Personal challenge: A month of replacement basis only

the rplacement basis only challenge zero spend save money

I love a buy-nothing day or a short zero-spend challenge, but next month I’m going for a bigger ‘replacement basis only’ challenge to keep costs down.

The problem with longer zero-spend challenges is that you need to build in a lot of wriggle room to make them workable. They aren’t really zero spend if they go on for a while, because you need food, things for work, kids, pets, the home, and so on.

That’s why I’m going to try for a ‘replacement basis only’ challenge instead, which I think could be simpler and maybe easier – while still hopefully saving money. Here’s my plan.

going out for coffee freelance life

The replacement basis only challenge rules

This challenge is about trying to buy fewer physical items, and making sure that what’s bought is timely and useful. So, if you run out of milk, pasta and bread, feel free to buy more milk, pasta and bread.

It isn’t just about food and drink though. My ‘replacement basis only’ challenge covers homeware, linens, cleaning products, toiletries, everyday cosmetics, clothes and so on. All the bits and pieces of everyday life – with a strong emphasis on the everyday.

For example, if the dog chews up your favourite trainers, you can replace them, as long as you can afford to (unless you already have loads of trainers, in which case just use a different pair.) If your umbrella blows inside out during a storm and breaks, you can definitely replace that, and so on.

Room for experiences & socialising

Experiences are not the same as material goods, and I’ll definitely be using up event tickets that’ve already been bought. Waste not, want not.

It will also be important to set a small budget for socialising, such as drinks and the occasional meal or snack – on a ‘people not things‘ basis.

bright shopping trolleys replacement basis only challenge

A few little extras I’m allowed

There’s no point setting yourself up to fail, so I’m going to go for full transparency here. It’s possible there will be some out-of-the-ordinary extras to cover in the coming month.

For example:

  • A housewarming gift, a thank you gift, etc
  • Bits and bobs in case someone is ill
  • Small items for special events such as birthdays and weddings

If you’d like to try this challenge, perhaps you will need to make a small contingency plan of your own.

I’m going to a wedding in a few weeks, and have already decided to rent a pretty dress for the occasion. This isn’t purchasing an item because you have to give it back, but I will probably need to get a sparkly or shiny bag of some sort.

That might be a vintage piece, or a more recent second hand bargain, or maybe another rental. No idea at the moment, but if something appears at the right moment then it’s going to get snapped up or booked in.

Sticking to one in, one out

I think I probably have enough physical stuff to get by, but occasionally I find a bargain or two on my travels. However, for the coming month if I want to get something new, the rule is that I’ll have to get rid of a similar item first.

Ideally this will mean selling something and putting the money towards the new purchase, but it might also involve donating or recyling. The idea is to make much slower, more considered purchases.

If you want to find out more about the ‘one in, one out rule‘ and how to use it to keep clutter to a minimum, have a look at the ideas on A To Zen Life. Some of the tips are USA-specific but most of them are universal.

UK wallet British banknotes

Benefits of a replacement basis only lifestyle

I’m planning to stick to the basics in the coming month, and I’m hoping it’ll also nudge me into selling more things to clear space and earn a little extra.

There are several potential benefits I hope to experience, including:

  • Only buying what’s needed most, which should save money
  • Life being more about experiences, not material goods
  • Less time shopping and more time doing other things
  • A detox from the pressures of consumerism
  • Remembering to care for and repair belongings
  • Should be much better for the environment too
  • Less clutter, easier to keep things organised

I’m hoping cutting back like this should be more practical – and maybe more honest – than a no-spend challenge, while still having the same spirit.

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I’ll be keeping a regular diary about my replacement basis only challenge over the next few weeks, so look out for updates.

Do you think you could go ‘replacement only’ for a month? What would you find most difficult?

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