Project Low-Buy 2015: Introduction | Hello Pretty Bird! - A beauty and not-so-glamorous lifestyle blog

02 February, 2015

Project Low-Buy 2015: Introduction

Yep, it's that time again: Time for a little bit of sexy budgeting action. Last year I did a no-buy/spending ban that ended up turning into what could more appropriately be called a "low-buy"I think I ended up spending about $50 on non-essential items over the course of two months, which isn't totally nuts. One of my New Year's goals/resolutions was to save more in 2015, so it seems logical for me to do an exercise in extreme budgeting again this year. Except I'm kicking it up a notch this time and low-buyin' for three months instead of two. THREE!!! Will I make it this time? Check out the rules I've set up for myself below and make your wagers in the comments.

Piggy bank art via

Objectives: Why do a low-buy or no-buy at all?

For me, creating a concrete budget (and sticking to it) is the best way to save more. Simple as that. I have some goals I'd like to work towards later this year that require having a bit of extra cash on hand, so saving more is like... good and stuff. Also, like many beauty/lifestyle bloggers, I own PLENTY of cosmetics, clothing and other little odds and ends as it is. In addition to saving, I want to use the low-buy period to weed through my collection of stuff, figure out what I actually use versus what's collecting dust, and use that information to shop more savvily in the future.

Why do a low-buy instead of a no-buy/spending ban?

Frankly, allowing yourself zero leeway with spending sucks and feels like a punishment. I'm not doing this because I want to punish myself, I'm doing it because I want to save some extra cash and divest myself of some of my crap. There will occasionally be products that I'm really eager to try, and as long as they fit into my low-buy budget, I don't see anything wrong with purchasing them. Speaking of which....

My low-buy budget (and rules):

I am budgeting myself a grand total of US $75 to be spent on between now and April 30th on frivolous things, AKA whatever the hell I want. That averages out to about $25 per month, which I think is pretty modest. There are a couple of ways that the spending limit can be increased:

  • If I sell something I already own, the profits can be added to my total budget. Seems fair, right?
  • If someone gives me money as a gift, I can add it to my total budget. My birthday is at the end of the month so this could happen, but I'm not really counting on it. Those birthday cards from distant relatives with a $5 bill inside tend to stop after you reach a certain age.

That's really all there is to it. I'm excluding some expenses (detailed below) from the $75 spending limit because the purpose of this exercise is to limit unnecessary spending, and some expenses are actually unavoidable. Oh, the joys of adult life.

Excluded (AKA necessary) expenses:

Outlined for the sake of transparency. Oh, the fun.

  • Food/drink to be prepared at home: We all have to eat, right? Meals and drinks purchased at restaurants/quick dining establishments do count towards the $75 limit though. But if someone treats me, it won't. ;)
  • BILLS BILLS BILLS BILLS BILLS: Can't really avoid paying these, now can I?
  • Medical expenses: I anticipate some dental work in my future. And allergy medicine purchases. Sexy!
  • Transportation and travel costs: This will likely just be the occasional subway/bus fare and train tickets to visit family in nearby states. Not owning a car finally has its perks? 
  • Non-beauty personal care items: Ain't no haul like a TAMPAX haul!
  • Gifts for other people: Within reason, of course. It would probably be strange if I showed up to my cousin's baby shower without a gift, y'know?
  • Streaming video/movie tickets: Some of you might not consider this as "necessary", but I think budgeting for some entertainment is appropriate and non-frivolous. We use streaming services like Netflix instead of subscribing to cable television, and go to the movies about once per month on average, which I don't think is excessive.
  • Expenses related to working from home: Things like stationery, printer ink, replacement computer equipment etc. In other words, everything that's super exciting and awesome! Or not.
  • Expenses related to running this blog: No, I do not consider epic makeup and skincare haul-age to be a blog-related expense (well, not usually). Things like domain registration fees, software and subscriptions that aid me in running my blog, supplies for sponsored posts and payment processing fees definitely are legit blog/business expenses though. And I have a separate budget for giveaway prizes, so those will still be happening without affecting my personal spending total. :)

Other exclusions:
  • Subscriptions I have already paid for: Things like my Birchbox annual subscription, Amazon Prime etc. They're already paid in full, so it seems silly to try and factor them into my spending limit now.
  • Items purchased with rewards or referral points: Like Birchbox and their points system, just to name one example. If I'm not spending actual currency in my bank account, it won't count towards the $75 limit.

    I've decided to leave clothing off the exclusions list because I think I have enough to get me through April. Unless all of my unmentionables spontaneously combust or something. Keep your fingers crossed for my undies drawer!

    What now?

    For the sake of accountability, I will be doing a couple of check-in posts around the beginning of March and April, and a final summary post at the beginning of May. In these posts I will detail what (if anything) I spent, what (if anything) I earned by de-stashing, any any thoughts I may have on the process.

    I don't think this exercise will really affect the content on my blog—there are actually a number of products and topics I've been meaning to write about, but haven't yet due to a lack of time. Plus any budget-friendly things I pick up may still be worthy of a review—doesn't matter if they only cost a few bucks! I will also continue to share sales and whatnot on Facebook like I usually do, I just won't be partaking in quite as many of them myself.

    What do you think of my low-buy plan? Have you engaged in a low-buy or no-buy recently? How did it go?



