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30 days of No Shopping

POSTED ON 26.05.2017

When I was a little girl, still in nursery school, I had a solo in our yearly recital. I still remember my little outfit and I think there’s a video of it lying around at my parents’ house somewhere too. My lines in the song went like this:

“Shopping, shopping, we love shopping,
Packets, packets, fill those packets”

..And the rest was history.

A month or so ago, I decided to start a capsule closet. The first step of this process was to donate/sell items I was no longer wearing and try and wear the things I kept more often. I didn’t go too minimalist, or too strict in terms of numbers (you can read more about all of that here if you want) but I did drastically cut down the amount of clothes I had and I also decided to spend 30 days without shopping. Even my nursery school self would’ve been able to tell you how difficult this was.

I really enjoy shopping and I particularly enjoy buying bits and pieces often rather than buying in bulk once in a while. However, I noticed that shopping was also becoming a substitute for other things, and I noticed that it was the little purchases here and there that were really adding up.

Before I started, I went onto our online account and added up all the transactions that were not need related. And I’ll be honest, it was a difficult fact to face. Marco and I had been a little tight in the previous months, but I guess I never stopped to look at how my spending habits were affecting our family. Even though I wouldn’t say it was anything out of control, it was still upsetting for me and I wanted to do something about it.

So I decided to set a 30-day shopping ban for myself. I didn’t want to buy anything that wasn’t a necessity. (Things like face wash or vitamins etc. were obviously still ok). But even with the necessities, I tried to be careful and most importantly thoughtful. It wasn’t so much as an austerity measure as it was an exercise in self-control.

I was really surprised to see patterns emerge during the month. On days when I felt stressed about school, emotional for whatever reason, sad, even extremely happy, I wanted to buy something. It was as though I was using shopping the same way I sometimes use food: as a reward, as a gap-filler, or as an emotional crutch. It’s not that this came as a complete surprise, I obviously knew I wasn’t shopping because I needed those things, but it was still eye-opening to see those patterns, almost as an outsider looking in. I would have these urges to go out and buy something, and only because I’d told myself I couldn’t did I stop to think about the motivation behind those urges.

When the 30 days were up, I bought a really lovely face cream that I needed but that was also a luxury, and I found that it was extremely hard to part with the money. Not that I’ve all of a sudden become super frugal, but I’ve certainly become more careful. And it’s something that I want to keep doing. So, as of today, I’ve set another 30 days of no shopping. Although obviously there was a break in between, I’m really curious to see how I feel after 60 days. I might keep on going after that, I’m not sure. I definitely want to become more responsible with what we have, and I want to face the weaker areas of my life head-on.

At the same time, I don’t want to feel guilty when I do buy something. For example, I went shopping the other day and I¬†bought a pair of summer shoes. It’s a middle road there because I definitely needed summer shoes, but it’s still hard to justify the expense. However, I don’t want to become obsessed or too hard on myself because I think that in the long run that would simply be counterproductive.

Overall, I’m really glad I did it and I’m proud of my achievement. Even though it’s something so small, it feels really great to set a goal and reach it! Anyone else keen to give it a try?