You guys know by now that I don’t do resolutions. I don’t find them personally useful. But, at the same time, I would like to make a commitment to improve my finances and simplify my life, even more, this year.
December was uncharacteristically spendy for me. Outside of my (very minimal) Christmas purchases, I had to spend $2200 on my car to make it safe to drive (who knew airbag sensors were so pricey?). On top of that, our travel over the holidays also added up to close to $2000. Apparently, that’s what happens when your travel is many nights in hotels and four straight days of driving. Thank you Northern Ontario gas prices.
All of this is to say, I feel I need a refresh. I need to get a handle on my finances and I’m going to do that the best way I know how – by doing a shopping ban. I did No Buy March at the beginning of my minimalist journey a couple of years ago and it was a very interesting experience.
It gave me insight into my spending and shopping habits and showed me that I was using online shopping to fill an emotional void. I think I could use some refreshed insight into my habits and patterns in relation to social spending. Like I discussed in a recent episode of Tiny Bites, I’ve found I tend to purchase things I don’t really need when I feel I need to impress someone – even if that someone is someone I don’t know very well.
So, enter the shopping ban. Shopping bans obviously aren’t new. Luckily for me, I’ve had the benefit of following along on other blogger’s shopping bans like Cait Flanders and Lisa from Simple Life Experiment.
Major kudos to both of these ladies for tracking their journey’s online. Thanks to their success, I can create a shopping ban for myself, with elements from both.
My Shopping Ban Goal
- Buy nothing but essentials for one year.
Timeline: January 9, 2018, to January 9, 2019
My Shopping Ban Rules
- No new clothing or accessories (this includes, new, used and vintage purchases).
- No new toiletries (makeup, shower supplies) until current supplies are used up.
- No miscellaneous purchases (magazines, books, movies, etc).
- I did a book ban last year – and it was a great success!
- If anything breaks and cannot be mended, I will attempt to replace it with a used item.
- Travel will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. **Added February 2018**
- Free stuff (merch, swag, magazines) will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. **Added February 2018**
- This stuff obviously wouldn’t cost money, but it would potentially create clutter. If I think I’ll use it, I’ll take it.
It also goes without saying that I am open to revising, adding or removing any rules as I go along, based on my day-to-day experiences. **Based on all your awesome feedback, I’ve added some additional rules and exemptions as of February 2018.**
My Shopping Ban Exceptions
- Food shopping (groceries and restaurants) is allowed.
- We eat out once a week and factor that into our grocery budget, so I’m not worried about continuing that habit.
- Bridesmaid spending for July 2018 wedding is allowed.
- I’m a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding this year and will obviously have some expenses around it. I have a dedicated wedding fund that I will be drawing from to purchase things, so these purchases won’t impact the ban.
- Gifts are allowed if I can afford them. **Added February 2018**
- Mr. TA and I don’t do gifts, so there’s no issue there. But, I do like to send flowers to my mom and grandma for their birthdays. As the eldest child in my family, I also take the responsibility of buying my mom Christmas presents. This is something I will be continuing during the ban.
- Home maintenance is exempt from the ban **Added February 2018**
- We rent our apartment (and therefore don’t have to pay for any upkeep).
- Purchasing a gym membership is allowed. **Added February 2018**
- I’m planning on buying a gym membership through my work in March. A commitment to my health is something I’d like to work on this year. Purchasing this membership will be step one.
Writing these rules seems like a lot of boundaries I will be putting on myself – which isn’t something I’m normally fond of doing.
However, in this particular instance, I think it’s absolutely essential to put these kinds of rules in place if I want to see any kind of real results.
Like I’ve written about before, I can pretty much logic my way into buying anything – ‘oh, it’s only $10’, ‘I’m sure I’ll use it constantly’, and, my personal favourite, ‘this item will be the last one I buy, it will complete me’. With these rules in place, I can override my normal logic mechanism because I’m doing something bigger and more important and any one single purchase.
Since the shopping ban starts today, I wanted to give myself a leg up on the competition (the competition being myself in this case). Therefore, I’ve deleted shopping apps (eBay and Etsy) from my phone to remove window shopping temptation.
My Shopping Ban Obligations
- Post monthly (or less frequently) on my progress including my success and more importantly, my failures.
I want to be as transparent as possible throughout this process. I am by no means perfect, and, as a confessed and (mostly) reformed shopaholic, I don’t expect this to be an easy experiment. But, I’m up for the challenge and the commitment to improve my finances.
What do I hope to learn/get out of the shopping ban?
- An improved handle on my finances (including an increased rate of tiny house savings).
- A decrease in the amount of clutter in my house.
- An increase in resourcefulness in utilizing what I have and mending what is broken.
- An enhanced understanding of what my shopping/consumption triggers are.
- Some ability to feel content with what I have (and, I think this is related, who I am).
Are these goals too lofty for a 365-day shopping ban? I certainly hope not.
Above all else, I am going to give it 100% of my effort. Maybe I’ll even have a bit of fun along the way.
Have you ever done a shopping ban? What did you learn from the experience? Would you change anything about the shopping ban rules I’ve laid out? Let me know in the comments!
Did you miss last week’s episode of Tiny Bites, all about goals versus resolutions? You can listen to it here.
Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions