Join the #nospendchallenge

03 March 2019 | Columns

Gerine Hoff

A couple of weeks ago I read an article about a British woman who saved more than £20 000 (almost N$400 000!) in a year by spending the least amount of money possible and more specifically, by only buying the bare essentials.

Although part of her plan was to save money, the biggest issue was not buying items that aren’t essential.

A quick internet search showed that article author Michelle McGaph is not alone. People all around the world are jumping on the bandwagon. Not just to save money, but because they are tired of all the stuff around them. Stuff that clutters up their lives. Stuff that pollutes the earth.

Apparently the originator of this “experiment” was The Happy Philosopher, who inspired others to join the challenge. Initially, he experimented with the idea of not buying any clothes for the year, but he quickly realised that this wasn’t challenging enough.

He did set some rules though, one being that anything consumable or related to hygiene or household products is allowed.

McGaph agrees, saying pay your rent, municipal bills, life insurance, etc.; buy your basic toiletries and cleaning products; and budget for food – but luxuries like going to the movies, eating out, new clothes, gym memberships or even chocolate – are out.

To help her on her journey, McGaph spoke to British financial coach Simonne Gnessen who said that challenging yourself to spend significantly less for a month, or a week even, makes you more aware of the mindless spending decisions we make each day. For instance, when you meet friends for drinks and choose tap water instead of wine, you realise how much a spontaneous night out costs.

“At the end of the day, we all need to realise that you don’t need things to make you happy,” was McGaph’s conclusion.

But mass consumerism isn’t just a first world issue. Who remembers the carnage at a chain store in Windhoek on Black Friday last year? In reaction to Black Friday stampedes around the world, Buy Nothing Day – that takes place on the same day – aims at the polar opposite. Instead of going out to “score a bargain” on this day, people are encouraged to not buy anything.

Why join the #nospendchallenge?

Given that today’s trends are tomorrow’s trash, the only solution is to reduce our levels of consumption, the destruction and waste that consumerism creates; to live more simply, to realise the benefits of minimalism; and to consume more consciously. In a nutshell, to make the world a better place.

That being said, are you ready to get on the bandwagon?

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