    1. I'm doing a total over haul for my budget this year and its going pretty well so far, I'm allowing myself a $50 spending spree in March as a treat so that should b interesting, I like doing this, really gives me a chance to weed through my things

    2. Whoa--this is so hardcore!! I don't know if I could do a one-day low buy tbh. Hahah first step would be eliminating Seamless from the planet--I swear that if I am always broke forever that's the reason why! lol

    3. Personally my limit isn't for as long, but I just try to limit how much I spend when I go out, like under $15 for one meal, and maybe no dessert if I'm also staying out for dinner and how much I want to save at the end of the week. Then I live at home so I think the circumstances and expenses are different xD

    4. Yeah exactly! Buying less gives you a chance to actually take stock of what you have. $50 seems like a reasonable treat... of course I would probably be comparison shopping like crazy to make sure that $50 went as far as it possibly could, haha.

    5. Oh shit, Seamless is a killer. We've been trying to reduce the frequency of last minute desperation Seamless orders lately by planning out meals four or five days at a time, making sure we have all the ingredients to actually make them, and taking turns cooking. Seems to work pretty well as long as we don't get overly ambitious with our weeknight recipe choices. Back when I had a "normal" job with a steady salary I actually had takeout as a category on my budget though, haha. I think I allowed myself something like $75 per month. That'll get you a few falafels!

    6. Certainly! And even for folks who don't live at home, the circumstances can be different depending on their environment. Where I live (NYC), dining out is kind of expensive on average, so $15 probably wouldn't go as far as it would in some other cities. But honestly, having some sort of budget (even if it's just to limit your spending during an outing) is better than having no plan at all!

    7. Oh hell I would fail miserably at this :/ I wanted to do a no buy before IMATS but already failed at that. I went to Ulta to buy some stuff I've run out of hair spray, concealer, makeup setting spray, and picked up a couple extra things I didnt NEED. Nothing too expensive but it adds up. I also had a ColourPop black friday gc that expired 1/31 (how stupid is it that they give you a gc but it expires a month after xmas?) so of course I used that and went over the $15.00 try more than double lol. And did I mention I got a camera? lol but that is considered an investment purchase. So as you can see, I would most definitely FAIL this. But GOOD LUCK! You seem to have far more will power than me.

    8. Haha thanks! I would consider a new camera to be a blog-related expense/investment for sure. I bought a Canon T3i around the end of 2013 and it was expensive, but it's still going strong and it has helped improve the quality of pictures on my blog quite a lot. Anyway, it's always those little purchases that get me... I'm like "oh this is $5, might as well grab another" but those things do add up, like you said. I'm much more likely to stick to my budget now that I've announced it publicly, lol.

    9. I really need to do this. Granted I'm poor lol, but I'm always picking up random things here and there and before I know it, my house is full of junk. A Low-Buy is definitely something I would succeed at because I'd be holding myself accountable rather than just saying "hmm, l should try not spending as much." LOL

    10. Yeah coming up with a specific budget or strategy is definitely more effective than saying "I'll just buy less." Those little $5-$10 impulse buys don't seem like a lot, but they kind of add up after a while. I didn't include any beauty "necessities" on my list of excluded expenses because I don't want to use it as an excuse to hoard more shampoo (or whatever), lol.

    11. I could never go on a NO buy for the exact reason you listed--I'm not in major debt so I don't want to punish myself, but a Low buy makes total sense. I have too much crap lying around, too--samples upon samples upon samples! I want to start saving for future travel, so maybe I'll hop on board with you and adopt this plan for a few months!

    12. I like the idea of a low buy. I'm on a skincare no buy right now, but I don't think I could do a complete no buy, like you said. It's just a little mean if you ask me! Of course, I'll replace things as I run out. I'm not going to go without a cleanser because I know those will go first! Good luck with your low buy!

    13. Saving for travel is a very good idea! I actually made a separate savings account and I put a teensy percentage of my income into it, in the hopes that I'll eventually save enough to go on a big trip again someday. I like keeping it in a separate account because I'm less likely to tip into it that way!

    14. If I actually run 100% out of cleanser I would buy more too. I just don't think that's going to happen... I have a backup! No guilt if I really do use something up and repurchase though. Thank you! :)

    15. I've put myself on a beauty no-buy this month. I actually have some budgeting software now, so this month will be a month of financial awareness. I have a suspicion I'll cave half-way through the month, but I'll at least try to keep it a low-buy month. No Guerlain counter for me :(

    16. I like the idea of a low-buy, I actually had been on a low buy beauty budget during November, December and up until my Birthday because we was doing some remodeling on our house. But.....when my birthday got here, the low buy went away......LOL! I am however starting in March going to put a budget on beauty items and stick to it. I am not saying I am going to go crazy the rest of this month but I just don't have a set budget.......BTW, you still crack me up......Tampax haul.....LOL!

    17. Which budgeting software are you using? Just curious. I was using YNAB for a while when I had a regular salary and it helped me soooo much! But anyway, I think a low-buy is much easier to stick to than a no buy. Maybe no Guerlain this month, but a little Collection 2000 would be OK? :P

    18. Haha! Well, I don't really *want* to haul Tampax, but feminine care purchases seem kind of necessary given my gender and age and whatnot. Good luck with your low-buy/budget! I'm sure if you come up with a concrete plan you'll be able to stick with it. :)

    19. I'm using YNAB! It's really helped me lower my expenses in the last few months. I actually have a couple of untouched Guerlain products to open this month! But yes, more Collection 2000 is likely. And Sleek.