Still recovering from festive overspending? How to try the “low-buy” January challenge

Written by Amy Beecham

Did Christmas celebrations leave you burned out and burn a hole in your wallet? The solution might be the popular “low-buy” January challenge. 

Hands up if looking at your bank account right now hurts more than a New Year’s Day hangover? Me too.

Despite spending on drinks with friends and festive meals throughout the Christmas period, year after year, I find myself falling victim to the temptation of the January sales. A massive 70% off my favourite high-end sustainable label? I’ll take it. Outlet centres boasting markdowns on already discounted items? Count me in. Even my love of secondhand shopping leads me astray, with Depop and Vinted bursting with freshly uploaded items following new year wardrobe declutters.

But for 2023 I’m taking a more drastic measure: a low-buy January. 

For the entire month, I will only spend on essentials like food, bills andtravel costs. I will not shop for myself (new or secondhand), instead allocating parts of my budget for pre-existing commitments or unforeseen expenses. Both my partner and parents have birthdays in January, so I’ll absolutely be spending money on those. But a random Zara haul or stationery splurge in Paperchase? That’ll have to wait. 

How to try the January low-buy challenge

At its core, low-buy January is all about mindful spending. The idea isn’t to be prescriptive and ‘ban’ yourself from spending any money at all (which is likely to send you the other way) but just to make you consider what you really want and need. With low-buy, you create specific rules for yourself, but allow some flexibility. The super committed can also try a “no-buy” January, where you only use what you already own and spend nothing at all besides what you need to live. 

Before you start, the most important thing to consider is why you’re undertaking the challenge. Is it just a simple money-saving tactic, or is there something specific you’re looking to reduce your spending on? Your rules can then be created around this goal: buying less clothing, using the make-up you already own or eating in more.

Once you’re clear on the ideal outcome of low-buy January, it’s time to prepare yourself for success. Remove unnecessary temptations by deleting your shopping apps, unsubscribing from marketing emails and even avoiding social media if scrolling makes you itch to shop.

It’s also a good idea to utilise lists. Everytime you see orthink of something you want to buy, write it down in the Notes section of your phone. At the end of the month, if you’re still coveting the item, you can decide whether to treat yourself or whether the infatuation has passed.

Lastly, it’s important to be realistic about what your needs are and how your lifestyle dictates your money habits. If you have a job that requires you to dress up, it may be that within your low-buy month you decide it’s essential for you to purchase a new blazer or pair of shoes.

This is absolutely OK, but you can also consider the alternatives too. Renting clothing, while it still costs money, does help to minimise clutter and the risk of buyers’ remorse if you need something specifically for an occasion. You could also allow for spending on alterations in your low-buy budget, meaning that you spend a little to make something you already own work for you. Failing that, shopping secondhand before new is another way to keep your costs to a minimum.  

Would you try low-buy January?

However, if you do slip up, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the month is a write-off. As long as you’re being as mindful as you can about where your money goes, there really is no right or wrong way to go about a low-buy month.

And if the habit starts to feel good, there’s no reason why you can’t continue with the rest of the year, either. Across TikTok and Instagram, you’ll find plenty of hashtags like #lowbuy2023 to help you stay accountable, inspired and motivated. Happy saving!

Images: Getty

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