Having recently read The Year of Less, by Cait Flanders I was extremely inspired by her year long shopping ban. Her story was familiar to me in a few ways. She would walk into Target for 2 things, and walk out with 5. She would order takeout coffee twice a day (YIKES!) or grab a quick bite to eat when she didn’t have time to cook. She was overworked, and tired of wondering where her money went. Basically, she was an aimless spender. She committed to a year long shopping ban, saving $17,000 in the end and living off of 51% of her income THE ENTIRE YEAR.
A “ban” might sound extreme, but her rules were fairly simple, and she encouraged readers to tailor their ban to their unique lifestyle. For this ban year, Cait would only buy the following:
- Food to prepare meals at home/
- Household items she would run out of during the ban-deodorant, toothpaste, etc.
- Appliances/electronics/household maintenance.
She had two exceptions for the duration of her ban:
- Not including trips/vacations
- Not including dining out
She felt these two were more about the experience, and she felt it was worth some money to be able to spend fun times with family and friends. She did however use her airline miles and coupons when she could, and didn’t buy souvenirs/extra purchases while taking these trips. Besides these two exceptions, she completely cut out take out coffee from her budget, as she was sometimes buying a cup of coffee twice a day, which can definitely add up, and all the other impulse and frivolous spending that had previously occurred.
I do not consider myself a shopaholic to ANY extent, and I usually always think before an impulse purchase. I don’t shop on Amazon for clothes, books, or really anything now that I think about it. I don’t drink coffee often, so I don’t spend money on takeout beverages, but sometimes I do grab an occasional bite to eat. There have been multiple times Doordash was a quick and easy fix for us dinner. However, I am a frivolous spender. More often than not, I walk into a store for one item and walk out with multiple items, a scarf I didn’t need, shoes to add to my already massive collection, a cute cat themed something, etc. I absolutely love thrift store shopping, and whenever I had a free day to do as I please, I would end up wandering Goodwill, TJ Maxx, or Target. $25 here, $10 there, it all adds up in the end.
So, I am determined to complete a shopping ban of my own, for three months. If I can make it through, I will do it for another three. Here are the four categories what I can spend my money on for the duration with bills being paid, a given:
- Food for home made meals.
- Gas (which will decrease drastically in the coming months!)
- Household items that will run out during my ban, and only buy ONE item (excluding toilet paper, because duh) when the item needs to be replaced. None of this, “buy more save more” crap.
- House maintenance/replacements, but ONLY if absolutely necessary.
Here are my exceptions:
- I can dine out, but no more than three times a month. “Dine out” means going out to eat at a restaurant, grabbing a small meal at a cafe, ordering takeout etc.
- Gifts for other people (birthday, retirement, anniversary)
Everything else is off limits! I will most likely post weekly, with my 7 day spending habits for the week, as I would like to be held accountable, so the more people that I tell, the more likely I will stick to my guns. Yesterday, I told a coworker about my shopping ban, and they asked “what happens if you fail?” I honestly hadn’t thought about it, as I am so determined to see this to the end, and beyond!
Again, I can’t recommend Cait’s book enough. She gives examples, tips, and even guidelines to follow at the end of her book. She realizes that her way is isn’t for everyone, so she gives tips for family and couple lifestyles to tailor it, so YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE that this can’t work for you. If you are interested in my weekly updates, follow along! It’s about to get intimate.
-Mindful consumer in training.
Now that you’ve read until the end, the start date of this was February 20th, 2019. I have been going strong, but it is still just the beginning. I hear the three month mark is the hardest!