A mother who gave up spending for one year has revealed how she and her husband managed to save an incredible £25,000 in a bid to raise funds for their first home.
Lara Joanna Jarvis, 36, from Hampshire, and her husband Stuart, 39, decided to do the no buy year challenge, cutting almost all of their spending aside from rent and essential household bills, and stuck to a strict budget for family groceries.
She made the rule that she would have to sit on all purchase decisions for thirty days – but the month-long wait meant she ended up not wanting to buy anything in the process.
Lara now believes the challenge has changed her life for the better, saying: ‘Now, not spending is no longer a challenge for me – it’s a way of a life.’
Lara Joanna Jarvis, 36, (pictured) from Hampshire, ditched spending for a year and ended up helping her family to save £25,000
Before Lara embarked on a no-buy challenge, she had very different spending habits and admitted to often spending hastily.
Lara estimates that per year, she could spend up to £2,000 on clothes, £700 on meals out, £300 on takeaway coffees, £1,000 on skincare and subscription beauty boxes, £500 on haircuts and colour, as well as £200 on manicures.
The full-time blogger and YouTuber said: ‘I would buy things without look at the price, purchase clothes that were already very similar to outfits I had in my wardrobe, or buy an item simply because I saw someone else wear it on Instagram.
‘I would get my hair and nails done all the time. I was also a skincare addict and would buy new beauty products when I hadn’t even finished the old products up.
The blogger started the challenge because she dreamed of buying her first home with husband Stuart, 39. Pictured: Lara with her husband Stuart, 39, and their two children aged six and four
‘I would regularly get takeaway coffees and go out for dinner too. There was no thought around my purchasing and I was really mindless in the way I was spending.’
However all that changed when she decided to do a no spend challenge in January last year – where you can only spend on essentials such as rent, utility bills and foods for a month.
After successfully completing the month-long challenge, Lara realised how frivolous her previous spending had been, as well as how much she had saved.
She revealed: ‘In January 2019, I had just seven transactions in total and I was able to put almost everything I earned straight into savings. Also by the end of the month, the habit of not spending had just become a lot easier.’
Lara estimates that before taking up the challenge, she would spend up to £2,000 on clothes, £700 on meals out and £1,000 on skincare each year. Pictured: Lara and her family
She added: ‘What really drove me to do the year-long challenge was our decision to save up to buy a house. Stuart and I are in our thirties and we’re the last ones amongst our friends to buy a house.
‘I had always believed experiences came before things so we never saved and spent money on travelling as a family. But we had got to the point where we had two young children and we wanted to set our roots down. So we set a goal to buy a house and commit to this.’
Lara was determined to save enough for her dream home, revealing: ‘In my head, I made the overly-ambitious goal of saving £50,000 which was ridiculous because we don’t earn enough to save that in a year. But it kept me determined and focused.’
The mother-of-two (pictured) revealed her inspiration came from completing a month of only spending on essentials in January 2019
Lara also decided to look for other ways she could slash her bills and set herself some hard-and-fast rules for her challenge.
She explained: ‘For example, we cancelled some of our TV subscriptions, dramatically changed the way we shopped for groceries and cut my phone contract from £50 to £15 per month.
‘I wasn’t allowed to buy any clothes, make-up or skincare, however if my original beauty products ran out, I could replace them and find the most economical alternative out there.
LARA’S TOP TIPS FOR SAVING
MEAL PLAN ON A WEEKLY BASIS: This saves so much money and waste.
DO THE 30 DAY RULE: Sit on purchase decisions for a month to remove ‘the haste’ and if you still want the item after this time and it will bring you joy/benefit then do it.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LIKEMINDED PEOPLE WHO ‘GET IT’ : Like a Facebook group, or curate your social feeds to remove temptation)
SHOP SECOND HAND: Shop second hand to save money on the things you do need to buy, whilst also helping the environment.
