The Buy Nothing Year: How Two Roommates Saved More Than $55,000
Around the same time, his good friend Julie Phillips, 29, a communications advisor at the University of Calgary, was about to move into a new apartment when it fell through. “Geoff said, ‘You can move in with me, but I only have a bedroom for you to rent,’” she says. “The rest was packed with his stuff. So I got rid of over 80% of my stuff within three days.” (She was thinking she might move in a year and if so, she’d have to get rid of many of her belongings then.) But then she had a meltdown. “I was like, ‘Oh my god. What did I do?’ And then I was like, ‘Why do I need things anyway?’”
Over their first bottle of wine as roommates, they questioned their need for the objects that had drained their bank accounts, and, on a whim, decided to spend a year not buying anything. The domain name and Twitter handle for the obvious designation, Buy Nothing Year, were available. Julie recalls, “I said to this guy, ‘I can’t believe the name was available,’ and he said, ‘I can! You guys are crazy! Who would do that?’”
Within a week, they became a national news sensation. They suddenly realized that with the country watching, they had to follow through.
They had also saved a lot of money: Geoffrey amassed $42,300 (46,000 CAD) and Julie set aside $13,800 (15,000 CAD). (Julie’s explanation as to why Geoffrey squirreled away so much more: “As much as Geoff saved, I don’t make per year.”) Here’s how they achieved their feat, how the project changed their lives and what habits they’ll retain. Plus, the slide show contains their top tips on having a Buy Nothing Year of your own.