First NoBuy 2020 Check in: January

So far, it’s going very well!

I’ve been budgeting in order to save some money for getting tattooed and two thirds into the month, I was clearly under my budget of spending 200€ per month for everything. If all goes well, I’ll have some money to save at the end of January, which is next week.

I spent most of my money on food, some staples had to be bought, like soy sauce, tea, or coconut oil, and I got a large amount of potatoes and apples. Now that I’m checking prices much more, I do realize how much cheaper packaged food is in comparison to unpackaged food. One extreme example were apples, which cost 3€ per kilo unpackaged, and 0,70€ per kilo when you bought the 2kg-plastic bag. I thought that was obscene, and so I decided to buy a 5kg carton box of apples for 5€ at another supermarket.

I’m sticking to my low waste principles nonetheless, because this is not about saving money at all costs. It is about not buying unnecessary stuff, and for me, buying low waste is a thing I deem necessary and worth doing. I have given in to buying tofu in plastic packaging though. I want to eat the nice tofu products, and I don’t have time and gear to make tofu at home.

And I think I’m going to stop buying vegetables at our local farmers market. It’s such a posh market that the stuff there is horribly expensive. Most of the time, the local organic store is cheaper and, unlike most vendors at the farmers market, the food is organic, and they get vegetables from a local leftist farmers collective/coop. So… much better overall!

Don’t buy – DIY!

Doing a Nobuy doesn’t mean you have to miss out on nice things, though: I had used up two nice candles that had come in decorative glasses, and I refilled them using wax from burned candles and a wick I had in my stash. Also, I ran out of body lotion and tattoo aftercare, and my hand lotion bar is also almost used up. All of those 3 things got replaced by a homemade lotion bar (link leads to the recipe) I could completely make out of ingredients I had at home! I used beeswax, shea butter and coconut oil, plus a few drops of vetiver essential oil. It turned out that this homemade lotion bar works as well als the super expensive “ClimbOn” hand lotion bar I had before, it soothes itching and moisturizes healing tattoos, and it does a good job as a body lotion, too.

Things I bought which I didn’t “need”

I put need in quotation marks because at the end of the day I needed all of those things. I don’t regret anything, on the contrary. They are more than pure survival, but nothing is just a luxury.

The stuff I bought “in addition” to bare necessities amounted to about 35€. The biggest thing was a used mandolin from ebay Kleinanzeigen for 10€, because I realized eating cabbage was a cheap healthy winter veggie but cutting it was so much work that could be so much easier. This mandolin cutter is a great tool and I don’t regret buying it! It’s also made from steel and very sturdy, the blade can be replaced or taken out to sharpen, so it’s also very sustainable.

The other things I bought were darning needles because I had misplaced all of them and gave up after searching for them on two consecutive days. And a bamboo toothbrush, because the toothbrush I keep at work needed to be replaced and I thought I could get a greener one this time.

The other expenses were 5€ for beverages at the cafe where we have our bi-monthly knitting meetups. Usually I would spend 15-20€, because we get nice takeaway food at Knit Night, but I stuck to my goal and had brought my own food from home.

There were a few stamps – I had decluttered some photos of graffiti of the 90ies and instead of just throwing them away I chose to send them off to someone who was interested in them. Also I miscalculated the shipping costs for an ebay item I had sold and so I had to pay 1€ extra.

And I bought a safety razor which is quite popular in the “Zero Waste” community, because my razor from the 90ies is running out of blades and they’re all throw away plastic parts which I plan to avoid in the future. I got it used on “ebay Kleinanzeigen” for 8 Euros, and even from someone in my neighborhood!

OOPS – unforeseen expenses

Near the end of the month, one of my bicycles’ pedal hooks broke in half. I had to get replacement parts from the bike store, and even though they mounted it for free and gave me a little discount, it cost 20€. There could have been a cheaper solution, but I really like the pedal hooks, with them you can push and pull the pedals without having clickie-pedals. It’s better for the knees.

Free things I enjoyed in January

Me and some folks on Mastodon are doing a sports-along together, and a couple of them are also doing the new years program of “Yoga with Adriene” #YWAhome. Also some folks have set themselves a challenge to walk at least a mile everyday and they’re tagging that with #FrozenFeet2020. I’m doing both, the yoga and the walking, but I don’t manage to do everything every day, and that’s okay.

Another thing I’m enjoying is cooking delicious recipes. I’m trying to eat more vegan this year and because I’ve got a pressure cooker now, I can cook beans and chickpeas really reaaaally fast. This is not really a free thing, but it’s cheaper than buying ready-meals or eating out. We found a nice recipe for peanut sauce and made this a few times now! I also got tattooed and I sometimes bake for my tattoo appointments. That way me and the tattoo artist and their colleague can have a little cake. So I made an awesome vegan banana bread from stuff I already had at home.

