Is 2015 Your Year to Stop Buying New and Join The Compact?

by Katy on December 30, 2014 · 9 comments

Note: This is a previously published blog post from last year. And if you enjoy the piece and its message, please feel free to share it with your friends. Enjoy!

We’re already into our second week of 2014 and if you’re anything like me, your new year’s resolutions are already starting to fade. Your vow to work out three times a week was interrupted by foul weather, your diet’s been hijacked by your co-worker’s daily tins of too-good-to-resist goodies and your resolution to declutter the home office got, well . . . boring.

But I have a mid-January new year’s resolution that’s both easier than you think and will save you thousands of dollars.

Stop buying new. 

I did. Since 2007, and I’m here to tell you that this deceptively simple decision will change your life for the better. It’s called “The Compact” and tens of thousands of people have already made one year commitments to choose used.

Let me back up, and share a bit of my back story with you. I am a 46-year-old mother to two teenage boys who works as a part-time labor and delivery nurse. My husband and I drive a mini-van, live in a normal urban neighborhood, (although it is in Portland, Oregon, so there is an unbearable amount of quirky Portlandia-like hipster weirdness) and I attend enough youth soccer games to earn the “Soccer Mom” label.

Nothing too out of the ordinary. Right?


I write the blog The Non-Consumer Advocate and I urge thousands of daily readers to “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” and I mean it. In a world where deplorable and dangerous foreign factory conditions make the news almost every month, I choose to vote with my dollars. When area thrift shops burst with perfectly usable (and already manufactured goods) it’s a no brainer to look to the second hand market for my family’s needs. We mend and repair, borrow for infrequently used items and then make sure to lend out what we own to our friends and neighbors. We hold off from impulse purchases and we’re happy.

At this point you may be saying to yourself:

“Sounds good in theory, but there is no freaking way I’m signing up for used underwear/shoes/dental floss/socks.”

Don’t let a case of the heebie-jeebies deter you from considering The Compact, as everyone who participates selects their own exceptions. For me it’s socks, underwear, consumables, home maintenance supplies and personal care items. My husband thinks that used shoes are the work of the devil, so he gets a pass on that one. Everyone’s exceptions will differ, and that’s okay.

I don’t need to tell you that a self imposed restraining order from the mall will save you money, but I will anyway. You will save money when you joint The Compact, but that’s not the only benefit. You’ll appreciate your belongings a bit more, which will make you want to keep them more organized. You’ll become more deliberate about your home and go on a decluttering spree and be forced to be more creative about gift giving and end up giving more thoughtful gifts. You’ll pretty much discover a creative mindset whose ripple effects permeate every aspect of your life.

So c’mon, give The Compact a try for a month, maybe even for the full year. And if you’re anything like me, you might end up seven years in without a single regret.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

sandy December 30, 2014 at 10:30 am

I have been inching towards this for way too long! Now is the time to jump in with both feet. Thanks for the nudge.
PS: I became frugal in the Tightwad Gazette era in the 1990’s. Why have I been so slow on this?


Patricia December 30, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Thanks for re-publishing this very interesting post. I will take a look at The Compact. For years I thought I was being frugal by visiting op-shops and buying everything I liked. But recently I have changed my thinking(this is a big one) and realize I was still buying in a sneaky way. I have pledged for 2015 to not buy anything new or second hand. This is going to be very hard…so that tells you something. The more you need to do it! But I am excited as well. I guess in someways I am frightened that others won’t like my new ways and will laugh at me…or not appreciated gifts or things I may give. But who’s problem is that!


Betsey December 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Although I read and like your posts, Katy, I absolutely love this one! Not buying new has helped me immensely. I live in a comfortably nice, well-decorated home, none of which was new except for a floor model sofa I bought new at a tremendous mark down.
I bought underwear new this year, but I have not bought anything in the line of clothing for awhile. I wear my old stuff at home, and my nicer stuff for church or meetings with friends.
Have a Happy New Year and keep on buying used!


Tammy December 30, 2014 at 7:40 pm

I started using Quicken to track my purchases a few years ago. I recently looked at the clothing category for 2014 and realized that without trying, I hadn’t purchased any “new” clothes all year. They have all been from thrift stores. I had plenty of bras, underwear and socks and didn’t need to purchase any this year.

I am blessed to have a wonderful, like-minded mother-in-law and we have a great time going thrifting together. (Its really cheap entertainment for us.) She recently commented that a good thing about second hand clothes is that they have already been washed and dried and if they were going to shrink, they already have. If you try them on, you know they will still fit once they have been taken home and laundered.

Looking forward to an even more frugal 2015.


Patricia December 30, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Tammy thanks for this tip regarding tracking clothing expenses…I have never thought to do this before. I normally only track the basics.


Amber December 31, 2014 at 6:36 am

So, I did this last year and it was completely amazing!! I did end up making a splurge in late September on some polish pottery that I ran into in Boulder, CO., but forgave myself as it will be with me forever (or until a kiddo drops it). Anyway, this was so fantastic that I’m desperately trying to figure out a way to tweak it a bit for this year. I do like to purchase local clothing from a lady in MI and I’m thinking of allowing for special occasions (birthdays & such, or when she has sales). I also allow for new shoes, underwear, socks and perhaps new workout gear; I’m working through that now too. And I didn’t apply it to my young kids as they require uniforms and new shoes, but am also considering applying this to them this year too. I also was able to pay off two (very low debt) credit cards allowing me to focus on a rather large balance credit card this year. I think I’m ramblings, BUT as an environmentalist (It’s my profession) and an avid recycler this just seems like the next logical step. And definitely something you should try to incorporate into your lives; it’s an amazing since of freedom!!


Nikki January 1, 2015 at 10:24 am

I came upon this a few months ago while searching for unique ways to stop the”buy to keep the economy going” mentality that is beat into American society from birth. I steer clear of TV advertising as much as possible by not having cable TV. So for myself this year I have decided to take the compact, my house has used furniture anyway, I love the thrift stores in Tucson, and I can be crafty if need be. I will continue to read posts of other people that have found ways to not buy new, make things work etc. and I hope to get many good ideas from them. Should be an interesting year!


Ronnica, Striving Stewardess January 2, 2015 at 10:45 pm

I’m not there yet, but I’m making strides. I’m practicing a “Buy little” month this month, so I hope that it will be a start to appreciating what I already have and seeking alternatives to always buying what I “need.”


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