of dealing. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong in indulging in luxury shopping every now and then, doing it habitually will burn a huge hole in your pocket.

If you’re not careful, it might even lead you to be neck-deep in debt. If you’re a compulsive shopper or an impulsive buyer, examine your spending habits and delve deep into the reason why you are using shopping as a tool in the first place. Are all your friends doing it so you think that you also have to? Do you use shopping as a way to reward yourself after all the stresses that you have gone through at work?

Check on the pattern and determine what the root cause is. If it’s simply boredom that is leading you to get into retail therapy, find less expensive hobbies like playing sports or joining clubs where you share the same interest with other individuals. You can also find other less expensive hobbies if you consider shopping as such.

More importantly, leave the money at home so that you can stick to the buy nothing rule if you really feel like you are always giving in to the impulse of buying stuff.

Realize that being in debt is not a good place to be, at all

When you keep on buying stuff that you do not necessarily need, there is a tendency for you to overspend. This is especially true if you are using a credit card for your purchases. If you are living with just enough funds for all your monthly expenses, it is very possible for you to be in debt if you insist on maintaining a lifestyle of endless shopping sprees.

The minute that you realize that you are in way over your head with debts, that is probably when you will stop all that shopping. But there’s really no need for you to reach such a tipping point. By being aware of the consequences of your actions, you can put a stop to overspending by simply buying nothing.

Steer clear of using your credit card

In today’s world which relies mostly on a credit system, the convenience of using that plastic card to pay for purchases has caused millions of people grief. If you don’t watch your credit card spending, you can easily get into debt that is really difficult to get out of. If you must use your credit card, make sure that you have enough funds to pay the full amount once the statement arrives.

If you will keep on paying just the minimum amount, the interest will crop up and you would have to receive those billing statements for a long time without ever really reducing what you owe your creditors. Steer clear of using your credit cards by keeping them in a not-so-easily-accessible place and using them only for real emergencies.

Once you create a budget, stick to it

Budgets are created to be followed. They’re not necessarily something that you can simply ditch at a whim, especially if you are working on a very tight set of funds. Once you create a budget, exercise a lot of self-discipline and stick to it.

If emergency expenses crop up, scrimp on some areas and make the necessary adjustments so that you can still stick to your original budget. If you want, you can actually reward yourself a bit every time you successfully follow your budget for the month. If you were able to stay under budget, reward yourself by buying a little something out of the amount that you were able to save.

Ask yourself if the item falls under the category of need or want

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when shopping is taking the wants into consideration, and sometimes even prioritizing them over the needs. Let’s say that you saw this pricey designer dress on a mannequin. You don’t really have an occasion to wear it to, but you know that it will fit you perfectly. This is definitely considered as a want instead of a need.

Instead of giving in to the temptation of buying the dress, remind yourself that it falls under the category of ‘want’. Purchasing the dress may not even have any room in your budget, so it really is the wisest decision all the way around to not buy it at all.

Another good rule to follow for this is the 30-day rule. When there’s a big-ticket item that falls under the ‘want’ category, only buy it after 30 days. Once that impulse to buy has passed, you might find that you do not really want the item, anyway.

Repair instead of replace

If there are appliances, gadgets or even clothes in your house that can be repaired instead of replaced, this is an excellent way for you to save money by buying nothing.

Rather than outright replacing a non-working item, check if it can still be repaired. Just make sure that the repair costs are not too high, so much so that it makes more financial sense to buy a new one. There are a lot of items under a typical household which can do with some repairs so that you won’t have to spend a single cent to have them working again.

Buy used instead of new, or don’t buy at all

With websites like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist, you can buy almost anything under the sun at lower prices. These items are slightly used or not used at all, if you’re lucky. Don’t head straight to the department store whenever there’s an item that you need or wish to buy. Check these websites first and see if you can purchase used ones for a bargain. If you still have an old model around the house that probably just needs some tender loving care, repair or refurbish it so you don’t have to buy a new one at all.

