We're in a new year and for many, it's a time to set goals and resolutions, especially financial goals. As prices climb and the economy shifts, it's definitely a good time to reevaluate our spending habits and determine our financial goals for this year and beyond. Good financial management might seem like magic, but it's really a skillset- and any skillset can be developed with the right training.
Jessie, creator of the website How I Fund This, writes about how she became frustrated with the "lack of transparency" in discussions about money. This frustration inspired her to help others manage their personal finances and she has now developed a community of 40,000 people driven toward their financial goals.
After coming across Jessie's posts about doing a "no-buy year," I decided to reach out and learn more about her project and get some ideas on how to have a successful financial year.
starting a personal finance journey
Where should people begin when they want to start a personal financial journey?
I think starting with your ‘why’ is important. Why do you want to start a personal
finance journey, and what are you hoping to achieve with it? It’ll help when the
motivation wanes - and it will! - because naturally, a personal finance journey never
really ends. Our lives evolve and with that so do our priorities and values. There will also
be new situations and scenarios that we need to figure out. This means our ‘why’ may
change as well but being able to embrace those changes can make a big difference in
the sustainability of the journey.
What are the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to manage their money?
There’s definitely a sense of trying to commit to big changes; for example, someone
might message me to say they’re currently spending £200 on clothing and they now
want to cut this down to £20 a month. While I am all for being ambitious, I think we
often forget that improving our personal finances is a long game and incremental
changes in the right direction can help us commit to these changes for the long-term.
Plus we’re more likely to succeed when we implement small changes over a long period
The No-Buy Year
What made you decide to have a no-buy year?
When I was furnishing my home from scratch someone said to me, “it’s quite
surprising how little we actually need” and that’s something that’s stuck with me;
sometimes it’s stopped me from buying things, and other times it’s helped with that
sense of attachment we often get when we declutter our homes. Over the years, I have
reduced the amount I shop and the amount that I bring into my home, mainly for
environmental reasons, but also because I found owning too much that I didn’t
really use to be quite stressful. However I’m not immune from emotional spending or all
marketing messages, and when we’re constantly being sold ‘the next best thing’ it can
be quite hard to push against the tide. Having a low-buy approach to my spending has
stood me in good stead but I’m someone who needs firm boundaries to take it a step
What do you hope to learn this year?
I already know that material possessions don’t add that much value to my life, but I
hope that it’ll give me a greater appreciation for what I own. In the past I have turned to
shopping to help me feel better and while I have been working on true elements of self-
care that isn’t retail therapy, I hope I’ll be able to lean into these so much more than I
What are the parameters for your no-buy year?
I have often described this year as the ‘year of owning less and doing more’ and this can
be seen in the parameters for my no-buy year. Since the main motivation behind my
no-buy year is to cut down on the number of possessions in my home, I want to stop
spending on clothing, home decor such as candles and decorative ornaments, and
skincare and body care products when I already own something that does the same job.
I’ll also aim to stop spending on ‘just because’ gifts for others, and any coffees and
takeaways unless that’s how I’m socialising with someone. I get a lot of value out of traveling and time with friends and family, so I’ll still be spending on these areas. I also want to make a few home improvements this year so I’ll be factoring this into my spending, whether it’s a garden update, paint or labour costs. I didn’t want my no-buy year to affect others so I’ll still be buying gifts for birthdays, Christmas and any other special occasions that are happening this year. I’ll still be getting my hair cut every quarter and of course, essentials such as groceries and fuel are included, as are any replacement items for products I have run out of completely.
Do you see yourself expanding this into multiple no-buy years?
Just as having a low-buy approach to my spending became the norm for me, I have
wondered whether my no-buy year would play a long-term role in
my attitude towards spending going forward. However, I think it’s too early to tell at this
What do your family and friends think of your plan? Are most people supportive?
I’m very lucky to have supportive people in my life but to be honest, I don’t think they
will notice much difference since the areas I’ve stopped spending on don’t affect them
directly. This isn’t a year of doing less so I’ll still be enjoying meals out with friends,
celebrating birthdays with them and buying gifts for Christmas.
Your no-buy journey is just beginning- do you foresee any particular difficulties? Is there anything particularly difficult to pass up when shopping?
I’ll often turn to buying clothes whenever I find myself comparing my life to others or
when my self-esteem is low. It’s a habit I am keen to break and I can imagine it may be
quite difficult when presented with this scenario. I also love buying ‘just because’ gifts
for family members and almost do this without really thinking, so I think that might be a
If you are interested in following along with Jessie's no-buy year, you can find her on Instagram @howifundthis. You can also check out her website www.howifundthis.com, where she offers tips on saving money and managing finances.