REMEMBER YOUR GOAL: Have your goal visible daily with your reason for doing it clearly pictured.
DON’T PUNISH YOURSELF: Don’t treat your challenge like a punishment; if you’re having a bad day allow yourself some slack if you need it. Don’t give up!
‘I used to spend so much on skincare but now I buy a £7 facewash that will happily last me for three months.’
She also ditched haircuts, beauty treatments, takeaway coffees and meals out, with the exception of going out for dinner for friend’s birthdays.
She added: ‘I also set a weekly food budget, planned all our family meals and wouldn’t let any food go to waste.
‘Our weekly family groceries were £150 maximum per week but sometimes I found ways to feed the four of us for £40 per week.
YouTuber Lara credited her ‘main rule’ of ‘sitting’ on purchases for a month with helping her to save £25,000 (pictured with her husband Stuart)
Lara credits her ‘main rule’ of ‘sitting on any purchase decision for 30 days’ as her best tactic for saving.
Calling the rule ‘life-changing’, she said: ‘A month would go by and I would forget about whatever item I thought I wanted.’
Lara admitted that there were bumps down the road during the challenge, but she managed to find ways to combat any trials she faced.
She said: ‘I had to retrain my brain and once I had the goal of buying a house in mind, it helped keep me focused.
Lara (pictured) revealed she and her husband were able to cut costs by cancelling some of their TV subscriptions and reducing her phone contract
‘Clothing was the main thing I struggled with. The change of seasons was really hard because you want to buy new clothes for summer.
LARA’S RULES FOR HER NO BUY YEAR
- No clothes
- No skincare or make-up (Only buy if a product has run out)
- No haircuts or beauty treatments
- No takeaway coffees or meals out (With the exception of a friend’s birthday but even then, just have a main meal and don’t drink)
- Have a weekly food budget (Plan meals and don’t let any food go to waste)
- Sit on all purchases for 30 days (If you still want it after a month, you probably really want it!)
Also, I would go to brand events as an influencer and I would feel a bit weird about not having a new outfit for the occasion.
‘But over time, it was something I got used to and I learned to restyle old outfits to make them more current.’
She continued: ‘During my no buy year, I learned that it was truly possible to live your best life on a budget.
‘As a family, we would do more outdoor activities that didn’t require money and visit local places or beauty spots for free.’
Lara also called it ‘so important’ not to feel shame about saving money.
She said: ‘I was also open with my friends about my goal and what I was doing. When you share that fact with other people, they will likely support you and encourage you.
‘Instead of meals out, I would have my friends over for dinner or they would bring a bottle of wine and we would chat.
Mother-of-two (pictured) said she learned to restyle old outfits as a way of reducing her spending on clothes
By the end of 2019, Lara and her husband had managed to save a whopping £25,000.
She revealed: ‘Quite honestly I wish I had done it sooner, I didn’t realise how much we could save if we just changed our habits and mentality.
‘Treats can snowball into excessive spending and I learned that you can make a future for your family by simply not buying a top.
‘I feel financially free and don’t have the same anxiety I used to have about money and saving.
Lara (pictured) revealed she and her husband are continuing to save throughout 2020, in the hopes of reaching their £50,000 goal
‘Most of all, I’ve completely changed my relationship with spending and realised that buying “stuff” does not equal happiness.
‘Of course, I recognise there are things that bring me joy but I don’t do mindless purchasing anymore or spend with haste. If I have a takeaway coffee now, I really enjoy it.’
Laura revealed: ‘I feel so proud of what we’ve achieved and it’s been eye-opening to see how much I was spending before.’
She added: ‘We’re continuing with our goal of saving £50,000 in 2020. Although now, I’m embarking on a low buy year rather than a no buy year.’
Lara and her husband now plan to do a ‘low spend year’ in order to continue saving, and hope to save £50,000 by the end of the year (Pictured: Lara and husband Stuart, with their children aged six and four)