What is a 'no-buy' year?
Westrap explained that a no-buy year involves purchasing only the absolute necessities, rather than impulsively buying things without thinking it through.
One of the biggest reasons Westrap realized that she needed a no-buy year? Pepsi Max.
“I’m spending upwards of a grand a year on Pepsi Max,” she said. “That’s like the big no-no of 2024, is, I’m not going to be buying 500-milliliter bottles of Pepsi Max every day.”
Westrap is chronicling her no-buy year on TikTok so that she doesn’t break her promise to herself and indulge in Pepsi Max and other superfluous items.
So, should you follow along – and emulate her?
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Why a no-buy year can save your finances
Westrap, like many young people, has student loan debts and no emergency savings.
She said in a follow-up video that she started the no-buy year not only to stop recklessly buying Pepsi Max, but also to start building up a three-month emergency fund and pay back her overdraft fees and student loans.
“That’s why I’m doing a no-buy year,” she said. “So that I’m not constantly weighed down by the fact that I’m one missed payday from being homeless at any time.”
She may be British, but many Americans share the same financial concerns.
Homelessness continues to rise in the U.S. – especially amongst the boomer population. Even if you aren’t unhoused, many Americans don’t have an extra $400 saved up in case of an emergency.
Personal finance celebrity Suze Orman would probably love seeing more Americans adopt a no-buy year. She has emphasized the importance of eschewing indulgences – like store-bought coffees – for younger generations so that they can start saving and taking advantage of long-term compound interest.
“I wouldn’t buy a cup of coffee anywhere, ever — and I can afford it — because I would not insult myself by wasting money that way,” Orman told CNBC Make It. “You are peeing $1 million down the drain as you are drinking that coffee.”
Cutting out indulgences isn’t easy, but it’s worth it for your long-term financial health.
How to get started on a 'no-buy' year
If a no-buy year sounds like something you need to consider, Westrap provided a good playbook for getting started.
The first thing Westrap did when she realized that she was ending every month with a “big fat zero” in her bank account was to break down exactly where she spends her money.
This isn’t a Westrap invention, but it’s still an important cornerstone of getting into good financial shape.
Westrap noticed her pattern of spending too much on Pepsi Max, as well as books she didn’t read and subscription services she didn’t use. Right away, she canceled her Paramount+ and Disney+ subscriptions, which immediantely cutt down her expenses.
She then created three lists to figure out different avenues where she can (and cannot) spend: a green list (essentials, like rent and toilet paper), a yellow list (conditional buys, if she has extra money, such as a moisturizer she ran out of out) and a red list (absolute no-no's: Pepsi Max, piercings, etc.).
If you want to make 2024 your no-buy year, you can mirror Westrap’s practice. Figure out what your versions of green, yellows and reds categories look like. Once you do that, you can roughly sketch out your budget for each month and see how much you have left over to save, invest or pay off any debts.
Be like Westrap: “2024 is going to be the year that I get my s–t together in terms of my finances.”
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