Spending my days at home with baby Zara has put my OCD into overdrive. I see clutter and chaos EVERYWHERE – the bookshelf of magazines and books I will never read again, baking goods in the pantry that are past their best before date, clothes that I haven’t worn for years in the wardrobe, the bathroom drawer overflowing with travel sized toiletries…the list goes on.
Yet I go to the shops and feel compelled to buy MORE. I simply can’t ignore marketing emails from my favourite brands. Buying something on sale gives me an instant high. I will go as far as saying that I have a shopping addiction. Fortunately I am financially capable of supporting this habit without getting myself into serious debt, which is why it has never worried me in the past. I have never used credit without knowing I can pay it off the following month. As an accountant, I am obsessed with keeping a budget and I know my spending limits. However I am never satisfied with my savings despite earning more from working as my career advances.
Can you see the problem with being OCD and owning a lot of stuff in a small home? I am constantly tidying the clutter and it consumes my energy and time. We have to move house in a year’s time and I already feel overwhelmed by the thought of packing. When Zara was born I knew things had to change…
I started with reviewing my wardrobe and donating clothes that I haven’t worn for at least 12 months. This made it clear that I have plenty of clothes to choose from, particularly now that I am on maternity leave and spend my days in activewear! I also joined our local library and challenged myself not to purchase a book if I can borrow it. It never occurred to me that I could borrow my favourite books and magazines and not have to worry about finding a place to keep them once I was done reading!
And now I am taking it to the next level. During a conversation with my friend Nicola she recommended that I read Cait Flanders’ new book, The Year of Less. Hands-down this is the best book I will read in 2018. It made me understand why I have been accumulating stuff that I don’t actually want or need.
If you are reading this post and can relate, I encourage you to really think about WHY you buy stuff. For me personally, I somehow thought the stuff would make me a better person. I am obsessed with personal development so was constantly seeking out more ways to improve myself in the form of courses, books, clothes and equipment. I was stockpiling items on sale because of my FOMO (fear of missing out). I thought I would save money in the long term, yet items would sit in the drawer until they no longer appealed to me. Courses would be left half-finished. I was so focussed on what I thought my future self wanted that I had lost sight of what my current self really needed, which is so much LESS.
It all stops here. My challenge for 2018 is to simplify everything by accumulating less.
Now that I know my impulse shopping is causing overwhelm and preventing me from saving money for what is truly important, I am committing to a shopping ban for the next 6 months. I am declaring this publicly to hold myself accountable. As suggested by Cait in her book, I have created the following lists:
Specific items I cannot purchase during the shopping ban:
- Clothes for myself (including accessories and jewellery)
- Clothes for Zara (she has been given plenty of gifts)
- Cosmetics and toiletries (I have multiples of everything)
- Homewares (including decorations, linen and candles)
- Books + magazines + stationery (i.e. anything paper)
- eCourses + online memberships
- Anything I can borrow
Approved items that can be purchased during the shopping ban:
- Classic work outfits for when I return to work in July
- Irreparable items I use everyday and have no alternatives (I can’t actually think of anything that would fall into this category!)
- Essentials for Zara (nappies, wipes, cotsheets)
- Gifts for family and friends (however they must be meaningful)
Specific areas to focus on:
- Using all the toiletries + cosmetics in my bathroom drawers, including travel sized items
- Utilising pantry items before purchasing any new supplies
- Reading all the books I haven’t read on my bookshelf and sharing books with family and friends which I no longer need to keep
I am really excited by this challenge and I know it is going to trigger all sorts of emotions and issues along the way, but I am looking forward to sharing my journey with you.
My goal is to become a more mindful consumer and really appreciate what I already have. The by-product of this will hopefully be more money in my bank account and less items to pack up and move in 12 months time. Let the challenge begin!!
If this challenge resonates with you, I encourage you to read Cait’s book which is available here. I would also love to hear from you in the comments below!