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BUYING NOTHING FOR A YEAR with Jonathan Ryan

What I'm starting with for buying nothing for a year
What I'm starting with for buying nothing for a year

Alright. So this may be a bad idea. Or it may be a fantastic, epically excellent way to save and focus on what matters. One thing is for sure; it won’t be easy. Buying nothing for a year, to me, is about focusing on what’s essential in my life. I already have all of the tools I need to create things. What I’d like to focus on is my wife, kids, creativity, and adventures. I’ve been a minimalist for a year and a half now. Taking on the challenge of downsizing my life from 1000s of items down to 50 personal things this year.

To start with, the original challenge for me was 100 items like these guys:

Cutting down 100s of items became more comfortable after doing it over and over, but let’s get real, simplifying the last 100 things was the hard part. I unintentionally forced the lifestyle on my wife and kids in the early stages and realized early on, that minimalism isn’t for everyone. And it’s crucial to focus what I didn’t need, not what I thought others didn’t.

Buying nothing for a year - I own an iPad Pro 2016

Just one of the 50 essentials I own. I love my iPad Pro 2016.

Buying Nothing For a Year Started Yesterday – January 1, 2018

I work a great job. My wife and I make a healthy income too. Just this last year (2017), our revenue has nearly doubled. Though what hasn’t increased is our savings. We’ve fallen into the consumerism trap most do. It goes a little something like this:

  1. Broke as shit – can’t save anything
  2. Making just enough not to struggle – I’ll keep a bit here and there
  3. Earning a shit ton – Buy expensive shit with expensive monthly bills. Not much to save
  4. We’re rich bitch!

We fit into tier 3. We have expensive rent and a costly car payment/required full coverage car insurance. These are decisions Laurah, and I have made together and may figure themselves out this year if we find better options that work for both of us. If we can make that happen, the contributions will be significant.

After realizing how much money I’d wasted, I started thinking about what the ultimate “payoff” would be. Then I decided, the goal of buying nothing for a year, for me, is to save a shit ton so our family can have the freedom and security of


  • Going on bi-quarterly adventures (beach please!)
  • Buy our first house in 2 – 3 years
  • Destroy the money arguments
  • Further, simplify my life to focus on what’s important
Jon is joining me for buying nothing for a year

Jon is joining me for buying nothing for a year

But Let’s Focus on Me and My Good Friend Jon

Next, it was time to do some research and get some proper old fashion accountability. I read a couple of articles about buying nothing for a year on Forbes, One Empty Self, and the Guardian. I’d already embraced the concept of a few high-quality items vs. unintentional junk from my minimalist journey. And it is evident that it was hard, yet immensely satisfying for this individuals.

For one thing, I have a hand full of subscriptions to things I love. Some that I don’t want to live without, and some that I can nix. I’ll list the exceptions to my no buy year below.

So last night after thinking over this for hours, I message Jon. It goes a little something like this (Or maybe precisely):

Our Conversation

Me: Happy 2018
Jon: Happy 2k18 to you as well
Me: I’m thinking about not buying anything personally for a year – though I’m still working out the plan/exceptions.
Jon: Same. I’m tired of buying stuff haha. Plus I’m putting more money away in my IRA.
Me: Smart man. You hold me to it, I hold you to it? (Not buying for a year)
Jon: Deal. Only business-essential purchases
Me: It will be hard, but rewarding. I’m trying to get rid of a whole bunch of subscriptions too – I’m considering that money also. I’m giving an exception to Audible though.
So far these are the things I need to get rid of:
Dropbox (my job has Dropbox and google drive, and I have iCloud)
Apple Music
Daily Burn (I figure I can find some stuff on youtube)
Hulu and Netflix are all Laurah, so they’re being kept
– Gotta keep server stuff
– I usually give myself $80 every two weeks, and I’m stopping that
– I’m not counting family adventures or dates.
– I won’t dine out unless it’s a date
I already own a MacBook Pro - buying nothing for a year

An Unconventional Blueprint to Buying Nothing For a Year

I want to see how much I can save. I honestly have everything I need and want. I just need to stop giving in to consumerism – it’s eating up my good money.
Jon: Pretty good plan. I would highly suggest getting an IRA if you don’t already have one. Or do a 401K if New Human offers it. If you start investing now, there’s no reason you can’t be a millionaire by 65. Also put money away in your regular savings if possible.
Will: I do have an IRA, though it’s pitiful right now. I looked at my net for the year, and was like damn, I made a fortune and where the hell did it go. This year we have to be smarter and happier.
Jon: Yeah I know that feeling all too well unfortunately
Me: Audible over four years is $750. Same with a lot of the $10 – $15 subscriptions.
Alright. Today, Jan 1, 2018, William Mosley, III & Jon Ryan pledge to go a year without spending (excluding bills, groceries & noted exceptions)
Jon: Might be a challenge for sure, but it can certainly be done.
Me: Thumbs up emoji

Wait, did Jon and I just have a moment?

Jon is a well-educated filmmaker, works on jets and served in the Air Force for six years. I am a Creative Director with a wife, two boys and one on the way. Our lifestyles are incredibly different, though we both came to the same conclusion:

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  • We spend too much
  • We want to stop buying
  • And start saving
Apple Pencil is great for precision.

Apple Pencil is great for precision.

Here Are My Buying Nothing For a Year Rules

  1. I can’t buy anything personally this year (2018)
  2. Allowed two subscriptions
    1. Audible
    2. Family Mobile Phone
  3. I’ll be stopping my “Fun Money” of 160/mo
  4. Must get rid of other subscriptions by Jan 14, 2018 (2 weeks from start date)
    1. Dropbox
    2. Daily Burn
    3. Apple Music
I have to have Audible for buying nothing for a year challenge!

I have to have Audible for buying nothing for a year challenge!

And My Buying Nothing For a Year Exceptions

  1. Gifts and trades don’t count as buying (though keeping with minimalism principles)
  2. Standard living costs
    1. Rent
    2. Groceries
    3. Electric
    4. Water
    5. Internet
    6. Car Payment
    7. Car Insurance
    8. Health Insurance
    9. Gas
  3. Family Subscriptions don’t count because it’s my journey (though let’s try to cut out what we don’t need)
    1. Hulu
    2. Netflix
    3. iCloud Storage
    4. Amazon Music
  4. Subscriptions required to operate business
    1. Godaddy
    2. Digital Ocean
    3. Cpanel
  5. Because one of the primary goals of this challenge is to be more romantic and adventurous, Dates with my wife and saved for trips don’t count
    1. Buying anything personally does.

So there’s a lot of exceptions. It’s best for me to define a path, and adjust on the way.

So In Conclusion (or Beginning)

Where will this journey take Jon and me?

  • Will our friendship grow stronger?
  • Will I go crazy when Apple releases a brand new product?
  • As time goes on, will I stop halfway through?
  • How much can we save collectively?
  • What dates will I go on with my wife?
  • What frugal adventures will we have?
  • How many ads will tempt me daily?

Stay tuned to find out. So cheers to a good friendship, accountability, and a buying nothing for a year! King just woke up and wants to have morning time with dad!


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