Buy Nothing Day Shouldn't Be Once A Year

2017-11-23   minute read

Linda Paul

Lifestyle Debt

Buy Nothing Day: It’s been described as a movement, a means for people to reclaim control over rampant consumerism, an exercise in financial discipline, a protest. Ted Dave, the mind behind Buy Nothing Day has described it as a “24-hour moratorium on consumer spending”. But like all great movements, this one has taken on a life of its own – from minimalism to asceticism to criticism, everyone seems to have thoughts about it. Some hope its adoption will spark a fundamental shift in our collective attitudes towards stuff and money. But skeptics argue the sentiment is largely symbolic – that those who take part will merely wait until the following day to make the same purchases, spend the same money and engage in the same consumptive activities. Nothing will change, they say. Conspicuous consumption will continue to rule our personal and economic worlds.

Person at a coffee shop holding their cellphone and a credit card

When Everyone Zigs, Zag

Undoubtedly a bold statement, Buy Nothing Day coincides with Black Friday – the single biggest shopping day of the year. Not only does it encourage people to leave their wallets at home and avoid shopping centres – a tough ask at any time – it also tells them to ignore some of the best sales and deals they’ll see for another 12 months. It goes against everything we’ve been conditioned to believe in for as long as we can remember. It preaches restraint at the same time we’re inundated with reasons to indulge. But despite the natural cynicism – on the official opening to the holiday shopping season, it reminds us we have the power to pick and choose where we spend our hard-earned income.

Consumerism is woven into our social DNA 365 days a year. But the 30 days between Buy Nothing Day (Black Friday) and Christmas Eve are when our annual financial goals are truly made or broken. Those four weeks are responsible for a disproportionate rise in consumer debt. That narrow window is when people are most at risk of losing control of their finances, spending their savings and losing everything they’ve worked since January to build.

Sure, most people who participate in Buy Nothing Day will return to their regular scheduled programming over the days and weeks ahead. But maybe, just maybe, intentionally taking a day off from spending will give them a reason to pause, reflect on their future purchases and recognize they are fully in control of when and how they spend their money. That awareness alone could have a lasting effect on their finances.

Yearly, Monthly, Weekly

Like Christmas or Black Friday or Boxing Day, Buy Nothing Day comes but once every year. But unlike those fleeting Calendar dates, there is no external force such as door-crasher sales or holiday observances saying that must be so. The very purpose of Buy Nothing Day is to put the power back in your hands. There is nothing stopping you from creating your own 24-hour moratorium on consumer spending once every month or even once every week. Just think about how much you could save if you dedicated 1,248 hours every year to not spending a single cent. That’s more than half of your working year.

Buy Nothing Day could just as easily be called “Do Something Free Day” – a reminder that the best things in life are not things, but experiences. Especially during a time of year when we’re told to count our blessings and spend time with family and friends, it only seems reasonable to return to the true spirit of the season. To eschew the urge to buy someone’s love and instead embrace the opportunity to invest in our relationships. To spend our most valuable resource on those who matter most to us. Give them the gift of our time and attention and build priceless memories.

Making it Work for You

Whether you do it once a year or once a week, the key to making Buy Nothing Day stick is to make it your own. Start a new tradition and make it a community effort. Here are some ideas for how you can celebrate Buy Nothing Day on November 24 and beyond:

  • Set up the Christmas tree and decorate the house
  • Sort through your closets and drawers to clear out the clutter
  • Write Christmas cards
  • Shovel sidewalks around your neighbourhood
  • Take your dog for a walk
  • Go hiking with a friend
  • Bike ride with your children
  • Go kayaking
  • Go for a swim or walk along the beach
  • Borrow a book, movie or music from the library
  • Go to a local art gallery or museum on free admission day
  • Go for a drive in the country
  • Pack a picnic lunch and head to a park
  • Go skating on a frozen pond or local outdoor ice rink
  • Snowshoe or cross-country ski with a friend
  • Make hot chocolate and stay warm inside
  • Bake cookies or try a new recipe
  • Play cards or a favourite board game with your family
  • Volunteer at a community outreach program
  • Review your budget and create a savings plan to make Buy Nothing Day an investment toward your financial goals

Taking part in Buy Nothing Day could easily evolve into a long-term savings tactic and prevent the buildup of debt. If you feel like your finances are getting out of control this holiday season, it might be time to seek the advice of a professional. If you are interested in learning how an MNP Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help you on your journey to becoming debt-free, call us for a free confidential consultation to learn about your options and which one might be best for you.

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