One of the main reasons I did a shopping ban last year was to save money. I had just spent a small fortune on car repairs (apparently, that’s just a theme for me) and a ban on buying stuff seemed like it would be the easiest way to get my finances back on track.
Before I started the ban and because I’m a nerd, I went through my purchases for the previous year and determined that I spent $2400 on stuff. I knew I wouldn’t spend zero this year – I would still need to purchase certain things. But, I figured any reduction would be helpful.
So, how much did I spend during my shopping ban compared to my ‘normal’ year? Well, let’s get into the numbers.
|Shopping Ban Year||Previous Year|
|Toiletries & Makeup:||$185.06||$407.50|
|Clothing & Accessories:||$502.48||$996.60|
These numbers include things I was allowed to buy as part of the ban, like toiletries and makeup once I ran out, plus gifts and items for travel. These numbers also include the purchases that came up as surprises – like the fancy dress I purchased for a work function.
Books and Clothes and Accessories, Oh My!
Right away, it’s pretty clear that I saved substantially on clothing & accessories, books and toiletries and makeup this year.
In fact, this year, I only purchased three books and it took a lot of deliberation to pull the trigger. These books include Cait Flanders memoir (obvi), Matty Matheson’s debut cookbook, and Samin Nosrat’s epic Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Everything else on my 2018 reading list, I borrowed either digital or paper copies from my local library.
As clothing was the single biggest category last year, I’m very pleased with the progress I’ve made in reducing it. Almost every clothing purchase I made this year was from a second-hand source which I think helped reduce the total amount spent. I also just purchased fewer items of clothing overall.
It’s Expensive to Look This Good (lol)
I’m pleasantly surprised that my toiletries and makeup spending is as low as it is considering I still purchased a fair amount of products over the course of the year when I needed them or when they were on sale. Though this number is quite low ($185.06), I don’t think it’s something I will be able to sustain in the future since I won’t have the same stockpile to draw from anymore. The DIYs I tried this year also had a sizable impact on my toiletry and makeup spending. A lot of it was trial and error, but at least I tried.
M is for Miscellaneous
The category that continues to stump me, just like it did last year is Miscellaneous. I somehow managed to spend more in this category than I did last year and I think that comes down to a few key purchases. First, I expanded my knitting supplies so I could pick back up my hobby towards the end of 2018. Second, I DIY’d a lot this year. In order to do some of my DIYs, I needed supplies like fermentation weights (for my pickling experiments), and a new solid state drive (to keep my 8-year-old laptop running). Third, I also purchased some new (to me) wireless headphones to help get me back into the gym – which is a habit I’m happy to say has mostly stuck.
All in all, I don’t regret anything I’ve purchased in this category. But, it still serves as a good reminder that spending in this area can add up quickly if I don’t pay close attention to it.
But, Did I Actually Save Money?
Just looking at these totals ($1475.49 vs. 2408.84), it would be easy to think that my shopping ban saved me $1000. But, that’s not entirely the case. My total spending in these categories may have decreased, but I didn’t add an extra $1000 to my investments or savings accounts. In fact, I checked my accounts and I saved roughly the same amount this year as last year.
Why don’t I have an extra $1000 floating around in my pants pockets and couch cushions? There’s a very good, house-shaped reason for that.
Oh Right, We Bought a House
In case you missed it, we bought a house last year and (get ready for the newsflash of the century), houses are expensive.
Beyond the cost of purchasing the house, and closing costs and home inspections, I spent $1500 on home-related purchases last year and that’s just my half (and also only half the year as we bought the house in June).
Now, house spending wasn’t included or excluded from my shopping ban because I never in a million years thought I would be buying a house last year. That being said, some of the stuff we’ve purchased for the house has been necessary (like a lawn mower and a dehumidifier). And some stuff has been more wants, like a handmade map of Canada made out of recycled wood to hang up in our living room.
I’m actually pretty happy that I spent more money on our house than on stuff solely used by me. I love my house and don’t regret any of our home-related purchases thus far.
I don’t think my shopping ban had the effect I intended (re: saving money). However, I do think it was an interesting experiment and has taught me a lot about my own consumption habits (more on that in the future).
Now that you’ve seen the numbers – how do you think my shopping ban went? Are you surprised by any of the numbers here? Do you track your total spending on an annual basis? Let me know in the comments!
Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions