On some days, I buy nothing

By: Vin Heney on November 25, 2016
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November 25th is Black Friday. The day after American Thanksgiving. The unofficial start of Christmas commerce chaos. The single busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S. and in Canada.

So clear your credit cards and elbow your way to the sales!

Or don’t.

November 25th is also Buy Nothing Day. An international day of protest that began in Vancouver in 1992. This anti-consumerism initiative — which is now practiced in more than 65 countries — remains true to its original mandate: “[a] day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.”

It’s kind of like Earth Day for spending. Is it important that people participate on the actual day? Yes. But more important is the awareness it raises. I still remember the first time I heard about Buy Nothing Day (in my idealistic uni days, obviously), and while admittedly it’s not something I participate in every year, the concept of a spending-free day stuck with me. It’s actually something I make note of in my expense tracker whenever I manage to escape making purchases for an entire day.

You’re probably thinking, Wait, don’t you guys promote credit cards? Well, yes, but only if they make sense for a person’s given situation. As a company, our objective is simple: to help Canadians make smart money decisions. And we’d say taking a day to pause and reflect on your spending habits qualifies.

So whether or not your ‘buy nothing day’ falls on November 25th, here are the two main reasons why we think the occasional break in spending is worth its weight in gold:

  1. It forces you to reflect.
    Buying nothing means you’ll be better at buying something. Weird, right? But for reals, the more attention you pay to your everyday purchases, the smarter your everyday purchases will become. It’s like the observer effect but for money — watching your habits will inevitably change your habits. We’re not saying to never splurge on an orange mocha frappuccino, we’re just saying to pay attention when you pony up.

  2. It forces you to save.
    Incentivize yourself to practice buy nothing days by putting aside a set amount (even just $10) for each day you don’t spend. Then put this money into a separate account — something like Tangerine’s high interest savings account — and see what you have at the end of the year. You might be surprised at how quickly small, regular contributions can boost your balance. And because many young professionals in expensive housing markets can’t afford the forced investment that comes with can’t-miss mortgage payments, any other strategy that results in regular savings contributions is a-ok with us.

So this Buy Nothing Day — or any other day of the year, for that matter — we think you should challenge yourself to avoid spending. You might just find that it’s time well…spent.