Buy Nothing But Consumables – Round 3


Each year for the past three years I’ve done a Buy Nothing But Consumables Challenge with myself and in my groups.

The basic rules are simple:

CONSUMABLES – For one month, only allow “consumables” to enter your house. For example: purchasing food, shampoo, toothpaste, would be OK (anything that can be used up), whereas new clothes, dishes, trinkets would *not* be OK (anything that will end up staying in the house). As with any quest, the goal is to “explore” what happens when you try it, and to share your experiences as they unfold.”

People will do various sorts of Buy Nothing challenges. This is one of the most basic and least scary. I allowed people to make a conscious exception, such as for me I allowed myself to buy 2-3 tops, as right now I am down to seven tops to wear in my day-to-day wardrobe.

People could also do an add-on as a way to increase the challenge. I choose to add on not buying beverages when eating out but to allow myself an alcohol beverage three times in the month.

This was the first time I attempted to track how much money I saved. Mind you, that is a bit hard as it’s counting what didn’t happen.

Here’s how January went for me:

  • This being my third time. I wasn’t scared or worried. I dove in and had fun!
  • I saved $44 from beverages alone – with me avoiding nine coffee’s, two beers and a margarita. I drank water instead as my beverage of choice. Note that restaurants make a lot of money off their beverages, especially cocktails or fancier drinks! Over a year buying no beverages would add up to a $500 savings.
  • I choose to buy alcohol only once while out, so I allowed myself to sub some coffee/tea for the two other alcohols I didn’t have. Okay, I’m very creative…but, if that what it takes to have some fun and flexibility within the challenge, so be it!
  • As my planned exception – I found two tops at a resale shop for $15 total and I’m getting lots of compliments on them already! I’m enjoying finding creative ways to satisfy a need once I confirm it’s not just a want.
  • I saw a purse I wanted and some cool Norwex cloths in new colors and textures…but I resisted. I put the purse link into a file for safe keeping, should I choose to buy it later. And the cloths are nice vs needed so I skipped that. I prefer to buy based on my own need, not an incoming email, so I deleted many email subscriptions as well. I saved $85 on avoiding the purse and cloths.
  • I found a fun book at Powell’s and I took a photo of it, then put it on hold at the library, saving $25.



  • I eat out a lot. In fact, many might criticize that I could be saving money here and they’d be right…but for me eating out brings me joy and it helps me get in my 90-100 miles I walk a month. But, I did eat in and cooked for others a few times, saving $55.
  • I was elated when a friend was able to fix my necklace and a couple of pair of earrings for me for free. I will treat her to a meal as my way of saying thanks in the near future.
  • While doing taxes I pulled up my credit card that I use on Amazon and saw my annual purchases end up averaging me $100 a month. For January, I ordered nothing online, so this goes into the savings column.
  • I did have a couple of times when I was ready to make a purchase and I pulled out my credit card and saw my little post-it on that card that says “Consumable?” which gave me a pause to consider my purchase.
  • I bought a book on the 31st of January. It was a self published book with the authors signature at a talk and it was not available elsewhere…so I went in with a friend to share the book.


I set out to do this challenge to learn and save. My goal was to save $100 and all total I saved $284. I plan to make a list of conscious exceptions each month and to continue the challenge for February. I will re-evaluate at the end of each month if I’m going to renew it for the next month.

Challenges like this are all about what you learn. It’s about turning our automatic patterns into conscious choices. I feel empowered and much more aware as a result of my participation!

Have you ever done a buy nothing month? What did you learn and what behavior changes did you continue after the challenge?


  1. barbsteving says:

    One of these days I am going to do this! I keep toying with the idea and love the thought of it. Enjoyed reading your post!


  2. sharon argus says:

    Do solar panels count? They are good for the environment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gena Bailey says:

    Hi Kathy Would love to meet up. Finally planning on my Camino and would like to talk about it. When do you take off to finish yours? Gena

    Sent from my iPhone



    • Sure email me any time about meeting. My email is on my blog site. I aim to return to France in spring 2019. Was hoping to go this spring, but timing is just not right.


  4. holly hansen says:

    great idea to re up for february. i will do that. i like being more concious of my buying and i am over budget from bulk buying so timing is perfect. for jewelry repairs in portland oregon i go to malloys downtown on tenth…they do small repairs for free often. they have workers right there on site. i am very happy with their work and help. i have paid them to do some repairs too. very reasonable. just fyi on jewelry repairs.


  5. Terrific idea. I’ve been doing this for years. I make exceptions when it comes to buying valuables like my coin collections, but on the whole I only buy something if I actually need it – even food falls into that category. If I have a drink at Costa I always order the small size, it’s a treat rather than a necessity, therefore small covers it. As for clothes, I usually have to be dragged, kicking and screaming into the store LOL I usually end up only buying to replace something else that’s worn out. It’s amazing how much money we can save if we spend consciously.


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