Michelle McGagh wanted to make a big change when it came to her spending.

“Having worked as a personal financial journalist for 10 years, my friends, family and colleagues assumed I was brilliant with money – but that wasn’t strictly true,” she wrote in an essay for the Telegraph. Although she had no debt, she noticed that her bank statements were “littered with unnecessary spending.”

That spending included nearly $500 for coffee a year, along with plenty of outings at restaurants, rounds of drinks at bars, shopping trips, and much more.

After McGagh and her husband bought a home with a “hefty mortgage” in 2013, she had to start paying attention to the things she needed versus what she wanted, scaled back, and started reading up on minimalism.

Michelle McGagh/Twitter

She learned about Buy Nothing Day, an anti-consumer movement, which falls on Black Friday and encourages people to spend nothing on the most popular shopping day of the year.

“It gave me an idea: I could easily manage a Buy Nothing Day but could I manage a Buy Nothing Year?” she wrote. McGagh gave it a shot in 2015 and kicked things off on Black Friday.

“First, I set myself rules: I’d pay my mortgage, utilities, life insurance, charity donations, and broadband and mobile phone bills [around $2300 per month],” she wrote. “I would also buy basic toiletries (toothpaste, deodorant, soap and shampoo) and cleaning products (washing powder).”

Food was also in the budget, of course, but she indulged in nothing luxurious, stepping away from “cinema trips, no nights in the pub, no takeaways or restaurant meals, no new clothes, no holidays, no gym memberships, not even a Kit Kat or cheeky cheesecake from the supermarket.”

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“I limited myself to a zero budget for transport, meaning I’d have to cycle everywhere,” she continued. And I decided that I wouldn’t rely on my husband, friends or family to pay my way—that wasn’t the point.”

While the challenge wasn’t easy, and even affected the ones she loved at times, McGagh made it through and with $27K more in the bank. She also turned her experience into a book—The No Spend Year: How I Spent Less and Lived More ($10.34; amazon.com), which hit stands today.



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