How choosing to buy used saves both time and money

Do you struggle with the feeling that you’ll never have enough hours in your day nor dollars in the bank? You’re not alone.
Enter The Compact, a worldwide buy-nothing-new movement where participants choose to abstain from buying almost anything new for one year periods. (Everyone has a few personal exceptions. Me? I allow new underwear, socks and personal care items.)
Thousands of people have joined this voluntary simplicity group, yet do so for entirely different reasons. For many, the appeal is financial, while for others it’s for environmental or humanitarian reasons.
I’ve been doing The Compact since 2007, and although it would sound more impressive to say it was for some lofty reason, my decision was straight up financial. But I quickly began to notice an odd change in my life, which was that my busy, busy life suddenly gained some much needed breathing room. This made no sense, as shouldn’t having to do the legwork of sourcing used instead of new take more time not less?
This surprising side effect continued and proved to be no anomaly. Here’s what I learned:

When you spend too much money, you have to work the hours to earn that money

Buying used and spending less money allows you to earn a smaller income. This may seem obvious, but somehow it isn’t. It’s easy to fall into the trap of night after night of pricey takeout meals, or to indulge ourselves with expensive treats as a reward for hard work. These spending rationalizations can undo the benefit of a good salary.

Less money spent = fewer hours required at work.

Recreational shopping is almost eliminated

By choosing to forgo new purchases, you’ll no longer waste your weekend hours scoping out bargains at the mall or on cybershopping.

Less time shopping = more hours available for activities that enhance your life.

Less stuff entering your home means fewer hours spent on housekeeping

If you have a tendency to pick up cool but unnecessary items or find yourself unable to resist a bargain, chances are your home has a clutter issue. All that stuff that passes your threshold needs to stored, organized and cleaned. By choosing to only buy used, less stuff comes into your house and your time at home will suddenly open up.

Less stuff in your house = fewer hours spent cleaning.


When you choose to stop buying new, you free up both your money and energy for the things that really matter. Draw that line in the sand, and you won’t be as vulnerable to Madison Avenue, as all their new stuff is off limits anyway. Annie Leonard writes about a ‘work-watch-spend treadmill’ in The Story of Stuff, and perhaps it’s time to step off that treadmill. Who knows, you might even get to stand still for a moment or two.

Read more: 13 things I learned about money in my 20s

Want more money-saving advice? See our Money section.

Clark Deals
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