This Woman Hasn’t Bought Anything New in 8 Years

the compact
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How long can you go without buying something new? Many of us probably couldn’t last the week!

However, one woman has successfully gone without buying anything new — with a few personal exceptions — since 2007.

Katy Wolk-Stanley of The Non-Consumer Advocate recently wrote a guest post for Money-Saving Mom describing her unusual lifestyle. Although she originally planned to see if she could go a month without buying anything, Wolk-Stanley is on the eighth year of her “buy nothing new” project.

That’s eight years of thrift-store shopping, bartering and fully using up everything she owns!

The Compact

Wolk-Stanley began her project in January 2007 after learning about The Compact, which at that time referred to a group of San Franciscans who had made a compact to buy nothing new for an entire year.

Wolk-Stanley liked the idea, so she decided to try a similar Compact at home. As she writes: “One month turned into two, and before I knew it I’d completed my own “buy-nothing-new” year. And when December rolled around, I saw no reason to stop.”

If you’d like to try your own Compact, here are the official guidelines:

#1 Don’t buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)

#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used.

Personal Exceptions

Wolk-Stanley and her husband each have personal exceptions, which means they allow themselves to buy new items in a few specific categories.

Wolk-Stanley’s exceptions include “personal care items, bras, underwear, books written by friends and harmonicas.” Although we’ve written about making extra cash by selling your used underwear, it’s understandable some people would prefer to buy their underwear new!

Wolk-Stanley and her husband have different exceptions, and that helps them manage their Compact while still respecting each others’ needs. As Wolk-Stanley puts it: “My husband thinks that used shoes are disgusting, so he chooses that as an exception.”

The Compact allows personal exceptions that make sense with your lifestyle. If you’re a parent, for example, you can buy a new car seat for your child without feeling like you’re breaking The Compact. And if you think used shoes are disgusting — well, that’s OK too!

The point is to save money and live sustainably, not to deprive yourself of new bras or important life items that can only be bought new. That’s how Wolk-Stanley has managed to keep up her Compact for eight years and counting.

Want to learn more? Read the full story at Money-Saving Mom.

Your Turn: How long do you think you could go without buying something new? If you did The Compact, what would you choose as personal exceptions?

Nicole Dieker is a freelance writer focusing on personal finance and personal stories. Her work has appeared in The Billfold, The Toast, Yearbook Office, The Write Life and Boing Boing.

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