Check for free or lower-cost alternatives for the items you need

If you must buy something, shop smart. Again, the Internet is your best friend for this. Go comparison shopping and check out the reviews so that you can decide if an item is worth buying or not. There are websites which offer prices which are lower than others. Sign up for newsletters so that you can download discount vouchers or get free shipping. Decide whether you should buy a cheaper model that will not last that long, or invest in a more expensive brand for durability.

By following a mantra of buying nothing, you can make your life less complicated and save your money for more important future or unexpected expenses.

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.


  • Repair is a big one. I know a lot of people don’t take the time to repair things, they just replace them when a simple fix could have extended the life of the item by a lot. Differentiating between need and want can be difficult for some people. While you don’t need desserts to live for instance, for many people they feel very deprived if they can’t have a treat ever. At that point it is an emotional need to have an occasional treat because going without leads to a feeling of “I can’t have anything that tastes good.”

  • Thankfully I’m not a compulsive buyer, because then I would have much more enormous issues to deal with in my financial life. I feel for the people that have a hard time trying to shake off and resist some of the eye-catching sales that are out there, only fueled by their love of shopping in general. I love how you highlighted that when opting to buy anything, always factor whether it is a want or need and I must add, you should also weigh the strength of the overall value of it. I’m not saying that anyone shouldn’t treat themselves to what they want sometimes, as we’ve got to keep ourselves happy and entertained, but that should ever be done periodically and not frequently. If you can gain self-control over your spending habits and you apply this mentality, you won’t have to worry about having no money by the time your pay check comes and definitely won’t have to fret over much debt, or any at all.

  • It’s a very important lesson for us. A lot of our mindset is all about saving money by getting a discount for this or that. But in reality we should sometimes be asking ourselves whether we actually want or need it in the first place.

    Purposeful spending is the key in many ways – having the right intent behind the shopping should be an important driver.

    • Exactly. What’s the point of getting a discount on something if you can’t afford it or don’t need it in the first place? 15% off of something you don’t need is still a waste of the 85% that you had to pay for the item. If you spend with purpose and control your discretionary spending, then you wind up with more money in the bank and less problems related to your finances.

    • I think that’s one of the plagues of the consumerist mind… the endless treadmill of needing more things. We’re surrounded by marketing and advertisements that’s sole purpose is to get us to buy more things that we don’t need.

      Knowing what you actually need and don’t need is a big indicator of financial success nowadays…

  • One of the best ways I have found to control spending is by having a cash envelope budget. If you don’t designate a limit to the amount you are allowed to spend, then you are left guessing, and that never works. I set up envelopes for all of the things I have to spend (gas, groceries, etc.), then the money I have left over after paying all the bills gets divided out into the other needs (clothes, vacation savings, date night). After all categories are taken care of, whatever is left is pure spending money. I can spend it on whatever I want. Sometimes it is only $25, but it is $25 that I don’t have to feel guilty about spending because I know that everything else is taken care of, and that gives me tremendous peace of mind.

    • There’s a budgeting program that’s available that does something very similar to the envelope method of budgeting except that the objective is to revolve your income in a manner that allows an excess to develop.

      This excess is then applied to the subsequent month’s debts/bills in a continually revolving way allowing you to create a larger and larger disparity between accumulated wealth and your bills, thus savings!

      Check it out – You Need A Budget (YNAB for short). It should be readily google-able, I’m not sure if linking is allowed.

  • A very original piece of advice. Very refreshing. There is definitely something to be said for saving money buy avoiding making unnecessary purchases all together. While this is nearly impossible for most people to do — if you have the discipline this is a very valid way to build up your savings.

    • It’s not nearly impossible for most people to do, though. There are millions of people that successfully save money by limiting their purchases. It’s not like everyone lacks the discipline to control their finances, and it’s erroneous to say that that’s actually the case. These tips are very useful, but plenty of people already take advantage of such knowledge and tactics.

  • Far to many people believe that their wants or more important than their needs and end up in high debt or losing important things in their life. I don’t go to the store until I have to unless I want a treat for my day off which consist of junk food. Beyond that I try to be a smart shopper and not buy useless stuff.

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