And I’m really enjoying working with things I already have, I’ve spread out my yarn stash and checked everything, as I do every January. This is always the time of year when I’m highly motivated to enjoy knitting up all this beautiful yarn.

And finally, I’ve watched all the Nobuy year videos by Hannah Louise Poston on youtube, the beauty youtuber who got this all started. I knew that TQ, who originally got me on board with the NoBuy, was inspired by her. But I hadn’t yet watched her content myself. Now that I did, I have to say that she really dives deep and self reflects on her consumer habits in a very interesting way. And, as a side effect, I learned a lot about beauty and skincare.


This month, I encountered difficulties in getting a refund from my health insurance. I’ve been making calls and talking to people about this for one year now and the sum I’m going to get is 160€. Which is a lot of money, but a year of hassle and phone calls?! While the hardest thing was to find out what’s actually blocking the process of getting this refund, now this has changed. Insurance told me what is in the way, and my dentists office is kind of refusing to give it to me, I called 3 times and they promised to help me 2 times, and the third time they emailed me to inform me I’m wrong and didn’t actually need the thing. Now this has become the hardest thing.

I love to feel financially independent, but budgeting and saving money for things I love, plus the setback with this refund makes me feel dependent and bad. Suddenly budgeting and being on a nobuy year isn’t fun, it’s horrible. Next week I’ll try to convince them that I need this paper or try to convince the health insurance that they don’t need it. But right now, I’m waiting and feeling shitty.

I used to have an attitude towards money that didn’t put too much weight on money. “It’s just money”. It’s just a symbolic thing, it’s totally replaceable, it has no emotional value, I don’t care about it!

The trick was not to act as if it was “just money”. I acted like I very much took care of my money, but in my mind I didn’t think like that. This allowed me to be frugal but not feel constrained and bad about “having to” be frugal.

I caught myself clinging to these 160€ which I didn’t even have and feeling bad and constrained and like outside forces literally stole my money (which they did, but that’s not my point). What I have told myself in the past was “It’s just money” and then I took a little break and picked up the threads again a month later, and that is what I need to do now. I need to say goodbye to those 160€, make peace with the fact that I need to work a few shifts more if I really needed this extra money, and then, in practice, continue trying to get it.

This was a really interesting observation for me, because all of my life, I’ve been good in dealing with money. So I never had to learn what exactly made me good at it. I think this is a piece of the puzzle: Act like you give a shit with money, but don’t give a shit in your mind.

Another thing I noticed is that now that the newness of buying low waste and tidying up Marie Kondo-Style is gone. When I stopped shopping in 2019, I could redirect these energies into getting high quality unpackaged food and spending a lot of time with stuff I already owned by Konmarying it. And because both of these things were super fashionable (Marie Kondos Show had just aired on Netflix, and everyone was talking about it) I never felt like deprived of taking part in trends and fashion fads. I could consume a trend by living anti-consumerism, and that seems like a contradiction, but that was what it was.

In 2020 it looks like I have to do the real thing now. And it is time to remind me that while the fancy feeling of novelty has worn off, those things are still here in my life and I can still use them as tools: becoming more picky instead of craving random things, and cherishing what I already have.


Also, according to my rule that I have to ponder new acquisitions before I make them, I’ve started to list stuff that I want on my Wishlephant wishlist. I don’t know if that is wise, because it reminds me that I wanted the stuff and eliminates the chance that I just “naturally” forget about wanting some things.

There are some small things on the list that I’ll eventually get with my monthly budget, and there is a big thing (the e-book-reader) that I will most likely not buy this year, because it is just too expensive, and I already have an e-reader, but it’s a kindle and I want to become independent from Amazon and be able to read books from the library on the reader. That is impossible with the kindle.

Another thing I might need this year is a newer phone. I am currently using an old phone from 2012, wich I got in 2017, it works well, but some apps don’t work with it any longer. I found it very essential for navigation on my cyclingtour in 2018. The only thing I used for navigation then was my phone. The alternative would be to get a used navigation device and continue to use the phone, for telephone calls only and whatever app continues to work. I would have to research the lifespan of navigation devices though. If they aren’t significantly longer than those of smartphones, it makes sense just to find a newer phone.

But – and that is also a possibility – maybe the phone makes it to 2021, with navigation working on it!


happy 2020: Some fireworks garbage on the streets on january 2nd, 2020

One thought on “First NoBuy 2020 Check in: January

  1. Seems that the “no buy” idea becomes more and more popular. What in my opinion is a good thing. Everything that hurts capitalism is good…*g*
    Personality i startet a “no buy- year” in December 2019 .First for having less impact for the enviroment,second to learn how to live with less money because i think about reducing my work time drastically.Untill now it goes very well.

    Frau Weide

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