This Woman Bought Only Essentials For A Year—And Saved $27,000

Michelle McGagh, Twitter

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With the new year in full swing, most of us are desperately trying to stay committed to our resolutions to save money. But, as you pass on Starbucks and resist the impulse buy at the checkout counter, you might be feeling your willpower wavering. Well, tuck in for this inspirational story, because it will calm your itchy credit-card trigger finger.

Author Michelle McGagh recently penned an article for The Guardian in which she revealed how she managed to go an entire year without spending a dime. Or a nickel. Or a penny. You get the idea.

McGagh made the decision to make the “spend nothing” leap when she look at her credit card statements and realized that she spent £400 in one year on coffee alone. (McGagh is based in London.)

The author was inspired by “Buy Nothing Day,” an international day of protest against consumerism. It falls on Black Friday, the most notorious shopping day of the year, and it encourages people not to spend a cent on the day in question.

This lead McGagh to wonder: Could she do a “Buy Nothing Year”?

She could, and she did. But how?

First, McGagh sets rules for herself. She would pay her bills (such as her mortgage and her utility bills), and she would allow herself basic groceries (but no extras such as candy or soda), and she would purchase household sundries (toliet paper, laundry detergent and soap). But that would be it. She would also not spend money on transportation, meaning she would have to ride her bicycle everywhere.

How did it go?

Well, it depends on your point of view. McGagh says that she certainly struggled, missing out on trips with friends. She was also unable to visit her grandfather, since she couldn’t bike to Ireland from London. She also says that her clothes often smelled of sweat because they needed to be replaced, and she when she ran out of things like moisturizer she simply had to suffer without.

But, in the end, she saved £22,439 ($27,809.55!), which she used to pay off a portion of her mortgage. And she created wonderful memories with her husband, such as bike-riding around Suffolk and Norfolk, going to free museums (one of the perks of living in London is that most of the museums are free), camping and picnicking outdoors.

Does she plan to continue her vow of no spending?

Not exactly, but she has changed her outlook on her spending, saying “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.”

McGagh also details her story in her book “The No Spend Year: How I spent less and lived more.”

About the Author

Bridget Sharkey

Bridget Sharkey is a freelance writer/ghostwriter with a background in publicity. As a ghostwriter, she conceives, researches and composes original content for clients in the fields of business, hospitality, lifestyle, technology and relationships. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband and children, Maeve and Malcolm. You can reach her at More.

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