Many Americans are trying to buy less this year — but managing a family of five comes with its fair share of challenges.
For Maya Young, who lives just outside of Boston, managing her family's budget is often one of the most difficult goals to stick with.
"Everything is just expensive. Food is expensive. Then there's all the things you have to pay for — your house, your bills, all of the kids' activities," Young said on a recent Wednesday afternoon sitting in a park near her home.
Young and her husband set a strict family budget this year — but it's always a challenge, she says, to follow.
"I'm not a very disciplined person. I'd say [we] are breaking even, but we're paying the bills and going to be saving soon," Young said.
The Young's family goal this year is to buy less: take stock of the toys already in the house before buying new ones; use beauty products, soaps, shampoos, and other household products until they're gone instead of stocking up and buying more.
Young, 44, wants her kids to also learn the importance of saving.
"I hope to teach them to stop and think before you buy new things," she said.
Many people, though, are now taking their 2024 household budgets to new extremes. On TikTok, a new trend has emerged in 2024, with some users pledging a "no-spend" year.
The goal is to stop buying new things by drastically cutting spending this year, while at the same time cutting back on overconsumption.
Websites and apps like BuyNothing are helping some maintain those no-spending goals.
BuyNothing allows users to post and share items from shoes to bed frames to baby clothes. All are freely given and exchanged among community members. The whole thing is part of what's called the circular, or gifting, economy.
"People are starting to realize there are enough materials right in our local communities; we don't have to go out and buy new," said BuyNothing co-founder Liesl Clark.
Circular economies work through the sharing of existing products for as long as possible, extending the life of products while also reducing consumer spending. Clark said many people are drawn to the circular economy because it helps reduce the environmental impact of buying new products. But there is also a savings aspect to the whole concept as well.
"Right now, people are connecting with each other through circular economies because it's helping us economically. It's saving our bottom line," she said.
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