I'm intrigued by the experience of a British woman, Michelle McGagh, who decided to stop spending money for a year on anything but essentials.
... in September 2013, my husband Frank and I bought a big ‘doer-upper’ house in north London with a hefty mortgage, in attempt to climb the property ladder. We couldn’t afford to keep on our old house as well as renovate so we put most of our possessions in storage.
For six months we lived on a building site while we replaced the electrics and plumbing, stripped the walls and extended the house. Trips to the storage unit were few and far between and I was surprised just how easy it was to live without most of my stuff.
It made me think about my outgoings (we had to tighten our belts now our mortgage repayments were higher) and reconsider which of my belongings I actually needed. Frank had been feeling overwhelmed by our sheer amount of stuff too, and over the next year we got rid of 80 per cent of our possessions. Crates of vintage dresses, 1950s and 1960s crockery, rugs, lamps, chairs, pictures were all sent to our local charity shop.
I started reading about minimalism on American websites and learnt about Buy Nothing Day, an anti-consumer movement, which falls on Black Friday, and encourages people to spend nothing on the most frenzied shopping day of the year.
It gave me an idea: I could easily manage a Buy Nothing Day but could I manage a Buy Nothing Year?
Spending nothing for a whole year would do wonders for my wallet and stop me from refilling my empty shelves with more possessions. It sounds extreme, but I’d set myself budgets and spending plans in the past and they’d always fallen by the wayside on my next night out.
A full year of no spending seemed the only way of resetting my relationship with money completely.
. . .
I totted up what I’d spent that year, compared to the previous one, and the result was extraordinary. I'd saved enough money over the year to pay £22,439 off my mortgage. I’m now a step closer to getting rid of our debt instead of being beholden to a bank.
. . .
One year on, I’ve reassessed my spending priorities and found a balance. I buy the essentials, put aside a little for holidays, pub trips and fun, but I’ve cut back on the takeaway coffees no end. Ultimately, those longer-term goals, security and the feeling of contentment with what I have are important to me and make me far happier than anything I can buy in the shops.
There's more at the link.
Ms. McGagh has written a book about her experiences.
It'll be available shortly in the USA, and is already available in the UK. Looks like it might be interesting.